Flying with kids can be disastrous. We all know how much people who fly without kids complain about those who fly with children. The thought of their glaring eyes has you crumbling at the knees.
If something goes wrong, you are a long way from help. What if they get sick? What if they don’t stop screaming? What if there isn’t enough food? What happens if they won’t fall asleep? What if they just want to run up and down the aisles screaming?
There are three essential keys to helping your children have a good flight.
1. Preparation and Planning
99% of the time your child will be irritated, cranky or screaming because they are either:
Pack enough food, enough toys and provide opportunity for them to rest on the plane.
You must talk to your child before, during and after the flight, so they know exactly what to expect.
Describe the experience of flying from checking in, to boarding, to seat space, meals, entertainment, sleeping arrangements, playing, and then disembarking. Depending on your child’s age you can also talk through potential problems and solutions. What do you think you can do if you start getting bored? What about if you are hungry?
Get them really excited about it, let them know it is a big adventure. Practice at home. Watch cartoons or movies if you can.
As you go through each procedure during the flight, talk to your child so they are prepared and comfortable:
“We’re just checking in now and the lady is going to take our bags. We have to line up here for boarding, we must be patient as we wait our turn. Oh yippee, look the hostess is coming with food!”
Check in with them throughout the flight as to how they are feeling and what they might need.
3. Training from an Early Age
The worst thing you can do is delay flying with kids because you are frightened of it. It will only be worse when it is time to take the plunge as they won’t know what to do. Train them as early as you can.
Our girls are such great flyers as they have been doing it from birth. They know the procedure, what to expect and how to manage themselves.
Just take a look at how Savannah, who was 17 months at the time of recording this, boards a plane. She gets it at an age when some children aren’t even walking yet.
You have got to teach your children manners and respect. They have learn to consider those around them.
You can’t sit on your entrainment system and ipad while your kids are kicking the seat in front of them and screaming down the aisle. A stern word and a few consequences almost always work. Take them into the toilet for time out if you need to. That should shut anyone up!
More handy tips for flying with kids
4. Distract Them from Their Fears
I have a fear of flying that I am learning to overcome. I hold Kalyra’s hand during take off. This helps take her mind off the fear and transfer that to having an important job of easing Mummy’s fears.
5. Book a Bassinet for Babies
This was so helpful flying to the States when Kalyra was only nine months old. She loved having her own bed and would sit up and give the royal wave to the passengers. Pre-book this when you book your plane ticket, as are limited numbers.
6. Get Organized
As soon as you board the plane, get organized and settled in with every thing you need. Have essentials stored in the pockets and under the chair. Now you don’t have to climb over everyone or wait until the seat belt sign is off to get what your unhappy child wants.
7. Have a Surprise Bag of Treats
Go to the $2 store and buy a bunch of toys, wrap them and every couple of hours allow your child to unwrap one and play with it on the plane. This is such a great way to turn a boring plane flight into a treasure trove of fun.
8. Go for Walks
Every hour take your child for a walk up and down the plane. Not only is it essential for your health and sanity to stretch your legs, but your child will love all the attention they get form the other passengers.
9. Have Quiet Activities to Occupy Your Children
TRYING TO KEEP HER ENTERTAINED ON THE PLANE
You can’t go wrong with colouring books and pencils. Pack a couple of their favourite story books for quiet reading.
10. Ask for Help
If you are struggling ask the air hostesses for help. They are usually wonderful at helping parents with their children and may even be able to give you a break.
11. Take Snacks on Board
Every airline and flight is different now in regards to what food is supplied. Take plenty of food and water with you on the plane, just in case.
12. Have a Movie Marathon
Kalyra loves watching movies on the plane and she does for most of the flight. Flying to LA with her is a breeze. Allow your children to watch a lot of movies. It will get them excited about flying – it sure does for me! If you have an ipad, have a few movies ready for in-flight entertainment.
13. Play Entertainment Games with Them
Kalyra loves it when we sit and play the memory game and Pacman with her on the in-flight entertainment system. It’s quiet bonding time. You can also do this if you have an ipad.
14. Help Them Get Settled to Have a Sleep
AT LEAST SHE COULD SLEEP!
Let them lie on your lap, put the pillow down for them, and snuggle them up in the blanket. Do whatever you can to help them sleep; trust me you will appreciate those couple hours of rest time yourself.
Keep to their regular bedtime routines as much as you can: dress them in their pyjamas and have their favourite bear with them for snuggles.
15. Have Them Sit in the Middle
Have you seen the movie Flight Plan? Then you’ll know why I am recommending this one. For safety keep them sitting between you and your partner in the middle seats. This way you know if they are trying to get out into the aisle without you!
16. Help Their Ears on Landing
Babies have not yet developed the ability to equalize their eardrums naturally. If you have ever felt this pressure on your ears before then you’ll know why so many babies scream during landing. Breastfeed/feed your baby or have them suck on a dummy.
For older children let them chow down on chewy food.
17. Comfort Them
A cuddle and a few calming words or hushed lullabies does wonders for comforting our children. Flying is such a new experience they might feel a little anxious. Help them to feel safe and secure. It’s the best way to settle them down.
Respect and Patience
It comes down to teaching our children respect and good manners and for childless flyers to have a smidgen of patience and tolerance.
Flying is public so you have to expect children may be present and might lose the plot. You can’t ask them to leave, and while one can understand that this can be frustrating, especially since you have paid for a ticket, the best way for you to get through the flight is to manage your self.
You usually cannot control what others are doing, you can however control how you react. The Dalai Lama says it best, whenever he is put through a challenging experience, he sees it as an opportunity for him to practice the art of patience and compassion.
Mediate and say, “Thank you for this opportunity for me to learn patience and compassion. “
Trust me. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll end up enjoying your flight regardless.