Flying with Children: The Ultimate Guide to Less Stressful Flights with Kids

114-clock Created with Sketch. Friday August 16 , 2019

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A family holiday sounds amazing, and you know that the kids will love it, but getting them there can be an incredibly stressful operation.

We say operation, because sometimes it’s not dissimilar to a military operation. You need to plan, organise and be prepared and ready for battle, sorry I mean boarding.

Check out our top 10 tips for flying with kids, we’re sure you’ll find some great advice in here:

Before you fly

1. Ensure you’re all sitting together

Before you jet off on your holidays, you need to ensure your family are seated together on the flight, even if you have to pay for it. While some airlines will offer this a complimentary service, some will charge you a fee to ensure you are sat next to your loved ones. When there are children involved, this is an absolute necessity.

Also, you should consider paying for that extra seat for your toddler if it’s in your budget. Yes, under-twos fly for free, but an extra seat will really help if/when a tantrum appears. It will also give you your own space when they are having a nap or are enjoying a film.

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2. Read reviews

Review sites like Q Review and social media allow you to find out so much about an airline before you depart. Use this to your advantage and do your research before you book your tickets. You can find out a lot about an airline by reading reviews from other families who have travelled with them recently. They might have great advice on what to do to or what to avoid making the flight as easy as possible. Similarly, check out the facilities at the departure and arrival airports.

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3. Pack wisely and dress sensibly

Find out what the weight restrictions are with regards to luggage and stick to them – you don’t want to face any unnecessary fees when you reach the check-in gate. Baby food, formula and breastmilk are often allowed in quantities beyond the allowable carry-on liquid size but be sure to double-check this with the airline. You need to make sure you have enough for the entire holiday and the flight as well.

When packing, keep all your essential documents in an easy-to-find folder that’s safe and secure in your hand luggage. You’ll need to include documents like passports, printed itinerary, transport details and tickets along with anything else such as insurance and visas. Don’t forget the important things like chargers, prescription medication and an iPad loaded with fun apps and children’s films for the kids.

Another thing to consider is what to wear to the airport. Layers are often the best option, for both you and the kids. You can adapt to the ever-changing temperatures between the airport and the aircraft. It’s best to remember socks for the aeroplane for everyone – those little toes can feel the cold.

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At the airport

4. Look for child-friendly areas to burn off energy

Children have bags of energy and it is a good idea to burn off any excess energy before you board the plane, as we all know, space is limited when you are thousands of feet in the air. Look for children’s areas in the airport where you can let them run free before you head for the gate.

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5. Board first or last

While some airlines will allow families with children to board first, not everyone does, and you might have to board with everyone else. You have two options to make this part as stress-free as possible.

  • You can get in the queue early and board the aircraft first, allowing you to get into the seats before your neighbours arrive.
  • Alternatively, you can sit back and relax while everyone else boards before you join the queue. If you’re travelling with another adult, an idea would be to allow one of you to board with the bags while the other sees to the kids.

On the flight

6. Make friends with the right people, but remember they are not babysitters

When you board the plane, make sure you are courteous and polite to the flight attendants as they could be your saving grace while flying. Let them know you have a small child or children with you who aren’t used to flying. You’ll rely on their extra hands during the flight if you need a bathroom or to reach a baby bag.

However, it’s important to remember they (and those sitting next to you) are not babysitters. Not everyone on the flight will love your child as much as you do. It’s your responsibility to ensure your child is prepared for the flight and your fellow passengers are not disturbed (as impossible as this may seem).

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7. Bring lots of entertainment

Strapped into a seat for hours on end and next to lots of people who we don’t know understandably can lead a child to become agitated and have a few tantrums. Try to bring as much entertainment with you as possible such as games, movies and magazines to distract your little ones from what is going on around them. Remember, flying can be an anxious experience for adults as well as children and a reassuring whisper in the ear can help to calm the nerves.

8. Schedule a strategic nap

We won’t tell you how to parent your little ones, but a top tip is – wait to put them down for a nap during the flight. Keep them distracted in the airport so they don’t drift off whilst you’re waiting for the flight gate to be announced. If you are lucky enough to get them to take a nap while flying, this will allow you some quiet time to snooze, watch a film or read a book

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9. Wait for the right signal

Air pressure can be painful for children when they’re flying. There are ways to minimise this pressure, but parents often use these too early and therefore they don’t work. A pacifier, bottle or breast will help, but you must use them when the aircraft is taking off and descending. Parents often use up the supplies while the plane is sitting in taxi, so be sure to wait for the captain to say, ‘cabin crew, prepare for take-off.’

10. Ditch the germs before disembarking

Bring a small bag with antibacterial gel and wipes and be sure to have a quick clean before you leave the aircraft. Between meals, snacks and drinks, your little ones could be a little messy by the time you’ve landed at your destinations. Wet wipes can be used for just about everything, so make sure you have a full packet ready for action.

Remember, your travel experience can help others so whatever airline or airport you have used, let us know what it was like and what facilities they provided and anything that would make your future travel experience easier. And, you might have your own key tips for other mums and dads travelling with young children.