The Step-by-Step Guide To Surviving Your First Plane Ride With Your Child
STORY: Pearlyn Tham
10 May 2022
Once, you were the single on the plane giving bawling babies and their helpless parents the evil side-eye. Now that you are a parent yourself and preparing for your first plane ride with your little tyrant, oops, we meant, tyke, here are the 10 things to do if you don’t want any “turbulence” ahead. And it starts right from the minute you decide it’s time for a family holiday.
1. Choose the right destination
It may seem like common sense but for your first plane trip with your child, don’t be over-ambitious and keep the wanderlust in check. Stick to nearby destinations that require a flight time of just three hours max. Once your kid realises that flying is not dreadful, you can look further afield on the map.
2. Next, choose the right flight timing
When you were child-free, you picked the flight time depending on the cheapest fares or on whether you could get to Paris on time for breakfast. Sorry, those days are over now. Instead, you need to consider your child’s sleeping patterns. A baby who sleeps all day long will be wide awake on a night flight; a toddler who is used to having afternoon naps will get cranky on a day flight. And you know them best.
3. Pay for a seat
Most airlines allow parents to seat their kids on their lap if the young ones are under the age of two. But if your child is a highly restless 20-month-old, you may want to splurge on a separate seat for him or her. This way, you also get to enjoy the flight more.
4. Chope seats nearer the front of the plane
Of course, we would all love to be in First or Business class! But even in cattle class, you can choose seats that are nearer the front of the plane where the ride is generally less bumpy. So, there’s a fewer chance of motion sickness.
5. Bring your kid on a “trial”
If you have the time, take him or her to the airport before the trip itself and explain how the whole travel thing works. Some parents also like getting their older children to read kids’ books on airports and airplane travel so they can have a taste of what is to come.
6. Dress your child in layers
You know how it can get warm on the plane and then suddenly it turns cold in minutes? Just the thing to irritate any five-year-old and present the best opportunity for a meltdown. So, choose the right clothing for your child. Layering is best because you can throw on a hoodie as easily as you can slip it off.
7. Bring a sippy cup
Young children can feel the built-up ear pressure more than we can. And they won’t know why. Let your kid sip on a sippy cup as doing so relieves the pain in the ears.
8. Or bring anything to suck on
A lollipop works too and for babies, a pacifier.
9. Go for early boarding
Most airlines have this for families travelling with young children. Take advantage of it so you can settle down in advance and your kid can get familiar with the surroundings. The air crew will also be less busy and can get your child a goodie pack before the rest of the passengers embark.
10. Prep a fun bag
If your fussy little one scoffs at kids’ packs from airlines, bring your own. Snacks, colouring books, a favourite toy or two, and a few cheap wrapped gifts for your child to unwrap on the journey. But here’s the rule: never move on to the next activity until your kid is really unhappy or uninterested in the current one.
Finally, if it's your first time on a plane since COVID struck, check out these tips for travelling with kids in a post-COVID world.