Our Globetrotters are reviewing 30 of the world’s leading international airlines for their family-friendliness. Our reviews cover the airline’s policies and service offerings that the average family will deal with when flying standard economy class. For more details on the Globetrotters reviews and ratings referenced, please see the lead article.
Making a re-entrance into the Skytrax top 10 airlines this year is the Aussie flag carrier Qantas. Arguably one of the safest airlines in the world, what does Qantas have to offer to the ordinary family flyer?
Alliances: OneWorld & Emirates
Skytrax Rating 2016: 9
JACDEC Safety Rating 2017: 9
Qantas Pregnancy Policy
For flights less than 4 hours (essentially domestic flights), you can travel to the end of your 40th week (36 weeks for multiples). For flights over 4 hours, you can travel until the end of your 36th week (32 weeks for multiples).
After 28 weeks, all pregnant women must carry a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner confirming estimated due date, whether it’s a single or multiple pregnancy and stating that the pregnancy is routine with no complications. If there are complications then a medical clearance form will need to be submitted in advance.
You are unable to fly with an infant within 48 hours of birth. A medical clearance form is required for flying between 48 hours and 7 days.
Infants (under 2 years)
Baby meals can also be requested when booking a flight, they carry a limited range of baby food, milk, bottles, cereals and rusks on board but recommend you bring products that your baby knows and prefers. Nappies and wipes are also available but supplies may be limited.
Passengers travelling with an infant are permitted to carry a reasonable quantity of liquids for infants and toddlers during a flight, including milk, sterilised water, juice, liquid baby food. This quantity is at the discretion of security screening officers (NB for those travelling into Australia, liquid laws are still very tight; even water bottles for our older kids have been disallowed in the past, strictly only baby supplies – but this can vary by departure airport.)
Qantas Baby Bassinets
Baby bassinets are available on some flights but are limited (Aircraft they are available on – B747, B767, A380 and A330) and cannot be booked online, you must phone their booking office to request one. The size guidelines provided are 71cm x 31cm x 26cm or up to 11kg. If your infant is not born at the time of booking, book the adult ticket and add the child’s details after birth (note this isn’t always as simple as it might seem, particularly if it’s only a Qantas code share not operated flight! – see our reader experience here).
Children (2-11 years)
They recommend that child safety is enhanced by using a child seat, but they do not provide these. If you want to use a child seat then you must purchase a separate seat and receive pre-approval for your device from a Qantas booking office at least 24 hours before departure, and show it to airport staff on your day of travel. A torso harness can be made available if required and requested in advance.
If you wish your ensure your family will be seated together, on Qantas international flights preferential seats can be selected for a $25AUD fee (free if you are a gold member or above or travelling in premium economy, business or first). This could well explain mystery disappearing bulkhead seats when they are clearly selling these off for more money…. Advance seat booking is available free of charge on domestic flights.
In May 2015 Qantas launched their “Joey Club” for young passengers (3-10-year-olds), in association with popular Australian kids band The Wiggles. A Joey receives among other things, a novelty passport for recording their flight details, Other family-friendly initiatives have been the expansion of their children’s movie and TV programming on board, specially prepared meals and snacks, as well as ‘kid zones’ within their lounges in Australian capital cities, Cairns, Gold Coast and now LA. The joining fee for the Joey Club is $89.50.
For international travel, those aged 5 to 11 years old can fly as unaccompanied minors (UMs) for flights under 6 hours. The minimum age increases to 6 for flights over 6 hours. (Note rules differ for domestic flights and there can be issues with code shares).
Those aged 12 to 15 years old have the option of flying as an unaccompanied minor, they will otherwise be listed as ‘a young passenger identifiable to flight crew ‘ but no additional services will be provided. UM services need to be booked directly with a Qantas office.
Allowances vary according to the destination, with adults and children’s tickets allowing 30kg (standard economy) or 2 pieces of 23kg each (Americas). Infants have no additional checked baggage allowances on a domestic flight but are allowed an extra 10kgs on International flights (or 1 piece Americas).
In addition, infants are allowed up to 3 additional pieces which include a collapsible stroller or pushchair, collapsible cot or bassinet; or car seat or baby capsule. Children’s tickets are allowed up to an additional 2 children’s items not exceeding 32kg each.
Frequent Flyer Programs
Any person of any age can join the frequent flyer program, so it’s completely open to children, though do note until you are paying for a seat you cannot collect an infant’s frequent flyer points.
Qantas allows members to transfer points to a registered family member up to 4 times in a 12 month period. These transfers must be in multiples of 5,000 points to a maximum of 100,000 points. Whilst this isn’t entirely the same thing as a pooled family account, this is better than many programs, allowing you a bit more flexibility with how you apply your points among family members.
Our Globetrotters View
I know I should say something really loyal and Australian here but honestly, over many years I have flown Qantas either in their own right or as a codeshare I have never thought of them as anything other than good, not excellent. Maybe just my bad luck but on three occasions now I have been stuck in a row where the entertainment system hasn’t worked (we’re talking pre-iPad days here people…) Admittedly, when this happened on our 14 hour Melbourne to LA flight they did give us a complimentary bottle of champagne, seeing as it was our honeymoon and all…
I have not, however, had the pleasure of flying with a family on Qantas yet, simply because they are never the cheapest when I need to fly home to Australia. On flying forums that I participate in, I’ve had several complaints about issues with booking the baby bassinet ( I think this is due to the fact they offer these seats for sale). This was an issue encountered by fellow blogger Matt who recounted us his Qantas/Emirates code share flight fiasco.
I do like the idea of the Joey club, though not sure there’s that much added value I would pay for it – but I’ll happily take their frequent flyer points program, thank you very much.
So let’s have it parents, what has your experience been flying Qantas with kids? Did they go that extra step out of the way for? Is there any travelling or booking advice you could give to other families?
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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page should be used as a guide only. It has been gathered from public sources and correct at the time of going to print (September 2015). Please consult the airline’s own website before booking any family travel with this airline. This review is not an endorsement of Qantas services and I am in no way affiliated with the airline. For further information on airline ratings used and airline alliances, please consult my introductory article here.
Don’t forget to check out our guide to the first time you fly with an infant and how you can fly with only one parent