Fly High with Ease: Mastering Air Travel with Kids

Travelling by air with children presents a unique set of challenges. Not only do you need to make sure your kids have everything they need to be comfortable and entertained on the flight, but you have to do this on top of juggling all the usual logistics of travel. It’s easy to see why parents might get overwhelmed in this scenario, but the truth is that with some strong planning and preparation beforehand, flying with kids doesn’t have to be difficult.

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Choosing the Best Airlines for Kids

The first step in the planning process is to choose the right airline. A kid-friendly airline will typically offer amenities like bassinet seats for infants, meals designed for younger passengers and broad in-flight entertainment options to keep children engaged throughout the journey.

Thankfully, most airlines today understand that parents travelling with kids have different needs than those who aren’t. This has led to them creating their own initiatives to make things even easier for travelling parents. Airlines like Etihad provide dedicated check-in desks, priority boarding specifically for families, and extra baggage allowance, while Lufthansa give first-time flyers a logbook as a keepsake. Lufthansa even allows kids to witness take-off or landing from the cockpit on certain planes.

On Qantas international flights, the Australian carrier gives travelling families Joey Club kits that are filled with activities like colouring books and Etch A Sketches, and they offer specially curated children’s meals. Similarly, Qatar Airways has the Oryx Kids Club, where kids receive packs of different activities and meals in colourful lunch boxes.

When you’re considering different airlines, it can be a good idea to use a travel booking platform like Opodo. After you input your search parameters, you’ll be able to quickly see all the different carriers that fly to your destination. You can then research their family travel initiatives to make sure that you pick the right one.

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Airport Hacks for Parents

Most of the time, things go smoothly at airports, but you can’t always bank on that. When flights are delayed or cancelled, you might end up spending a lot more time at the airport than you’d hoped, so you need to be prepared for that.

When you find yourself in this situation, make the most of the airport’s family facilities. While they might not exist everywhere, there are often family rooms or play areas that can be used. These spaces give children the freedom to move around safely away from crowds while waiting for flights.

Airport lounges are a good choice, as well. They aren’t just for business travellers. They can provide a quiet haven away from busy terminals where you and your family can recharge before boarding your flight. This can be really cheap, and sometimes even free. As an example, credit card companies like Mastercard and American Express often have special deals around lounge access that are included as a perk for using their services.

If your kids are very young, that can be an advantage for you when you’re at an airport. Generally speaking, when you’re travelling with kids under the age of two, many airports will allow you to use business class queues even if you’re flying economy. Always ask airline staff what additional benefits they have available for you. You might be surprised by how accommodating they can be.

Packing and In-Flight Entertainment

When you’re preparing for the actual flight itself, start by creating a packing list. Your list should include any favourite snacks to stave off hunger, hygiene items like wipes and hand sanitiser for quick clean-ups, and comfort items like a beloved stuffed animal or a blanket that can make the unfamiliar environment feel more secure.

When you’re choosing snacks, prioritise those that are non-perishable and mess-free. Things like dried fruit, crackers, or string cheese are all good choices. Make sure to avoid anything that is high in sugar, as that may lead to energy spikes and then crashes, the last thing you need in the middle of a flight. Portioning snacks into individual bags or containers can also be a good move, as it simplifies distribution and minimises the potential for any disputes between siblings.

Entertainment is equally as important as snacks on flights. If you have an iPad or other kind of tablet, load it up with games and movies. Make sure the battery is full and that you bring your charger with you. Kids sometimes don’t like using headphones, but they will need to so that they don’t disrupt other passengers. There are plenty of child-friendly products these days, so experimenting with different headphone options could be worth doing in the lead-up to your trip.

That said, don’t underestimate the power of low-tech entertainment. Even simple colouring books with washable markers could provide a different kind of entertainment from simply looking at screens. Additionally, consider packing a surprise toy. This can be something basic that’s related to their current interests. If your kids start getting restless mid-flight, hand them the surprise toy and the novelty factor alone could help to keep the boredom at bay.

The memories that your family will create when you travel together are the kind that will be cherished and looked back on for many years to come. Plan for each step of the journey, and you’ll be well on the way to having a trip that is much more relaxing and fulfilling than stressful.

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