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My tips for flying with kids

To the point Have you ever wondered when boarding a plane whether there were any children on board near your seat? That's pretty much the case for everyone. Here is my point of view as a parent and my tips for travelling with them in order to respect other passengers as much as possible.

This post is also available in: FR

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Recently, Japan Airlines has announced a new on-board service for its passengers: when booking online, they will be able to view on the aircraft seat plan the seats occupied by passengers travelling with one or more children under the age of 2.

Seat selection on Japan Airlines

Some will be happy to be able to get away from them and finally find sleep.

Alex hotesse

How would a child be different from an adult?

Nowadays, we travel more, and over longer distances with more or less comfort than before depending on the class we are in (in economics, there are more seats on the same row with fewer space on the legs, which does not help the situation for the parents).

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Today’s children are also different:

  • more connected
  • more open to the world
  • can be even more “spoiled rotten” that’s true.

Things are changing and it is difficult to compare to the past as things are different for each generation.

Parents are increasingly pointed at, especially on planes.

All we can do is adapt.

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For a child, the holidays start as soon as they arrive at the airport. Excitement or stress can quickly rise.

Some children may want to sing and dance on the way to boarding the plane. Kind of like our daughter Alexandra…

Others take refuge, yell or cry in the arms of one of the parents because of the fear of change. Kind of like our son Arthur…

A child is excited about everything and express easily his emotions while an adult has learned to control them.

Adults are almost like “bored” to get on a plane! We fit into a mold.

But sometimes even a happy and laughing child can seem to disturb some

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As the milesopedia community has mentioned,it is not necessary to be a child to harm the space of others. Not all adult passengers are disciplined and will never be seen to appear on the aircraft seat plan 🙂

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They can be quite as unbearable! Adults who will certainly be noticed are sometimes those who are out of the norm and who will not have been used to travelling frequently by air. Others will simply have no way and will do as they please!

My opinion

For my part, I do not make it a disease, especially since we are parents.

I agree to travel with children around other than mine, as long as the parents demonstrate that they are doing their best. I can only understand the phases that some people go through!

Every child is different, has his character, his manias. If a child hits the file, the parent has to react and not let it happen, for example.

Every parent must learn to understand the needs of their growing child, which is not obvious, especially if the child has any disability or disorder such as autism!

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For 4 years now, we have known the joys and horrors of travelling with Alexandra and for 2 years with Arthur. We travelled miles and miles with them. Whether it’s by car, plane, taxi, boat, train what else do I know: we’ve adapted.

It has not always been easy. Alexandra is a very lively, laughing, intelligent girl who likes to decide everything and direct or even control her parents and Arthur is in the middle of his terrible two, the “no” and affirmation phase!

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And we are not spared. Sometimes our days turn into nervous breakdowns due to the fatigue of one or the other, hunger, jealousy, cold or hot, being sick, too full of excitement, jet lag.

We have our ups and downs, and we must also face the crises of our children. Sometimes it works quickly and other times it doesn’t. And being in spaces as confined as airplanes complicates things, for example:

  • fasten their seat belt (the belt is heavy and inconvenient for children) while the seat belt sign is illuminated
  • walk with them on the plane (loss of balance),
  • find a game your kid needs right now for sure (in bins or fallen under the seats),
  • change a diaper (without banging your head in this space so confined as airplane toilets),
  • feed your kid (with a glass filled to the brim at the limit of falling)
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  • go to the toilet (while our child is playing with toilet paper or even the bowl),
  • sleep in your seat (hard and straight unlike home)
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Does a child belong in business class?

Thanks to the points and miles obtained with credit cards, we have the opportunity to travel in business class with our children.

Why do we travel business class with them? To annoy the passengers of this class for sure, well! … Of course not. But when we make long trips, it turns out that it’s easier with children, and we were lucky to do it:

  • There is more space between the seats which makes it easier for us to get around
  • Boarding in the first ones for a faster installation in the cabin. Also, on arrival (we have only a hurry, get out of there with the children so that they can stretch their legs before us!)
  • A seat that lies down like a bed
  • More foot space to hide or play on the floor.
  • Better quality screens.
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  • Toilets generally larger with a shorter wait.
  • A cabin with fewer people, so less excitement or disruptive elements for them.
  • Complete meals with more snacks available.
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  • An even more friendly and outstanding service by the crew.
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  • Parents who arrive “less” exhausted on landing…
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Or not…

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Should we blame the parents?

It is up to parents to managed their children or minimize their crises, to anticipate what it takes to keep them in place is a fact.

Each parent will be advised to arrive prepared, calm and fit for the flight.

A good tracking of the cabin layout with the toilet will also help. A parent can always prepare for any eventuality and role-playing is the best way to learn. But sometimes you can’t see things coming!

Example, when our daughter vomited on our flight to San Francisco recently: I didn’t have the reflex to take out the vomit bag immediately having Arthur asleep in my arms. To late. Who would have had the reflex in less than 10 seconds?

When a child vomits, few passengers will think about giving a bag to the parent … everyone will focus on looking elsewhere rather than helping the parent.

For example, as a passenger, you could notify the flight attendant and ask for paper for the parent and maybe a bag of coffee to stop the smell 😉 The flight attendants are used to this type of situation.

On the Montreal-San Francisco route, the hostess confessed to me that she had a sick person EVERY time because of the turbulence. The seat cushion can even be changed, check with the crew. There are usually always 1 extra one.

Let’s make a distinction and not judge anyone.

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Preparing children

As you prepare your trip, you also prepare your children!

The preparation phase is more for parents with children from 0 to 6 years old, as they have more difficulty managing their emotions and patience. As Sophie Reis of the BBJetlag website says, a child should be usually prepared well before the flight, when he starts to walk.

Travelling with a baby from 1 month to 8 months is usually very good (especially if you are breast-feeding, it helps a lot!), while the most difficult period is between 18 months and 3.5 years old in my opinion.

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Explain the different phases of the journey. Try to involve the child at each phase of the airport rather than run without reasons (check-in, security, customs) and make sure that your child gets some exercise before getting on the plane. If your child is easily tired, take a stroller until you arrive at the aircraft door (choose a compact preferably to take it with you on board, check out with the company).

A bag to keep close to you will therefore have be to prepare, ideally at least the day before departure. If several trips follow one another, such as around the world for example, try to always restock according to this list (snacks, games, clothes).

Think of the baby carrier too, very useful for travelling around the airport in order to have your hands free (you will have to untie your baby and remove the harness to safety in general) as well as on the plane in order to rock your baby and manage to put him to sleep by example.

Survival backpack for parents

This general list is of course to be adapted according to each family, the age of the child and each trip. For me it is enough, maybe others will like to take more.

Always ask the crew if they have a little something for your child. It could be a stuffed plane, pencils, decals.

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List for Papa Mom:

For the little ones:

  • Bibs
  • pacifiers
  • toy attachment/pacifiers
  • bottles of milk or water for depressurization

Our son loves toothbrush. When we were little, we gave him to chew, it occupied him a bit…

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  • Inflatable pillow if necessary, blanket / soft. Sometimes mom’s simple scarf can be enough as a softie!
  • Disinfectant diapers and wipes
  • Snacks: fruit compotes (watch out for damage), salty or sweet cookies that are easy to eat (avoid chocolate biscuit, which stains, crumbles or sticks for example), sweets (suckers for pressure), cheese
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  • Water bottle or Milk bottle: plan the heating time by the crew if your child takes it hot, otherwise heat it up first in a coffee shop before boarding
  • Change clothes for children AND parents
  • Easily accessible papers / tissues (external pocket)
  • Vomit bag and small garbage bag to put soiled clothes in it in case
  • Medicine kit

Toy bag

  • Small box that will serve as a support to avoid dropping games on the floor, with inside :
    • LEGO, Playmobil,
    • polly pocket,disney or super hero figurines
    • cars
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  • Pencils and coloring book. Draw animals for them or car circuit for example that they can color in.
  • Stickers, decals of different kinds. Don’t take out everything, you can even make surprises in envelopes/small bags to make the suspense last.
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  • Tablet, phone or other electronic device with headphones suitable for children:
    • Take a Netflix subscription to put movies and episodes of their favourites: tell yourself that your child is on vacation. He’ll pick up his rhythm once he gets home. Think there’s not always wifi on the plane so it’s necessary to download the content before you leave home (preparation!)
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  • 1 or 2 books (small with photos and several stories for ritual sleep for example or “seek and find”)
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  • “Small Rewards” for good behaviours, some bags to “surprise” to unpack in case of impatience or surprise envelopes with drawings.
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Games Ideas

Invent a game, make child laugh, make faces!

  • Our son, as a child, loved it when we created a character with our two fingers who climbed to the top of the seats and fell into the void, imitating a cry of fall and bobo. It’s stupid, but it’s caught up many times.
  • Our daughter loves playing Rock Paper Scissors, imagining a story or Knock! Knock! Who’s there?
  • Look at your old travel photos together
  • Show them your next destination on a map and the animals they will see or activities they will do there
  • Create a video with them: they will be happy to participate in the creation and review the film several times.
  • Play with your child to make funny photos (Mickey, makeup, rainbow or monster will amuse them)
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Our list to save

Les essentiels voyage

A few principles to try to respect

A child who is tired or hungry will be more likely to have a temper tantrums. If you start to see these signs, don’t wait until the last moment. Take him in the arms if possible, go for a walk with him or give him a snack he likes.

Depending on age, recreate the evening ritual to make it easier to fall asleep.

For some long flights where they had to sleep on the plane, after meals, they were changed into pajamas or more casual clothes, brushed their teeth and stopped the screens to read a story before trying to put them to sleep. Sometimes it worked other times no, but if you don’t try, you don’t get anything!

A parent for a child: Divide the children if you have 2 or more and do it according to affinities. Temper tantrums will be easier to calm if there are. When we see vacant seats, Jean-Maximilien does not hesitate to settle down with Alexandra apart in order to avoid an outbid in excitement.

Some moments of games or videos together are good but can sometimes also turn into crises.

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Avoid noisy, oversized games or small, hard-to-find parts. I recommend that you put all the games in a small canvas bag that you put in your backpack or that the children can wear. This bag has to weigh more if you buy other games during the trip so don’t load it too much from the start!

Avoid jealousy if you have 2 or more children! Having paid the price several times, one lesson I learned on our last trips is to take the same thing for one and the other: for snacks, meals, juices … Also plan an electronic device for everyone! A crisis can quickly occur because of the desire for what one has and the other does not have.

Just like your baggage, compartmentalize your backpack well to find your way around easily and especially quickly!

Finally even if you do your best, do not take for granted the contemptuous looks of some passengers. The vast majority of people will understand.

Accept not having an answer to any crisis and learn from your mistakes for the next time!

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Tiredness is quickly felt with the children so be courageous, take breaks and take turns if you can.

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Survival list for passengers who do not like or want to stay away from children

No secret, you have to take your pain in patience!

And between us, parents also “hate” their children at times when they don’t listen. When a child is hit by something, the task is difficult for the parent. A parent already gives 24 hours a day with his child. So there are releases that happen and sometimes … it’s on the plane because of the accumulated exhaustion!

Be understanding.

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Try to change your mind to pass the time, the crisis may not be so long at least we wish you!

  • Choose places away from the first rows where the smallest ones are usually located because of the crib
  • The indispensable Earplugs and Eye Mask Kit
  • Noise-reducing headphones such as the Bose QC35 for playing or listening to music/film
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Chat with the crew
  • Go get a snack in the kitchen
  • Make the crying baby laugh next to you 🙂
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Bottom Line

For parents who want to do their best, I advise them to visit the BB Jetlag website which is full of information for travel with children including flying with them. Join her Facebook group also to exchange with other parents.

An entire chapter is also devoted to air travel with children in Sophie Reis’s book (At the airport and on the plane) as well as several lists /practical reminders at the end of the book (french) « Le Guide des parents voyageurs : s’inspirer, s’informer, s’équiper, 0-12 ans.

If you don’t know the book, I suggest you read my other article where I’ll give you a presentation!

As you are reminded, you can save 15% on your purchases from BB Jetlag thanks to the exclusive promotional code: MILESOPEDIA.

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Facebook Live

We decided to host with Sophie on October 18 at 12:00 p.m., a Facebook Live on the BB Jetlag page on the theme: Travelling with the family for free (or almost…!).

The opportunity for you to ask us all your questions now: you can indicate them by filling out this form.

We will be happy to provide an answer during this Facebook Live.

The milesopedia community

Would you like to travel for free (or almost…) with your points?

Become a member of the great milesopedia community by joining our Facebook group!

Which stroller to use on a plane?

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Sophie Reis answers this question in her book. There are now many compact strollers that are approved to fit in the cabin of an airplane. If your child is tired and you have layovers, it’s a good idea to take one stroller with you and use it at the gate.

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Parental consent or parental authorization What is this?

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There may be times when you have to travel alone with your minor child without your spouse (or even when your minor child has to travel alone). You will then need to print and complete the“consent letter” document. Your spouse who is absent during this trip will have to give his or her consent so that you can leave alone with your child. This document is important to have with you so that you don’t have any problems at the counter.

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Can I fly alone with several children under the age of 2?

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No, it is forbidden to have the responsibility of more than one infant, i.e. under the age of two! You must be two parents or be accompanied by another passenger of at least 16 years old.

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What can I bring in the cabin for a child under the age of two?

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In your carry-on baggage, it is allowed to take more than 100 ml of breast milk, food, formula, medicines, milk, water and baby juice, as well as gels and ice packs to keep the products refreshed.

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At what age can a baby travel?

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A baby is allowed to travel to Canada as soon as it is 7 days old. You will need to call the company to add it to your seat. However, it is recommended to wait a few weeks, or until the first vaccines have been administered. Changes in altitude can be painful for your baby’s ears. Choose short flights or check that his nose is not taken before the trip.

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Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
Mother of two young children, pharmacist, travel hacker's wife and frequent traveller, Audrey shares her advices and destinations recommendations on milesopedia.

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