How to entertain kids on a plane
Now, unless you’re holidaying in the UK, you’re more than likely going to have to board a plane to start your holiday. Taking your first flight with the kids can be a very exciting adventure, full of wonder and new experiences. That is until they begin to cry.
To ensure a smooth(ish) flight for your family we have collected some of the top tips available online to help you plan your holiday from take-off to landing.
Understand Airfares and Infant Regulations
Understanding the charges involved when flying with infants and young children is highly important, so it’s worth knowing where you stand. Each airline has differing fares and regulations and knowing who offers the best deal for you and your brood could save you money on your next flight.
Most major airlines offer free priority boarding, helping you to get your little ones settled before being joined by your fellow passengers. When it comes to infant fares, some airlines may charge a flat rate whilst others will charge a percentage, usually, but not always, around 10% of an adult fare. In general, there may be very little difference between airlines in terms of pricing and baby luggage allowances. Skyscanner have produced a checklist to help you find the package which best suits your needs.
It’s worth noting that some airlines enforce a 1 child per row rule. Recently, on a flight back from Portugal, one of our staff members witnessed a family being split up because of this which resulted in the older toddler crying almost continuously. Although the child was sat with their Grandma, he couldn’t see his mum who was tending to the much younger sibling.
Packing for the flight
Prepare and then prepare some more! It sounds simple, but planning your journey from check-in to landing can ease your stress levels. First off, use a backpack as hand luggage. That way you have both hands free for carrying tired little legs, pushing buggies or handing over passports and boarding passes.
Pack more of everything. From wet wipes and sick bags to additional layers of clothing and medicine, this will cover you in case of accidents on-board, particularly on long-haul flights. Extra Pull-ups / nappies can also be invaluable in case of flight delays which leave you stranded on the runway with the seatbelt sign on, as you never know when your little one will need to go.
When it comes to in-flight entertainment, get creative! Pack the kids a surprise Plane Bag, filled with colouring books, pencils and small toys, this is sure to keep them occupied for at least part of your flight. Packing a tablet or portable device can also provide endless hours of entertainment on long-flights, so if you have one, be sure to charge it and fill it with your kids favourite TV programmes, films and apps.
Prepare snack boxes full of healthy treats, including grapes or apple slices, rather than sugary sweets.
[As a rule of thumb avoid treats loaded with sugar, sure they’ll keep kids occupied for 5 minutes but may leave them climbing the seat in front for a further 5 hours!]
Buckle up and take to the skies
Check-in online early to guarantee you all sit together and try to secure the front seats, usually found in row A. This offers more space for adventurous little ones without distracting other passengers. Another great tip when booking flights is to coincide your flight time with your children’s regular bedtime, although this isn’t always possible, they may sleep for most (if not all) of your flight.
Be aware of painful ears! / Preparing for take-off
Infants and young children are more susceptible to changes in air pressure than adults during take-off and landing, so it’s worth having a milk bottle for infants to suckle on and sugar-free lollies for small children. For some children take-off and landing can seem daunting. By playing “Pilots” and similar role-playing games you can reassure your young flyer of what’s happening during your trip, it may also take their mind of any bumps and turbulence along the way too.
During the flight
Present kids with gifts. Wrap-up some of their favourite toys from home or perhaps some small presents they can play with during your holiday i.e. a disposable camera so they can take their own photos.
If you have a window seat it’s worth knowing your flight route. Bring along a map & look out for great sights along the way! For example: If you’re flying to Mallorca from the UK you’ll likely cross The Alps and if you look closely The Nou Camp (FC Barcelona stadium) as you begin your descent. Consider taking a pillow for extra comfort too, small children can use it to sleep on or as a booster seat to look out of the window, giving you a few precious moments rest before landing.
Don’t give them too many fluids or it’ll be up and down to the toilet all flight. It’s inevitable as soon as the seat belts come on for landing your little bundle of joy will need the toilet and delayed landings due to turbulence or “air traffic” can add to this, so make these trips little and often.
Finally. Look after yourself too!