21 Secrets to Flying with Kids from Flight Attendants and Pilots
Flying with little ones can be harrowing—but it doesn’t have to be! We gathered top travel tips from people who are seasoned vets both as parents and as airline professionals.
Bring a change of clothing—for yourself
“Most people remember to bring extra clothing for the baby but you’ll need some too if there is a major diaper accident or vomiting. It also helps to consolidate your belongings into one diaper bag so you are not fumbling with a whole mess of bags.” —Christie Poulton, flight attendant for 19 years. Now learn more secrets flight attendants won’t tell you.
Check your seats before boarding
“Make sure you’re sitting together before you get on the plane. Computers assign seats and they don’t know that your child is only two years old. If the plane is full I may not be able to help you. Don’t hold up the boarding process because you weren’t proactive.” —Megan Savage, flight attendant four years.
Visit the cockpit
“As a pilot, I can say that most of us don’t mind when you bring the little kids up to the cockpit. As long as it’s not a busy day, a delayed flight or storms, we will let them come in and look around and see things. Avoid before takeoff but after landing is usually a good time.” —Ryan S., pilot for four years. Here are even more secrets about flying pilots wish you knew.
Ask to be seated in the front of the plane
“If your child is prone to motion sickness try to avoid sitting toward the back of the plane where the ride is bumpier.” —Christie Poulton. Make sure you also know the best place to sit to survive a plane crash.
Once seated, stay seated
“Once you’ve sat down, fastened your seat belts and gotten settled in, resist the urge to allow your toddler out of the seat to walk around. If you let them get up to roam the aisles they normally lose it when it’s time to sit back down. Not to mention that it’s dangerous to let them wander, even if there is a parent close by. There are many fall hazards and unexpected turbulence as well. With my own kids, I’ve found they did much better on medium/short haul flights if they were never allowed to get up from their car seats except to go to the bathroom.” —Agnes J., flight attendant for 20 years
No diapers in the toilet, ever!
“Always dispose of used diapers in the trash can and never ever in the toilet! I’ve seen diapers completely render the bathroom inoperative. We once had someone throw a diaper into the toilet on a transcontinental flight and had to block the lavatory off for five hours—only one toilet for 150 passengers!” —Christie Poulton. Here’s what savvy parents do to make traveling with kids less of a hassle.
Make the fun last longer
“Don’t pull out all your tricks at once. Too many times I see parents pull out the snacks and have a movie playing while we’re still boarding. Flying for most kids is exciting. Let them just take it all in for a while. Save the snacks and tablet time for when they’ve actually gotten bored with the experience.” —Keri Kuhlmann, flight attendant five years
Travel in the morning
“For many babies, including my son, flying earlier in the morning is better because they generally sleep on the early flights but the later it gets the more they stay awake. For young children it helps as they’re often less cranky and better behaved in the morning.” —Ryan S. Already planning your next vacation? Here are the best cruises to take your kids on.
Dress in layers
“Cabin temperature can vary widely. It’s a good idea to be able to quickly pull on a sweatshirt or jacket if your child gets cold or take off a layer if they’re warm.” —Keri Kuhlmann
Pack a soft blanket
“Don’t forget your child’s favorite blanket. First, it smells like home and second, most airlines do not have blankets on board anymore.” —Christie Poulton. Don’t be one of those parents who make one of the biggest mistakes when traveling with their baby.