Man hits crying child on an airplane - Air travel with kids
Air travel with kids can certainly be stressful for everyone involved if parents are not prepared. Find out what you can do to keep your tot calm and happy during a flight...
I’ve been on a plane many times with my two young boys in tow, usually chattering very loudly or asking the same question a million times. When they were younger, they would inevitably cry during take-off and landing due to their ears hurting because of the change in air pressure.
Just the last time we were flying overseas to see family and friends, I was trying to get both boys calmed down and quiet during take-off. And I noticed a young woman in the seat across the aisle looking at us several times. It was obvious she was quite annoyed. I thought to myself, just wait till she has kids of her own and then she’ll understand how difficult it is to calm down young children in such a situation.
But after reading a recent news report, I thought I was pretty lucky that the worst reaction my noisy kids got on the plane were a few glares.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, an 18-month old boy who had been crying while on a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta, was slapped by a man named Joe Rickey Hundley, a former aerospace executive.
To make matters worse, the man had also racially insulted the little boy. Hundley was been sentenced to eight months in prison for the incident which his attorney blamed on his alcoholism.
Hundley’s behaviour was atrocious and certainly is unpardonable. But air travel with kids, especially if they are quite small, can be a stressful experience for everybody — including other passengers — if the children are upset and distressed.
Don’t forget the basics
- Pack wet-wipes, extra diapers, a change mat, extra clothes including socks, a blanket and a jacket for your child in your carry-on luggage.
- Take along your child’s favourite soft-toy, blanket or pacifier to help keep them calm during the flight.
- Try and book your travel at the best time of day for your child. If possible, correspond flights with nap times. If you can’t do this, early morning or late night flights tend to be quieter, less crowded and less disruptive to children’s schedules.
- Introduce your child to crew members. Some airlines let families with kids pre-board, giving you extra time to settle in your little ones.
Keep your child engaged during the flight
- Bring along plenty of colouring/activity books, felt pens and pencils. You could also pack a few of your child’s favourite reading books for you both to enjoy during the trip.
- Get creative. If your child is big enough, play an interactive and fun game such as ‘I spy’ with him. Let your little girl do your hair. Tell your little boy to pretend he’s a pilot. Make up fantastic stories about space or air-travel with your child.
- Embrace technology. There are heaps of free/inexpensive educational and fun apps that you can easily download on to your smartphone or tablet to keep your kid occupied. There are even great apps for slightly older babies such as songs and nursery rhymes. Many planes will have in-board entertainment which will have children’s movies, TV programmes and even games. Remember to ask the steward/stewardess for a pair of head-sets.
- Before your flight, head down to your local two dollar shop and buy some small, inexpensive gifts. Wrap them and take them along with you on the flight. When you think your child is running out of things to do, surprise him with one of these little gifts!
Don’t let your child get hungry
- If you have older kids, pack some of their favourite snacks in a carry-on bag so that the food is easily accessible should those hunger pangs set in. If you are travelling with a baby, you can still take along baby biscuits, rusks etc for your little one to nibble on.
- Most airlines will let you order kids’ meals when you book your tickets. Remember, these meals usually have to be ordered in advance.
- If you’re travelling with a baby under six months, breastfeed as much as possible especially during take-off and landing. Not only does this provide comfort and nourishment, the sucking and swallowing action will help reduce nasty ear-pressure. If you’re not breast-feeding, you can most certainly take along formula — ask the flight attendant for warm drinking water to make the milk.
- Most airlines will let you bring baby food on-board. Some even provide bottled food if requested in advance. If you are not sure, remember to check well in advance if you are allowed to bring your own baby food.
Keep your child safe and healthy
- Many airlines will let you bring in an approved car-seat to buckle in your younger child.
- Pack any medications your child may need in your carry-on luggage, include pain relievers and decongestants to assist with depressurizing sinuses during take-off and descent.
- Keep your child’s socks and shoes on.
- Seat your children in window or middle seats when possible. Aisle traffic is disruptive to children and flight crew may not be able to see over food and beverage carts.
We hope this article has been useful to you, especially if you are planning air travel with kids soon. If you have any other handy tips and tricks to keep your child calm on a flight, do share them with us by leaving a comment.