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Flying economy with an infant (and how we chose our airline)

Elora was 22 months old in during our recent trip to the USA. It was actually spur-of-the-moment. We applied for her visa, and when she was approved, we decided to take advantage of an infant's "free fare" if that infant is less than 2 years old during the duration of the trip. This just means that when you fly out and during your return flight, the declared infant should still be less than 2 years old. 

Anyway, the booking of the airline was assigned to me, as usual 😄. It took me 2 weeks to compare between Philippine Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Eva Air, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Hongkong Airlines. These airlines were the ones with good reviews from people we know. I used the skyscanner app to check prices for all these airlines. I was also looking at reviews. Since it was a long flight, we wanted Elora to be as comfortable as possible. 

Since we were paying combined cash and credit card at the time, it was also important that they have an office here in the Philippines. 

In terms of price, Hongkong airlines was a sure winner. I read and watched reviews and it was good. I even saw comparisons with Cathay Pacific and Hongkong Airlines emerged as winner. It seemed that Hongkong Airlines was a good choice. Their office is also located just at Amorsolo St in Makati, which was very accessible to us.

Much as we wanted Eva Air, it usually emerged as the one with the highest price at that time. So this was the airline that we first dropped. 

Asiana  was something that we were considering because of good reviews. Price was also competitive. The same goes for Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Of course, among these three, we know Singapore Airlines was the best airline. But I was torn because among the 3, it had the highest cost. I was leaning more towards Cathay Pacific because my late father gave glowing reviews about it. He took it yearly for long haul flights when he was alive. 

Finally, Philippine Airlines. At that time, it was the first choice. Jie was strongly suggesting that we take this airline since it was a direct flight. All of the other choices above had layovers. But I was hesitant simply because this was the airline we were always taking. Also, from our experience the last time when we took United Airlines, the layover actually helped for us not feel jetlag. In my mind, this was not part of the options. Of course I was silent about it. 😉

Asiana was dropped when we checked the duration of the layovers. At that time too, price was steadily increasing. Hongkong Airlines was dropped simply because Jie does not personally know anyone who has taken it. (We later on found out that it was really a good airline, and one of our relatives was recommending it. So we might consider it in our next flight). 

So now, it was down to Cathay and Singapore. In our argument, it was decided that the moment we stepped in the airport, it was already the start of our vacation. So layovers should not be a big concern. But, the layover should allow us to maximize our time. Only Cathay (Hongkong) and Singapore would give that to us because both countries do not require a visa. We planned to check both since their ticketing offices were in the same building.

We stopped by at Singapore Airlines first. I inquired and gave them a screenshot of the time and dates we wanted. After checking his computer, the agent happily announced that he was able to get the same flights at a lower amount. That sealed the deal for us. 😁 He explained that sometimes, there are fluctuations in the prices because of some of the code. Only they know what the codes on the flights mean. For them, it’s simply a matter of checking which flights were cheapest.

Transacting through their ticketing office was also a breeze. They were very accommodating and friendly. We also told them that we have an infant with us, and requested that we be seated beside each other. He mentioned that this was normal because we have an infant.

So it was settled. Our flight had a 22 hour layover, but the plan was to explore Singapore during that time.

On the day of the flight itself, we felt really special. During boarding, when they saw Elora, they immediately ushered us in, as soon as the call for boarding was announced. We were given the first row of the middle seats.

I now understood why Singapore Airlines was consistently the best. Here were the comforts despite economy:

  • As soon as we were seated, a stewardess immediately arrived and ask if I would want to have my meal first or Jie since one of us would be holding Elora. I volunteered that Jie have it first.
  • Before take off, Jie was invited to take a vacant seat on the other aisle, so Elora can seat, and it would be more comfortable for all of us.
  • Elora was given an Olaf plushie. This entertained her during the flight. 
  • Entertainment selection was great. They even had a kids section which contained all the animations and family movies. There were also games. 
  • New earphones everytime
  • Hygiene kit and socks during the long flight (SG to US) 
  • Food was good, and soooo filling. I think we gained so many pounds during the flight alone. 😅
  • Stewards were so friendly and accommodating.

Our original seat before Jie was invited to transfer

New seating arrangement

Enjoying her own seat

In one of our flights, I transferred Elora to the bassinet when she fell asleep. However, a few hours into the flight, the head steward came and ask that I carry Elora. Reason is simply because she was already too long for the bassinet. This was actually not an issue because it was clearly obvious. Her feet were dangling from the bassinet! Hehe Just a tip for those with long-legged infants 😁

With the few airlines we have tried, clearly Singapore Airlines was a winner. It also made travelling with Elora so much comfortable. I’m sure we would want to try the other airlines in the future but currently Singapore Airlines would be our default airline.

Hey, in case you want to check out the others: 👇

Hongkong Airlines:
Suite 402, Alexander House, 132 Amorsolo St.,  Legaspi Village Makati Metro Manila
Telephone: +632-812-2382

Singapore Airlines
33/F LKG Tower, 6801 Ayala Avenue Makati City 1226
Telephone +63 2 7568888

Cathay pacific
22F LKG Towers, 6801 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1226, Philippines
For PLDT landline & Smart Mobile: 180014411011 
For Globe: 180087395117 

6F, The Salcedo Tower, 169, Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City, M.M. Philippines
Phone:  63-2-662-8000/8088

Filinvest Ticket Office, Westgate Center, Commerce Ave. cor  Filnvest Ave. Filinvest Corporate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa
Tel: (632) 966-9046
Makati Ticket Office: G/F PNB Makati Center, 6754 Ayala Avenue cor  Legazpi St. Makati City
Tel: (632) 320-8983

There were a lot of PAL offices. I just copied the one most convenient to us.