5 Tips for Surviving A Flight With Young Children



I’m not talking about trips with cute little babies that you feed and rock back to sleep. I’m talking about air travel with kids — the kind that walk, talk, and have the ability to make 45 trips to the bathroom in a three hour flight. If you’re heading on a family vacation anytime soon, here are some tips for surviving a flight with young children…

1. Pack an antihistamine. No, not for the kids; though if you want to drug your kids, I’m totally not judging you. The meds are for you, in the event that your kids are melting down and the flight attendants have not come by with the drink cart yet.

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2. Never pre-board. This really isn’t hard to figure out;  you and your children are going to be trapped in a tiny metal object for hours — do you think you should add on some extra time? Just for fun? NO. You do not want to board until the last possible second. Trust me, they are not going to take off while you are buckling your kid. When other passengers are starting to board, you need to have your kids burn off some excess energy. Never to early to start some cross-fit training in the airport lounge.

3. Wear elastic waisted pants; all of you. You are going to be in and out of those seats so much, and eating so many damn pretzels and Cheez-its, Lycra is your new best friend. As cranky as your 6 year old is, they will be 10,000 times crankier in jeans. And if you thought going through security was bad before kids, try scrambling through with toddlers and electronic devices as hostile travelers behind you send their plastic tubs sailing into yours, trying to hurry you along. Do you think you have time for your 6 year old to start trying to tie his shoes? No- this is the only time Crocs are an acceptable choice of footwear.

4. Get aisle seats: If you can’t get them, beg the person on the end of your aisle to trade. I can pretty much guarantee they’ll switch seats, given that your kids are going to be climbing over them over 13.2 minutes to go to the bathroom. Speaking of which, if your kid is under five, chances are they are going to be scared shitless (see what I did there?) of what appears to be a device that dumps your poop and pee directly into the air below the plane. So you’re going to have to go in there with them. And it will not be pretty. When you spend ten minutes maneuvering your three year old over the toilet and then holding her over the toilet while she poops, your’e going to gain a brand new respect for anyone who joins the Mile High Club.

5. Bring wipes. Remember how excited you were when your kids were done with diapers? And how you stopped buying baby wipes? That was stupid. You need them. You are going to de-plane with the remnants of every snack and meal your child eats during the course of the flight stuck to your clothes and hands. Sticky? It will look like you dipped yourself in a Jolly Rancher batter and then breaded yourself with crushed peanut butter crackers.

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By the way, you know how people say don’t worry about other passengers, they’ve all been through this? That’s a lie. You can see from the look of fear in other passengers’ faces as you board, the inability to make eye contact while they silently pray “please let that little boy keep moving down the aisle.” Trust me, if your kid is acting up (or throwing up), somewhere on that plane there’s a passenger cursing you. Can you really blame them?

Bon Voyage!

Related post: How to Survive Road Tripping With Kids


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  1. 3


    I travel frequently with my two boys..5 & almost 2 and we are always the last on! I used to travel a lot before kids & I have vowed to NOT HAVE A SEAT KICKER! But Monday while traveling from Portland to Tucson, my little one & I were chatting, he wasn’t screaming, he was saying hi…albeit repeatedly, but the older gentleman (I use that word loosely) sitting one row up & across the aisle plugged his ear & shot me daggers! Seriously? I’ve been on flights with kids vomiting behind me & this guy is pissed because my kid is saying hi? WTH!!!

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    • 4

      Theresa says

      I would rather have a youngster wave and being happy at me on the plane. At least somebody is having a good time on a 13 hour flight. It really made my hubby and I miss our kids that much more.

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  2. 5


    Yeah, not the greatest tips here, especially the pre-boarding one. If you fly swa you don’t have a seat assignment. We travel with her faa approved car seat, bring it on the plane, sit as far in the back as possible, and make sure to bring enough entertainment and snacks. Two flights per year for all 4 years of her life and we’ve never had a problem.

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    • 6

      Sarah says

      I fly SWA with my kids also. Must board first or kids won’t be sitting with me. Mine fly once a summer since 3 and they are awesome. They have their moments like all people on the plane. Pack their carry ons full of snacks, games and suckers for their ears. And if traveling to with two kids sit in between them. Save yourself the stress from them fighting over everything:)

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  3. 8


    I totally pre-board. I fly Southwest and my theory is, I’m going to get on the plane immediately and pick a row towards the back. Whoever chooses sits in front of me knows damn well they’re sitting in front of a toddler and can expect everything that is to be expected when flying with a toddler (though I typically get comments about how great my son is…. Except the one time he threw up a gallon of chocolate milk mid-takeoff on a six hour flight.)

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  4. 13


    I’m sure when people see me get on the plane with my 3 kids, 11, 7 and 2 they are praying that we don’t sit near them LOL. They all do good well maybe the 2 yr old is seat kicker and doesn’t like to be buckled especially during takeoff and landing but its usually a really quick meltdown. LOL but really I have never really had a problem with them just lots of activities and lots and lots of snacks!!!!!!!

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  5. 14


    Crap! First of all, boarding last leaves no room or your stuff cause all the lumps with their oversized bags have taken up all the room. In sorry, with a kid I’m not going to be checking in my bag that has all the toys in it. Second, my 2.5yo loves sitting in planes early, watching stuff outside and saying hi to people that are boarding. Never ever do I want to board last.

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