Cape Town - As the December holidays loom, many of us are planning some well-earned family time.
Reconnecting with loved ones often involves travelling by air and for those of us with kids, that prospect can fill us with dread.
It needn't be that way, says Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing at British Airways (operated by Comair), who offers these timely tips for managing youngsters in the air and en route to your destination.
Give yourself enough time
Rushing while trying to marshal kids and their kit can be harrowing and conjures images of Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) being left abandoned by his family in the 1990 comedy, Home Alone. One way to score yourself a little time is by using apps like ba.com to check your family in online.
Know the rules
Documentation requirements when flying domestically are fairly simple: you need to carry identification. But if you're travelling internationally with children you need an unabridged copy of their birth-certificates.
Get the squad to help
The cabin crew are your allies, so don't be afraid to ask them for assistance. You can, for example, use a push-chair to the door of the aircraft, and on international flights, infants can be accommodated in bassinettes.
Take your tablets
Mobile devices can largely alleviate the need for toys, and picture-editing apps like Prisma, or games like MineCraft can temporarily replace Lego, for example, which can be lost in the cabin. Just make sure your devices are charged and consider investing in a power-bank to ensure that have plenty of power.
Handle the pressure
One of the major irritants for small children and infants when flying is pressurisation. This is because their ears haven't fully developed yet, so they can't equalise changes in air-pressure when the aircraft ascends and descends. Swallowing and chewing can help with this, so depending on the child's age, drinking fluids or snacking on chewy foods can help. Foods with less sugar can help prevent the child from becoming too energetic: opt for biltong, fruit-rolls, nuts and fruit-juice diluted with rooibos tea rather than sweets and cool-drink.
Don't plan too much
Travelling can be very exciting for kids, but too many activities in one stint can leave them tetchy and overstimulated. If a child is enjoying a particular pastime - working on a travel-log to document their journey, say - leave them to it. That can also give you, the parent, the chance for a welcomed breather.
Adapted from a press release for IOL
* See: http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/family-travel for more information