Air New Zealand Family Flying Airline Review

Family Flying Airline review | How does Air New Zealand stack up for families? | Our Globetrotters Flying with Kids

Our Globetrotters are reviewing 30 of the world’s leading international airlines for their family-friendliness.  Our reviews cover the airline’s policies and service offerings that the average family will deal with when flying standard economy class. For more details on the Globetrotters reviews and ratings referenced, please see the lead airline review article.

Taking out best Premium Economy airline at the latest Skytrax World Airline Awards – yet surprisingly falling out of the JACDEC Top 20 for safety in 2018 – make no mistake there are big things still to come from this mighty airline from down under.  The introduction of the “SkyCouch” in 2011 has revolutionised long-haul flying and they are bringing out a first for families in aviation later 2018……

Air New Zealnd Logo courtesy Air New Zealand

Code: NZ

Base: Auckland

Alliances: Star Alliance

Skytrax Rating 2018: 17

JACDEC Safety Rating 2018: >20

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Air New Zealand Pregnancy Policy

Medical clearance is needed at all time if you have a complicated pregnancy, history of early labour or have begun the early stages of labour.

For a single, uncomplicated pregnancy, you can board flights over four hours until the end of your 36th week without medical clearance; for flights under 4 hours, you can board flights without medical clearance until the end of your 40th week.

For multiple pregnancies, this is reduced to 32 and 36 weeks respectively.

They recommend carrying a letter from your doctor/midwife after 28 weeks flying pregnant with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Newborn Policy

We couldn’t find any specific policy from Air New Zealand on how young they will accept infants.  The general policy most airlines adhere to is strictly no travel within 48 hours of giving birth and not recommended within the first 7 days after delivery.

Related Reading: Our Ultimate Guide to Flying Pregnant: Everything you need to know with your own passenger on board

Flying Air New Zealand with Infants (under 2 years)

Infants under 2 years old do not need their own seat.  They are free to fly on domestic flights or pay 10% of the adult fare on international flights. The passenger holding the infant must be over 15 years old.  Only one infant is allowed per adult, but for two infants you can purchase an additional child seat and use an approved car seat or CARES harness.

Baby bottles can be prepared, heated and washed by staff but cannot be sterilised.  A specific infant meal can be ordered on long haul (not Tasman or Pacific routes) at least 24 hours in advance.  Baby amenity kits are also available on board by request.

Baby Bassinets on Air New Zealand

The Ultimate Guide to baby Bassinets | Our Globetrotters

Bassinets are offered on international flights. They are designed for infants up to 8 months and 11.8kg (26lb) and are 73.66cm (29″) long and 34.29cm (13.5″) wide.  You can select a row with a bassinet seat at the time of booking.  At the time of flying, you will be asked to confirm they meet size requirements.  If they do not, you may be asked to move for another passenger who needs it.

If there are no other infants using the bassinet seat and you are travelling with an 8 to 15-month-old, you may be allocated a bassinet seat still at check-in.

**Read more below on the SkyCouch Infant Harness**


Flying Air New Zealand with Children (2-11 years)

Children’s tickets on International flights are 75% of the adult ticket.

Strollers and/or car seats (we read that to mean you can take BOTH) can be included on an infant or child’s ticket, even if there is no other baggage allowance on the ticket.

Meals suitable for 2 years + are provided on long-haul flights (and on Tasman and Islands flights when you select The Works, Works Deluxe, Premium Economy or Business Premier products).   You can select the child’s meal option when booking your flight or request it through the Air New Zealand Contact centre / your travel agent at least 24 hours before your flight.

They currently provide the following guidance as to what you can expect in the child’s meal:

  • Main meal: Waitoa free-range chicken tenders with roasted kumara and broccoli or penne pasta with beef bolognaise meal both meals served with Kapiti ice cream, cheese stick, fruit juice and fresh apple pack
  • Breakfast: cinnamon hotcakes with apple and raisin compote, fresh fruit salad, muffin and juice
  • Snacks: available on long-haul only or to purchase on short-haul – Rookie Cookie, potato chips and fruit juice

Children’s meals are served in advance of adult meals so you should be able to deal with them independently of your own mealtime (or steal all the good bits from their tray!)

Children’s entertainment on Air New Zealand

Kids will get an activity pack included if you have ordered a kid’s meal.  They will also have seatback entertainment system that includes a dedicated children’s channel.

Car Seats on Air New Zealand

Car Seats are allowed on board to be used on as well as the CARES harness and MERU TravelChair for the disabled. Always check that your seat meets the manufacturers stipulations as set by the airline.  If your flight is a codeshare, check it also meets the codeshare partners policy.

Collapsible strollers on Air New Zealand

Those strollers that can fold to overhead locker size may be taken on board.  However, if the cabin staff advise the flight is full, the stroller may be taken from you at the gate and stowed. (Always keep your strollers tagged in case this happens).

You can read our full review of collapsible airline strollers here

Use of sleep devices (eg Bed Box) on Air New Zealand

We cannot find any specific information directly from Air New Zealand whether they accept Bed Box or similar leg cushion devices to extend seat length. We have heard anecdotally that they DO NOT and with their SkyCouch offering, I would assume this is correct.  Some airlines have banned these products on safety grounds whilst others allow their use if they are in designated seats.

You can see our full review of the Bed Box and other similar sleep devices for children here.

The Air New Zealand SkyCouch Infant Harness

Air-NZ-Sky-Couch-Review-Air-New-Zealand - Image from Carpe Diem Our Way
The SkyCouch being used by @Carpe Diem Our Way Credit: Lindsay Nieminen

The groundbreaking SkyCouch by Air New Zealand will no doubt start to become commonplace across ultra-long-haul airlines (surprisingly more haven’t introduced this concept already), but what exactly is it and how do you bag yourself one?

Firstly, it is not free! Do note, you pay for the privilege but what it does score you is more coveted Economy class space.  A set of three seats can be turned into a two-person row whereby you pay extra to ensure no one has your middle seat.  A single passenger can book two seats as well, but the cost is obviously reduced when two people book 3 seats in a row.

You can read another review about how the SkyCouch experience works with kids here

The latest innovation, being rolled out from late 2018 is the SkyCouch Infant Harness.  This is an attachment that can be added when you have booked the SkyCouch and serves as an alternative to the infant bassinet. (It’s unclear whether the airline will still offer both, or if you will now have to purchase the premium seat).

The Air NewZealand SkyCouch Infant Harness
The Air New Zealand SkyCouch Infant Harness with Infant Pod. Image Credit Air New Zealand

It will come in three sizes:

  • Small: 0-5kg, <65cms
  • Medium: 5-10kgs, 65-85cms
  • Large: 10-18kgs, 85-110cms

An infant belt will loop through the harness and is secured by a clip.  It can be used only in the window seat of a SkyCouch.  The belt will hold the infant snug so even in turbulence they can remain in the harness.

Subject to availability, you can use an Infant Pod. Pod dimensions are 70cm x 32cm x 15cm.

When the seats are upright for take-off and landing, the harness is secured to the adult’s lap belt as usual.

You can read more about the SkyCouch Infant harness on Air New Zealand’s website here.

Unaccompanied Minors on Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has one of the most transparent and reassuring unaccompanied minors (UM) policies we have seen.

A child between the ages of 5 and 11 years old can travel as a UM provided they pay an adult fare and agree to wear an Airband.

What’s this I hear you say?  Another Air New Zealand revelation – the Airband is a special wristband provided at check-in in order to allow the child’s journey with updates provided to up to 5 contacts.  Text messages are sent at check-in, when the plane is boarded, when the flight has landed and the child has been handed by cabin crew to the ground crew and when they have been picked up by their designated guardian.

The fee per child one way on International flights is $30USD.  Youths 12-16 have the option of using the Airband, they will be paying an adult fair anyway.

Except on the London to Auckland route, children over the age of 5 are permitted to fly in a different cabin to their parents as long as they are over 5 years and collected during any transit period. The child must pay for a full adult fare if left unaccompanied.

Complete Guide to Flying with Kids | Our Globetrotters

Baggage Allowances on Air New Zealand for Families

On most routes, there is a one-piece allowance in economy with a weight limit of 23kg. This increases to 2 pieces in Premium Economy and Business. Koru members get an extra bag. If you think your bags will weigh more, you can pay extra to increase your allowance to 32kg.

Hand luggage you are allowed 7kg each in economy.

As stated above, we understand that on an infant or child’s ticket you can additionally carry both a stroller and a car seat without paying any excess.  An infant doesn’t get any additional checked luggage but you can bring an extra carry-on item.

Always check current allowances directly with the airline and read the fine print of the ticket to see what fare class you are in, even within economy allowances may differ based on the route and type of ticket you have purchased.

Air New Zealand Frequent Flyer Programs

The Air New Zealand frequent flyer program is called Airpoints, and they are a part of the Star Alliance network.  You can earn and spend points on both Air New Zealand and their Star Alliance partnership network of airlines – applies to any fare paying passenger over the age of 2.

In addition to simply earning Airpoints, which any passenger can sign up for, you can join Koru.  Koru membership can be purchased with points and includes an initial joining fee plus annual membership to get access to exclusive benefits, including lounge access, extra baggage, and priority seating.

If you are travelling as a Koru member, you can bring an extra guest into the lounge with you, and children under 11 are complimentary.  If you regularly have more than one guest with you, you can purchase them a 3, 6, 9 or 12-month guest membership.

Airpoints Dollars can be combined in a Shairpoints account, with up to a maximum of 5 members and up to 2 different addresses.

Globetrotter’s View of Air New Zealand

Any airline policy that takes into account the need for comfort and space during a long haul flight gets a big thumbs up in our book.  Sure, this comes at a premium but you are talking about an airline operating from a country in one of the most remote corners of the planet! They seem to be responding extremely well to the needs of families with not only their seating but unaccompanied minors policies too.

The airline has a reputation for being very passenger-orientated.  Their safety videos are always first-rate and very entertaining, and reviews of cabin staff friendliness and overall cleanliness of the airline are always excellent.

I wish their frequent flyer program was a little more exciting and pooling could be done – a long-haul to London and back could easily score a family a few domestic NZ flights.

Looking for what to do when you get to New Zealand? Check out some of these amazing ideas!


Have you flown pregnant or with infants/children on Air New Zealand? Do you have a review or advice to share with travelling families?  

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Flying with Air New Zealand as a family - everything you need to know before flying and service to expect flying as a family | Our Globetrotters

Before you go!  Have you seen our guide on what to pack for family air travel or how to get the airport with kids?

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page should be used as a guide only.  It has been gathered from public sources and correct at the time of going to print (September 2018).  Please consult the airline’s own website before booking any family travel with this airline. This review is not an endorsement of Air New Zealand’s services and I am in no way affiliated with the airline. This post contains affiliate links for third-party services. You can see our full disclosure policy here.

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