Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Flying With Children

We fly a lot, not because I love it (I don't, I hate it with every fibre of my being), but because unfortunately with living abroad it's a necessity occasionally. One of the main reasons for my hatred of this form of transport (and I have millions believe me), is fellow passenger's attitudes towards you when you get on a plane with small children. The tuts and glares begin as you get through the door, and don't usually desist until you have landed and are out the door at the other end. Luckily my children are well used to flying, and know exactly what they can and cannot do when they get on a plane. I am not saying they are perfect, but they know not to make too much of a racket, not to argue or fight, absolutely no kicking of seats or jumping around, and generally sit quietly watching TV or with the treats that I have bought along for the ride. Yes, blackmail is involved, but it works OK (and they know nothing else is coming out of Mummy's "bag of tricks" should the behaviour change at all!)? Some tips I find useful are as follows (please note, some of these tips may only work if you are flying with two children and they are around the 4+ mark)...

* pack baby-wipes, plenty of them;
* snacks they don't usually have (nothing chocolate though, you will be dealing with enough mess believe me!)
* lollipops (sugar free if necessary) for take off and landing. Little ears suffer more with the pressure (make sure you stipulate the no crunching rule though, or you will be stuck!);
* plenty of comics, activity books, new pens, and things like sticky mosaic kits are invaluable;
* split them up. By not letting them sit next to each other you can prevent arguments, and it makes it easier for you to divide your time between them;
* make it clear that one will get the window seat for the outbound journey, and vice versa. They will not care if it's a night flight, or that the window blind may be shut by the grumpy person in front of them, it's a window seat and their sibling isn't sitting next to it;
* take empty bags for rubbish;
* Pack a spare change of clothes as well for longer flights. After being projectile vomited over on a long haul once, I now also take spare clothes for me too (hastily found business class pyjamas are not a good look)!
* keep an eye out for when the toilet queue is quiet, and ask regularly whether they need to go. They don't tend to understand that they can't actually get out of their seats during take off and landing(or when it's turbulent) when they are desperate for the loo...
* audio books are a lifesaver, especially near bed time;
* last but not least, if all else fails, remember you will never see the people around you again...!

I am sure there are hundreds more, so if you want to add any tips please feel free - I am always on the look out!

By the way, it is unusual for your children to get a word of praise from anyone around you, even if they haven't uttered a peep for the duration of the flight, so I like to make a point of telling a child how good they have been at the end of the journey should I be sat near one - it's the little things isn't it?... Oh and if you should hate flying like me, take solace in the fact that taking any flight with children makes it feel like you are on a supersonic jet as time seems to go a lot lot quicker!


  1. Sympathies. Don't fly anymore, but get the same on trains. Luckily, if someone does have a meltdown, we do just take them out into the hallway of the carriage and let them steam off before going in amongst the real people again.
    But you know, people can just stay home if they don't like to deal with other people you know? Not like they haven't been there themselves, right? Geez.
    ps - anecdote: took the kids to a nice restaurant. Couple on a date looked very wary and not pleased at all that we got seats right beside them. Kids acted like perfect charming angels the whole time. By the time we left, the wary couple was all smiles and almost sad to see the kids go. So there! :)

  2. Trains are definitely the way to go... I have told so many people about your Morocco trip!
    Love the restaurant anecdote, I always love to prove the childhaters wrong ;)

  3. On a flight we took a year or so ago my then 3yo daughter looked at the very good looking, smart and public school sounding young man next to her, pulled her Cinderella book out of her backpack and demanded that he read it to to her. And all credit to him he did albeit slightly self consciously to start with. Hilarious.

  4. We have gone long haul quite a few times now with the kids in tow and the worse bit for me is going thru customs\passport control as they have no idea why you need to line up.

  5. ah mine are still too small for the bribes but my tip is to limit how much I carry. Never mind the bag of new toys. Toddlers want the inflight safety information sheet and only the information sheet. Oh and look haggard, so people will help me.

  6. Great advice here. My son loved sticker books at that age - lots of quiet concentration. Of course now he's 15 he just has his iPod Touch on flight mode and we don't hear a peep!

  7. @mummydichotomy - how sweet! If he was that good looking weren't you tempted to ask him to read your book to you as well??

    @frankiep - I know, especially at Gatwick, I hate that airport for its arrivals lounge...

    @I'm So Fancy - that is very true! I did have a complete nightmare on a longhaul with my then 8 month old daughter when I gave her the safety card to play with when I changed her nappy. I looked down at her happily chewing gum someone had stuck on the back of the card unbeknownst to me... revolting!!

    @Trish, thank you! Not that i am wishing my children's lives away, but I am looking forward to that stage!!

  8. Great tips that will come in handy for our summer hols! Although he's 15mths but will be sure to pack some new little sticker books, crayons etc to keep him entertained and whole bag of raisins and biscuits and sugarfree lollies!

  9. Good luck Maria, you sound very well prepared, I am sure it will be a breeze :) Emma

  10. We were lucky enough to fly Business a lot, because of millions of air miles. You can imagine the looks on the face of those passengers when we pitched up with young kids!

  11. @Expat Mum, I certainly can! We flew economy plus last time we flew to The States, and sat in the row just in front of Business. A guy got given an upgrade and made such a fuss as he would be sitting near my (well behaved sleeping) children! Twit (is the polite word for him):)

  12. Thanks for the tips. I'm flying on my own with two kids next week but fortunately my son is at an age where just being on a plane is a HUGE adventure and he'll probably spend the entire time giving me a running commentary - better take earplugs for the people around us ; )

  13. Goodluck Kitty, I hope all goes well (sure it will!)! I think earplugs for fellow passengers is actually an excellent tip though :)...

  14. Portable DVD Player/iPhone loaded with Timmy Time episodes. Who cares if they get square eyes, so long as they keep quiet until landing... ;)

  15. Thanks Jax! I think that's an excellent idea, just as long as the earphones are good enough so I can't hear that blinking theme music. I am singing it now (and will be for the next few days!)! :)

  16. I love the tip to remember that you will never see the people around you again. Hilarious and so true!

  17. Thanks some brilliant tips there. My ten year old always throws up on the plane which is a bit of a downer maybe I'll try to get her some pills this time. My kids are old enough to be plugged into their ipods now, thank God! When they were toddlers they wouldh't sit still for five minutes.

  18. I am dreading flying for the first time with my three year old but I will defo take some audio books when we do. Great tips!

  19. @Midlifesinglemum. That is my mantra when I step onboard, it's the only thing that quite often keeps me sane on the duration of the flight!

    @EmmaK, thank you! Hope you find some pills that will help your daughter, poor thing(s)!

    @Roxy Carmichael, seriously it will be over before you know it, and if I can do it, you can :)


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