Written by: Frédérique Vachon
For months now, you’ve been dreaming of a perfect family vacation to the Eiffel Tower… or maybe to southern white, sandy beaches. So what’s stopping you? Perhaps it’s the anxiety that kicks in whenever you consider the logistics of travelling with kids: booking the flight, the wait at the airport, the flight itself, and so forth. It’s enough to discourage any parent, so we’re happy to pass on the following tips to make your airport and fight time as smooth as possible for the whole family!
First off, if you are travelling with a baby, check the airline’s rules and minimum age limit, as these vary from one airline to the other. Know that it’s not necessary to book a seat for a child under two years old since he or she can sit on your lap. Of course, you still need to include them in your party’s number of passengers (0-2-years) when booking the tickets.
Expecting mothers can fly up to week 35 or 36 of their pregnancy, provided they are healthy and there are no complications. You could have to provide a letter from your doctor, so it is extremely important to validate with the airline. And let’s not forget you will be travelling back home too―yes, even if Mexico’s weather is perfect or crêpes in Paris are to die for―so make sure your return date is still within the applicable limits to fly pregnant.
Take the time to browse the website of the airports from which you will be flying. Many offer family areas and activities: nursing rooms, play areas in the boarding rooms, childcare services, activities during holidays, etc. At Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, you can even get courtesy carts for children. Ask for them at an information desk in the departures area!
Passengers with children can board the plane before other passengers, no matter the seats. Take advantage of this priority boarding: it allows you to settle your family in quietly and avoid the hassle of finding room for your carry-on at the other end of the plane since the luggage compartments above you will still be free.
Think of bringing something to entertain your children during the flight. A lot of airlines offer free or payable in-flight entertainment. Depending on the airline or the plane, there are sometimes screens in the back of the seats with access to games and a selection of movies and TV series. Several airlines now offer a Wi-Fi connection can access with your own mobile device. Otherwise, children’s books always come in handy.
Also check with if your airline offers special services for children. For example, Air Transat has a Kids Club. Think of signing up your young travellers to the Club via the airline’s website before you leave. Once on board, they will receive an activity package and surprises during the flight. Other services such as meals specially prepared for children and baby cribs are offered on some flights, but, once again, it’s better and sometimes necessary to book those beforehand.
To conclude, here’s one last important tip. During the time between the plane’s takeoff until it reaches its cruising altitude, and between the plane’s descent until landing (the pilot usually announces when the plane starts its descent), think of giving your children something to chew. This will avoid some unpleasant ear aches caused by changes in atmospheric pressure. Snacks, candy or chewing gum will help older children. For babies, use a feeding bottle or pacifier; swallowing will be as efficient as chewing. Finally, special ear plugs exist to prevent pain caused by pressure, and some models are adapted for children.
In a nutshell, the secret to travelling with kids is a little extra planning! Find out about the services offered by the airlines you fly with and the airports you visit, and make the necessary reservations. Naturally, a travel agent can help you with all this! Leave prepared, and the trip will be easier and more enjoyable for everyone!
Have a good flight!
Information gathered on October 7, 2018.