Flying with kids can be a daunting experience. Sue Petrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Southern Africa, has done a lot of flying with her family. She suggests a few proven hacks that can make your flight easier.
Prepare ahead by checking in online. This is convenient for travellers of any age, and decreases the likelihood of kids becoming tetchy while waiting in queues. If you’re flying internationally, check the Department of Home Affairs’ site at www.dha.gov.za to be sure you have the documentation you need.
You can also reserve equipment like children’s bassinets, as well as children’s meals. Remember to also check regulations on decanting liquids into small bottles, so you can plan accordingly.
“Flying with kids can feel daunting. You feel as though everyone on the plane is watching you and your family, awaiting a noisy meltdown. Flight attendants are there to help and they’ll do all they can for families with kids. Enlist their help wherever you can.”
Petrie urges travelling families to take advantage of concessions like preferential boarding, being allowed to take strollers onto the air-bridge and to the door of the aircraft.
Packing supplies is important; nappies, pull-ups and wipes. But Petrie advises against weighing yourself down with more than you can comfortably carry.
“Avoid toy weapons or those with small parts. Everyone knows a rubber sword is harmless, but airport security are likely to confiscate it anyway. It’s also one of the few occasions that Lego isn’t a good idea. Toys with small parts can be difficult to retrieve when dropped aboard a plane,” says Petrie.
Few parents will allow their kids unfettered screen-time, but in-flight movies, portable CD players, smartphones and tablets can be a godsend for air-travel as the right app or game can keep a child occupied for hours. Small children may struggle to understand why they have to switch their devices off for take-off though. Packing a good portable charger, or power-bank, and headphones can also help.
BA’s in-flight entertainment now continues after the aircraft has landed and during taxiing, and passengers can use their devices as soon as the aircraft has left the main runway, which makes entertaining little ones a bit easier.
While you want your youngster to have access to the toilet, Petrie advises against seating small children on the aisle as they may be snagged by trollies.
Naturally you need to pack food that’s appropriate for your child in terms of dietary needs and choking hazards. Chewy snacks like biltong, nuts or fruit-rolls can help equalise pressure in the ears, which can be very uncomfortable. While you want kid to stay hydrated, foods with too much sugar may make them too energetic, so try diluting fruit-juice with rooibos tea.
If you are hitting the road instead of taking to the skies, be sure to read this article!