Surviving Long Flights with Kids: Tips for Stress-Free Air Travel

Dealing with lengthy security lines, cramped airplane seating, and bustling waiting areas, air travel doesn’t always provide the most pleasant journey—especially when you factor in a toddler. The challenges amplify significantly when you’re accompanied by a young child. Some little ones struggle with the demands of airport security, finding it hard to stay patient. They might find it difficult to remain seated for extended periods, and they could become unsettled during turbulence or bothered by the discomfort of changes in air pressure.


If you’re seeking strategies to simplify the experience of long-haul flights with children, you’re in the right spot. Transforming lengthy journeys with kids into bearable experiences is entirely possible. So, how can you turn extended flights into more pleasant endeavours when travelling with toddlers or young children? We’ve compiled a collection of top-notch techniques designed to ease the challenges of long-haul flights for both parents and children in this post


Opt for an Early Morning Flight Departure


When you’re travelling alongside toddlers or young children, it’s wise to secure an early morning flight departure. This choice increases your chances of avoiding delays during takeoff and landing, according to a flight attendant. Early morning flights are typically less crowded and provide a more serene atmosphere. Moreover, everyone, kids included, is generally in a tired state, making it easier to slip into a nap.


Prearrange Your Seating Selection


The seating arrangement within the airplane carries significance, especially when facing an 8-15-hour long-haul journey. When selecting seats for extended flights with children, it’s important to factor in elements such as proximity to restrooms, the galley area, appropriate seat configuration for your family size, and the choice between bulkhead, extended legroom, or regular legroom seats. In my view, the most critical aspect of long-haul flights with kids is making the right seating choice.


Choose Your In-Flight Meals Ahead of Time


A key reason we appreciate flying with Delta is their option to pre-select “Child” or “Toddler” meals for our youngsters online. These meals are delivered before the standard meal service, keeping your child occupied while the rest of the plane is served. The toddler meal on an airplane typically resembles a child’s meal, usually comprising small sandwiches with fruit, a cookie, and a child-friendly beverage.


On long flights with toddlers, the significance of food cannot be overstated. I also pack a generous supply of our own snacks and food items that I know will offer comfort to all. For instance, I carry yoghurt pouches for overnight flights as they align with our children’s routine of having yoghurt before bedtime. Maintaining a sense of familiarity helps maintain contentment.


Preload Electronic Devices


Given the inconsistent nature of airline Wi-Fi, it’s prudent to be equipped with pre-downloaded games, movies, or educational apps. Don’t forget that platforms like Netflix, Apple, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney+ allow movie downloads, enabling offline viewing.


Layer Up and Choose Slip-On Shoes


Whether adapting to changing climates or coping with varying cabin temperatures due to heating or air conditioning, it’s essential to prepare for drastic temperature shifts when traveling with toddlers. Wendy, a flight attendant and parent, advises dressing kids in comfortable layers without buttons or zippers that could hinder quick bathroom trips.


The same principle extends to footwear: Opt for slip-on shoes over laced ones. “This also expedites the airport security process.


Pack Strategically


Flight attendants recommend packing essential supplies for the flight, as plane provisions catering to kids’ interests or comfort can be minimal. However, overpacking can lead to a struggle, especially for a solo parent managing one or more children. Remember, whatever you bring onto the plane, you’ll need to carry off with you along with your kids.


Prioritize Comfort


For children, consider packing pajamas or soft clothing to change into during the flight. Ensuring comfort for everyone, including yourself, is crucial for an extended flight with kids. A wet bag with a zipper, like the one we use, is a travel essential to accommodate extra clothing and handle any diaper-related mishaps.


For parents, include a toothbrush, hairbrush, facial wipes, and cozy socks in your essentials. Bringing pajamas for yourself, like leggings and a loose shirt, offers the opportunity to change after the meal service and settle in for maximum comfort.


Prepare for Pressure Changes


If your child has experienced an ear infection or cold recently, consult a doctor before flying due to potential cabin air pressure discomfort. Keep water on hand after security to counter possible delays and aid during descent, when ear pressure discomfort often peaks. Encourage your kids to drink water right after takeoff and in the last 30 to 45 minutes of descent, as swallowing helps alleviate pressure changes and provides hydration.


Opt for Non-Aisle Seats for Kids


Aisle seats might pose risks for toddlers and offer them too much freedom of movement. Hands and feet can be inadvertently bumped as fellow passengers pass by, and hot beverages may be within reach when the food cart moves along. If possible, consider window seats, which provide a view and place you between your toddler and other passengers.


Prepare for Entertainment


For flights that aren’t overnight, finding activities for long-haul journeys with kids is crucial. After extensive travel with our own kids, we’ve identified a handful of non-tech toys and entertainment options that repeatedly engage them. It’s best to offer one toy at a time and rotate through them to prevent boredom.


Among these options, window clings stand out as particularly captivating for toddlers during long-haul flights. They’ve proven to be immensely entertaining.


Select an Airline with Child-Friendly Benefits


Airlines that prioritize family-friendliness strive to keep young travelers content. Many major carriers offer a range of perks for kids, from a selection of favorite TV shows and movies to kid-friendly headphones and snacks.


Before boarding, check with the gate agent regarding priority boarding for families with young children. This often allows families to board slightly earlier, providing time to settle in. Look for additional benefits like family lounges or areas designed for kids to expend energy during layovers or before boarding. Also, don’t forget to also book your stay ahead. Check out this family accommodation in Parramatta if you don’t have one yet. 




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