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Pre-Boarding With Children: How Old Until They Are Too Old? - Live and Let's Fly
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Pre-Boarding With Children: How Old Until They Are Too Old? – Live and Let’s Fly

I ran into something frustrating on my recent Air France flight and want to discuss how old is too old when it comes to pre-boarding for families with “young” children.

Pre-Boarding With Children – What Should The Age Cutoff Be?

One benefit to traveling with my family is that we generally get to board the plane first no matter what class we fly, which allows me to take unobstructed photos of the cabin that are instrumental in distinguishing my trip reports from others. I don’t let airlines know I am coming, so traveling with my kids is a great way to take pictures almost incognito.

Anyway, I lined up to board with my two-year-old behind me in her little Jetkids Bedbox ahead of my recent Air France flight from Los Angeles to Paris. There was another family who lined up to board at the same time…a father with his two children. One looked to be an 8-year-old, the other a 10-year-old. No exaggeration.

It’s not my business who Air France allows to board early, but I really do not understand why an 8-year-old and 10-year-old require additional time to board?

And boy did they board aggressively. I thought I could sidestep around them to get my cabin photos but they bolted down the jetway like I do when I’m traveling solo.

When I reached the cabin they were already sitting in their seats. As a result, they are in my picture:

As a father of two young children, I certainly appreciate pre-boarding because the way my two-year old dawdles along it does take more time to board and would certainly act as a bottleneck to those boarding behind her.

Getting parents or guardians traveling with young children situated early makes so much sense.

But I tend to think by age five the benefit should no longer apply. Air France does not even mention pre-boarding with families on its webpage discussing boarding procedures. United, the airline I fly most often, explicitly limits pre-boarding to families with children two and under (though never actually enforces it).

Two strikes me as too young to cut off pre-boarding, but once children hit five or six, they generally are able to wait in line and board with everyone else.


I thought it was interesting that a father took advantage of pre-boarding to board first with his 8-year-old and 10-year-old on my Air France flight to Paris. While not my business to police, I tend to think that was in poor taste and the line-up of families with babies and wheelchairs was long enough already without three more who did not really need to board early.

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