Easier Airplane Travel

Looking Out the Airplane Window
Five easy things you can do to improve your next flight with kids:
  • Travel early; most kids are at their best in the morning
  • Be extra nice to the flight attendants and ask if there are any kid “perks”
  • If you’re a family of four, travel two by two, in seats in front of one another–this way the only seat your long-legged kid is kicking is your own
  • Bring small surprises to keep the kids delighted and busy (sticky mosaic crowns worked for us on this trip)
  • Don’t feel guilty about letting them enjoy more screen time than normal–it’s a treat for them (and your fellow passengers if it helps keep them occupied and quiet)

Hauling car seats, babies and luggage across the airport only to head toward tiny seats at the back of a cramped airplane is hardly an upbeat start to a vacation…. That said, we just returned from a trip to Arizona and it seemed like many of those usual obstacles didn’t exist this time around. Sure, it still took a lot to get organized and nobody likes to transport those awkward car seats anywhere BUT, now that the kids are old enough (3 and 5) to really communicate, understand the steps along the way, and even help a bit, air travel has gotten much easier. In fact, their curiosity and sense of wonderment made many of those typically mundane steps entertaining and, dare I say, fun!

Excited observations like “I see Christmas lights!” and “Look, the moon!” chirped from the back seat during our 4:30am drive to the airport. Like little scientists, we observed the changes in the sky as the sun rose and commented on the colors—they were mesmerized. The shuttle bus from the parking lot to the airport provided similar thrills but that was before they even remembered all the elevator buttons, escalators, and the subway ride to our gate. You’d never know it was so early by looking at them, they were on full alert. Even the security checkpoint got them excited and they were so proud of themselves for following instructions and getting it right. As we boarded the plane, the adventure continued as the amazingly friendly flight attendant invited the kids to say hello to the pilot.
Kids In the Cockpit Talking to the Pilot
While he talked to them for several minutes, I mentioned to that flight attendant how I remembered getting little wings every time I flew as a child. Well, guess what—they still have those (a plastic version with sticker instead of a pin but still, how cool). She said nobody ever asks any more but was happy to give them to the kids. Thank you, Alaska Airlines.
Seating was three by three on each side of the plane and because we’ve had bad experiences with our long-legged boy kicking the seat in front of him, hubby Rob had the idea of getting pairs of seats in front of one another. Brilliant! Not only did it fix the kicking problem, it kept the sibling rivalry at bay, and gave each of us some nice one-on-one time. I’d like to say that we didn’t have to resort to electronics to keep the kids happy and busy but William got to watch a DVD and I let Sara play with my phone for a while. As much as I’d like to be an unplugged Momma, there is a time and a place, and I have to say, this was a good one.However, on the flight home, our batteries ran out and the kids were totally fine with that. Besides doodling with markers and a sketch book, Sticky Mosaic crowns were a huge hit. Normally I wouldn’t get very excited about an art project with such little room for creativity (numbered spaces are laid out for specific colored squares and jewels) but it turned out to be a good exercise in following a key, provided great fine motor practice and the pieces were remarkably easy to keep contained for travel.
Best family vacation yet!
Kids Watching Planes Take Off
Do you have some favorite tips and tricks that work for your family on Airplane Rides?