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Parents Panel: What are your tips for air travel with kids?

Our Parents Panel share how they’ve survived security checks, red eye flights and toddler tantrums.
May 22nd 2018, 5:28 PM 6,741 5

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

This week, summer’s here, and we want to know how to survive security queues, long-haul flights and hungry little ones without calling the whole trip off.

What are your trips for air travel with kids?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

Don’t try ‘tiring them out’ in the airport
Although there might be a temptation to let your child run around and burn off energy in the airport, I would recommend keeping him or her in the buggy for as long as possible unless you have an abundance of help and hands. If Charlie knows he has the option to run, there is little we can do to stop him without a tantrum.

As well as that, always plan for the worst. If the worst case scenario unfolds (even for a few seconds), you’ll be happy you have treats and toys and TV at the ready to employ. In those moments when young kids are about to kick off, the key is being able to provide something a bit new, unusual or usually not allowed in order to grab their attention and divert a potential tantrum.

- Kait Strickland

Don’t bother bringing your own car seat
My biggest tip would be to rent a car with a car seat so you don’t have to bring your own! We made the mistake of not doing this on a trip to Germany when my daughters were very young. Myself and my mother had to manage two babies, two car seats and a massive double buggy through the airport, along with our luggage. It was a gigantic mess and we looked like a right pair of eejits.

- Susannah O’Brien

image1 (2) Ready for wheels up. Source: Ross Boxshall

Skip the red eye flights
I have a few tips. First, try to book flights that are in normal waking hours, not red eye flights, which can make kids cranky. For small babies try to book a ‘bassinet row’ for long haul travel. For very small children a few handfuls of their favourite dry breakfast cereal in a resealable bag or some other favourite snack can be a great distraction to keep them seated for take-off etc. And finally, prepare to wrap the kids up warm even if you’re coming from a sunny destination. Plane temperatures are cooler and kids can freeze onboard.

- Ross Boxshall

I’ve warned her about the ‘airplane police’
My last plane journey with Ellie Mae was a nightmare. She cried the whole eight hour flight over and back, and I ended up crying too as I was at my wit’s end. We are attempting the same journey again in September. She’s three now, so two years older, but she never sits still.

To make things easier we have booked direct flights, in the afternoon, so she can sleep until her usual time in the morning and we can leave the house without rushing. I’ve also shown her some YouTube videos of the inside of the Aer Lingus planes and where her seat will be. Oh and – please don’t judge – I’ve told her that the people in green working on the plane are the airplane police. I’m hoping it might keep her in check!

- Denise Cumiskey

Bring snacks and Peppa Pig
Food and entertainment are key. Things like fruit, drinks, breadsticks, colouring books, puzzles, games and Peppa Pig have all kept my children going. Airports are TORTURE with kids. A two-hour wait in an Italian airport for our car hire last year tipped us all over the edge. Stress!

- Denise Cahill

20160701_094543(0) Chilling out pre-check in. Source: Denise Cahill

Triple-check your bags for liquids
I’ve flown short-haul alone with our son a couple of times. When he was in a buggy, I used a tray that clipped around him in the seat, with a stand up edge all round it so stuff wouldn’t roll off. Now he has a little ride-on suitcase which is great as there’s so much walking involved in airports.

Security can be a bit scary for kids, so try to make sure that you don’t inadvertently have electronics or liquid in your bag and end up getting searched. Believe me, I’ve been there with a screaming toddler because they wanted to check the box his bunny was in. And where possible, check in your luggage to keep your hands free.

- Olly Keegan

More Parents Panel: What was your first ever holiday with the kids?

More Parents Panel: How did your life change when a baby came along?

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