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Tips for Air Travel with Children

Tips for Air Travel with Children

Tips on Booking Your Flight

  • Research flight times with different airlines. You might want to consider flying at times that are not as busy so you can have more room to feed and take care of your baby.
  • Try traveling with children at night. This will give your child the best opportunity to sleep on long flights and won't break their sleep routine.
  • Are you trying to decide whether or not to purchase a ticket for your infant or toddler under the age of two? Sit in front of the TV with your baby on your knee for the same length of time as your flight and make your decision.
  • If you decide to purchase a ticket for your infant or toddler make sure to ask about child fares when traveling with children.
  • If you are using an airline with a frequent flyer program, enroll your child as well. Some airlines offer full points for child fares.
  • Check with your travel agent or airline for the availability of kids' meals and reserve one for each leg of your flights.
  • If traveling with a partner on a long flight, you might want to consider booking seats away from each other. That way one can sleep while the other tends to the baby.
  • Contact the airlines to request special assistance for when you board and exit the plane. Such assistance may not be available, but many airports do have motorized carts, wheelchairs or other forms of assistance. It never hurts to ask. If When you air travel with children getting assistance might even be the difference between making your connecting flight or not. Sometimes special assistance passengers get rushed through check-in, boarding, immigration and customs.

Tips On Preparing To Fly

Packing For Your Trip

  • Beware of baggage restrictions to avoid excess baggage charges. Check the size, weight and number of bags your family will be allowed. Some airlines offer lower fares but allow less baggage. On most airlines, if an infant sits in your lap, you are not allotted space for the baby's bags. Also, some airlines don't allot a full baggage allowance to child fares.
  • When you tavel with children try using a backpack as your carry-on so you can have your hands free to tend to your baby. A backpack with wheels can give you the option of wheeling your gear when it's more convenient.
  • When packing your carry-on bag, remember the small items you may not use on a daily basis, for example, a can opener for ready-to-drink formula.
  • Be sure to pack your passport, tickets and cash in a convenient pocket on your carry-on or a waist pack.

Baby Supplies & Toys

  • Always be sure to bring enough diapers and food for the flight, scheduled layovers, and unexpected flight delays when you travel with children.
  • Your baby will appreciate a blanket and anything else you normally use to keep them warm and comfortable. Familiar things make air travel less traumatic.
  • If breastfeeding, you might want to bring a blanket large enough to cover the baby during feedings.
  • When you travel with children, buy a few new toys to peak their interest. Let them see the toys for the first time during the flight. Wrapping them can be fun, but the Transportations Safety Administration advises against traveling through the airport with wrapped presents.
  • Hide a couple of favorite toys a few weeks before your trip then pull them out on the airplane or at your destination for an added surprise.
  • Here are a few toys that parents have found work well on airplanes.
    • Favorite teddy bear or soft toy
    • Crayons and coloring books
    • Storybooks
    • Stickers
    • Small plastic toys such as cars, dolls or animals (Fisher Price Little People work well)
    • Etch A Sketch or travel Magna Doodle

Formula, Food & Beverage

  • If your baby prefers warm bottles of formula, carry a thermos of boiling water and add a splash to the bottle. ALWAYS test the temperature of a bottle before feeding it to a baby.
  • If your baby only eats baby food, bring foods that can be eaten cold.
  • Airline water may not be as pure as you or your baby may like. Pack a bottle of water or juice in your carry-on.
  • Long waits while traveling are common. Food and beverages are not always available. Make sure you have a bottle or sippy cup, beverages and enough snacks.
  • If you are traveling with children that can chew gum or soft candy, both are great for relieving pressure in the inner ear during take off and landing .

Dressing To Travel

  • Remember, it's more important to be comfortable than fashionable during air travel.
  • You should dress in layers in case your baby spits up or causes a spill.
  • Sometimes airlines seat all families with children at the rear of the plane where it happens to be hot. Dress your children in layers so you can better control their environment
  • If your child doesn't travel well, be sure to bring along extra clothes and even some scented diaper disposal bags to carry soiled clothes and mask the smell.

Car Seats, Infant Carriers & Strollers

  • If you are traveling with an infant who does not have a separate seat, bring your infant carrier and check it at the gate, not the ticket counter. Having use of the carrier in airports will make traveling with children easier for you and your baby.
  • Bring your stroller and check it at the gate, not the ticket counter. Most airports require long walks to other gates, baggage claim and exits the stroller will make getting around much easier. Also, by checking it at the gate you can have use of your stroller during any layovers.
  • When you travel with children who their own seat on the airplane they should use an FAA approved child safety seat. Consider bringing your child's car seat. Having your child sit in their own car seat can make traveling more pleasant for everyone. This also applies to infant carriers.
  • If you are bringing your infant carrier or car seat on the plane, make sure you are familiar with how to use a lap type of seat belt to secure it to the airplane seat. All seats brought on to the plane must be secure before takeoff. Trying figuring out how to secure it, in tight quarters, while taking care of your child, is something you definitely want to avoid.

Tips For At The Airport

  • Allow plenty of time at the airport. Remember how much extra time it takes when you take your children anywhere and apply that to your airport plans.
  • Most airlines don't pre-board families with small children anymore. If your airline doesn't, ask the desk clerk at the gate for assistance placing your car seat in your seat on the plane before they start boarding. While you are at it, ask them to place anything else that is bulky in an overhead bin. You should also ask if you can gate check your stroller just before boarding instead of at the airplane door. This will leave your hands free to navigate your child to his seat.
  • When you are first on and last off the airplane you can usually get additional assistance from the flight crew.
  • Utilize the long walkways in the airport during. Supervise your child as they burn off some energy exploring the airport while you wait for your flight.

Tips For In Flight

  • Many babies and children experience pressure in their ears during air travel, especially during take off and landing. Encourage your child to suck and swallow by taking a drink. This should equalize the pressure. Chewing gum or a soft piece of candy works well for older kids.
  • Airplane air conditioning can cause babies and young children to become dehydrated so always carry a full sippy cup and encourage your child to drink often when you travel with children.
  • If you are a breastfeeding mother, be careful not to get dehydrated. Take a few sips on a regular basis to ensure this doesn't happen.
  • Always test the temperature of airline food if feeding it to your baby. It is often too hot for them.
  • Some airplanes have a bathroom with a fold down changing table. Ask the flight attendant if your plane has one when you board.
  • Never turn down a drink for your child. Save unopened juice for later in the flight when the flight attendant may not be able or available to serve drinks.
  • Keep track of the time back home so you can keep your baby on their normal schedule. Try to adjust feeding and sleeping times gradually. Babies don't adjust feeding and sleep times easily, if at all.

Tips On Renting A Car

  • If you travel with children and are renting a car, you might need to rent a car seat too. It is illegal to hold a baby in your lap whether in the front seat or the back, and many states require booster seats for older children as well.
  • If you are renting a car seat, make sure it is the correct size for your child's height and weight.

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