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Priority boarding versus bun-fight for seats. Is it worth paying extra on no-frills airlines to ensure the family sits together?

We're living in the era of the budget airline, making family travel to distant and unpronounceable European cities cheaper and more accessible than ever. However, it can be stressful flying no-frills with a brace of kids in tow. 

With minimal baggage allowance and a bun-fight for seats, parents often have no option but to pay the extra bucks for priority boarding to ensure the family stays together.

But is it always worth it? What if you have to board a bus to get to the plane?

And which airlines offer automatic priority boarding for families with young children? 

FlyBe 

You'll be assigned a seat at check-in, free of charge.

Easyjet

The no-frills pioneer has started offering seat allocations on selected flights. While you can't choose where you sit, families on the same booking will be sat together. On routes that don't offer allocated seating, families with children under 5 will get priority boarding, after those who have speedy boarding or a easyJet Plus! card.

Jet2

As with FlyBe, you'll be given a seat at check-in, with the option of selecting a special infant-friendly seat free of charge for you but if anyone else on your booking wants to select a special seat, they'd have to pay a small fee.

Monarch

Monarch also give you allocated seating on check-in, or you can pay from £2.99 to select them when you book.

Ryanair

Families with babies and young children do not automatically board first. Priority boarding costs £7 per person and reserved seating can be bought for £10 per person, this is usually for emergency exit seats, which children under 16 can't sit in. 

Thomson Fly

You'll be allocated a seat at check-in or you can pay £12 per adult, £7 per child to select your seats when you book.  

Wizz Air

As with Ryanair, families are not given automatic priority boarding but you can buy it for £3 per person. When you have to take a bus to the plane, you are given access to a special priority boarding section of the bus, the doors of this section open before the rest of the bus, so you still should board the plane first.