Flying with young kids
We were really nervous the first time we flew with our first son but through trial and error we have learnt some valuable lessons.
Before you fly
Prepare them for the flight. Going on a plane is very exciting and its fun to get excited with your kids about it, but if you amp them up once they are boarded and sitting on the plane it gets boring really quick. We had lots of conversations with our son about the plane that it would go up into the sky, we could play for a little bit but then we would have a big sleep. Even now when we ask him what we do on a plane he says, “We have a big sleep”.
Depending on the age, I recommend you don't tell them you are going on a plane or on holidays until your ready to count down the nights. If you tell your 3 yr old that it's months away they will then proceed to ask you every day, "Are we going on the airplane today?".
Let your doctor know where you are going to and when you will be away. They will check if your children need any vaccinations for your destination or if your children are due for vaccinations while you are away.
The airline you choose to fly with
If you have a baby, when you book your ticket, either through your agent or direct, try and get the bassinet seat. You wont find much information on most airline websites but most flights will have these and on long haul flights it can be the difference between a good flight and a bad one. if you've booked it, I would also recommend ringing and confirming a few weeks before you leave and also when you get to the airport, because I have personally booked it before and had the disappointment of not actually getting it when we boarded.
Some airlines will provide you with a little kids pack, pencils, toys, nappies etc. some will provide kids snacks too.
Although technically kids under 2 fly free, you will still need to pay the taxes. They will not get their own seat and will need to sit on your lap for takeoff, landing and anytime the seatbelt sign is on . The airline staff will give you a child seatbelt that attaches to your seatbelt that your child can wear while sitting on your lap. Or you can book them their own seat so they have their own space.
check with your airline beforehand so you are equipped with all the information on what you will and won't get on your flight as each airline will differ slightly.
See my blog on What to pack in your carry on luggage.
We have had family come with us on vacation as well and have found the extra hands very helpful. Say hello to your flight crew. Take a walk to the back of the plane and introduce yourself, they are always lovely and will often come give you a hand if needed.
I guess the best advice i can give is to mentally shut out everyone else on the flight, don't worry about who's behind you or who is rolling their eyes when they realise there's kids sitting near them, because the more relaxed I have been on flights the more relaxed my kids have been. And from my experience, people who are not tolerant of children on flights do not get treated very well by onboard staff and fellow passengers.
Being prepared will make your flight more enjoyable and the reward of the destination is well worth it.