Tips for flying with kids

A couple of days ago I was asked by BBC Radio Gloucester for my opinion on a story which was in the papers that day which said 74% of business men thought there should be “adults only” flights.

When I read the story for myself, it turned out they hadn’t actually said that – 74% of businessmen had just said they found children on flights annoying. No-one can argue with that – I’m sure everyone has been annoyed by a child on a flight at some point – I know I have. But children should no more be banned from flights than fat people who spill over into your seat, men who sit with their legs too wide apart and therefore in your space, people eating cheese and onion crisps, people with their iPod on too loud or people with BO. It might be nice, but it wouldn’t be fair.

That said, I do think parents have a responsibility to try to get their children to be behave as well as they can on flights. Many parents are very stressed even by the idea of flying with their children but honestly, it probably won’t be as bad as you imagine. Here are my tips for successful flying with children – originally written for Parentdish UK. You can also red by blog post about specific tips for flying with Ryanair.

1.       If you are flying long-haul with a small baby, request a bulkhead seat and bassinet as early as you can. Bassinets can be used for children up to 18 months old but are most suitable for babies under eight months old.

2.       If you are over 24 weeks pregnant, get a note from your doctor or midwife stating that you are fit to fly.

3.       Leave plenty of time to get to the airport. Little is more stressful than having to race through security dragging luggage and children.

4.       Don’t expect to be able to read the paper or snooze as you might have done when you travelled child-free. If you do get the chance, see it as a bonus.

5.       Remember you cannot any containers of liquids greater than 100 ml through security and pack accordingly. Baby milk and baby food is allowed through but you may be asked to taste it.

6.       If you are travelling with a baby, take a sling as well as a lightweight buggy – you will not always get your buggy back at the plane door.

7.       Check luggage and hand baggage allowances on your airline’s website – these vary widely and frantically trying to repack to meet them at the airport really isn’t fun.

8.       Take more nappies than you could possibly need – the change in air pressure can do strange things to babies’ stomachs! “Nappy changing in cramped plane loo can be a bit of a nightmare,” says Liat Hughes Joshi, author of What to Buy for Your Baby “Your best bet is to ensure you have your changing gear well organised in a separate bag so you can grab things easily. Take two changes of baby clothes for longer journeys and a spare top for yourself if you are travelling with a baby or toddler on your knee.”

9.       Feed your baby on take off and landing to prevent painful ears. Give older children boiled sweets to suck or get them to yawn.

10.   Take small, non-precious toys with no parts to lose. Colouring or puzzle books work well, and consider a portable DVD player. For older children, let them play their computer games for as long as they like – it’s not going to hurt just this once!

11.   Airline food is not usually child-friendly and if you have to buy it, is expensive. Take plenty on non-sticky snacks such as carrot sticks, raisins or Babybel. Do not take drinks cartons – they squirt everywhere and cannot be closed again once opened.

12.   If you are taking small children on a long flight, get them changed into their pyjamas for night time. Don’t worry too much about jetlag – children suffer much less than adults.

What do you think? Would you like to see adult-only flights?

About catherinecooper

Journalist and author specialising in travel with children. I write for several national publications and am author of Travelling with Children: A Parent's Guide. You can see some of my articles at
This entry was posted in Travel tips, Travel with children and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tips for flying with kids

  1. Hi Catherine,

    Your readers may be interested in this pregnancy travel test. The test can predict if you will go into labour in the next two weeks – perfect to take just before a holiday!

  2. Thanks Peter – yes that could be reassuring.

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