12 Tips for Flying with Small Children
For passengers, travelling near a small child or baby tops the list of “worst flight experiences” and this can leave a lot of parents feeling anxious when they decide to travel with their family. However, here simple travel hacks that you can use to help make the experience as stress free as possible for everyone.
Sort your seats
If possible, fly with an airline that will let you pre-book seats. Using a travel agent can help you find the best seats on the flight depending on whether you want to be first off after landing, near the toilets or require extra legroom.
If your budget will stretch to it, buy an additional seat for your baby or toddler. You will be thankful for the additional space.
Instead of booking two seats next to each other, reserve the aisle seat and the window seat, leaving you with a spare seat in the middle if the flight isn’t full. If someone is allocated the middle seat, they are likely to be grateful if you offer them the aisle or the window seat rather than be stuck in the middle.
Giving your toddler the window seat is a great way of not only keeping them contained, but looking out of the window will provide a welcome distraction.
If you want to avoid the extra expense of booking seats, check in as soon as online check-in opens to improve the chance of all sitting together.
Plan ahead for accidents, sickness and food spills on-board. Baby wipes, plastic bags, medication, an extra set of clothes and a few essentials in your hand luggage will save the day should they be needed on-board or if your checked-in luggage goes missing.
It’s also worth taking an inflatable pillow so children can snuggle up in the window seat and rest their head against the wall.
If hiring a car take your own car seat and check with the airline before you fly to find out their regulations in regard to pushchairs. Most airlines will allow you to take it to the gate.
Don’t forget to weigh your bags at home to prevent extra charges at check-in.
Secure your luggage
Avoid putting your name and address on a luggage tag, thus notifying everyone who comes into contact with it where your unoccupied house is. Instead invest in a luggage tracker that you can use from your smartphone, or tape your contact details to the inside lid of your case. Also take a photo of your suitcase so if it goes missing you can show lost luggage what it looks like.
Decorate your luggage with a sticker or ribbon to distinguish it from others on the baggage carousel.
Download the airline’s app
Download the airline’s app to store a digital copy of your boarding pass and keep up to date on flight information.
Remember where you parked
Was it level 3 or 5? Take a photo to remind you where you parked at the airport to save you the hassles or trying to locate your car when you return home.
Picking the right check-in queue
Why does it always seem like every other check-in queue is moving faster than yours? Choose a queue that is next to the business class/members desk because they usually aren’t busy and take passengers queueing from the next line.
Security fast track
Pre-book security fast track which enables you to avoid lengthy queues at security. If you want to avoid the extra cost but get through security as quickly as possible, go to the left. As most travelers are right-handed they naturally veer to the right when choosing a security line, leaving fewer people in the left lines.
If all the overhead compartments are bursting when you arrive at your seat and there is no space left for your bag, you may be asked to check it (and all your essentials) into the hold. Board early or pay for priority boarding to avoid being separated from your belongings.
If you don’t want to be stuck in a confined space for longer than necessary, your travelling partner could store the bags overhead whilst you wait at the gate with the children having that final run round.
The change in air pressure which occurs during take-off and landing can be upsetting for small children and babies. Schedule your feeds so that they can take place during this time, as swallowing will help relieve air pressure.
The same principle applies for children, give them a lollypop to suck during take-off and landing.
The only thing worse than being trapped on a delayed flight is being trapped on a delayed flight with a bored child that ran out of entertainment hours ago.
When you are on board a flight, bribery is your friend. Bring their favourite toys, books, colouring books, stickers and something comforting from home. Download movies and educational apps to your smartphone or tablet. Don’t forget the headphones, back up batteries and chargers.
Buy something new for the flight and don’t let them see it. It’s a reward for being good.
Don’t disregard your fellow passengers
When things get bad you might wish you were invisible. Offering a genuine apology when things go wrong could help get your fellow passengers on side. Remember, we were all kids once.
However, there are some people who simply dislike children. Ignore these people and their glares. You and your kids have as much right to be on the plane as they do.
Make sure your children don’t intrude on the other passengers’ space or comfort. Letting your child kick the back of the seat in front, constantly bang the armrest or table is unacceptable and warrants a glare or request to stop it.
Although easier said than done, your child will pick up on the signals you are sending out and if you are stressed they will pick up on this. So take a deep breath; no matter what happens, the flight cannot last forever and a holiday awaits you when you land.
Hero Image: (c) flickr/Lars Plougmann
This post originally appeared on The Travel Magazine.