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Airlines and Airport Related

Japan With Kids - Forums: Traveling to/from and in Japan: Airlines and Airport Related
By Emi on Monday, May 10, 1999 - 7:52 pm:

Which airline(s) do you like/avoid? Why?


By Anonymous on Monday, July 12, 1999 - 12:28 pm:

NorthWest. They do not leave on time (often 3-6 hours late), service is poor, bathrooms are filthy, and they arrive late.


By Florence Hanssen on Sunday, August 22, 1999 - 11:00 am:

I refuse to use All Nippon anymore after a horrendous experience this past Christmas. We were flying from Narita to LAX to spend Christmas in Tucson. We and another family had paid full price tickets for our children, both less than 18 months old. We had brought our "aircraft-approved" carseats for our children to sit in. The attendants insisted we remove them from the seats and hold them in our laps for takeoff, which to me pretty much defeats the purpose of bringing the seats in the first place. We refused and they wouldn't take off until we complied. They even threatened us with prosocution upon landing for"endangering a passenger". They meant our own children!!! Meanwhile our flight was delayed over an hour and we had to hold our children for take-off and landing. Afterward ANA was very apologetic and the incident was reported to their coporate headquarters. Nothing else came of it. We did our own research on the internet and found tons of "official" recommendations on how flying with a child in a carseat is the safest way for children to fly. We had to call ANA several times so that when we returned to Tokyo we would not have this problem again. Anyways, that's why I will avoid ANA from now on.


By Anonymous on Sunday, September 26, 1999 - 11:37 pm:

Same thing happened on Malaysia
Airlines, but I showed them
the sticker on the car seat that
said aircraft approved, and told
them that I used to be a flight
attendant for ANA, (true), and
that I knew what I was doing.
Then they tried to help me install the carseat, facing the
wrong way, so I just had them
hold my 7month old while I installed the seat.


By Melissa Mcnulty on Saturday, March 9, 2002 - 12:33 am:

I refuse to fly United Airlines after truly bad service from the U.S. to Japan. They just did not seem to have the protocols in place to deal with infants/toddlers. The individual staff members were great, but I, too, had problems with putting the car seat in. First of all, the seats were too small! And I had an approved carseat for flying! They refused to give me a bulkhead seat when I called for a seat assignment, although I did finally manage to get someone to swap wtih me once the seat wouldn't fit. Then there was the bassinet issue...I had requested one, it wasn't provided, all though a crew member did finally find one. Then they forgot to take it down before landing, despite my asking. But the worst thing was this: our take off was delayed for about two hours. For some reason the airconditioning in the economy cabin wasn't working. My 9 month old daughter got badly overheated, was bright red and sweating profusely, and panting. A crew member did bring some ice so I could fan her and try to cool her down. That was nice, but when I got up and went to the business class cabin to use the changing table there, the aircon was on and working fine. I was furious! Here was this poor, distressed baby, sweating in economy, and the staff did not have the nouse to bring her forward into a safer environment! There was no preboarding, and some of the staff were VERY rude to me about the fact that I wasn't getting me and my child settled quickly enough!

I later flew with Northwest, they were marginally better, although they only provided ONE meal for my child for the whole flight. The staff were a bit snitty about me walking around with my then crawler. I let her crawl briefly up the aisle, and was told off by a cabin crew person.

Next, I flew with Qantas to New Zealand. The service was fabulous. The staff were patient, kind, and helped out with my daughter. They provided a small bag of goodies for her, and checked up on me routinely through the whole flight. The only problem I had was that they now have a policy of not allowing you to check your stroller at the gate, meaning that the five-hour layover in Sydney was going to be awful with nowhere to put my daughter. They did, however unearth a stroller from somewhere for me to borrow at the terminal.


By Mindy on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 8:14 am:

Gosh, Melissa, what a horrible experience you had with United.

I'm no great fan of United but we did just take our 3 month old baby on a round trip with them to Los Angeles and we received excellent service even though the plane was overbooked. We sat business, we were given the bulk head seats, we had no issue gate checking our stroller, we pre-boarded and we were given star treatment by all the flight attendants. They even gave us individual packages of powdered formula. Both ways it was a very pleasurable experience.


By Sandy Cox on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 10:43 am:

I stopped flying all the U.S. carriers as far as possible because their staff has no sensitivity to the issues a parent faces with a young child. And babies at 3 months are easy compared to toddlers! I found Korean Airlines to be wonderful on a consistant basis. The problem with the US carriers was consistancy leaning towards consistantly rude and imperious. Sometimes I received a reasonable amount of patience one way, but more often than not I was on a flight where there was maybe one attendant who was worth their pay and, on the same flight, several other attendants who might "snap" at me with the basic attitude that I was the all-supreme mother who can control her kid down to its bowel movements. Basically the pets are in the cargo hold, but even if they can be equally unruly, kids aren't dogs, and often have paid seats and deserve some extra consideration as the future tax-payers of the world.

I think the staff on the US carriers all needs some special sensitivity training on family travel. They brown nose with business travelers but are fairly ruthless in attitude to the economy class passengers. I actually wrote down the name of a flight attendant once on United who told an elderly gentleman sitting in front of me "if you're going to act like a child we'er going to treat you like a child" with the intention of writing a letter. I was so shocked.

Unfortunately, inside the USA it is really hard to avoid US carriers. The good news is that starting around age 4 most kids are easier to entertain sitting (books, crayons, etc.) for longer periods of time, so my biggest flightmares are past for the moment.

I think it is really important to send in those letters and carbon copy them to Consumer Reports Magazine and the FFA and I wish I hadn't misplaced that particular note and name.
United States:
http://www.faa.gov/

Roughly until about age two most toddlers do not sit still for more than 15 minutes, even for a video so even those planes that have entertainment built right into the seat with a cartoon or disney chanel selection are not very useful for that age group. The flight attendants could try sympathy for the parent instead of bullying and nasty comments, keep the drinks coming and, on one flight in particular, that I remember NOT leave the seat belt sign on for 2 straight hours with strict enforcement. (there was not one bump during that whole period, and I strongly suspected that it was for the convenience of the staff that they wished to force everyone to stay in their seats).

One other mother and I were talking and we both wondered why they didn't just allocate a certain section for seating families with children. Preferably a section that would include the spot where bassinets can be attached and close to the toilets. That way those of struggling with very young kids wouldn't be quite as disruptive to all the other passengers and we would also probably strike up some inter-support when the flight attendants are unable to help out because they are busy elsewhere. Yeah, here's another prime example of difference in attitude by staff on US carriers vs. Eastern carriers -- try pushing the button calling for an attendant and comparing the response times. On Korean, Malaysian and Cathay it is within 30 seconds, a minute at most. On all US carriers you can wait an hour or basically just realize from the beginning that you'll be ignored and go to the kitchen directly with your request. But you risk being snubbed for being out of your seat!


By Ferdinand Ballesteros on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 - 5:00 pm:

Had good experience with JAL (business class). We were travelling with our 2.5 yr old daughter and 9-month old son. Got bulkhead seats and bassinet without a problem (but I did specify these in advance.) Sumptuous kiddie meal for the toddler and bottled Gerber baby food for the infant. The flight attendants were very attentive and helpful...one of them even came around and brought origami paper (aside from the usual toy) and actually played with our daughter. They kept checking on us and even served our meals "staggered" so that my wife and I could take turns watching the kids while the other ate. They allowed stroller check-in at the gate. However, upon arrival, our stroller was not waiting for us at the gate...I inquired and got immediate action. One of the ground staff ran down to the tarmac and retrieved our stroller from the cargo bay and brought it back to us at the gate! That was in the middle of winter and I saw her run outside with just her JAL uniform on. She came back panting but smiling! Yes, we did have to wait for a while for the stroller but I didn't feel bad at all. I was impressed.


By Melissa Mcnulty on Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - 12:55 pm:

More on the neverending search for an airline that actually treats kids and their parents like human beings....

I recently flew Air New Zealand from Narita to New Zealand and had excellent service. The reservations staff here in Tokyo were great. Phoned us before we left to see if we had any concerns or questions, and helped out with carseat questions. The ticketing staff were wonderful, and the cabin crew were kind, patient and good humoured. One of the crew even came and helped me with my daughter when our stroller was put in with the luggage instead of the hold! The flight home was even better. They gave my daughter a teddy bear, offered to get extra food for her as the time between meals was rather long. The moved us to a great seat and even suggested that I put my stuff on some other seats so we would have room to lie down (the flight wasn't full)! On all flights I was given a special seat belt for my daughter in case she wanted to sit on my knee. When I expressed surprise at this, I was told that these had been around for years. I have never been given one on any other airline. We were checked up on, talked too, and generally treated with great kindness. I highly recommend them. Air New Zealand sometimes codeshares with JAL, but is cheaper.


By Cornelia on Thursday, November 14, 2002 - 6:09 am:

For mileage club holders... I recently took a flight from the USA to Tokyo via Canada. My miles for the first segment came through but not for the second longer segment (Vancouver to Tokyo). I have been told that it will take up to 90 days to get those miles and it so happens that they make the difference between a free ticket or not.

I do faithfully show my mileage card every chance I get, but in this case I was in a transit lounge and already had a boarding pass for the second segment from the outset. The lesson is, show the mileage club number at the gate even if you have no other reason to see the attendant there! The computers seem to be able to do everything else but keep your mileage number on consecutive boarding passes! (I rather suspect this might be deliberate. Not everyone manages to track them down after the fact, which is in favor of the airlines.)


By Melissa Mcnulty on Friday, January 3, 2003 - 8:57 pm:

Another good experience to report....

We just flew Korean Airlines, and I have to give them a big thumbs up on the traveling with kids front. The flights were full, but the service was excellent. The meals were great, as far as airline food goes(both the adults and the child meal were pretty ok). When my daughter started crying a cabin crew member materialized to see if we needed any help. No problem getting bottles, though not heated. The transit area at Incheon (Seoul) Airport were good too. There is a great playroom for little kids(head towards the duty free area), and also a shower facility (900 yen) available. Crappy coffe though (this is important at 6 am!).

My only complaint was that on our return flight we were not given a childs meal for our daughter although we had requested this when we booked, and were given them on the outward flight. Apparantly you need to call the airline to request one for the return flight(even though you don't need to reconfirm your bookings...). Apart from that, a very no-fuss, no-stress experience.


By Steve K on Friday, August 1, 2003 - 4:23 pm:

After flying to and from Vancouver last month on Air Canada, I can only say that they seem no better than the U.S. carriers. My experience was pretty close to the experiences described in earlier postings about American carriers: the cabin crew was imperious, unfriendly, not understanding of the needs and plight of travelling parents, snooty, and generally not helpful. They lost our requested formula/diaper package both ways! One stewardess (there was nothing "attendant" about the service) even implied that we had to buy a ticket for our toddler, who was sitting in my lap at the time, before they could help us. She made a quick retreat to "check" on our request when my wife showed her our daughter's ticket.

No member of the Air Canada crews seemed to know much about babies. For example, each time we handed over a baby bottle to one of them and requested heated milk, the bottle came back with either scalding hot milk or refrigerator-cold milk. And it always took at least 15 minutes. Is it true that they don't have microwaves on board 747s?

My wife, daughter and I had flown on JAL on two prior trips, and I strongly suggested to my wife to book them for future trips to Vancouver (as far as I know, JAL and AC are the only airlines with direct flights between Tokyo and Vancouver). They are vastly superior to Air Canada because, in my experience, they have shown themselves to be family-friendly and knowledgable about children. I will try them or one of the other airlines recommended above before I fly Air Canada again.


By Bethan Hutton on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 11:12 pm:

I can recommend both JAL and Virgin as being child-friendly, at least for the Tokyo-London route: I've done two trips back to the UK this year, both times just me with two small children (aged 4/5 years and 5 months/10 months) - not an easy thing at the best of times, but the staff on both flights were helpful.

With JAL, I was flying business class, so you kind of expect them to be helpful (looking after one child while I took the other to the loo etc), but with Virgin I had the cheapest economy tickets and still had a good experience - I had loads of inflight bags, and instead of telling me I couldn't take them on board (like some airlines in my experience), they actually offered to help carry them; on arrival in London a Virgin staff member helped me all the way from the plane to the luggage carousel (this can be quite a hike at Heathrow), and so on.

The two best things about Virgin were 1) if you request it in advance, and you have paid for a seat for a child under 2, you can get what they call a "childcare seat" - basically a folding seat a bit like a car seat with a 5-point harness, which fits on to the airline seat and saves you lugging a car seat on board (and car seats often don't fit) - this kept the baby out of trouble and meant I could eat, go to the toilet etc without having to hold her all the time; 2) Virgin's inflight entertainment system is the most kid-friendly I have found - a wide range of kids' films, shorter videos (eg Teletubbies, Bob the Builder etc), music and games, all on demand - you press the buttons and they start up straight away, so if it keeps your child happy to watch the same video or film five times in a row on a long flight, you can do it. You can even fast forward and rewind. This makes a big difference travelling with a preschooler....


By Stephanie Martin on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 12:39 am:

JAL have been great every time I have flown with them, maybe 6 flights, with my daughter at different times between 7mths - 2 years old. I always have flown economy and they have tv screens on the seats which kept her entertained.

Air New Zealand don't have the TV screens but have given us both the baby pack and the child pack on the same flight, which is great when your child is at that inbetween stage, she ate the baby food and kept the spoon and bib, yet still got the kids backpack with crayons, re-usable stickers and activity book. I have flown with them about 6 times as well and soon got a collection of the backpacks they give out.

Both airlines have been happy to heat up milk in a bottle, I ask for half milk and half hot water, I ask for this after everyone is seated and they do the checks of the baggage compartments, every time they have the bottle back to me(sometimes a little cold but never scolding hot)before we take off.

I fly a lot with just me and my daughter, and have always had friendly staff to watch her if she is sleeping while I use the bathrooms, if she wasn't in the bassinet and sleeping on the seats.

The only airline I have had bad experiences with was Continental Airlines (American) I have done 4 flights with them and all of them I have things to moan about. The staff were un-helpful, rude and didn't try to do anything to help me.

They wouldn't heat up the milk before take off, rolled their eyes when I asked them to rinse out the bottle after she has some milk, didn't provide extra baby food or nappies.

On Air New Zealand and JAL I have often been given 2 - 6 jars of baby food to take with me after landing and nappies too. When my daughter was smaller and upset they would take her and bring her back 20 - 30 minutes later, sound asleep in their arms, they have always been great to fly with, but the TV screens in the seats are a big plus now that she is over 2 years old (JAL).


By Caroline on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 10:00 am:

Delta Airlines, round trip to Canada from Japan: small planes, cramped, horrible food, BUT no delays and EXTREMELY child-friendly!


By RM on Friday, August 29, 2003 - 4:03 pm:

Just came back from France using Air France. Luckily, our son is almost 4 so it's a bit easier to travel now because he has his own seat. There weren't a lot of entertaining things for him to do since there were no TV screens attached to the seats. The child pack they give to kids wasn't entertaining at all. Service was okay and it's better to bring your own snacks since all the sandwiches they serve at the galley in between meals were gone in seconds and all that was left were cup noodles. The service between lunch and dinner was too long. Although, the food served was not that bad. The crew members were nice but I guess it differs from every flight. We normally travel using an asian carrier like Thai, Cathay or Singapore so it was an experience to use Air France. Traveling domestic with Air France is another story. During the summer almost every flight is fully booked. All 3 of us had different seats. So I had to ask the crew to ask someone to change seats so my son and I could sit together. Overall I think we'd prefer to use asian carriers next time if we had the choice.


By Heather Montgomery on Monday, September 1, 2003 - 2:41 pm:

I just had outstanding service on ANA when travelling with my husband and baby. Below are some excerpts from a note I submitted on their web-site ("Feedback"). I wanted to take the trouble to let them know how much good service is appreciated in the hopes that they will keep it up.

ANA was a few hundred dollars more than the carrier we used to take, Northwest, but in my opinion it was WELL worth it, especially since our baby got quite ill on the flight over.

Heather (see below)

********************************
My husband and I recently travelled on ANA with our baby (NH002 and NH001 between NRT and IAD on August 17 and August 29/30).

We had absolutely outstanding service from check-in to deplaning. At check-in in Narita, the lines were extremely long and someone helped us with our bags and directed us to a shorter line (letting us put our bags near the belt) since our baby was fussy.

On the flight, the baby became ill and had a fever and vomiting. The flight crew gave us water, a thermometer, and even provided me with a change of clothes when the baby threw up on my clothing. In addition, they helped me get the stains out of my clothes and put them somewhere to dry so I could have them when we deplaned.

The return flight was much smoother for us, but still we had outstanding service from provision of baby food, a toy, a baby bassinet (set up as soon as possible) and even help when the baby was fidgety (someone took him for a walk for me so I could eat)

On both flights, the staff was helpful in bringing our meals early or late if necessary.

This is by far the most pleasant flight experience I have had, and from what I hear from friends, unusually good service for travel with a child. I really commend you and your employees for making family travel so easy for your customers.

I will strongly recommend ANA to my friends in the foreign community here in Tokyo, especially to those with kids.

Regards,
Heather Montgomery


By Melissa Mcnulty on Monday, October 13, 2003 - 11:50 pm:

Hi again folks,
Gosh, you must be thinking I have shares in the company, or maybe us New Zealanders are more vocal about it (hi Steph!), but I recently returned from another trip with Air New Zealand, and again have to give a big thumbs up. This time I have to comment about the leg room. At 5'8" tall, this is a big issue with me. On the ANZ planes I can actually cross my legs in economy (yes!), and when the person in front puts the seat back, I don't have a tray table pinning me to my chair.

The cabin crew have on the whole always been good humoured, and when the travel agent here in Japan booked me a flight with impossibly close connections, the crew radiod ahead to hold the next plane for me, got someone to take me to the overseas terminal, got someone else to escort my daughter and I through customs and immigration and got us onto the plane. We boarded at the time the plane was supposed to take off. Luckily there was another person behind me, so I didn't feel as bad. Anyway, excellent service on the whole!

I am flying my most loathed and detested airline this friday. I am dreading it. I will let you know if the service on United has improved any. I am not holding my breath, but perhaps if someone could send a few positive vibes my way on Friday afternoon.....
Cheers,
Melissa


By June Donenfeld on Sunday, November 2, 2003 - 9:53 pm:

I just got back from a week's trip to New York, with a 7- and 11-year old in tow. We flew ANA, and I am pleased to say that the service was excellent--unfailingly courteous, swift, efficient, and kind. My only (tiny) complaint is that provision of 0-nigiri is limited to business or first class, which seemed rather stingy, considering how much we paid for our tickets!


By Mary Tokuhara on Saturday, May 28, 2005 - 2:52 am:

We flew Northwest to the US and there were 4 babies and 6 kids on board! The staff were oh so kind. Maybe because they have kids of there own? The attendant attending us has a 10 month old baby of her own ! They saw us holding our 6 month old daughter and immediately set up a bassinet for her, but it was a bit too small, did anyone ever notice this? I think the bassinets are for new borns up until around 4 months would be the max. The stroller was ready for us when we got off the plane, and it helped a lot as we were surrounded by passengers who like babies. Even the middle-aged Japanese businessman sitting across-behind us used his pillow to entertain her. We'll be flying back to Japan tomorrow and I hope we get the same wonderful service as we did coming here. Oh, she did spit up when we met turbulence, but thanks to the advice on this forum, I had a change of clothes on hand.


By Cornelia on Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 9:35 am:

We used the suitcase delivery service from Narita on the way home a few days ago. There seemed to be only two options (we were in terminal 2):
ABC (part of JAL group) with a very long queue, and
QL with no queue. I used the one with no queue. It cost
Y3200 for two suitcases delivered from Narita to Tokyo (Y1700 for first suitcase, Y1500 for second case) tel: for QL 04-7635-2855. We got through immigration and customs by about 8:30am so the suitcases were delivered the same day (in our case about 17:45).


By May Ose on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 5:10 pm:

hi,
Does anyone experience recently sending their luggage from narita airport to their homes in tokyo? how much does it cost? and do they pick up luggage as well? thanks


By Sunshine on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 5:17 pm:

yes. they have both services. each bag will cost 1500 - 2500 depending on size and weight of the bag. we allways use ABC from narita. i have heard there're many companies. worth sending than carring in the trains.


By Ann Asano on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 6:00 pm:

Hi there,
I've used Kuroneko to and from Narita to Saitama before and a large suitcase cost about the same. If I remember correctly it was cheaper if you waited for the following day for it to be delivered home. I brought my case to the local convenience store (a Lawson) and they handled it for me.
There's a Kuroneko desk and a few other companies at Narita. It's definitely worth it.


By May Ose on Monday, April 17, 2006 - 7:43 pm:

sunshine thanks for the fast reply! that would really be a huge help since narita is still quite far from tokyo. ill be traveling with my 7 yrs old kid so that would be very convenient for us. thanks again
ann thanks too for the info, i really wont mind if it takes another day to be delivered in my house as long as im not gonna carry a heavy load with me in the trains! hehe


By Admin on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 - 3:53 pm:

Re: Luggage to and from Narita Airport
There is further information on this subject at the page on Narita Airport at: http://www.tokyowithkids.com/fyi/narita.html

The messages in this discussion have been moved to the pre-existing discussion at: http://www.tokyowithkids.com/discussions/messages/42/45.html


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