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Flight Disruptions’ Impact on Families with Babies and Small Children [unreported stories]

Flight Disruptions’ Impact on Families with Babies and Small Children [unreported stories]

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
Last Updated: June 07, 2024

In 2023, almost 85% of Americans planned to travel. Of this number, 54% of families said they would choose to travel by plane1,2. But what happens when families and individuals traveling with babies or small children encounter flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding because of overbooking? For adult passengers, these disruptions can be challenging enough, but with small children in tow, the effects of flight disturbances can be profound.

In this article, we compiled the firsthand accounts of air passengers who traveled with children and infants to illustrate the difficulties they face when they encounter delays, cancellations, missed connections, or denied boarding. For many, the emotional and practical impact of flight delays is far more lasting than financial losses or inconveniences. We hope that by sharing these stories, we can ignite discussions that will help improve air travel experiences for all passengers but especially those in more vulnerable situations.

Flight Delays

Air Canada - Delays

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My family including 7 adults, a 10 year old, a 7 year old, and two 1 year olds, arrived for our 7:40 am flight that was supposed to arrive at 10:55am.To make matters worse, once we reached the airport 4 hours late we were delayed at the airport for almost 3 hours with getting baggage and no air conditioning at the airport. This was also disastrous for us because there was no food available in the area we were stuck in to buy and feed the kids, not even a bottle of water for them. All that was available was chocolate and snacks.

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Despite the extra monetary expenses we incurred, nothing compares or can compensate for the emotional toll it took on the crying, tired, uncomfortable, and hungry children and the discomfort our elderly parents took that day. The emotional scars left on all of us, especially the children, discourage the thought of even stepping into another airport for another vacation. The kids now only want to go on vacation to places we can drive to.

TUI

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Flight canceled at check in with no warning. There was no room at the airport, so we found a corner to sit in as children were getting restless. Police were called to us to move us which made them scared. Boarded at 6:10. There was no warm food on the plane, and the kids were hungry. I started to worry about my son's medication as he was running low and drinking an excess amount. He suffers from diabetes insipidus which is very scary when medication is low. The result could be serious.

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At this point, I had come out in a nasty rash from my neck down to chest due to stress and worry of getting my son home and the rest of our children aged 5 to 15 who were scared and hungry. We explained we didn’t have enough money to pay 1,000 on a taxi ourselves so then told by staff he would put us up in a hotel which we were so grateful for, but [I was also worried about] the risk of my son being without medication. . . [We were] left with no help. Worried, concerned, cold, hungry, we explained at this point it was 12 midnight and we had to sort something out ourselves and he left. I then phoned the TUI helpline and after 45 minutes on hold I got through to a lovely man who explained the situation, and he deemed it as an emergency. Within 30 mins at 1:05 am the first taxi turned up then the 2nd following at 1:30.

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We are so upset with the lack of consideration we had from TUI, and it has put us as a family off flying again. We hadn’t eaten since 9am breakfast time. We feel so let down and hurt by the experience.

EgyptAir

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We are 3 passengers: me, my wife and my infant son. The problem starts … the delay was for no reason and was for more than 3 hours. Because of that we missed our connection.

We reached London and they say to us there is a flight that is going to Vancouver after one hour. We took our son and ran to Terminal 5 to catch the flight, but when we arrived at the gate, they told us that the flight is already full and there is no place for you in the flight, so you have to go back to EgyptAir to clear this issue.

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We got to them and find out we have a flight directly to Vancouver after 2 days and instructed to come to the airport 3 hours before the flight to ask the British Airways employees to claim our luggage and transfer them to the flight we are on, so they provide a hotel for us for two days, but it was stressful because the delay was more than 1 day we don’t have anything to wear. Our luggage was in the airport. After two days of suffering, we got to London airport to take the flight from there to Vancouver. That is our stressful flight and the suffering, and a bad experience with EgyptAir.

Air Canada

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Myself, my 2 children aged 10 and 14 and my friend were traveling to the United States. We were delayed over 5 hours which resulted in missing our two connecting flights. As a result of this, we had no alternative flights to our final destination. At this point, the Air Canada staff member that checked us in at our original departure was “unable” to print off our boarding passes for our two connecting flights and told us that “we would get them at our next gate”.  Because of this, we were unable to go through the checkpoint and straight to our gate and get an agent to assist us by rerouting or put on standby for that evening as our flight was already gone.

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We had to queue for several hours to speak to someone (which did not happen and Air Canada did not even try to help). After 3 hours queueing, a representative shouted to the hundreds of stranded passengers that we had to go downstairs, collect our luggage and leave the airport. We were told that the next available flights out were 2 days later, but this was not guaranteed. We were never offered water, vouchers for food or accommodation. We were told “you could use the white phone downstairs, but it's not working.

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We followed these instructions and ended up sitting in the baggage area for hours on end waiting for our luggage at carousel number 10. Several flights were announced to collect their luggage at this carousel throughout the night, and we were told every time after all of these, that ours would be out next. This did not happen. At this point, we are without sleep for 42 hours. I tucked my children into a corner (just behind where I was waiting for our luggage) with their hand luggage to sleep for a little while only to discover my daughter missing a short time later. She was sleepwalking from pure tiredness and stress. I found her sitting with another family who luckily figured out what was happening and looked after her. This could have ended in a devastating result.

RyanAir

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After a delay, the airline provided a modest food voucher. However, I was unable to purchase food at the airport mall due to the huge length of the queues and the inability of my children to stand in line with me. Our flight continued getting delayed, and neither the cause of the delay was clear nor was there any employees around to help.

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The flight was finally rescheduled, and the new time was displayed on the airport monitor, but only a few minutes before takeoff, the gate number was modified to match the one that was displayed in the Ryanair app. That was a moment of panic. Me, my kids, and a group of other people had to run from this gate to the other one that was very far. During this rush, I realized I left one of my luggage in the old gate. I had to ask a stranger to look after my kids while I ran back to the original gate and found and collected my luggage and ran back to the gate that the flight was rescheduled to.  I almost fainted running back and forward, and I was so worried about missing the flight that was delayed for so many hours. We were all so exhausted, freaked out, and hungry and there were no seats available in the waiting departure area. We all sat on the floor. I was mentally and emotionally spent.

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Inside the aircraft, it was so warm that my older child started to feel ill. I asked for ice, water, and some paper to put on her forehead and behind her neck to help her cool off. My kids were starving, so I asked the air hostess to get food and beverages for them. She told me to wait and she will be back with the trolley soon. My kids said they would never want to fly again since they were so exhausted and traumatized throughout that flight. I was heartbroken to see my children in need of food yet to be unable to provide any.

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I was so terrified due to the gate confusion that I left my children in the care of strangers. My oldest child, who didn’t want me to leave her, was sobbing because she thought I wouldn’t arrive on time. I could not, however, run back and forth with them, so I was left with no other option. I worried that I wouldn’t arrive in time, leaving my kids to scream alone in the waiting area.

Wizz Air

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Our flight was delayed by approximately 55 minutes to start with. Then we were diverted due to a power outage at the scheduled destination. Confused and anxious, I tried to speak to the airport staff but was passed from one staff member to another, none of whom seemed to have a clue what was happening ,they just sat us in a room and ignored us.

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Eventually we were told we were to be transported to Antalya airport on coaches. The coach was not big enough for all the passengers and my wife and I had to sit on the floor separated from each other and sitting our children on our knees.

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My wife had our 11 year old autistic son sitting on her knee. Within an hour of traveling like this, sitting on the floor of a coach with an 11 year old child on her knee, my wife’s sciatica flared up causing her to be in absolute agony for the next 4-5 hours of the journey.

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This whole experience caused us all, but in particular our children, a great deal of undue stress and anxiety, physical pain and discomfort to my wife who is still now suffering with sciatic pain.

British Airways

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We were traveling with 2 small kids (5 and 8 years of age). We landed at just after 7pm, eventually got off the plane, and had to stand in an extremely long queue (2 hours) to rebook a flight which could only be arranged for the following evening. We then stood outside as per the BA consultant in the blistering cold with no gear or equipment and 2 extremely tired children waiting for the shuttle to collect us, only to be told that it may only come about every 2 hours or so. We then got to the hotel after 12pm, and we were supposed to get a dinner which we could not, due to the time we arrived at the hotel. Hungry with 2 small kids, my husband had to walk across to the nearest McDonald's to get some food. Five hours later, my sons and husband got food poisoning.

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As sick as dogs traveling, again no shuttle to collect us from the hotel as we were kicked out at 12 noon (bearing in mind our flight was only at 20:50) we eventually caught a cab again. We got to the airport and had to get a wheelchair for my sons as they were extremely weak and dehydrated. Sat around until 20:50 (sat on the plane for an hour and a bit before we left as the crane got stuck) again another delay. It was 51 hours of traveling with 2 small sick kids. I am extremely disgusted by this level of service and repeated delays.

EasyJet

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We missed our connecting flight due to the length of time our first flight was delayed and ended up having to pay accommodation another night in London. You are only allowed a certain quantity of baby formula through security. We ended up stuck in Dalaman airport so long our baby had finished the total amount of milk allowance. The airport has nowhere to buy formula, and by the time we could exit the airport after going through passport control again to have our immigration stamps revoked and baggage collected. All places of business in Dalaman and surrounding areas were shut.

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Our baby is 3 months old with only 1 set of UK immunisations to date and had no milk. We were also flying with 4 other children along with the baby. As there were no reps available, we had to ring our booking agency who could not get a confirmed connection flight until the following day which meant we had to pay our own accommodation whilst awaiting the connection.

Tired family at airport

Etihad

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In December, me, my husband, and one year old child went to Australia. We waited for almost 5 hours in the plane with no food. When we arrived, our flight to Melbourne had already left so we had to wait for another 8 hours for the next flight in the morning. We were asking for some room or anything to change our baby’s clothes, to feed him, put him to sleep (after almost 15 hours and waiting for the next 20+ hours) but they gave us nothing and said to wait in the terminal. We were really exhausted even then and waited for our next flight in the terminal with our little child.

TUI

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Our party had young children one 6 months and one 2 yrs 6 months. There was no provision made for them and, as the youngest is still on bottle feeds, we had to use unsterilized bottles. Fortunately we had extra pre-made baby milk that we were able to use, but as I said we had to use unsterilized bottles. Needless to say, it took us a few days to get over the journey home as sleep patterns were considerably disrupted.

KLM

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We had a very devastating and terrible experience with our flight from KLM because it was delayed and we missed our connecting flight. Our child’s stroller was also not given to us at the Airport, and we were not informed about it. Our child kept falling because her knees and feet were painful while walking to catch the next flight, but we were denied boarding because we were late for 2 minutes, and the delay was because of the previous flight.

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Our child, 3 years old, kept on asking where her stroller was because she wanted to use it but can’t use it because it was not with us. She was so tired and sleepy, and our overall experience was beyond horrible. Our child had some bruises, pains, and was crying all the time from falling down many times and from walking because her stroller was not given to us at the gate. We feel so heartbroken, frustrated and disappointed.

Turkish Airways

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The flight was delayed by 3 hours causing the connecting flight to be missed. My family and I reached our destination 18 hours after our scheduled arrival time. The airline did not inform us about any flight delays. I was to choose from two alternate flight options but both options were unsatisfactory considering I was traveling with a two year old son. The fast food coupons given were disgusting - each fast food restaurant said only a couple of dishes can be ordered with those food coupons. The food was inedible and definitely cannot be served to a two year old toddler.

EasyJet

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When we landed we sat on the runway with no information for over 30 mins. We then found out there was a technical problem with the tyres on the plane and those had to be changed/replaced. So we had to get off the flight and wait for an update. We waited for over 4 hours with no updates or help from EasyJet or Tui. With 3 children under 8 traveling all day with no offer of water or food at any point was totally unacceptable.

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My three young children at this time were exhausted, hungry and scared - the youngest crying. Once a taxi collected us at midnight while the children were asleep on the street. We had to then split up as there were 5 of us into two taxis late at night in an unfamiliar place which was not a nice feeling. There was literally no communication from TUI and it’s shocking. Very disappointing and frustrating.

Wizz Air

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We have been waiting in the airplane for around 2 hours, in which time we have been informed that there is nobody in the airport available to detach the staircase. In the airplane it was very hot, and we were trying to settle the baby without any success. Basically it was a torture for us. Nobody offered us a glass of water. After 2 additional hours of waiting in the airport and 2 waiting hours in the airplane, we have been informed the flight is canceled, and Wizz Air will provide us transportation and accommodation.

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After off-boarding from the plane, there was no one from Wizz Air to provide us any information. Being with an unsettled baby, we have been waiting an additional 45 minutes for the luggage, a time in which we were not even sure that we will get the luggage back as no one confirmed anything.

Air Transat 

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I was traveling with my husband and our 1 year old infant on our lap. Prior to leaving for the airport, I checked to confirm that the flight was on time. Online the flight said it was on time. When I went to the baggage check in counter I was told the flight was actually delayed by 6 hours now. Nothing was offered by Air Transat to accommodate my infant who would certainly also need to eat during the 6 hour wait as he was under 2 years old and traveling on our lap. Our flight finally arrived 7 hours later than expected. The service we received during this flight and the lack of consideration towards our infant was truly unacceptable and disappointing from an airline of this stature.

Aer Lingus 

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The check in board said our flight was delayed and estimated to be leaving at 2pm. I asked, when checking-in, if we should be rerouted since that will mean we will likely miss our connection, and I was told at the check-in desk they knew nothing about a delay. I asked the agents the same thing when I got to the gate, since the gate listings also mentioned the delay and they laughed it off and told me to go to the transit desk when I arrive at Dublin.

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We arrived the following day, approximately 22 hours later than scheduled. There were 2 of us, I was traveling solo with a 3 year old. The disruption was difficult on him and I was unable to get any work done on Friday due to that becoming another travel day. The inconveniences kept piling on, between the lines we had to stand in to be rebooked on another flight, get a hotel voucher, wait for transportation to the hotel, and wait to be checked in to the hotel, and we were not to our room until 6:30pm.

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We also had a 30 minutes drive back to the airport the following morning and another 3 hours to stand in various lines including the very long customer service line because we could not scan our boarding pass and print our bag tags for a quick bag drop-off like most everyone else because we had been rebooked and apparently already inconvenienced travelers are further inconvenienced by being piled into the excruciating long customer service queue just to check our luggage in.

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The enormous amount of time standing in lines was terribly unpleasant, particularly when traveling with a young child with an itinerary specifically intended to avoid such situations. I believe people in our situation who have been rebooked should be fast tracked through all the additional queues we are then required to endure instead of adding to our already frustrating and inconvenient situation.

Canceled Flights

Lufthansa 

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My flight was canceled 28 hours before departure. I got the notification in an email. After spending more than 8 hours on the phone, Lufthansa customer service couldn’t offer me ANYTHING to replace my canceled flight. Lufthansa said they have nothing in the upcoming MONTH!!!! The Celebi office helped me to find a ticket. It took them roughly 7-8 hours to get a flight, and the only thing they could arrange was a 46 hours, 2 stop, Basic Economy flight, the other way around the world. And they did that with a family of 5 (the kids were 5y, 3y and 3 months old).

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The seats were nowhere near to each other. Actually, my 3 year old son had been seated 7 rows ahead of us ALONE, which couldn’t happen, since that means he was unattended..... At the next airport we tried to ask the Asiana airlines office to sit us together and get back our Economy plus, which we bought, but we got downgraded... She was the meanest person I’ve ever met. She refused to provide any help, and refused to get back the economy plus tickets, even though there were seats available!

In Los Angeles, we had a 14 hour layover! The family and the children were so exhausted that we had to get a room in a hotel nearby. The whole family was totally exhausted after 46 hours of flying, and one of our bags was also severely damaged... I missed two workdays due to this delay, not to mention how challenging and difficult it was to manage these flights with 2 small children and an infant!

Lufthansa

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I was traveling with a newborn, a 4 year old kid, and a senior. They had to rebook most of the passengers' flights. They did book a flight from Munich to Thessaloniki (Greece) for which we had to wait 6 hours before departing. We were only offered one voucher per person through all this time of wait and struggle. I did not even have enough baby formula with me as I did not anticipate all this drama and torture. I had travelled with Lufthansa before but never had to suffer this kind of torture with a new born and a 4 year old crying in airports.

EasyJet 

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After learning about the abrupt cancellation, I immediately contacted customer service department at 13:48, hoping to find assistance and alternative travel arrangements. Despite my urgent pleas, I was inaccurately informed that no alternative flights were available.

The lack of EasyJet staff at the airport only added to our ordeal, leaving all affected passengers without information and assistance. This was especially distressing for my 3-year-old daughter, who suffers from severe food allergies and was in urgent need of suitable nourishment. Our request to exit through passport control to address this issue was denied, which showed a concerning disregard for her well-being and our desperate situation.

RyanAir 

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I traveled with my partner and our 11 month old baby. Our flight was supposed to leave at 15.05. I received a text to say we had a snack coupon of €4 (there were 3 of us, and one hot drink costs €8). At 15.04 [another text] to say our flight had been delayed and a new flight time was 17.30.

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Around 5pm, the gate number appeared so we queued up with the other passengers to then be told it had been canceled. The airport staff were not aware of this, we only found out through the Ryanair app. We had to find accommodation and travel for an extra 2 days as well as food, drinks etc. All of this needed to be sufficient enough for an 11 month old baby. On Sunday, we received a message to say Ryanair had put on a new flight. So, we went back to our accommodation (1 hour 25 minutes), had a rough night's sleep worrying about money, and we woke up on Monday, traveled back to the airport.

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At 15 minutes before scheduled takeoff, we were informed it had been delayed by an hour. We were again informed it had been delayed by another hour. This caused great stress for us, a couple traveling with an 11 month old baby. Luckily, I packed enough food for her, if I hadn’t, we really would have been stuck for food as there was no baby food available in the airport. Throughout the whole process, there was not one member of the Ryanair staff to speak to.

RwandAir 

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The flight had been canceled due to technical reasons. We were then transported to the hotel. Getting on the coach with my kids was a hassle with zero support for mothers, babies etc. Out of frustration, I had to solicit a helping hand from fellow passengers to be able to get on the coach.

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As a result of the unexpected and unreasonably long delay of over 24 hours and late arrival at the destination, I ran out of essential medications and food for my 6 months old infant and my 2 year and 10 months child. I had no idea that I would be in Heathrow for 24 hours. The hotel had no menu for kids and my husband literally relocated to the hotel lobby to assist us in buying groceries, medication, and children’s diapers the next morning.

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Additionally, my infant baby and my daughter were hospitalized on arrival and they have not recovered since arrival until we left Uganda for the UK. I had to spend an extra 10 days to undergo medical treatment for my kids with a repeated laboratory test for the entire family before our departure.

Wizz Air

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We eventually boarded the flight after inept and unprofessional behavior of the Wizz Air staff representatives. There were constant delays. Staff were checking and searching some passengers yet others were allowed through the departure lounge process unhindered with additional confusion as another flight’s passengers were also at the gate.

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Once we boarded the aircraft there was an alteration to the rear of the aircraft involving two passengers. The police were involved, and the Captain subsequently announced that the flight was canceled and the airplane was returning to the UK without any passengers. There was a lot of confusion and angry individuals expressing their frustrations. My children were extremely upset, panicking and crying and had to be comforted.

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We were then boarded on a bus to a part of the terminal and locked into what I can only describe as a corridor with doors locked at both ends. There was not enough seating, my family had to sit on the floor, and we were offered no refreshments, specifically water and there wasn’t an option to purchase any from the point of the departure lounge hours earlier.

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My partner knocked on the glass doors and, after being ignored several times, managed to ask a staff member to provide water to children at the very least, as several hours had passed without any. There a male passenger carrying a crying young baby, and he asked if he could have boiling water to make milk to feed his baby. The staff member was unsympathetic and said they did not have any. My partner informed them it was imperative the baby received access to boiling water as it is essential they are given milk for their regular feeds. The staff member said they did not have access, to which again my partner reiterated we were at an airport with facilities and pleaded with her to arrange this urgently.

 

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My partner’s mother is 69 years of age and was highly stressed, suffering hip pains and other health issues. Our 3 year old boy was playing up as he was shattered. Our 7 year old girl was really scared, crying and had to be comforted a number of times. My 10 year old boy was extremely worried and upset by the events and really struggled to understand events due to his autism. As you can imagine the holiday had turned into a nightmare.

Etihad

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The flight was canceled due to technical problems. We waited a full 3 hours seated in a very hot section of the plane. After three separate attempts by the pilot to get the plane going, they finally canceled the flight. Many children were on the plane, including my youngest (9 yrs) who were overheated and had difficulty breathing. Some of the children also vomited. My youngest was on the verge of vomiting as well. I can't fault the crew members as they did whatever was in their power to help.

Air Canada

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My flight was canceled. I got the message the same evening my flight was departing. Unfortunately, because I was on a long haul flight I didn’t know until I arrived that no flights were leaving that night. I was traveling alone with a 2 year old toddler. I had to get through customs with her alone, and try to rebook my flight and find a hotel for the night.

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I was rebooked to a flight leaving YUL the next evening (Mon June 20). Unfortunately, that flight was also canceled. I was notified about 2 hours prior to when the flight was supposed to leave. Once again, I had to look for a hotel at the last minute, my baby was exhausted from having been at the airport all day. I had to get assistance carrying her (it was evening and she was sleeping by then so had to be carried), getting through customs, and trying to get my luggage.

KLM

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Our initial flight to Amsterdam was canceled. We had to find a place to stay in Berlin; Me, my wife, and 3 children were all stressed. The option that was offered to us initially and confirmed via email, after a few hours was canceled as well. After waiting for 2h to get to the check-in counter (only 2 agents were servicing), we DID NOT get boarding cards for TAP flight and we nearly missed the plane. We had to run through security and to the gates without having time to eat anything. Then the plane departed late, so we again under heavy stress were running with all the luggage and 3 kids to the next plane.

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There was no food on that plane. Then we had to get the boarding cards and the distance to the gate was quite long...so again we were running with all luggage and little kids, all exhausted and hungry, kids crying, as we have not had chance to eat anything for past several hours, as there was no time to stop to buy anything.

Qatar 

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There were 4 passengers including myself - the others were my wife, 2 year old child and 10 month old infant. We were heading to … as my wife’s father was ill. Unfortunately he passed away before we could eventually make it via the rescheduled flights. Had the original flight gone ahead my wife would have been able to spend some final moments with her dying father and attended his funeral. It was extremely stressful with 2 very young children and a grieving wife. It was a horrible experience.

Norse Atlantic

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I was with my 3 children 8, 7 and 3 years old. We were then told we had to collect our luggage as the airline is not covered to keep the luggage on board. If we wanted a hotel we were told to form a queue. Whilst in the queue I was told in order to be placed in a hotel I need to email for a voucher. I went to ask ground staff some questions about next steps at this stage. I was quite tearful but was spoken to very rudely by the male staff member and told I was holding up the queue and to go and sit and wait for my hotel email from Norse. I waited almost 2 hours and then returned to complain to ground staff about not receiving the voucher. My children were tired and hungry at this stage, and they were quite tearful. With 3 exhausted children in tow, I had to collect my luggage from the belt and catch the transfer (which involved another 30 minutes of queuing) to the hotel which by the time I checked in, was well after 22:00.

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[Later], I had to sit by the gate with my children; who at this point were exhausted, upset and quite scared. It was very stressful, and I’m very disappointed at how poorly the whole situation was handled by the ground staff. The whole situation was a massive inconvenience; myself and my children had already been traveling since 8am - on time for check in to then be sat at the gate ‘till almost 10pm, going to the hotel and then returning back at 6am to then have to sit by the gate again until 12:00 with no consideration from the ground staff that I was a mother traveling alone with 3 young children all under 8 years old not even offered a drink on the day the flight was canceled let alone any proper support unless I was chasing them for it. Disgusted at how the whole situation was handled and what little information was provided to us.

RyanAir

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I wanted to let you know of the absolute nightmare myself and my family went through after booking our holiday through yourselves. Absolutely horrific!! I was traveling alone with my two boys and being 21 weeks pregnant, I thought I would never have to question our lives being put at risk. We had our gate changed 4 times and a further 2 hours delay. We were glad to see that we were finally boarding and returning home, or so we thought!!! It was stated that the aircraft wasn’t going to fly.

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We got dumped in a room on the bottom floor of the airport and told we had to collect our baggage and go up to the Ryanair help desk. What a joke!!! We were all told to wait while they looked for accommodation. The staff were absolutely horrific towards us, at one point telling us to go away and wait. As I looked around the airport I could see bodies everywhere - kids crying and lying on the floor. At this point I was absolutely frantic. No answers, no help and no advice. Being 21 weeks pregnant and having to lie on an airport floor is absolutely unacceptable! At one point the staff laughed at us! We were given no water, no food and no blankets and not one person checked on us. My question is, what are you going to do about this!!!  We were treated like dirt by a trusted airline. Lay on a cold airport floor at 21 weeks pregnant with my two young children for a total of almost 27 hours!

EasyJet

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The above flight was delayed for 22 hours. The flight was delayed overnight. For me and my family (traveling with children) the experience was truly awful and has left a ‘mental scar’, all because of the lack of information, the indecisive nature of EasyJet, the choices taken by EasyJet, and the fact we never knew what was going to happen or could happen, ALL of which was in EasyJet’s power to remedy at any point, should you have chosen to do so.

EasyJet

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We discovered the flight was canceled through word of mouth from other passengers on the flight as they had received a message from EasyJet but we had not got any data available on our phones to receive this message.  This caused a lot of confusion and stress, especially as we were a family traveling with two very young children, 5 and 2 years old and it was late at night so they were getting tired and couldn’t understand what was happening.  To add to the confusion, the boards were still telling us the flight was departing and an announcement in the airport told us to go to the gate.” 

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The airline staff only informed us that the rescheduled flight was delayed because of the air traffic control system failure in London when we got on the plane.  Once again this caused lots of upset and confusion about what was going on. We were then told we must board the plane by the airport staff otherwise the flight would be canceled and we would be arrested. This resulted in my child being very upset thinking she was going to get arrested.

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We did board the plane but once aboard it was incredibly hot and the atmosphere was getting very tense and people were distressed including the flight staff with the main flight attendant being very abrupt, unhelpful, unfriendly and quite aggressive towards passengers, which exacerbated an already stressful situation at all. This created a really poor environment for young children to be in and eventually we had to get back off the plane to sit once again in the departure area because of the heat on the plane.” 

American Airlines

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Myself and my 8 year old daughter were traveling from London. The flight was canceled on the gate screen without any loudspeaker announcement. It was canceled approx. 20 minutes before it stated boarding would begin. We went to the customer services desk where we queued for over 2 hours because multiple flights had been canceled. When we finally got to speak to someone at the customer service desk, we were told that there were no available seats on any alternative flights for 30 hours because they were all fully booked.

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Other than the above, I was offered absolutely no alternative suggestions for flights or care or support for whatever duration the delay would be despite being a lone adult female responsible for a young child (8 years old) in a foreign country with no support network in the state whatsoever.

Lufthansa

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I do not need to say that we had a delayed arrival at Frankfurt airport. We ran from the first flight to the second one trying to catch it up but we could not as the gate was closed, and we discovered later that the airline changed the gate without informing us through others in business class who missed the flight as well.

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Then we went back tried to find Lufthansa service desk which was closed, went back to the main hall to check the main Lufthansa service desk which was closed as well, we called the hotline and stayed on phone waiting someone to answer for more that 45 min till the phone cut down, both me and my wife did that.

Finally we discovered by airport security team that the desk will gonna open at 6 am and we do not have option to leave the airport to a hotel as we do not have a visa, so I stayed the night lying literally on the floor, my wife sitting on chair watching my 6 year old child sleeping on chair and the other 11 months old sleeping in her stroller with nothing around.

EasyJet

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My husband and I were traveling with our 18 month old baby, you can imagine this wasn’t easy. She was absolutely exhausted by the whole ordeal, along with my husband and I who finally managed to get to sleep around 03:00 EEST to then have to set an alarm to wake up early to hopefully find out what time our transfers were due to pick us up for the second time to travel the airport once more. My baby is generally very well behaved and has been pretty relaxed for her first holiday experience. This disruption, unfortunately, was too much for her to handle which then caused myself and my husband high levels of anxiety and stress through lack of sleep, major disruption and trying to keep an 18 month old baby content as best we could for over 18.5HRS in total.

Denied Boarding

RyanAir

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I along with my elderly mother and two very young children were denied boarding. This denial was made by the gate attendant who stated that, since we were last in a long line that extended past the attendant, that we did not make it to the gate in time.” 

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When I asked the attendant to please explain why we weren’t able to get on the flight she started getting frazzled and just kept repeating, ‘You weren’t in line and it’s my decision’, which was clearly untrue because we were in line. When I kept letting her know I didn't understand, she called Border Control. When Border Control showed up, they were not understanding the situation as well and at that time I asked to see video surveillance to show that we were in line and we had no idea of what the attendant was saying.  When we asked for video footage, she got very irritated and walked away saying she needed to go to her next position and she will not be discussing any matters.  This was completely unprofessional as she just left a mother, her two small children, and an elderly woman stranded at the airport without any idea of what to do.

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Throughout this whole experience we were stranded at the airport for 11 hours, had to spend thousands of dollars more to get to London, and had to deal with my Autistic son who had a panic attack. This is truly an experience that I do not wish on anyone else and one that could have been completely avoided.

KLM

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I was with my 6 year old autistic son who was tired and crying because he got overwhelmed. Someone took our seats and as I was trying to figure out what to do a flight attendant came and tried to hold my son who then got uncomfortable and started crying even more. The captain then came outside and told us to get out of the plane even though I tried to tell why my son was crying, I even showed him our papers from the doctor that says my son is autistic and can be overwhelmed. He then told me that he’ll not fly until we left the plane and basically threw us out.

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We got a new flight that was leaving to Juarez Mexico where we would take our third and last connecting flight with another airline but on arrival at the airport we didn’t get to board because of lack of our boarding pass. We hadn’t eaten anything and the way the captain treated my son was inhuman. I feel too unsafe traveling with KLM after how my son and I were treated.

British Airways

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My children, wife, and I were the first people to arrive at the airport check-in desk. When checking-in opened it was delayed by 30 minutes. When we presented at the counter the operator informed us that we had no seats on this flight. We told him that we had confirmed seats and we had the appropriate email and immediately produced them, which was the confirmation of my flight, booking and proof of payment as well as flight number.

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We was still told that the flight was overbooked and rudely told to wait to see if any seats became available. They said this would happen about 30 minutes before the flight would depart as our seats are standby seats. I was completely devastated and shocked by this as was my wife and five children, the youngest of which has health problems. We were all in a state of shock and upset.

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They kept us waiting, worried and anxious for 3 hours regarding this situation. I was so scared. My children became upset, confused and extremely restless at this time, and we had our work cut out trying to resolve this awful situation as well as trying to attend to my younger son who was in trauma at this time.

EasyJet

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My 6 year old daughter has autism, anxiety, and mental health problems. We were told at 10.00pm to sleep on the airport floor. They put us up in a hotel for one night in the middle of nowhere and were offered no food by that hotel until the next morning or fluids. The hotel was in the ghetto of Paris, nothing there in the surrounding area. I paid to go back to the hotel we were originally staying in to get my vulnerable child out of that area. My friend and 11 year old daughter were also on the holiday with us. Easy jet did not provide anything for us, no vouchers for food or fluids, no phone calls, no accommodation. They have told us to basically sort ourselves out on our own. The way we were treated was absolutely appalling. My child had a meltdown when we were told to sleep on the floor. She never wants to go on holiday again. It’s been stressful and mentally and physically draining.

Missed Connections

Austrian Air

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I was flying with my 3 toddlers. Because of technical issues, the plane departed 1 hour and 30 minutes late. We were supposed to arrive at Vienna airport at 9:55pm and our connecting flight was at 10:35pm. But we arrived in Vienna around 12am. Because of this we missed our connecting flight.

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Because there were no other flights, we had to wait until the next day to fly, so that’s 24 hours later. We were offered a hotel near the airport. I had to walk for 20 minutes with my 3 toddlers in the middle of the night to the hotel. The checkout from the hotel was at 12pm but I extended my stay in the hotel until 6pm because it was hard to wait with 3 toddlers at the airport for that long.

Lufthansa

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The flight was awful! First of all, there was a massive delay! When I arrived, me, my children and all the other passengers had to wait 30 minutes for the plane to park. I was worried that our plane to Cairo had gone, but the flight attendants reassured us we did not reach our flight. However, it turned out to be a lie, as when we got off, the plane took off. I was very worried!

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So I took my children to the service center and hoped to get some help. At this point, I was crying. The airline did not provide much food (only water bottles, twix bars and nuts). When I was at the center, the staff working there were extremely rude, and did not help much. I told them my children needed a place to sleep, and I have a baby, who has a lot of allergies. There were no shops open at this time. It seemed they only wanted to finish as fast as possible, and did not care about the customers. There was even a worried mum, who needed to store insulin in a fridge, and they took 10 minutes to tell her where to store it.

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When I returned to the service center, it was closed. I started to panic, and I worried about where my children would sleep and what they would eat. However, there was a sleeping lounge with chairs to sleep on. It had little to no comfort, so my children reluctantly slept on the floor. The next morning, I took my children to a play area, so they could run around and stretch their legs. Meanwhile, I looked for some food for my kids to eat. You see, we are Muslims, and only eat Halal food, and my children were starving from the little food the airport provided. So I searched frantically for food, but most of the food was non-halal. The staff at the airport did not give any directions on halal restaurants, or on what to eat. They told me to find it yourself.

Conclusion

As you can see, flight disruptions can have a profound impact on families and individuals traveling with children and babies. Hopefully, elevating the awareness of these struggles will help initiate changes in the airline industry. As advocates for passenger rights, we here at AirAdvisor believe that understanding what passengers must endure during flight disruptions is the first step towards positive changes that can make air travel a more pleasant and less stressful experience for all passengers.

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