Flying with kids – the best tips by age group

Flying with kids has become the new norm. That doesn’t mean your kids are going to make it easy.

Jac Taylor shares some of her tips for flying with kids by age group – to make it easy for them to make it easy for you to fly like a (family) boss.

 flying with kids plane Credit: Shutterstock
Tip number one – do not let them bug the people in front. Picture: Shutterstock

Under 2s

As a general rule, under 2s don’t have a seat booked, but spend take-off and landing in their carer’s lap with a seatbelt extension and can travel in a plane-fitted bassinet when allowed. Check whether your infant needs their own ticket – rules can be different depending on the airline and whether it is a domestic or international flight. If you are happy to spend the extra money, consider booking an extra seat for your infant and bringing their rear-facing car seat/bassinet (which needs to be pre-approved with the airline). You also get exceptions to the liquids and gels security rules to bring baby food and drinks. Feed bubs on take-off and landing to equalise their ear pressure and minimise discomfort.

READ MORE: Top tips for flying with a baby

flying with babies Credit: Shutterstock
Sleep. The best possible result when flying with babies. Credit: Shutterstock

2–5 year olds

Now the fun begins! Invest in a pair of kids’ headphones (that limit volume so your child doesn’t get deafened by every captain’s announcement) and relax your screen-time/movie rules. A soft bag of new little mini-toys, each introduced at the first sign of chaos, is a lifesaver. For flying with kids on a long-haul flight, a journey-breaking stopover means a bed for the night, but also the whole check-in rigmarole – your choice. A whole range of foot hammocks, inflatable legs-up cube pillows and the very comfy-looking BedBox temporarily made flying with this age group so much easier, but don’t count on them as their use will depend on the airline’s discretion. 

children plane travel flying Shutterstock
Babies do tend to sleep on planes. Toddlers? That’s another story. Credit: Shutterstock

5–8 year olds

Time to kit them up: a cute neck pillow, eye mask and mini carry-on, and they’ll be strutting. You might even score some sleep when flying with kids this age. Look out for special frequent-flyer program passports and activity books, as well as on-board activity packs (of varying usefulness). Lounge access can be worth the money to combat extreme airport restlessness and big growing appetites, with some lounges offering special kids’ zones. A fully loaded iPad or tablet with headphones is a great idea. So is checking ahead whether your plane will have in-seat USB charging available. Don’t forget to bring your charging cables and perhaps a power bank. But keep in mind that rules do often change with flights, so get your Eye-Spy game on.  

Flying with kids flight entertainment Alison Godfrey
Hello TV. This age group can sit still for longer. But they still need a bit of help. Credit: Alison Godfrey

9–12 year olds

Have more than one child? Bring a headphone splitter for maximum peace and tranquillity. Bring a swag of snacks to not only combat hunger but boredom, some sweets to suck on for their ears to equalise, and an extra plastic bag for rubbish. This age is fine with the bathroom, so encourage hydrating as much as you can, as well as a shoes-on policy for bathroom trips. Some airlines have a child-lock on inappropriate movies as well as use of the on-board paid wifi – worth exploring to avoid a $600 call to a mate. Even a pre-teen can get bored of movies, so bring some post-its and a pen to play Who Am I/20 Questions, a deck of cards for Fish, Rummy or Patience, and mini magnetic games such as Scrabble can burn up hours.

flying with kids tips window seat Shutterstock
Window seats can sometimes offer great distractions for kids. Credit: Shutterstock

READ MORE:

In-flight hacks for economy class comfort

Airlines tips for flying with children

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