• British Airways launches new initiatives to help families travelling through the airport this summer.
  • The airline looked at the age in which children take their very first flight, with the average youngster flying for the first time at four years old.
  • Today’s generation take to the skies three times earlier than their parents did.
  • The average child will have travelled to four different countries by the age of 10.
  • Almost half of parents find travelling with children stressful.

Ahead of the summer getaway, research conducted by British Airways has found that, on average, parents didn’t go on their first flight until they were 12-and-a-half but had jetted off with their children on international trips before they had even started school. The study also found a quarter of parents let their children pick the family holiday destination.

One in 10 babies take to the skies before they have even turned one and a tenth of under-17s are even signed up to airline loyalty programmes. This is in stark comparison to their parents as a fifth of those surveyed didn’t get on a plane until they were 18.

Claire Bentley, who commissioned the British Airways research, said: “Air travel has become much more accessible to people over the last few decades. We now live in a connected world where new destinations are opening up all the time and as a result, children are not seen as restrictive to travel but as essential travel companions with rich experiences and new cultures to discover. Many family holidays are now taking place abroad allowing children to experience a flight at a very young age.”

British Airways is the first UK airline to open a permanent family check in area at Heathrow Terminal 5 with a dedicated fast track security lane exclusively for families. For the first time ever, the airline has introduced family boarding passes, allowing parents to have all names in their group on a single boarding pass and making it even easier to pass through the airport.

The study also revealed that by the age of 10, the average child will have flown to four separate countries across the globe. With a quarter of British youngsters under 17 having flown to the USA, three quarters will have holidayed in Europe and one in 10 will have even visited Africa. In comparison, just 18 percent of their parents had been lucky enough to go to North America by the age of 10 while 57 percent had gone on a European trip.

Flying with young children isn’t always without turbulence - one in 10 parents admitted to being unprepared for their first flight as parents. A third confessed to forgetting to take their child’s favourite toys (34 percent), while a quarter (27 percent) failed to plan their child’s sleep around the flight times and one in five (21 percent) forgot to pack their child’s medication.

As a result, four in 10 parents find travelling with children (from newborns all the way to 17 years old) stressful and the biggest fear when flying with kids is how to keep them entertained for the duration of the flight. This is followed by worries about disturbing other passengers and the pressure in the cabin causing their kids pain. Their fears may not be justified though as only 16 percent said they have been left embarrassed by their child’s behaviour on a flight.

Other worries parents have when travelling with little ones include children getting lost in the airport, forgetting something important and having to travel with extra bags and buggies.  

The full top 10 biggest fears as a parent when travelling with children:

  1. Keeping the kids entertained (42 percent)
  2. Disturbing other passengers (35 percent)
  3. The pressure in the cabin causing them problems (29 percent)
  4. Your children becoming distressed (29 percent)
  5. Children getting lost or separated in the airport (23 percent)
  6. Forgetting something important (22 percent)
  7. Not being able to settle them/get them to sleep (19 percent)
  8. Travelling with buggies, extra bags etc (17 percent)
  9. The airport journey (17 percent)
  10. Other passenger’s reactions to my child’s behaviour (17 percent)

The research, conducted by onepoll on behalf of British Airways, polled 1,000 adults based in the UK. The adult sample were aged 18 and upwards, with 50 per cent of respondents aged between 31 and 40 years old.

For more information, discover the seamless experience at Heathrow Terminal 5 here.