We’ve all seen it, the horror of flying with kids, viral news stories of miserable children on flights. Comments flood the news thread about bad parenting and rude passengers. Then we see parents who went above and beyond, handing out apology bags filled with snacks, ear plugs and pleas for compassion. With seeing these stories, the sheer thought of taking a flight with your young child might seem terrifying. The worry and expectation far exceed the actual stress of the flight. Use these tips for a stress-free flight:
Follow TSA’s guidelines carefully for a fast security clearance. Wear metal-free clothes, easy slip-on shoes and buy drinks at the gate. Keep an eye out for family security lines and plan for a longer clearance time if you are carrying breast milk, juices or formula.
Airports offer pre-boarding as a benefit to families with young children, but pre-boarding also causes your children to wait even longer in a stuffy plane before takeoff. Consider the value of pre-boarding and if you really need that extra time to get settled on the plane. If not, board at regular time.
Flying early to travel with sleepy children, plus the airports and planes are less crowded. When you’re flying short distances, avoid layovers that extend travel time. If you’re making a long flight, consider a long layover to give your child a chance to get off the plane and explore.
When choosing a seat for your child, give them the window. Not only does the window seat provide a better view, it also gives a buffer from the aisle and other passengers. Additionally, although you may think a car seat on the plane is cumbersome, consider bringing it. The car seat provides a safer flying experience and a familiar comfort for your child.
EAR PRESSURE RELIEF
If your child has never flown before, the change of air pressure may be startling. This drastic change will cause ears to pop, an uncomfortable experience for young children. For infants, give them a bottle during ascension and descension. For older children, offer snacks, gum or anything to keep the jaw moving.
APPS & MOVIES
When flying with kids, charge your electronics and load on material to keep your child busy. Remember to use apps that can run without data, unless you plan to pay for in-flight WiFi. Netflix, for example, offers downloads on many popular movies so your child can watch without a connection.
Usually we try to avoid bribery in everyday parenting scenarios, but when flying with kids, let the bribing begin. Pack exciting “gifts” that will keep your child entertained such as small toys, handheld games, activity books, new movies, etc.
DRESS IN COMFORT
To help your child relax, dress for comfort, even if that means pajamas. Also, remember to pack a small blanket and pillow. With all these comfort items, your child is more likely to have a restful trip.
It’s unlikely your flight will serve kid-friendly meals. Pack high protein snacks to quench any hunger your child might have during the trip.
Being on your “A-game” parenting during this flight will make all the difference for other passengers. Discuss flight expectations and flying etiquette with your children in great lengths before making the trip. Make it a point to know where everything is in your bags for fast retrieval. Do your best to extinguish any meltdowns at a fast pace and plan with your spouse for fast bathroom trips.