The Checklist

Easy Ways to Enjoy Flying with Children

 The Checklist

With the summer holidays approaching and families starting to think about flying home or to a new destination, it is worth remembering some basic steps to make flying more pleasant for you, your children and your fellow flyers.

  • A happy flight starts online before you leave for the airport. Many websites have comprehensive details of the paperwork required for traveling with minors, so you can plan ahead. You can also order children’s meals online and reserve equipment such as bassinets for infants.
  • Take advantage of all the concessions offered to families, such as being allowed to take strollers to the door of the aircraft when boarding. Families also get priority when boarding and you can wait until other passengers have disembarked before doing so with your family.
  • Understand air pressure: The pressurisation in passenger aircraft is likely to be a child’s main source of discomfort. During landing and take-off, giving the child food or drink will trigger their swallowing reflex, which will help their ears equalise.
  • Most parents have a good idea of which foods make their kids overactive and tetchy, but in general, avoid sweet treats or ones that have artificial colourants when travelling. Chewy snacks like dried fruits will help with pressurising their ears while limiting the spikes in blood sugar which can result in tantrums. While it’s good to keep the child hydrated, don’t overdo it as this can result in nappy changes and trips to the toilet
  • Pack favourite, familiar snacks for the kids to supplement meals served on board.
  • Keeping the child occupied is obviously crucial if they’re awake. One tried-and-tested trick is to gift-wrap treasured toys and present them when the child gets bored. It might also be useful to buy some new toys and ration them out during the flight. Avoid toys like Lego blocks as they can fall in hard-to-reach places.
  • Mobile devices can be of benefit to parents and, although many families ration children’s use of tablets, a long-haul flight might justify a little leeway. Headphones are useful tools for movies, music, apps and games, but crayons and paper are always favourites.
  • Generally, it’s better to not seat kids on the aisle, as they may bump into passing trolleys which have hard edges and hot water.
  • Don’t over-pack. You’ll need the basics – wipes, nappies, sanitisers and so on – and remember that if your child is very young, you’ll need to carry them as well.
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