How to Prepare For a Flight with a Child? First-hand Advice!
I’ve had quite a few parents ringing me up before going on their first flight with a baby, asking for advice on how to prepare for, and comfortably spend time flying. Below you will find some tips on how to prepare for the flight (especially parents with children under 2) no needing to worry about your little one chewing through half of the plane ticket, or crawling to the nearest escalator while you’re collecting your luggage from the conveyor belt.
1. Hand luggage
- Take only one piece of hand luggage besides the stroller, in case you have one. It’s great if your bag has a side pocket where you can quickly access your documents and tickets. One of the most important things when taking a flight with a child is having a neatly packed bag. I recommend taking one with more pockets. If you are travelling with a younger child, or travelling alone with him or her, I recommend a backpack as hand luggage (you will be more nimble on your feet and your spine will be grateful).
- Before the check-in, don’t forget that stroller baskets, twin strollers and larger strollers (which can’t be dismantled) are not considered hand luggage. For this reason, we took either the car seat, which we put on the stroller or the frame with us on holiday.
- Ask the staff at the check-in if they can place you somewhere no one else is sitting. Especially if you expect the flight to be long, or if the little one does not have his own seat. It’s a deal maker or a deal breaker for flights lasting longer than 2 hours. Usually, everyone does their best to make you feel comfortable on the flight. If you’re travelling alone, ask for the aisle seat so that you can put your baby on the ground to crawl or walk around.
- Your child can start gathering miles from 2 and up to 18 years of age. We applied for Miles and More program. You never know, maybe your child will be able to pay for a trip around the world with the gathered miles someday, so check your favorite flying company if it has this option.
3. Security check
- Wear shoes that are easiest to slip on and off. I recommend you don’t wear belts, sunglasses, watches and jewelry – especially if you’re alone with the child.
- Keep your passport and plane tickets where you can easily access them (in your bag’s side pocket).
- When you get to the conveyor belt for security screening first remove all electronic devices (computers and iPads), your Thermos with hot water and the food you have for your child. When it comes to liquids for the baby, the security officers don’t make things difficult for you.
- Place everything else on the belt (including the child’s toys). If you’re travelling with a small child, I recommend you put the stroller on the belt at the very end. If you’re alone, ask the officer to hold your baby, if he or she is too small to sit. Otherwise, just put the baby on the floor, but be careful he doesn’t crawl away.
- When you get pass the security check first fold the stroller. Once again, you can ask someone to hold your baby in the meanwhile.
4. Waiting to board
The part of the boarding process that drags the most is when you have to wait before boarding. Suddenly you find yourself running after your child across the whole airport. If your stroller is in the checked baggage, you can borrow one at most of the airports. This is very useful if you are at larger airports.
- Luckily, many airports have well maintained playgrounds for children
- Before you board the plane, change the baby’s nappies if needed. The changing tables in the small claustrophobic toilets on the plane are relatively short and narrow. Some smaller planes do not have a changing table. Changing your baby on the seat is against the rules, even if the baby is just wet. Stewardesses can be quite strict when it comes to this.
Board last. Families with small children are usually considered priority passengers. I tend to board last if I’m alone with the child. Why?
- It is often hot on the plane before boarding, and it has happened before that Taras became all flushed, grumpy and started crying. If it’s too hot, ask the stewardess to lower the temperature on the plane.
- The biggest crowd forms when it’s time to board, and if you want to sit next to aisle, you will most likely have to get up repeatedly to let other people in. Passengers usually want to get to their seats fast and you can get a bit nervous if others have to wait for you take your clothes off, put your bags in the cabin, sit down and keep an eye on the child all at the same time.
- Children love the sight of aircrafts and all other means of transport at the airport.
- If you board last, it doesn’t matter which seat you have, you take the one with a high tolerance neighbor.
If you are travelling with a low cost airline, board first. Or have at least one of the parents board first.
- If you don’t have allocated seating, I suggest, you make use of all the travelling-with-a-child benefits.
- If you board first, you get to pick the seat. I always choose the first free row and take the aisle seat. I put Taras on the seat next to me, even if he doesn’t have a seat of his own. Many times, no one chooses the window seat next to a playful child. And so we end up having three seats for ourselves.
Before you take the steps to board the plane, fold your stroller and have it stored for you during the flight. Take all the toys with you; otherwise you will get them back all dirty.
6. On the plane
- Keep the carry on bag under the seat in front of you. Trust me, with a baby on board, you will open the bag a great number of times already in the first hour of the flight (for toys, water, milk, nappies, tissues, dummy, etc.).
- Feed the baby during take off and landing. To even out the differences in pressure.
- Let the child crawl or walk on the plane. If this is what he or she wants. This is one tip not a lot of people will agree with. Imagine your child sitting on the plane for eleven hours straight. Not Taras. The passengers are usually very friendly and like to play with children. Some even shared a warm meal with Taras. Watch out for turbulence – the child might sway and hit his head.
- Smaller playgrounds on large planes. Larger planes have special areas where your child can play with his toys on the floor. Even if just for a little while, this can break the monotony on a longer flight. It also attracts other children.
7. Getting off the plane
- First dress yourself and then the baby. Especially if it is cold outside.
- At this point, your child has probably made several acquaintances, who will help you get your bag off the plane. This helps a lot as the steps leading off the plane can be quite steep.
You will find more information on how to travel with a child at most airport websites as well, so make sure you check them out before taking off.
You won’t be able to take a nap or watch all 10 seasons of friends any more, but it is worth preparing for the flight to keep you and your little one happy and comfortable.
If you are wondering what essentials you need to pack in your carry-on luggage read: 8 Tips on What You Should Pack in Your Carry-On Luggage
If you have any tips on preparing for a flight with a child, please drop them in the comment form below. Thanks!
The above descriptions are based on personal impressions and experiences gained while travelling with my family. For more information, please contact us at: email@example.com