Tips for flying with children

by Kellie Bishop

While it is true that no two children are the same and every child has their unique interests, it seems that all children are intrigued with planes, trains and other things that “go.” They love to watch big trucks, tractors and other vehicles as they drive down the road. Adults tend to get slightly irritated when we get stuck at a railroad crossing, but children enjoy watching the trains pass and are usually fascinated at the speed and mechanics of the train. 

These are common modes of transportation that children become accustomed to seeing on a regular basis, so while they still enjoy watching them pass by, they do not seem to have the same allure as airplanes. I am sure we have all experienced a child looking up at the sky in amazement and making sure everyone within ear shot hears them yell, “Look, an airplane!” They become captivated at watching the planes take off, land and fly through the sky. 

Due to this fascination, children are usually excited about the idea of traveling on airplanes. If you are a parent who has traveled with children, or even simply been a passenger on an airplane with children, you probably know that despite the fascination and excitement about the plane, the flight can often be anything but enjoyable. However, there are some strategies you can use to ensure your next family trip is not ruined by a disastrous flight and gets off to a great start!

It is always a good idea to check your seat assignments prior to boarding the plane. After checking in, check your boarding passes to ensure you are sitting with your child. This is much easier to fix, if needed, prior to boarding as many passengers will not be as understanding and willing to move seats once on board. It is also a good idea to ask to be seated toward the front of the plane, if possible, as the back of the plane often experiences a bumpier ride, which can lead to more motion sickness. 

While we are on the topic of motion sickness, it is always wise to pack a change of clothes for both your child and yourself in your flight bag. You probably have extra clothes for the child at all times, but it could be a long flight for you if you get covered in vomit during takeoff.

You want to make sure you have essential items to make the flight as enjoyable as possible. Diapers are crucial, so make sure you have plenty! Pack a good number of snacks that are easy for kids to eat with their fingers and are not too messy. Lollipops, gum (for older children) and pacifiers are often helpful for preventing ear pain during ascent and descent. Ensure you pack cups and purchase drinks for your child once you get through security. 

Kids love using handheld electronics and often request them during car rides. While we do not recommend frequent use of electronic devices for children, airplane rides are the perfect time to splurge and let them play with a tablet or smartphone. Parenting is often about choosing your battles, and this is one you want to let them win, for your sanity and that of the other passengers!

Safety should always be a priority when traveling, no matter the mode of transportation. Familiarize yourself with the emergency exits on the plane and pay close attention to the safety presentation at the beginning of the flight. If you bring a car seat for your child, ensure it is airline approved. 

Traveling in the morning may facilitate better behavior during the flight. Your child is less likely to get injured during the flight if they are sitting in their seat calmly instead of climbing on seats and unbuckling their seat belt. Finally, stay seated and buckled up. Unless your child has to use the bathroom, they are safest in their seat with their seat belt buckled during the flight. 

Happy and content children during travel allow the adults traveling with them to remain happy, as well. There are many different modes of transportation that your family may use for your next trip so you can modify these tactics as needed to fit your situation but using these strategies can ensure your time traveling is as enjoyable as possible! 

Kellie Bishop
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