Low-cost airlines are a great way to lower your travel costs so you can have those holidays you’ve worked hard to create. It’s especially important for families, as the nature of such, drives your travel costs up.
Low-cost flights are cheaper because they don’t offer the bells and whistles like food and entertainment.
That doesn’t mean low-cost carrier flights aren’t worth taking. If low fare flights allow you to travel, then it’s worth it. As long as you are prepared and plan accordingly you can ensure your flight is comfortable.
We recently flew as guests of The Philippines leading low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific Air to Boracay Island via Manila. We were prepared for the flight and really enjoyed it. Cebu is probably our favorite low-cost airline to date.
We loved the Philippines and definitely want to go back to explore more. We would not hesitate in flying Cebu Pacific again.
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Here are a few of our tips to help you prepare for your low-cost flights with kids so you can enjoy the journey to your destination.
Entertainment on low-cost airlines
Hire an entertainment tablet
On some low-cost airlines, you can pre-order a tablet for entertainment. We recommend doing that when you purchase your ticket, instead of waiting until you board as they often run out.
Cebu Pacific did not have tablets for hire. They did have in-flight Wi-Fi for $5, which I thought was a great price. I was excited upon boarding to see that as I had forgotten to send off a deadline project in the Amex lounge so envisioned myself doing it on the plane and not being late.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t working so I couldn’t connect. But I got the video sent off as soon as we landed and connected to the internet via our Golocal portable Wi-Fi device.
Relevant reading: 17 tips for flying with kids to keep you (and them) happy and sane
Bring your own entertainment
Don’t listen to your child’s cries of boredom. Tell them you do not understand what that means. We make our children responsible for packing their own entertainment bag – keep an eye in case you need to slip a few things in.
Kalyra did her schoolwork, Savannah did a bit of that with me too as well as playing on her leap pad and games on the notebook. We also played silly games together. Kalyra and Savannah practiced their videography and photography skills and read their books.
I had a chance to catch up on a lot of written work – this post included and did a bit of reading with my new book, How to raise highly sensitive children.
I think I have two of them and could be one myself!!
Relevant Reading: Homeschool Resources: How we roadschool our kids
On our Cebu Pacific flight, the crew played games with us. I thought this was really cool. On many other low-cost airlines, you’re lucky to get a smile from the crew.
They had trivia questions and the hostesses sang for us and we had to guess the song. It didn’t last for long but it captured the girl’s attention for some time.
The scenery outside our window coming into Manila and flying over to Boracay was incredible. I saw some of the best cloud porn I’ve ever seen. It kept Savannah and I entertained for some time and lead to our homeschooling lesson for the day on clouds.
Thank you, School of Life.
Food on low-cost flights
Pre-order your meals
It’s best to pre-order your meals online before you board a low-cost flight. This ensures you get the meal you desire. There’s nothing worse than an eight-hour flight with hungry children, or adults.
Have extra cash, or your card, in case you wish to purchase more food on board.
Consider bringing your own snacks
On our Cebu Pacific flight to the Philippines, we brought a ton of snacks for two reasons. They did not have gluten free meal options – Craig and I are gluten free. And they did not have kid’s meals.
Savannah is the world’s fussiest eater and would never eat an adult’s meals with all those fancy sauces! That was one thing I did not like about our flight. It’s common with many low-cost airlines and I’d love more options for allergy sufferers.
The snacks were on hand for extra help. We also had access to the Amex lounge before boarding so filled our tummies with food (and a sneaky champagne) before boarding. Amex Platinum charge card holders get access to the Sydney Airport lounge.
Thankfully, Kalyra loved her Chicken Tanglad, which received a “that was so delicious Mum.” Both girls devoured the chocolate cake that came with it.
Check the low-cost airline in case you can’t bring snacks. But, I think if your dietary requirements aren’t catered for you should be able to bring your own food.
Bring your own water
Fill up your own water bottles. Family travel can be so chaotic with all the luggage and demands of children that it is easy to forget certain tasks, like filling up your water bottle. I drank four bottles full of water before going through immigration so our water bottles were not confiscated. All that running to the toilet once we got through security didn’t remind me to fill them back up!
I hate flying without lots of water to drink. On low-cost carriers, you will have to purchase your water. Write a checklist so you do not forget to fill up the water bottles.
We did not forget to bring our own water on the return journey BUT for some strange reason there were security bag checks at the boarding gate and they confiscated our water. I’ve never had that happen before and I don’t understand why. But, I was happy to know security was a priority!
We did have two pre-ordered meals on our Cebu Pacific flight, which came with water and then I just purchased extra – thankfully at a cheap price. I was most impressed with the $2 price of my green tea as well.
Consider a night flight
Have a big meal before boarding your low-cost flight and then go to sleep. That way it doesn’t matter if you’re fed or entertained.
Plus you save on a night’s accommodation as the flight goes so much faster.
We had a night flight on the way back to Sydney and I think almost all of us slept the majority of the way. It was a great flight! This does depend on whether you can sleep on planes or not, and whether your children can. If they can’t, it might be a bit of a nightmare for you.
Thankfully, our girls can sleep anywhere.
Check in on the web
We had a crazy week before catching our Cebu Pacific flight to the Philippines – packing up and cleaning our house, driving from Brisbane to Sydney, organizing for the Philippines trip plus South Australia straight after, getting the girls homeschooling schedules and work set up, AND our normal business and running around stuff.
It meant we forgot to web check in. We arrived at Sydney airport to a huge check-in line snaking around.
Surprisingly, the line moved fairly quickly and we were through and checked in within half an hour. Fill out your immigration forms while you’re waiting in line so you can go straight through.
Thoughts on Cebu Pacific
If you come prepared as outlined above, then a flight on Cebu Pacific is the almost the same as any other. The only thing that matters is they get you up and down safely. Apart from the water, we were prepared for our Cebu Pacific flight and it was very pleasant and enjoyable.
The staff were courteous and relaxed, as was the atmosphere in the cabin. It was very friendly with people standing up, wandering around and chatting. We departed on time, everything ran smoothly and the time went surprisingly fast, even without the movies.
I would definitely fly Cebu Pacific again to the Philippines, especially given the low cost, putting more money in your pocket for experiences and memories.
Not only do we want to return to Boracay Island and spend more time relaxing as a family, we also want to visit the island of Cebu and Palawan – both look and sound like stunning and relaxing island adventures.
Cebu Pacific operates the most extensive Philippine network, so it’s quite easy to reach these beaches through their flights.
You can see more on our Philippines video. Press play:
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Can you share any tips for flying low-cost airlines?