By: Frenzied Femme
We have a deal with our kids. When they turn 13, they have the privilege of choosing the family vacation. Our daughter is 12 1/2 this summer, so we let her pick for her 13 year trip.
I will be sharing a series of blogs about the experience. I like to think of it as the good, the bad (almost), and the ugly. For a little explanation, the bad (almost) are things that I thought might go bad but ended up fine. I will share the experience through many different angles including both overall impressions and actual product reviews.
Our trip began in the US. We flew to the Great Barrier Reef, then the Outback, Sydney, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. We were there a little over three weeks, and returning home never felt so good. Of course, I felt good at 9 pm when I could sleep from exhaustion. 11 pm was a little different (too many time changes, and I was wide awake). The upside was, I was able to wash all the laundry and scrub the very empty fridge.
Let me start with the airlines. We booked through Qantas. They (and all One World partners) offer a deal where you can fly multiple times for a much reduced fare. We had to book through Qantas and not American Airlines (the US One World partner) because only Qantas offered flights to the Outback. We ended up flying with Qantas, their economy option JetStar, and American.
Using the theme of the Good, the Bad (almost), and the Ugly, I will start with the good. Qantas is great. As an economy passenger, they offered free alcohol, dinner (self selections from 3 quality options), a pizza snack, and breakfast. Granted, that flight was 17 hours long, but they took care of us. They also (liberally) sprinkled snacks around the cabin in case you were hungry any other time.... chips, full size Kit Kat bars.... Did I mention we were Economy. Plus, all the newly released movies you can soak into your head. This wasn't just for the long flight, but for all of their flights. We had a flight that left at 1 pm. Obviously, this meant they would serve us lunch.
Next was the bad (almost). JetStar is a reduced fare fully owned subsidiary of Qantas. We flew from Australia to Hawaii on JetStar. We left just before dinner time. But, on the plane, they had a menu with the prices they charge for the items. So, I was bummed. Having to pay inflated prices for food for 5 people was not what I had been looking forward to. But, shortly after the plane took off, the stewardess handed us blankets and overnight packs. Then, we were also on the food distribution list. Qantas took care of us (not everyone on the plane received this treatment).
Let's talk about the ugly. It doesn't get much more ugly (or less family friendly) than American Airlines. We had 4 sections on American. I had pre-selected seats for all of these flights. I prefer my kids to sit near me. Yes, my 15 and 12 years-olds are capable of sitting away. But, I am much more comfortable with them near me. My 5-year-old son absolutely needs to sit near a parent (usually me). But, on half of these flights, American chose not to honor the pre-selected seats assignments. Rather, they distributed us in a random haphazard fashion. On both of these flights, they decided it was appropriate to separate my 5-year-old son from his family. On one of these flights, we were able to readjust ourselves to accommodate. However, on the other, none of us were seated by each other. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers to be able to have my 5-year-old sit next to me. Really? How can this possibly occur? And we weren't the only people in this position.
But, I think I understand why. At the terminal, it stated that if we didn't like our seats, we could select new ones.....for a fee. Having pre-selected, I did not think they would change our seats. However, I think other people paid to select our pre-selected seats and American (the unfamily friendly company) chose making a cheap buck over what was ethically correct. Boo for American. They also offered food for a fee. But, they also offered movies for a fee (this was new to me). Had I selected this option, it would have been more expensive than a movie theater.
Over, I highly recommend Qantas. It was a pleasure. But, I would avoid American like the plague.
Frenzied Femme is a workaholic mother of 3. She has reluctantly conceded membership in middle age, however is not yet a member of AARP. In her spare time, she feebly tries to maintain the house.