Top Tips for Flying with Tots

Tracy Stewart, October 09, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Remember when we asked you guys for tips on keeping the kids in check during those long holiday flights? Well, you had a ton of great advice. We've narrowed down the best of your tips below, so read up:

    1. Have a discussion on expected behavior prior to the trip, as well as a little refresher before boarding.

    2. A bag stuffed with essential treats. In our case, that would be Teddy Grahams.

    3. Pack plenty of books, stickers, paper, crayons, magazines, and anything else that can be read, or incorporated into an easy mess-free craft project. Remember, obviously, no scissors.

    4. Fresh out of craft ideas? Here's an easy one! Bring a fine point Sharpie marker and allow your children to - just this once - add moustaches to all the faces in the in-flight magazine. Or blackened teeth. Or both! Hey, go wild (quietly, and to yourself)!

    5. Three words: Portable. DVD. Player.

    6. Fly a kid friendly airline like Frontier, JetBlue, or Virgin with seat-back televisions. There's almost always a channel with children's programming.

    7. Request a window seat so your child can look out and lean at will without disturbing other passengers.

    8. Never do early boarding. The less time on board, the better. Sitting around, twiddling thumbs (or using up all your games and activities before you even take off) while you wait for the plane to fill up will probably take longer than you think.

    9. Don't hand out all the toys at once. Conserve what's out and for as long as you can. Who knows? You might not even make it through the entire bag of tricks, which can be a real bonus on the trip home.

    10. For smaller children (under one year), try using a Boppy pillow on your lap, to fill that scary gap between your lap and the seat in front of you.

    11. For the slightly older kids, who may potentially taunt one another: Pay them off! $5 an hour, $1, a quarter, whatever you think sounds about right. Personally, my mother would clutch her pearls at the suggestion that she pay her children to behave, but hey. I'm certainly not above it. Says the person who suggested that one, "We used this trick when going to Disneyworld, and they only lost one hour's worth of bribes." See?

    12. Let them stay up a little later the night before the flight, or wake up very early the day of. Once onboard, bring blankets and pillows and let them catch up on sleep.

    13. Still in the sippy cup years? When the beverage cart comes 'round your way, ask the flight attendant to fill up those sippy cups instead of plastic cups that tend to spill.

    14. See other children acting up on your flight? Remember to thank your own for not doing that, and for setting a good example.

    15. If all else fails, and your child cries excessively or rubs an open pudding cup into your seat mate's face or something horrible, bring along little I'm-sorry gifts to "bribe"/"win over" your fellow passengers. A $5 Starbucks card, a box of chocolates, etc.

    Have a tip of your own to share? Let us know in the comments section below.