Flying with children can be a fun family experience, but let’s face it: It can be stressful too. Planning ahead and being prepared are the best ways to make sure that traveling with your little ones goes as smoothly as possible. Watch this video with some helpful travel tips from A4A’s Jean Medina and read below for more ways to make traveling with kids as easy as A-B-C!
PREPARING FOR YOUR FLIGHT
Check Your Airline’s Policies and Book Early!
Each airline has its own policies for everything from child fares to seating restrictions so be sure to review your airline’s rules before booking your flight. Keep in mind that the earlier you book, the easier it will be to reserve seats together.
Here are links to the infant and child policies for our members:
The safest place for your child is in a government approved child safety restraint system. Children between 22 and 44 pounds can use the FAA-approved CARES Safety Harness and kids over 40 pounds are permitted to use the regular airplane seat belt. Some airlines also allow an infant or child under the age of two to travel on the lap of an adult.
Get to Know the Airport Before You Go
Familiarize yourself with the airport in advance of your trip, making note of the location of restrooms and eateries. For terminal maps at your fingertips, download mobile applications provided by your airline or the airport through which you are traveling.
Pack Smart, Stay Organized
Be sure to pack your carry-on baggage with everything that your children will need at the airport and on the flight, and allow extra time should you encounter any unavoidable delays. Depending on the age of your child, you may want to pack bottles, diapers, wipes, extra clothing, snacks, small toys, any necessary medicine and books.
Consult your airline’s website to determine what, if any, documents are necessary for your child to travel. Pack important documents like your passport, photo identification and boarding passes in a separate compartment in your carry-on or in a purse or small backpack.
READY TO FLY
Arrive Early, Board Early
Checking in and going through security may take a little longer when you’re traveling with children. Plan to arrive at the airport early and check in up to 24 hours before departure through your airline’s website or mobile application. This will save you time at the airport and allow you to bypass the ticket counter, which is especially helpful with children in tow!
Use time – and space – inside the terminal to allow your children to walk around and use the restrooms before boarding. Most airlines also allow passengers traveling with small children to board early so listen carefully to the gate announcements and be ready to board.
At the Checkpoint
Children do need to be screened at the security checkpoint but the TSA has policies designed to make the process as easy as possible for them and for you. Children 12 and under can leave their shoes on, for example, and baby formula, breast milk and liquid medications for infants and small children are permitted in greater quantities than the TSA’s current liquids policy. (See Additional Resources below.)
On the Plane
Before your trip, talk to your child about proper behavior on an airplane and provide them with plenty of toys, snacks and activities like coloring books to keep them occupied during the flight. Some airlines also offer children’s meals and activity packs and have children’s games and programming on their in-flight entertainment systems. Check with your carrier in advance, so you know what to expect. Preparation and planning are the keys to making an airline flight fun for your little one and you!