Not all airlines are equal when it comes to services they provide to families. While one may allow a family to board before the rest of the passengers, others charge for that helpful honor. Some airlines have entertainment to keep the kids entertained, while you'll want to bring your own for others. Here's a roundup of popular U.S. airlines and what they offer families.


AirTran Airways
Pre-boarding Yes, for families with children 2 and younger. At the gate, the agent will announce when it is time for families with children 2 and younger to board.
Lap Seat Ages Under 2 years old may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult.
Diaper Changers Three stations on 717-200 flights.
Discounted Child Fares No.
Kids Meals None specifically. Snacks and sandwiches are available.
Heat Bottles? No.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment None.
Wi-Fi Gogo Inflight Internet is available on some flights.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. Car seats and strollers can be checked for free.

American Airlines
Pre-boarding No. Passengers may elect to pay $10 per person to join the first boarding group in coach.
Lap Seat Ages Infants 14 days to under 2 years old may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult. (One lap infant per adult.)
Diaper Changers Changing tables are available in all wide-body aircraft (not American Eagle or American Connection flights).
Discounted Child Fares Yes.
Heat Bottles? Yes, on all American Airlines flight except for American Eagle and American Connection flights.
Kids Meals None specifically. Snacks and sandwiches are available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Flights longer than four hours provide free movies on overhead TV's, which may not always provide the best views or interest children. New and refurbished planes have in-seat entertainment with movies, TV shows, music, and games, with up to 250 movies, 180 TV shows, 350 audio options, 18 radio channels, and 20 games.
Wi-Fi Domestic Wi-Fi is now available on nearly all flights within the U.S. An All-Day Pass is $16 plus tax. Their newest plane, the 777-300ER, is the first of their planes with international Wi-Fi. A two-hour pass is $12, a four-hour pass is $17, and a pass for the entire duration of the flight is $19.
Stroller Gate Check Yes; collapsible strollers weighing less than 20 pounds. (Umbrella strollers may be carried on.) Others must be checked with baggage.

Delta
Pre-boarding The airline changed its policies on pre-boarding with children. Although they state they allow it, there are no official ages or times, and it may be up to the discretion of the gate agents.
Lap Seat Ages Children more than 7 days old and under 2 on U.S. travel.
Diaper Changers No.
Discounted Child Fares Only for infants traveling on lap. Child rates not available on U.S. travel but may be available on travel between certain countries. There is not a specific list of places internationally that offer discounted child fares, but a representative is happy to help families determine if child rates are available for wherever they are looking to travel next. The price of the ticket will depend on the age of the child.
Heat Bottles? Yes.
Kids Meals Yes. For less than $5 Delta provides a number of choices. Babies can receive strained baby food in jars, including fruit, vegetables, meats and desserts. Toddler Meals include finger foods, and Child Meals for ages 2 to 12 are available with kid-friendly meals like PB&J. Gluten-free options are also available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Many domestic flights, including transcontinental flights, have seatback TV's with On-Demand channels with children's programs. These cost $1 per episode or $6 for a bundle; satellite TV, when available, is free with children's networks. However, not all domestic flights offer seat-back TV's. International flights do feature seat-back programming. Airline wings are also available to children.
Wi-Fi Gogo Internet is provided on many flights within the continental U.S. Wi-Fi Mobile Passes are available starting at $1.95 and $14 for a 24-hour pass.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. Strollers are checked at no fee. In addition to the one carry-on allowance, you may also bring a booster seat, other infant seat or bassinet onto the plane for free.

Frontier Airlines
Pre-boarding Yes, for families with children 5 and younger, after priority boarding as part of the Courtesy Boarding group.
Lap Seat Ages Children more than 7 days old and under 2 on U.S. travel. One infant per adult.
Diaper Changers No.
Discounted Child Fares No.
Heat Bottles? No.
Kids Meals None specifically. Snacks and sandwiches are available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Most planes feature seat-back monitors with 24 hours of OnDemand TV. Costs are $4 to $8, depending on flight time.
Wi-Fi No Wi-Fi/Internet is available on any Frontier flight.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. Frontier recently changed its baggage allowances and charges for gate-checked items. A stroller and car seat may be checked free of charge from the counter.

JetBlue
Pre-boarding Yes, for families with children 2 and younger. They can board first in the boarding process, with military members and folks with disabilities.
Lap Seat Ages Children under 2.
Diaper Changers All flights have changing tables.
Discounted Child Fares No.
Heat Bottles? No.
Kids Meals No meals offered. Free snacks like animal crackers, GoGo squeeZ Apple Sauce, and Mix it Up kid snacks are available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment DirectTV programming offered for free on seat-back TV's, with children's programming available.
Wi-Fi Fly-Fi Wi-Fi was released in 2014 on limited flights, with plans to eventually roll out to all planes after testing.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. Checked strollers are at no charge.

Southwest Airlines
Pre-boarding Yes, for families with children 4 and younger after elite, full-fare and early-check in fliers. Early check in is $10 per person, each way and helps guarantee families can find seats together. Flight attendants are willing and able to assist a family in finding seats together, especially if families speak to an attendant prior to boarding.
Lap Seat Ages Infants 14 days to under 2 years old may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult. Boarding Verification Document is needed to board.
Diaper Changers Yes, often in forward restrooms.
Discounted Child Fares Yes, with age verification, including infant fares for under 2, child fares, and unaccompanied minor fares.
Heat Bottles? Yes.
Kids Meals No meals offered. Free pretzels and peanuts offered.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment No entertainment until July 2014, although coloring books and airline wings may be available. In July, free On Demand TV with 75 programs will be available. Movies will be available through Internet service.
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi is available on most flights. Internet is available for $8 per day, with movies available for $5 per movie.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. A car seat and stroller may be checked at no additional fee.

United Airlines
Pre-boarding No.
Lap Seat Ages Under 2 years old may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (one per adult) within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands. Outside of these regions, a ticket must be purchased for lap child.
Diaper Changers Changing tables are available on Boeing 747, 757-300, 767, 777, 787 and select 757-200 flights.
Discounted Child Fares Infant fares.
Heat Bottles? No. But you may request hot water from flight attendant.
Kids Meals None specifically offered for domestic flights; snacks and sandwiches are available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Satellite TV and in-flight movies are shown on overhead TVs, which may not always provide the best views or interest children. International flights feature seat-back On Demand with movies, TV programming, games and music available with children's options.
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi is being installed on all fleets with 747, 757 and A319 currently offering the service.
Special Amenities Offers a limited number of bassinets, free of charge, on international flights (reservations required and not available in United Global First, United First or United Business class).
Stroller Gate Check Yes; collapsible strollers only. Others must be checked with baggage, without a fee.

U.S. Airways
Pre-boarding Kids are allowed to board after Zone 2, before General Boarding.
Lap Seat Ages Infants 2 and younger; one per adult.
Diaper Changers On some flights.
Discounted Child Fares Infant fares.
Heat Bottles? No. But you may request hot water from flight attendant.
Kids Meals None specifically offered for domestic flights; snacks and sandwiches are available. International flights to Europe, South America and the Middle East do provide infant and kids' meal options. Gluten-free options are also available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Satellite TV and in-flight movies are shown on overhead TVs, which may not always provide the best views or interest children. International flights to Europe, South America and the Middle East provide seat-back On Demand options with movies and TV programming available to children.
Wi-Fi Gogo Internet is available with daily Wi-Fi costing $16.
Stroller Gate Check Yes; collapsible strollers only. Others must be checked with baggage.

Virgin America
Pre-boarding For children under 5.
Lap Seat Ages Infants 2 and younger.
Diaper Changers Yes, in the rear restrooms. Diapers are available if you run out.
Discounted Child Fares No.
Heat Bottles? Yes.
Kids Meals Kids meals available, pre-purchased before flight. Flights over two hours feature options like PB&J, chicken and turkey sandwiches, and hummus with vegetables. A Jet Set Kid Pack with animal crackers, goldfish, granola bar and other snacks is also available.
Kid-Friendly Entertainment Inflight entertainment includes children's programming and games. Power outlets are available at every seat to charge mobile devices.
Wi-Fi Gogo Internet is available on most flights.
Special Amenities Bassinets are available.
Stroller Gate Check Yes. One stroller and one child seat can be checked for each paying passenger at no additional charge.

See Unaccompanied Minors Rules & Regulations for airline policies on children traveling alone.

This story has been updated as of May 28, 2014.

Written by Lissa Poirot


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