American Airlines Review : Toddler Edition

A review of how family friendly American Airlines is, when traveling with small children.

Image courtesy Michael Bernhard [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

My family loves to travel and we take a couple of vacations every year. I’ve flown multiple international and domestic airlines and I have had very varied experiences with them. Which is why I like to review airlines, so that as a parent, you know what you are getting into when you book a flight. I’ve had some stellar flying experiences (I’m looking at you ANA) and then not some great ones. American Airlines comes at pretty much the bottom of all my flying experiences, especially if you are travelling with children.

I’ve traveled by a few other domestic airlines such as United and Delta. I’ve not had the pleasure of traveling with Southwest but I’ve heard rave reviews of how family friendly they are. Traveling to and from Florida, I got the impression that American Airlines doesn’t want to go out of their way to welcome families onboard.

So far, American Airlines is the only airlines which won’t offer priority boarding to passengers with young children. Now I have a toddler who has traveled a bit so I didn’t need to pre-board. But families with young infants do really need that extra time to get situated. I know it might sound as a bit entitled but if parents of young children are able to get their children and themselves settled without getting hassled, often the flight tends to go far more smoothly for them as well the passengers around them.

American Airlines Review: My Toddler Edtion

Also interestingly, American Airlines seats most passengers with children close to each other at the back of the flight or near the restrooms in the middle of the flight. You want a seat further up front, you better be prepared to cough up an extra 50 bucks. They somehow assume that passengers with young children are going to be a disturbance to their other passengers. So they herd all the families together at the back of the plane lest the other passengers have to hear a crying baby!

If you’ve ever traveled with children, you know its hard for them to sit in a place upwards of an hour, let alone for three. So a couple of times when my toddler stood on his seat, just stretching a little, not disturbing anyone really, he got snapped at by the airhostesses. I’ve never been snapped at by an air hostess, my toddler has often been praised for his good behavior in flights so this was an entirely new experience thanks to American Airlines.

Now I’ve traveled enough times within the US, so I had carried enough snacks and food for my toddler. But come service time, the air hostess didn’t even bother to ask me what my son might want to drink. My almost 3 year old has very firm opinions about things in his life, especially about how much he loves juice. So I actually had to call her as she moved ahead and ask her for a cup or orange juice to avoid an impending tantrum. Forget service with a smile, this particular American Airlines crew member didn’t even believe in service.

Can you say I’m a little worked up, probably! But its honestly because I feel like American Airlines needs to step up their game and give better service to their paying customers or if not then, to have an explicit policy stating families not allowed onboard. Am I going to fly American Airlines again? Most probably yes, when you need to travel, you often don’t have much of an option and need to get the flights best suited to your schedule and pocket. But I know now, to keep my expectations of American Airlines travel real low.

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