Public commercial air travel contains enough hassle as it is these days, with the hectic atmosphere of airports and modern security screening. Additionally, you have to include the concern for your family, especially your little ones on their first flight. They will need extra attention and tender loving care for their enormous amount of energy, and it could just be enough to make you want to scream into a pillow. If you are preparing for your child’s first flight, consider exactly what you are getting yourself into and how to best prepare for this new experience.
There are seating options, carry-on stipulations, activities, snacks during the flight, and overall comfort that needs to be addressed in order to adhere to your child’s needs. Here are a few tips to help you think through how to prepare your child (and yourself), for their first flight:
- Get them a seat, just in case
- Find out about carry-ons for them
- Plan to keep them busy
- Plan to keep them nourished
Get them a seat, just in case
Most airlines allow you to have a child up to two years old on your lap during a flight. This means that you could avoid the additional airfare for your child’s first flight. However, what you save financially could cost you big time in headaches and discomfort—not to mention, other people on the plane.
A very small baby would do well in your lap, but chances are, you are not traveling with a newborn. If so, be very careful. With recirculated air throughout the entire flight, airplanes are known to harbor germs that can make even strongly immune adults sick; you certainly don’t want your newborn baby onboard a plane susceptible to all the germs of everyone in flight.
While your toddler, up to two years old, can be inoculated in advance to keep them well during and after the flight, it is their naturally active energy that could be a nuisance during the trip. What is the likelihood that they are going to sit calm and still on your lap for the entire time? Not very likely.
For this reason, you want to get your child their own seat, since this will be their first time flying. Everything will be new and exciting to them and you want to give them their own space to express their awe at the new experience. Or better, use a charter flight service for your child’s first time on a plane. Therefore, even if they throw a temper tantrum, they have plenty of space to do it and you do not have to be embarrassed by the disturbance to other passengers.
Find out about carry-ons for them
Carry-on rules for airlines tend to be standard with two carry on pieces allowed per person. However, if you have not bought a seat for your child, but need to carry on things for them, in addition to what you are carrying on for yourself, this rule may or may not apply. Check in advance with the airline to find out if a stroller or small bag for your child’s essentials on their first flight will count as carry-ons for them or toward your personal carry-on limit of two (2). If your first flight with your child is a charter flight, this is a requirement that you thankfully will not have to worry about.
Plan to keep them busy
As an old saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Plan to keep your child very active in the air, just as you would on the ground. Instead of physical activity, you will want to engage them mentally. Load up a mini iPad or other device with movies, activities and puzzles. Find coloring books and other activities that do not have small pieces and a lot of room for messiness while aboard the plane. Plan to have a different activity available for every 30 to 60 minutes of flight time. Your child may not get through all of them, but you will be much better off by being over prepared, rather than unprepared.
Plan to keep them nourished
Airlines provide the standard soft drink and peanuts or cookies on most flights, but this is unlikely to be enough for your busy and active child. Pack up healthy snacks in abundance, so that you keep your child well hydrated and nourished. In doing so, they are less likely to get cranky during the flight due to being hungry or hyped up on sugar.