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Tips for Flying with Children

Tips for Flying with Children

We’ve all been there. You board a flight and have empty seats next to you. You watch each person boarding and wonder “Is that the one who will sit next to me?” And then you see the family with the screaming kid enter and you drop your eyes. Sure enough, Mom and kid sit next to you and Dad sits behind you. You pretend to be asleep. You pretend to do work. But, all the time, you are aggravated that you’re trapped next to this obnoxious kid.

Since you’ve experienced this scenario as a passenger, you may dread taking a family flight. However, there are some simple things you can do to make your flight enjoyable and make the passengers next to you praise your children. Our kids have been flying from an early age. We’ve seen the looks of despair as we board the plane. But, we’ve never ended a flight with passengers glaring at us. Here’s what we’ve done.

Kid with a window seat
Our son checks out the scenery from the window seat.

Take advantage of family boarding options: Most airlines have family boarding options (some even allow you to pre-board). Take advantage of this. You get a little extra time to get settled before the onslaught of passengers fight for over-seat storage space, and you can settle your kids in before everyone else boards. Additionally, the flight attendants usually provide families extra help finding seats and storing baggage.

Picking your seat: If you have an option of selecting seats before your flight, opt for seating toward the back of the plane. Likewise, if there is open seating, head to the back of the plane. In addition to being close to the rear restrooms, you are near the flight attendants and the beverages in case you need these. You’ll usually find other families back there too which can go a long way toward relieving the stress on you, your kids, and the other parents near by. If your kids do throw a fit at the back of the plane, chances are you will be surrounded by several passengers who can commiserate with you.

Being in the back also means that you are the last ones off the plane. This is a huge blessing as you frantically try to gather up all of your belongings, including the inevitable dropped toys, missing socks and random food crumbs your kids will leave behind.  This takes time and patience, neither of which the passengers at the front of the plane tend to have!

Bring the stroller: People often worry about the hassle of bringing a stroller. While, it may be awkward to navigate TSA with it, you’ll regret not having one when your daughter asks to be held over and over. Plus, it serves as a place to store extra carry on baggage while you make your way to your gate.

When you get to your gate, get a gate check tag and simply leave your stroller at the end of the jetway to be stored during flight. Know how to collapse the stroller so that you’re not a nuisance to the passengers waiting to board after you. Once you de-plane, the airline attendants often have your stroller opened up and ready for easy use. We used this stroller until our kids were WAY too big for it because we loved it so much!

Child resting on a plane
Our daughter naps while on a flight.

Bring surprises for the flight: This is a tried and true tip for a peaceful flight. Before we hit the airport, we drop by the local dollar store and load up on some in-flight gifts. You might want to get a coloring book with new crayons, or toy cars, or plastic animals. Don’t let the kids see it until you are seated and ready to go. Having something new to play with held our kids’ attentions for those long flights. We usually pack more than one item and hand them out over the course of the entire journey, so that even the new things don’t have time to get boring and lead to meltdowns. If your kids have a tablet or gaming system, download a new game or movie the night before your flight to give them something new.

Pack chewy snacks for takeoff and landing: Little ears (and some big ears) have trouble with a pressurized cabin. It especially can be painful during takeoff and landing. Of course, these are the times when the flight attendants cannot help you because they too need to be seated with their seat belts fastened. What to do? Pack some chewy snacks for these times. Our son always has trouble at these times. We pack gummy snacks for him to chew, which help his ears pop and relieves the pressure in his head. Our chewy snacks are usually things that we only eat when traveling. This way the kids are more than happy to eat them during takeoff!   If you’re traveling with a baby or toddler, a pacifier works wonders.

Finally, embrace the joy and wonder your kids have as they fly. Kids love to watch the planes at the terminal and the world below them from the window seat. Even if they have flown before, your kids will find the trip magical. Take advantage of that and enjoy it too. All of these tips will go a long way to making your flight a pleasant one that you will remember for many years.

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Flying with KIds

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15 thoughts on “Tips for Flying with Children”

  • I am still one of those whom you described in the opening. I often wondered how stressful it is for the parents. Very thoughtful tips indeed. I am sure it would help many parents and maybe me too, one day. 😛

    • I think we’re all that person at some point. We’ve all ha those bad experiences. Hopefully, we can create more good experiences in the future.

  • These are some wonderful tips for flying with children. I am sure it is not easy to do, as I do not have kids yet. I will definitely keep these all in mind for when I do have children. I loved the part about bringing surprises and snacks. That would definitely keep me busy as a kid.

  • I don’t have children myself, but these sound like fab tips for keeping your little ones happy and entertained.
    And I would add, don’t stress too much about other people, adults should be able to cope with a little noise and be understanding that you’re doing your best to keep your children entertained. I get bored on long flights and I’m 28! I cant imagine what that must feel like to a young one, and totally understand why they might play up a bit.

  • I’ve been on both sides of the aisle and totally agree. As a single person I dreaded being seated near families, but now that I’m on the other side can empathize and totally do the same as you suggested. For us what’s also worked is using a hand trolley designed specifically for the car seat so I don’t have to lug both in the airport.

  • These are great tips, I try not to judge parents too much as I imagine it’s not the easiest job taking a young child abroad, it can be annoying for other passengers even if you try not to let it bother you. It’s nice though when you see the parents trying to do these things that will hopefully make their child enjoy the journey a little more and the other passengers too!!

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