1. Babies on planes
Sadly not all children are welcomed on board planes with open arms. According to the NHS website: “If you gave birth less than 48 hours ago, you and your baby will not be allowed to travel on an airplane.”
If your birth was by caesarean section then you must wait ten days before soaring into the clouds. However, if your baby is aged between two and seven-days-old and you go to the airport clutching a letter of approval from your GP then you should be able to board a flight.
If you want to keep things simple then just bear in mind the NHS’s advice that “it is best to wait until the baby is over two-weeks old.”
It is common practice for airlines to charge ten per cent of the adult fare for a child under two to fly without their own seat. Buying a child their own seat can cost as little as 50 per cent of the adult fare or as much as 70 per cent.
If you are going to an exotic country, do check whether your child will need a vaccination. Some children might be too young to safely receive a vaccination to protect them against diseases in certain countries – check with the Foreign Office website before you fly.
If your young child has not travelled on an airplane before it is best to tell them a little about what to expect before the airplane gathers speed on the runway and points its nose at the clouds above. Doing this takes the fear factor out of flying. Books like ‘My First Airplane Ride’ are invaluable ways of psyching young kids up for experiences such as their first trip through airport security.
5. The night before
If you are going on a long plane journey in the morning – one which, for example, is long enough for an in-flight film to be provided – then it might be an idea to tire your children out the night before your journey.
Letting them stay up later than normal will make them more likely to sleep on the plane – meaning you won’t have to entertain them for as many hours.
6. Pack an emergency bag
Take advantage of being able to take light luggage on an airplane by packing an emergency bag. Your bag should be filled with items such as wet wipes, tissues, sealable plastic bags and a change of clothes for the kids should air sickness strike!
7. Pack a fun bag
Airplane journeys should be fun experiences. Keeping kids happily occupied during the flight should prevent boredom and improve their (and your) behaviour. So take colouring books, crayons, hand-held games and puzzles. And don’t take items like water pistols as these might well be frowned upon by airport security.
8. Time your arrival at the airport
Arrive at the airport early enough for children to explore all there is to be found there. Airports to you might seem like dreary shiny-floored places filled with Tie Racks, W H Smith branches and jaded frequent-flyers but to your child it’s an exciting new playground!
9. Food and drink
A spill-proof beaker is an essential item for a young child to have on a flight. It’s no fun for either child or parent to be sitting in a damp patch for eight hours because junior has spilled their drink during take-off.
Boiled sweets are ideal to hand to your child as the airport taxis on the runway. Tell them it will stop their ears popping and it might just act as a placebo.
Chocolate sweets and snacks should be kept in reserve as a reward/bribe for good behaviour and don’t take anything too smelly – for example oranges or garlic crisps. You don’t want distressed fellow passengers reaching for the emergency exit because of the pungent nature of your child’s snacks.
10. Have fun!
Treat the flight like an adventure rather than a grim business trip and you, and your child, might just have a first-class travel experience. If they enjoy this flight then they should be happy to clock up air miles in years to come!