The Easter holidays may be behind us, but many families travel together by air each day. For parents who’ve never done so, the prospect of boarding an aircraft with one or more youngsters can be daunting. As a mom who’s done a lot of flying with her family, Sue Petrie, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Southern Africa, suggests a few proven hacks that can make your flight easier.
Prepare ahead by checking in online. This is not only convenient for travellers of any age, it also decreases the likelihood of youngsters becoming tetchy while waiting in queues. If you’re travelling internationally, check the Department of Home Affairs’ site at www.dha.gov.za to be sure you have the documentation you need.
You can also reserve equipment like children’s bassinets, as well as children’s meals. Remember to also check regulations on decanting liquids into small bottles, so you can plan accordingly.
“Flying with kids can feel daunting, as though everyone on the plane is watching you and your family and expecting a noisy meltdown. But flight attendants are there to help and they’ll do all they can for families with kids as well as other passengers, so enlist their help wherever you can.”
Petrie urges travelling families to take advantage of concessions like preferential boarding and being allowed to take strollers onto the air-bridge and to the door of the aircraft.
While you want to pack enough supplies – you might need nappies, pull-ups and wipes, for example – Petrie advises against weighing yourself down with more than you can comfortably carry.
“Avoid toy weapons or those with small parts. Everyone knows you can’t harm anyone or anything with a rubber Pirates of the Caribbean sword, but airport security are likely to confiscate it anyway. It’s also one of the few occasions that Lego isn’t a good idea as it, and other toys with small parts, can be difficult to retrieve when dropped aboard a plane,” says Petrie..
While you want your youngster to have access to the toilet, Petrie advises against seating small children on the aisle as they may be snagged by trollies.
Naturally you need to pack food that’s appropriate for your child in terms of dietary needs and choking hazards, but chewy snacks like biltong, nuts or fruit-rolls can help equalise pressure in the ears, which can be very uncomfortable. While you want kid to stay hydrated, foods with too much sugar may make them too energetic, so try diluting fruit-juice with rooibos tea.