Flying with young children

Flying is such an exciting adventure when you’re little, but for parents travelling with small children it isn’t always easy. We take a look at ways to survive your journey and things you need to do before you leave, at the airport and on the plane.
Flying is such an exciting adventure when you’re little, but for parents travelling with small children it isn’t always easy.

We take a look at ways to survive your journey and things you need to do before you leave, at the airport and on the plane.

1. Before you leave

If possible, book your flights for non-peak travel times (e.g. Monday - Thursday, avoiding weekends if you can). Fewer crowds mean less stress. Flying in the evening or night is better, so your child is able to sleep on the plane.

Pack lots of entertainment for the flight (snacks, drinks, books, colouring books, travel-size games, playing cards, other activities, little gifts). Bring far more than you think you'll need so that you’re prepared for any delays.

Prepare your toddlers and older children for the trip. Give them a calendar to mark off the days before they go on holiday. Tell them what to expect at the airport and on the plane.

Book your children’s meals on the plane at the time of booking your tickets. Their meals and special dietary meals are brought out first, allowing you to get your children settled eating their meals before your own arrives.

If the airline allows, select your seats ahead of time too. Always request an infant bassinet if your child is under 2. However be aware that availability of bassinets varies between airlines and is not always guaranteed.

When flying with small children, some people believe the best seats are the front row or bulkhead seats where the bassinets are. These do have more leg room, however the armrests here don't always fold up (because they contain the tray tables that would normally be in front where the bassinet is instead).

Another option to consider is the window seats. During daylight hours, kids will enjoy looking out the window. And at night, the wall provides something to lean a pillow against. You’ll also have armrests that fold up, enabling children to sleep lying across the seats.

2. At the airport

Allow extra time at the airport to check in your luggage, go through airport security and make your way to the departure lounge.

As a parent you already know that everything takes longer when travelling with kids!

Give your children safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated. For example, should they stay where they are and wait for you? Or should they go to the nearest shop?

Look up the airport(s) you’ll be using ahead of time online. Many airports have designated family areas or play areas that are good spots for lengthy stopovers.

If you are bringing an umbrella-style stroller to the gate, find out at check-in whether it will be available at the plane doors when you leave the plane or whether you will have to go to a special baggage claim area for it.

3. On the plane

Take-off and landing can be painful for little ears. Bring along ear filters which buffer eardrums against rapidly changing air pressure.

Encourage your child to swallow by having a water bottle or even lollipops. If you are travelling with an infant, bottle or breastfeed them on the way up and on the way down to help pop their ears.

For maximum entertainment value, bring toys out one at a time, and put one away before introducing the next.

Create a 'bag of surprises' they can reach into when they're bored, full of things to keep them entertained.

Seat your child by the window. Most kids find the view fascinating. There is also less chance of them getting bumped by the drinks/meals trolley and other passengers walking up and down the aisles.

Remember, not all passengers appreciate the joys of children, even a wonderful child like yours!

Plan to keep your little one entertained as much as possible.

Some parents deliberately choose seats at the back of the plane where engine noise can help muffle piping voices.

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Source: This article was written by TravelTots.
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