Top Ten Tips for Air Travel with Children, by Bec Bloomer

June 6, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More

Air Travel and Children Can Go Together!

by Bec Bloomer June 3 2012

Air travel with children has been cause for many a comedy skit.

My own kids have been getting on and off planes since the youngest was six months old and I was lucky that they both do it extraordinarily well.  I like to think that has something to do with the way my husband and I approach the experience with them.

Air Travel with children is not always easy

Air Travel with Children is not always easy

Our ordered approach takes the following form:

1)    Book flights for when your child normally sleeps.

2)    Unless your kids are asleep, be the last to get on the plane. Yes they generally try to board families with kids first, but don’t be sucked in. Your seats are allocated, no-one can take them off you and that plane won’t leave without you. Those extra boarding moments can burn up extra energy. Cherish them.

3)    Be sure to book and reiterate at every possibility, your need for the seats with the cradle in front.  If by some weirdness, you end up being shuffled toward some other seat, DO NOT SIT DOWN.  You booked the cradle seat, when you checked in, you reiterated, stay where you are until you get it.  If the plane is full of families, some of whom have children smaller than yours, it might be worth doing a deal for extra seat space.  If that’s the deal you make, THEN sit down.

4)    Pack a sub-nappy bag.  There is nothing more annoying than people bobbing up and down from their seats like a meerkats on crack.  The sub-bag should have the first feed, spare dummies and a couple of nappies etc.  That means you can stuff it into the seat pouch in front of you and not need get up for a little while.

5)    Understand what air travel does to a body.  Small children have tiny ear canals.  They can’t help that take-offs and landings hurt.  If you’ve a baby, try to time a feed for take off (I recommend a bottle feed because flying does strange things to a mother’s body as well and breastfeeding isn’t always easy).  If your children are toddler shaped, play games where you pull faces and puff your cheeks etc until take off and landing are over.  Also, just as you need water, so do children, dehydration makes everyone miserable.

6)    Let them watch as much television as they want.  My smallest child used to wear her headphones, watch the Wiggles and dance in the foot space between her father and I. My son watched movies and played games until his eyes turned square.  The middle of an international flight is no time to take a stance against technology.  For the sake of all on board, let them consume.

7)    Never EVER wake your child in order to feed them. Ask the flight attendant to keep the food for you, then buzz them when the hungry one awakes.

8)    As bad as you feel, they feel the same. Understand that for the duration of the flight, they are the centre of your attention.

9)    When the plane lands, don’t jump up and then mill with everyone else.  Be the last to get off, so you can take your time organising your bags etc without inconveniencing other passengers.

10)Whatever happens REMAIN CALM.  Sometimes kids cry. Other times they scream.  Tense parents make for tense children.  Do what you can and then take comfort in the fact that you’ve done all you can (if you’re so inclined, comfort can also be found in a white wine).

  • That’s it.  Our ten top tips for surviving air travel with kids. Hope they help.

To read my previous posts go here

To find out more about me and air travel, go here

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Category: Moving Abroad in General

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  1. Max says:

    I flew almost 150K miles last in 2011 as a business traveler. Also, my wife and I have flown numerous times with three boys all under six We have found that some basic planning is the most important piece to flying with kids. I am continually amazed when I see a family board with little more than a magazine for dad, a book for mom and a blanket for their young child. (don’t laugh… I probably saw it ten times last year.)

    While I agree with what was written in the article, I feel the author has left off some of the most basic needs:

    Make sure to bring your own snack and always have extra. Do you really want to wait on the drinks cart every time? Is a bag containing five pretzels really enough?

    In addition to the tried and true iPad or on-board video, bring some kind of new activity, like a coloring book and new box of crayons. New experiences, new toys, new anything is a diversion… buys time, distracts, rewards, works wonders.

    And most important of all when flying with kids: always have lollipops! Why lollipops? Easy – children will naturally swallow (re-pressurize their ears) and it is a easily contained treat. Just like the author says about technology/screentime – this no time to get preachy about candy.

  2. lemanieg says:

    Thanks Max for your comment.. I agree with you totally on the points you make. I have two boys aged 8 and 4, and on our last flight from London to Nice, I bought two small Lego toys to do when they got home, but they decided to do them on the airplane. I was about to insist on waiting as I thought they’d lose all the pieces, but then I thought, let’s see.. and you know what? They were the quietest, most absorbed children I’ve ever seen on a flight and they lost no pieces at all. So my plan now is to always have a small Lego challenge for them on every flight. Lollipops a total must as well for any child under 3 I’d say.

  3. marsha says:

    Thank you for the tips! I usually try to avoid traveling with our five-year-old daughter because it scares me half to death! Sometimes I would have to take her along on my business trips for Dish and I found the hardest thing was keeping her entertained. My favorite recommendation you gave was to schedule the flight during her normal sleeping hours. On our last trip to Florida, we kept that in mind while booking the flights and it worked like a charm. The fact that she was out like a rock this time around was a lifesaver! I keep Harry Potter saved on the DVR because every time I put it on, she is fast asleep in no time. All I had to do was access our recordings from home on my tablet through our free Dish Remote Access app while we were waiting to board. By the time they were ready to seat us, she was sleeping soundly and she stayed that way for the duration of the flight. Thanks again for the great tip!

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