Flying with Children

Flying with children takes some extra planning but your grandchildren will never forget the trips you took together.The anticipation of a plane ride can be very exciting for children, but once they are on board that excitement can turn to anxiety, boredom, or super hyper-activeness.

However, if you take some time to plan ahead for the trip, just like with a car trip, you can avoid some of the “'Are we there yet'’s?” and “'Gran, she'’s kicking me’'s!”

A little preparation can make your trip, your grandchild's trip, and the trip of all the other passengers on the airplane a little smoother.

What to Pack to Take on Board

  • Before you pack anything to take on board, check what the regulations are for size of carry on bags and what is allowed to be carried on. Although what is allowed by law, especially in the form of liquids, hasn’t changed in a while, the rules could change at any point. Go online and read the rules specifically before packing.
  • Allow children who are old enough to help pack to decide with you what goes into their carry on bag – preferably a backpack so they can carry it themselves. Don’t make it too heavy. Pack it with books, coloring books and crayons, electronic devices such as handheld gaming systems and mp3 players, a deck of cards and other things to keep them occupied during the flight.
  • Pack snacks, but don’t make them too messy. Granola bars, pretzels, dry cereals, nuts and fruit are good choices. Don’t assume you can get snacks on board. Many airlines have stopped serving them, and those that do serve small portions that are usually pretty bad.
  • Beverages must be bought after going through security. Be wise about how much you allow younger children to have, however. Getting to the bathroom on an airplane isn’t always easy.
  • Pack a small first aid kit including Band-aids and Dramamine, just in case.
  • Children's ear canals are small, and rapid changes in pressure can cause earache. Have some chewy candy or chewing gum ready to give them just before take-off (as the plane taxis onto the runway) and just before landing, when the Captain announces the final approach. The chewing motion helps to keep the ear canals open and equalize the pressure in the ears.

Safety in the Airport

  • Explain to the children what will happen when they go through security. They may have to tell someone their full name, take off their shoes, or even have their carry on inspected. Letting them know that this might happen beforehand can make it easier on them when if it does.
  • Tell them to stay with you at all times.
  • Go to the bathroom with them – never let them go in alone.
  • Explain to them that they cannot leave their bags unattended. You don’t need to necessarily explain that it’s security risk. There’s no need to frighten them. Just tell them that you don’t want it to get lost or stolen.
  • Show them the type of person you want them to contact if you should get separated.

Keeping Occupied During the Flight

If you’ve packed their carry on bag correctly, you should have plenty to keep the children occupied. Flying with children can feel very long to them.

  • Suggest that they start off with a book or coloring, and save the electronic devices until later in the flight.
  • A portable DVD player is an awesome way to keep kids occupied while flying. Sure they show in-flight movies sometimes, but the movies don’t always interest the kids. Having their favorite movies to watch can really help keep them entertained.
  • Be aware of the battery life of your electronic devices. They will run out on a long flight. Some airlines now have ways to charge your equipment if you have the right devices.
  • You may want to take the time on the flight to read a book or get some work done, but make sure you take some time to talk with your grandkids and play some games. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll probably end up being glad you did.

Driving with Children

› Flying with Children