Practical Tips for Planning A Smooth Flying Experience with Small Children

by wandermom
( July 29th, 2008 )

My children are now both in school, so it’s been a while since I’ve had to think about how to fly with really young children, but we recently had some family come from Ireland to visit us in Seattle with much younger children. Since I was eager to make their experience go smoothly, I came up with a list of suggestions for our guests:

1 person, 1 seat.
Even if you are traveling with a child who is younger than two (and could travel as a lap child), it’s safer and more comfortable if he or she has their own seat. With a full aircraft, there is precious little space in a coach class seat to care for an infant or toddler.

Choose direct flights whenever possible.
Keeping it simple. Avoid risks of missed connections and reduce your total travel time.

Coordinate departure and arrival times with feeding schedules, naptimes and other important kid-related activities.
Particularly relevant for long-haul flights. If your child will sleep on the plane, you may get a jump on jet-lag which will make the start of your trip easier.

If jet-lag is likely, give some advance consideration into how you will manage it.
This may be something a simple as remembering to ask the front desk if there is a park or playground nearby when you check into your hotel – so you can keep your children outside until the ‘local’ bedtime; or deciding in advance with your spouse or partner who is going to take the ‘early shift’ with the children when they wake up hours before sunrise.

Plan layovers carefully.
If two hours is a standard layover interval, add extra time to compensate for any risk of delay with your first flight and for getting from gate to gate with a child. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll also have to allow for customs and passport control.

Take advantage of airport lounges during layovers whenever possible.
Use frequent flier club memberships or purchase access using Priority Pass (www.prioritypass.com) or Lounge Pass (www.loungepass.com).

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