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Flying with Kids: Tips for the Jet Setting Family

Flying with Kids: Tips for the Jet Setting Family

Passengers on airplanes often cringe when they realize that they’ll be sitting near a young child or toddler. Although it might pose some inconvenience to them, it is often a lot harder for the parents as they try to enjoy their flight while keeping the kids calm and comfortable. For a better flying experience with children, it is important to start preparing well in advance. In this way, parents can be ready for any situations that might crop up. In this guide, we’ll explore the different ways in which parents can prepare for air travel with their children.

Preparing for the Journey

When packing for the trip, make a list of all the essentials as well as possible emergency items. Take a variety of clothing to ensure that the child is comfortable in any temperatures. For infants, pack items such as teething rings or pacifiers, diapers, cleaning products, and anything else they might need. Parents with older children can involve them in the packing by asking them to pick out clothes for themselves. Give them a checklist to be sure that they bring the proper amounts of items. It also helps tremendously to discuss the airport and flight with them. This gives them an idea of what to expect and eliminates potential fears.

  • Prep for Autistic Kids (PDF) – Children with autism or other disorders require some special care in their preparations before flying.

  • General Prep Tips – Advance planning, arriving early, and packing the essentials are some ways to prepare well for the journey.

  • What to Take – A little research can help you plan on what items you need to pack for kids on the trip.

Safety and Security at the Airport

Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Ensure that you are not carrying too many bags and packages, since you will need one hand to hold onto the child. Keep the child’s paperwork and identification records easily accessible. Explain to the child that it is easy to get lost with such large crowds around, and encourage them to always stay by your side. After the security checks, give them a light snack if they are hungry.

  • Paperwork for Kids – Make sure to keep all of the required paperwork for children on hand while going through the airport.

  • Infants at the Airport – Watch a video on how to travel safely with an infant through airport security checks.

Early Boarding

In the past, early boarding for those with children was common for most airlines. Recently though, many of them have cancelled this feature. If the airline does not allow it, help the child to remain patient in the waiting lounge by keeping them occupied with a game or activity book. Do not let them run around or wander without supervision.

  • The First Flight – Use these tips and techniques to keep a child calm and happy on their first flight.

  • Preboarding – Many airlines do not offer early boarding for families with young children anymore; however, some may allow it upon request.

Safety and Security On-Board the Airplane

Once on the plane, ensure that they are seated before attending to carry-on luggage. If a child restraint seat is required, ask a staff member to help install it. Just before the plane takes off, offer the child some candy (or gum if they are old enough to chew it), since the chewing and swallowing motions will help to relieve ear pressure. Familiarize yourself with the emergency exits as well as oxygen masks and any other safety features of the aircraft. In case of an emergency, make sure that the child is securely fastened in their seat with an oxygen mask attached properly to their face.

  • Airplane Safety (PDF) – Learn how to make the flight safe for your child.

  • Safety Devices and More – Parents should know how to use child restraint devices, oxygen masks, and other devices to keep children safe on an airplane.

  • Seat Restraints (PDF) – Learn about FAA guidelines regarding safety restrains for children on airplanes.

In-Flight Activities and Entertainment

Coming prepared with activities and games for kids is a great way to keep them occupied during the flight. Bring along some of their favorite story books as well as coloring sheets and other activity pages. If they have a favorite toy, bring that too. Ask them to take care of it and explain features of the flight to their toy. By doing this, children focus more on the toy and less on themselves. If the child is old enough to play video games, they might also be allowed to play on a small hand-held system. Alternatively, check the in-flight channel selections for some appropriate cartoons.

  • Keeping Kids Entertained – Find out how to keep kids busy and amused on the airplane without annoying other passengers.

  • Flight Activities – Browse through activities, games, and crafts all related to flying to keep kids entertained in the air.

  • In-Flight Fun – Print these aviation-themed activities to use as entertainment for kids on the plane.

Approved Snacks to Bring On-Board

Recent travel and security changes at airports have made it much harder for parents to bring in snacks and drinks for their children. In terms of breast milk or formula, the liquids will have to be checked by security at the airport. If the child can drink juice or dairy milk, ask an airline staff member for some once the plane has taken off. Some good snacks to bring are crackers, cheese, fruit, or packaged products for children. Many airlines also provide kid-friendly meals. It’s a good idea to check with them when you book the tickets.

  • Approved Drinks – Juice, breast milk, or formula are allowed on an airplane provided they meet certain conditions.

  • Feeding on Planes – This guide discusses the types of snacks and drinks that can be brought on board for children.

Author: Angus L. McGuire 


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