Hearing the words ‘kids’ and ‘planes’ in the same sentence is enough to bring on a cold sweat in any parent. Not many children can cope with long flights, so you may want to limit them when possible, but there are always occasions where a plane journey is necessary, such as destination weddings or special family events. In these cases, it’s best to have an action plan in place for a smooth flight, so here are some ideas to get you through the ordeal and keep your kids entertained.
1. Get organized
It’s best to get things organized well in advance, instead of panicking when you reach the plane and realize you’ve got hours to fill. A good start is making sure you have reserved seats; otherwise, you may not be assigned to sit next to your children and will need to rely on a kind stranger to switch. Next, make a list of what you’ll need for the plane. Pack the kids a rucksack each, with some new travel games, a couple of favorite toys, activity books, a comforter, pacifiers, snacks and whatever else you think they’ll need. Having their own bag will also make them feel special and more grown-up when they step on the plane.
2. See if you can get an upgrade
Upgrading to first or business class doesn’t just mean a bigger seat; it often means quicker boarding, so less boredom at the airport, better in-flight entertainment and sometimes even a special amenity kit for the kids. Bigger seats also mean that kids can take naps without having to rest their feet on you. If you really want the VIP experience, consider looking at a jet charter and taking a private plane. This is great for kids, as they have all the room they could possibly need and get pretty much one-on-one attention from a flight attendant.
3. Download some entertainment for them
At the moment, a limited number of airlines offer onboard WiFi, which can sometimes be slow and unreliable. If the kids want to play with apps or watch TV on their tablet, it’s better to download content in advance, so you aren’t stuck troubleshooting the internet connection once you’re on board. Put their tablet onto flight mode to check whether their favorite apps work without the internet and use streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which allow you to download movies and TV shows that can then be watched offline.
4. Don’t just rely on screens
Many parents assume that their kids will happily play with screens for several hours, but the truth is, many of them will tire of their tablet eventually. Try to get them excited about the journey instead, pointing out interesting places you’re flying over, discussing how the plane works and the things you’re going to see when you arrive. Kids will often see planes as a novelty, especially when they get a little older, so in many cases, they’ll enjoy the experience.
Flying with kids doesn’t have to be stressful, but it does require careful planning to ensure that they’re well-occupied, fed and not over-tired. As they get older and become more experienced flyers, things get easier, and they may even pick up your love of traveling.