Last week USA Today revealed most people prefer either child-free airline flights or designated family sections if kids must travel on planes. I laughed as I skimmed the article, since I was packing to travel on a plane with my four kids at the time.
Now that I’ve just returned from about 16 hours of airport and plane time this weekend, I concur – child-free flights should definitely be enforced. Because if there are child-free flights, there will also be child-friendly flights. Think: Disney cruises in the air. Where a parent can bring their teething, toddling, drooling yet playful, wide-eyed, snuggling, occasionally crying little people on an airplane. And where…
- The 53% of cranky adults who don’t have kids in the USA Today survey won’t be looking at me like I have the plague when I approach the boarding area.
- The flight will never run out of the kid friendly snacks and drinks because grown ups ate them.
- All the funny Southwest Airlines flight attendants who sing and rap would be assigned to these flights.
- There would be coloring books and Skippyjon Jones stories instead of SkyMall magazines and barf bags in the seat pouch
- Every flight would show recent animated movies because they make parents laugh. And if we’re laughing, everyone’s in a better mood.
- They’d have changing tables in BOTH the front and back bathrooms instead of only in front. And padded arm-rests so toddling kids don’t bang their heads as they navigate to the front for the changing table.
Since that’s not happening any time soon, here are some things I recommend for child-unfriendly flights:
- Small back pack for each child, with little toys designated for travel only (“new” even if they’re not) and a few things from the dollar store. Silly putty, mini etch-a-sketches, coloring books, bubbles (for layovers at airports) and word-searches are fun.
- Lots of nutritionally balanced snacks. Granola bars, juice boxes, cheese sticks, fruit, nuts, etc. Gives the kids control over at least one thing while being dragged all over on airplanes (they eat when they want), keeps them from being cranky due to hunger, and gives them something to do.
- Change of clothes for each in their back pack, so that when the juice box spills or one of them falls asleep sitting on their cheese stick, they’re covered.
- DVD player or laptop with movies, and a couple of sets of headphones, since the cranky adults on the plane don’t want to hear Bugs Bunny.
- A sense of humor and adventure – we’d be herding our kids around at home anyway, so why not enjoy the time together on the flight? Use the distractions of a new environment to your advantage. And when all else fails, your toddler dumps a cup of juice in your lap and flails, screaming, in your arms, tell yourself “They’re only getting older. This is the worst it will ever be!
What’s worked for you on a plane with small children?
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