Six tips to a smooth flight with kids
Flying with children can be a taxing experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Mother of three and regular traveller Charlotte Duck breaks down six easy things you can do to make that flight go smoother. You never know, you might even squeeze in a relaxing G&T
Think carefully about what to pack
You can make or break a flight with your preparation, so don’t leave packing your carry-on to the last minute. Take their favourite snacks, travel games, a blank notepad, pens and a pack of cards. Don’t underestimate novelty value, either: buy a few new, inexpensive toys and wrap them up. You can then give them out over the duration of the flight as a reward for good behaviour or when you’re all out of ideas. Half the fun will be in unwrapping something they’ve never seen before.
Talk to them about what to expect
If your child hasn’t been on a plane before, flying can be quite a scary experience. You need to normalise it by talking about what it’s going to be like in the weeks leading up to your departure. Explain that they will have to wear a seatbelt like they do in the car (you could even mimic the click it makes), role-play lining up at security to have your bag checked and talk about the little, stowaway tray tables. When you’re at the airport terminal, take time to watch the planes taking off and landing. Helping them prepare will make them feel in control of things and excited, rather than stressed and worried.
Think about what they’re wearing
The temperature on a plane can fluctuate, so dress your kids in lots of layers that can easily be taken off or put back on, preferably without your help. Avoid shoes with laces unless you want to be constantly doing them up and, if you have a baby or a younger child, pack spare clothes. Even if they rarely have accidents, going on a plane with very different-looking toilets, a long day travelling and a change in time zone might confuse them. And that’s not to mention the likelihood of spillages.
Set the stage for them to nap
The best outcome on a long-haul flight is your child has a lengthy, refreshing sleep, and careful planning will slash the odds of this happening. You need to make it feel like bedtime, so let them change into their pyjamas, bring their favourite stuffed animal or comforter, and snuggle them down with their blanket. If you read a book last thing before bed at home, do that here, too. The more things feel familiar, the more likely they will get some zzzs, and you some much-needed respite.
Prepare for air pressure
One thing children find most distressing on a flight is the change in air pressure – the tubes in their ears are narrower than an adult’s so it can be more uncomfortable. For babies, this can be soothed with a dummy, bottle or breast feeding. For older children, pack a lollypop for them to suck and get them to mimic swallowing or drink through a straw to minimise the pressure difference. Using a small amount of nasal spray an hour before landing also helps.
Make use of British Airways’ Skyflyer packs
British Airways’ Skyflyer activity packs have everything you need to keep little ones, aged between three and five, amused during a flight. The packs have a changing theme and include crayons, a Spread Your Wings colouring book with the ever-popular Cuthbert the Cat, and a fun swimming bag that can be used to keep all their bits and pieces in. The packs are available on all long-haul flights from London Heathrow and London Gatwick. Just ask a cabin crew once you’re on board. Find out more here.
Get the latest
Check the latest travel restrictions, entry requirements and Covid-19 status for your next destination with British Airways' new interactive holiday planning tool
Discover your next family holiday with British
British Airways Holidays is here to help you find your perfect break. From carefully selected hotels to straightforward car hire, all costs are included in the final price, meaning there are no surprise extras. Plus, with a Customer Promise, ATOL protection and a 24-hour helpline, you’ll have total peace of mind when booking your holiday.
How to maximise sleep at 35,000 feet
We get the insider info from sleep experts about how to grab optimum shut-eye in the air
More from Travel tips
How to capture incredible views from the sky
Photography experts share their tips for taking the perfect aerial photo
More from Travel tips
Our top five US family trips
From dinosaur fossils in Denver to the big thrills of Orlando’s theme parks, we track down five family holiday adventures to get planning for
More from Family travel