Flying with your children can be either a great family adventure or a miserable and disappointing experience for the whole family. Of course, preparation is key to avoid a miserable and disappointing holiday with your children. To help you free your trip from misery, here are some important steps that you can take when flying with children.
1. Before you leave:
• Traveling and flying with children is more stressful when more people are around. If possible, book your flights for less-crowded and off-peak travel times: at midday or in the evening on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays.
• Make sure that you have plenty of entertainment for your flight, including snacks and drinks and children’s activities. Pack activities such as activity/coloring books, playing cards, travel-sized board games, and CD players.
• Get your child ready for the trip. Tell him or her how to behave and what to expect at the airport and while on the plane.
2. In the airport:
• Allot extra time for airport transactions. Remember, everything takes longer when traveling with children.
• Make sure that you give your child some basic safety rules, such as what he or she should do in case you become separated.
• Since kids are impatient by nature, give your child some “airport allowance.” Visiting different shops or stopping by a snack stall can keep children busy for extended periods.
• Even if a child tether is not appealing to you, consider using one while you are in the airport. Remember, checking in and claiming your luggage can be distracting at times and you cannot avoid situations that you may have to let go of your kid’s hand.
3. On the Plane:
• Take-offs and landings can be very uncomfortable for children and painful for their little ears. This is one reason why flying with children can be very difficult. To avoid this, take ear filters with you. Ear filters shield the eardrums from rapidly changing air pressure. You may also ask your child to swallow or drink beverages, chew gum, or eat hard candy to keep him or her comfortable during take-off or landing.
• To maximize entertainment value while flying with your children, bring your child’s toys out one at a time, and remember to put away the first toy before introducing the next.
• Give your child the seat beside the window and he or she will surely find the view fascinating.
• Remember that not all passengers understand the joy of children. To prevent your child from making noise, keep him or her entertained. You may also choose to sit in the back of the plane, where engine noise can muffle your child’s piping voice.
Safety Note When Flying with Children
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly imposes a policy that smaller children must sit in a Child Restraint System (CRS) or a child’s car booster or seat. Here are the weight guidelines regarding safety seats for children:
• A rear-facing car seat must be used for babies weighing less than 20 lbs.
• A forward-facing car booster must be used for children weighing 20–40 lbs.
• The airplane seat belt must be used for children weighing more than 40 lbs.