Traveling with small children can be a fraught business, but Virgin Australia is making it easier to get your child in the air. The airline is introducing a free baggage allowance for children aged 23 months or younger.
Small children aged twenty-three months or younger already travel for free on Virgin’s domestic flights if they do not occupy a seat. Infants jetting off internationally pay 10% of the fare excluding fees, taxes and ancillary charges.
But other than the 7kg cabin allowance and complimentary carriage of prams, car seats and strollers, these young jet setters could never check in their own Samsonite and had to share (or hog) Mum and Dad’s baggage allowance. But Zac George in Points From The Pacific says that this is changing, as Virgin Australia will now allow 23 kg of checked-in luggage plus 7kg of cabin bags, in addition to prams and car seats for small children, regardless of fare type or class of travel.
That’s a lot of gear for Mum and Dad to carry.
Once the child turns two, they’ll lose these perks and must occupy a seat on their own ticket. On the plus side, you can then sign little Emily or Noah up to Virgin Australia’s Frequent Flyer scheme and collect their points and status credits under family pooling arrangements.
In a statement, Paul Woosnam, Virgin Australia’s General Manager of Ground Operations said;
“We want to be the airline of choice for travelling families and we’re proud to be the only carrier in Australia to recognise that travelling with an infant sometimes means packing far more than usual. We think parents will be pleased too, as they can now pack a little extra for themselves on their next.”
Babies on planes
Virgin is making a clear pitch for the family vote in the preferred airline stakes.
Children on planes can be controversial. Allow me to be upfront here. I don’t have children and I’m not a fan of children on planes. I don’t like wailing or misbehaving children in confined spaces for prolonged periods of time.
I also accept that this is fundamentally selfish and unreasonable, so I suck it up. I’ve sat near children who’ve been perfect. I’ve also sat near an infant who screamed all the way to Perth. And I’ve sat near some adults who’ve behaved far more poorly than the children around them.
I’ve sat next to Raphael, a nine-year-old American boy who was practically pinging out of his seat on the last leg of a very long haul from the States. And he really needed to go to the toilet. I didn’t know whether to laugh or strangle him. Then recently a boy, Eli, patiently explained Fortnite to me and how to play it on a flight up the coast. He was a pleasure to sit beside and a credit to his parents.
The really young ones, the infants – it’s hard to begrudge a crying baby on a plane. Tired, uncomfortable, hungry, popping ears … I share your pain little buddy. A fractious infant is far less annoying than a fractious seven or eight-year-old. Is it human instinct to be far more tolerant of the smallest passengers than a slightly older junior airborne monster?
A clever move by Virgin
So I have mixed feelings about Virgin Australia’s pitch to families. In a way, it’s a clever move. Young families are a decent demographic and most seem to be acutely aware of how businesses welcome and treat them. By outstretching their arms, Virgin Australia is clearly differentiating themselves from competitors.
Paul Woosnam says;
“We know travelling with an infant can be incredibly stressful and we’re pleased to make that journey a little more effortless.”
In the meantime, solo travelers like me who are skittish about small children on planes can adopt strategies such as avoiding school holiday travel, avoiding family-friendly off-peak travel times, or being prepared to mellow and be nice when they are seated near a child, big or small.