I guess after last night's experience,I can write tips on How To Have A Fun Family Air Travel without sounding baloney! (foolish or nonsense that is !)
Yea, I have no kids of my own yet. But I have my parents, 10 young nieces and nephews, 3 brothers and 3 sisters - in - law whom I call 'Family'! All 19 of us traveled to Cebu City for our family temple sealing and vacation slash birthday celebrations for our loving mom's 62nd and nephew JM's 10th birthday.
I had a wonderful experience! No taste of the travel woes and difficulties, cry babies, tantrums here and there, usually involved in group travels involving kids! Everyone just had lots of fun and laughters!
Of course, this memorable experience is not an accident but was a result of careful yet simple planning and preparations.
Booking Tickets,Flight Times & Luggage
I booked our tickets with Cebu Pacific Airlines as early as July 5, 2010 or about four months before our actual trip and availed of a promo price. I got a P1000 per person round trip tickets for a Go Lite plus P500 round trip travel insurance (which was a mistake rather than a conscious choice), but still our tickets cost half of regular ones.
I chose evening flights for our departure and arrival for a less crowded airport. Last night, we had an 8pm Monday flight. Not only it allowed kids to attend classes and adults to work, there was also less traffic and a lot cooler ride on our way to the airport. We had kuya Mike and Imee's family (10 pax) on the Adventure and Allan's family,my parents and myself (9 pax) in the Sportivo. We left the Sportivo at the parking lot and the Adventure driven back home along with the driver of Sportivo. We got to the airport at 5:30pm with the kids still wide awake and excited!
As our tickets were Go Lite (or no checked - in luggage), we have each child brought his own backpack as hand - carried luggage. To create excitement, older kids packed and carried their own stuff. (I told them they can include anything as long they can carry and not be more than 7 kilos and no sharp toys!. I believe this made the kids felt like responsible adults!
Color Coding &Early Checked -In
As NAIA 3 (as any other airports) is not the most kids' friendly place, we have a color theme for our attire to avoid any of the kids getting lost. Girls /ladies wore shirt with shades of pink and our guys/boys wore shades of blue. It was cool to the eyes and great for pics too!!
We arrived at the airport about 2 1/2 hours before our flight. The family lined up while I approached the counter. They didn't have to individually come to the counter but was asked to simply raise their hands. (Tip: To avoid any hassles with the checked-in, please make sure that adults have government - issued I.Ds with pictures and any form of identification for the kids like school I.D or Birth Certificate).
We were given seats 15 -17 (a to f) and 18 (c) so Kuya Mike's Family of 6 occupied Seat 15, Allan's Family of 6 Seat 16 and Joel's Family and my parents occupied Seat 17. I was alone at seat 18 (c).
Dinner & Boarding
Since our flight time was our usual dinner time and knowing that airlines food are not the most tasty option (not to mention more expensive), I made sure we have enough time to have a decent dinner for the entire family. Raku was a great option since they have rice meals, and a free pitcher of water.
After dinner, it was time for two security counters - boarding pass entrance and security point near the gate. We adopted the "2 kids - 1 adult - 2 kids" rule with me as the lead and didn't have to man any child. I was the first and the last to go as I hold the tickets and boarding passes.
We got to the gate on time and learned about the 20 minutes delay in our flight. Well that was alright as we were prepared with snacks (I brought cookies and gummi bears from my Taiwan trip last night) for the children to munch during the added waiting time!
It was around 8:35pm when we heard the boarding announcement. Those families traveling with children were invited to board the plane before other passengers. That was good as it allowed us to stow our luggages ahead of everyone else.
Inside the plane, I was prepared to hear a cry from one or two of the kids. Instead, I heard lots of "wows" and "ohs" as they looked out the windows and gazed at the amazing lights. My 3-year old niece Shanara (maybe sensing the higher altitude to be heaven) asked "Mom, where is Jesus?)