Lifestyle & Travel

Published on May 6th, 2015 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


Flying with kids – taking the stress out of air travel

Travelling as a single parent means knowing the buck stops not only with you for all the fun stuff, (not complaining about that!) but also the dreaded ‘I’m bored’ scenarios, too. And it’s fair to say the same goes for any family set up – even if you’re holidaying with a partner or other family, there’s no escaping your kids’ less appealing travel traits.  And while it’s bad enough enduring heavy sighs, moans and even tears from the back seat of a car, or across the carriage on a train, nothing quite beats the (cabin) pressure when air-bound with your little darlings in full-on strop mode…

Fortunately,  independent UK airline bmi has got words of wisdom on flying with small people:

Be prepared

Kids pick up on stress, anxiety and other negative vibes, so the number-one piece of advice  is to be as organised and as stress-free as possible. Leave in good time for the airport and expect to take twice as long to get through to the departure gate with kids.

Give a pre-flight pep talk

Airports can be daunting places for little ones, with lots of big people pushing past and rushing around. Explain to children in advance what will happen and what is expected of them, such as when they have to put teddies or clothing on security trays and that they have to sit down on the plane, wear their seat belt and turn off electronic games at take-off and landing. Speaking of which, out of courtesy to fellow passengers, tell kids they must turn off the sound or wear earplugs when playing on consoles.

Choose toys with care

With careful planning, ‘on board’ needn’t mean ‘I’m bored’; but think wisely about which toys to pack. Magnetic games and stickers are good options because the pieces are less likely to get lost.  One tried and tested idea is packing several different items, but not getting them all out at the same time, so when children have had enough of playing with one thing, they’re presented with another  – new – distraction. Wrapping them up as presents – perhaps in several layers of paper – adds to the fun and wastes a bit more time as the kids unwrap them.

Have some on-board family time

Tempting though it might be to spend the flight catching up on downloaded TV shows, or gazing out of the window pretending the children belong to someone else, use the time constructively and engage with them. Play guessing games, make up stories or just ask them about what’s going on in their little world. Many parents feel guilty at not devoting enough time to their kids, and a recent survey by top UK attraction Warwick Castle revealed a third wish they had more hours to do fun and educational things with their children. With few distractions at 35,000ft in the air, it’s a good time to start talking more.

Easy on the sugar

Refreshments can help pass the time on a flight, but planes and hyperactive kids don’t mix, so go easy on the sugar. Save sweets for take off and landing as the swallowing action can help prevent ears hurting. Milk is a good soother for kids of all ages and, for babies and toddlers, a drink of milk in a bottle with a teat is also soothing to ears when the plane is taking off or touching down.

And at the other end…

Avoid the mad scramble to disembark. Wait for all other passengers to leave, then pick up toys and other items that will undoubtedly have fallen under the seat. Then go off and enjoy the holiday!

bmi regional operates operates more than 300 scheduled flights a week across a network of 22 destinations in ten European countries. See for more.

What are your top tips for flying with kids?

About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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