Flying With Kids? It's An Entirely Different Kind of Flying, Altogether
In charge: Jane Doe tries her hand at the controls of a 747 and her look indicates she's up to the task for takeoff. Patty Gower, courtesy of Toronto Star Archives, 1992.
Surely You Can’t Be Serious!
Your in-laws have invited the family to a holiday dinner. (Un)fortunately, your in-laws live in another city. Your child (let’s just call him Shirley) has just turned four and you are dreading the two-hour flight. You are worried that Shirley will spend those two hours kicking and screaming. How do you keep Shirley occupied and yourself sane during this ordeal?
An Airplane? What Is It?
Before you go, visit your library to find children’s books about flying and your destination. Perhaps this is Shirley’s first visit to Chicago to see his grandparents. Together research fun activities that Shirley can look forward to while in Chicago and let him participate in the decision-making process. Download OverDrive picture books and Hoopla movies and music to your tablet so you aren’t using up precious luggage space. Have games and other apps downloaded to your tablet to help Shirley occupy his time. Pack small gifts, a colouring book and Shirley’s favourite snacks for when he gets fidgety.
Looks Like I Picked the… Right Time to Go!
On the day of the flight, plan a full day of activities before the flight. Hopefully Shirley will be exhausted after a busy day and will be ready to sleep once on board. When selecting a seat for Shirley, try to to find one that provides extra leg room, the passengers sitting in front will thank you. Spend some time explaining to Shirley the importance of behaving while on board and how to be considerate of others.
Well, I’ll Give Him Another 20 Minutes, But That’s It!
During the flight, you may discover that Shirley wants to stay up the entire flight. Tell him that he’ll have more fun at the destination than on the plane. If Shirley does not want to nap, try and divide time between activities. Get out of the seat and walk the aisles. Be courteous of those who are sleeping and make a game of walking the aisles quietly.
Never Has a Second... Piece of Chocolate... at Home
After the flight, reward him for his good behaviour on the flight. Reinforcing positive behaviour will help with the return flight.
How About Some More… Books?
From packing to disembarking, here are some books that will surely prepare Shirley for his first flight.
- Lisa’s Airplane Trip by Anne Gutman (Ages: 2-5)
- Maisy Goes by Plane by Lucy Cousins (Ages: 2-5)
- Katie Takes a Plane by Liesbet Slegers (Ages: 2-5)
- Flight 1-2-3 by Maria Van Lieshout (Ages: 2-5)
What strategies do you have for enjoying a flight with children?