Take the Stress Out of Flying with Children

flying with children

Yes, it is that look of fear and dread that takes over most parents when they think of flying with their kids. I hate to see families forgoing vacations, just for fear of what will happen when flying with their kids.  Really, it does not have to be that bad.  But, as I have said before, being prepared is half the battle. So to go along my article last week on  family friendly airlines, I wanted to share some of my top tips to take the hassle, fear and stress out of flying.

1. Make sure to check in online 24 hours in advance, as well as double check your seat assignments.  I know some airlines will as if you want to check in for your return flight as well, I say NO.   I did this recently and even though I had booked seats in advance and double checked on the way out, the airline changed my seat on the return flight.

2. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport.  Security lines seem to be longer and longer lately. Make sure you have enough time to check bags, get through security and get to the gate.

3. If the airport is busy, check your bags at the curb. For the small tip, it saves waiting in line and having to drag your bags and family through the airport.

curbside checkin

4. Bring your stroller to the plane to fold and check at the gate.  It will be waiting for you when you get off the plane. It is much easier navigating the airport if you have the kids “secured” in the stroller.
5. Check the TSA Rules on liquids for kids, you are allowed extra allowance for formula, juice etc.  Here is a link to a great TSA blog which addresses traveling through the airport with children.
6. Remember kids 12 and under do not have to remove their shoes when going through security.
7. Most airlines no longer offer milk on board. Make sure to have enough with you in case there is a delay.  As well, a shelf stable milk like Parmalat or Horizon, is a good choice.
horizon milk 2
8. Most airlines will check strollers and car seats for FREE if you are not bringing on board the plane.

9. Pack extra “everything” in your carry-on bag.  Make sure you have enough diapers, snacks, extra clothes just in case of delay.  Check out my Busy Mom’s Vacation Planning Kit for my Airplane Survival Packing List.

10. Entertainment, Entertainment, Enterainment!!  Make sure you have books, toys, DVD player, crayons/makers, etc.  Lots of different items to keep them entertained.  As well, go to the dollar store and have an emergency stash of “new” toys or such to pull out in a meltdown emergency.

airline bag stuff
11.  Make sure you speak to the airline before bringing a car seat on the plane. Not all car seats are allowed. As well, in the end it is up to the flight attendant if you are allowed to use it. Also, check out the other FAA approved child restraints, like Kids Fly Safe.
Kids fly safe harness
12. Prepare the ears of little ones for take-off and landing. For babies, you can nurse or give them a bottle.  Toddlers suckers, sippies or even gum are good options.

13. When my boys were little I would bring Starbucks’s gift cards to hand out to my seat neighbors just in case of meltdown’s.  I loved this idea from some new parents.

note from parents on plane
14.  While some airlines will let you pre-board, I say wait as long as possible to board the plane. Let the little ones run around, get a last potty stop, basically wear them out.  If you are on Southwest, you will want to get on as soon as possible to make sure you have seats together.
15. If you have a favorite airline make sure to sign up for emails and follow them on twitter to get sales not advertised to the general public.
16. If you have more than 1 airport close to you make sure to check prices from the other airports. You might have to drive a bit longer, but you might save a bundle.

So, like the Boy Scouts flying is all about “being prepared”.  If you are prepared at least you will have the tools to try to fix the situation.

About the author

Kim Milnes

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