Whoever said ‘the journey is half the fun' has never taken their kids on vacation" bemoaned my friend, a mother of three boys. The sighs and glares from fellow passengers were enough to make her swear off flying till her kids reached puberty. With two little kids, I, too, have experienced this and hence feel keeping them entertained on-board is very important.
There's nothing like the joy of a parent who has managed to "control" temper tantrums and even got their child to sleep during a flight.
Patrick Brannelly, vice-president of corporate communications, Emirates airline, and father of four, shares the sentiment.
"Being a father to four kids myself makes me appreciate the 35 plus dedicated children's channels on ICE, the inflight entertainment on Emirates. This gives tired parents a chance to catch up on rest while the kids watch their favourite shows."
However, if Emirates is not your chosen carrier, don't despair. Most airlines offer plenty for children to do on board.
Moreover, here are a few things that you, as a parent, can do to keep your little ones out of trouble.
Choose the right seats
It's all about location. Families with infants can book seats with extra legroom that comes with baby bassinet space. Though kids under 2 travel free, if your budget allows it, book a child seat for extra space. Aisle seats allow easy access to the rest rooms or trips up and down to the pantry.
Choose an appropriate time of flight
If you have the choice, opt to fly closest to their sleep time. Night flights are usually the best if it's a long journey.
Avoid ear pressure inflight
Sucking on a candy bar or drinking through a straw helps ease ear-pressure in children. It's a good idea to feed babies at this time.
Make meal times on-board easier
Though flights offer pre-booked children's meals, carry your child's favourite snack to keep hunger at bay till food is served.
Carry any medication a child is on and also children's paracetamol, a cream for small cuts, etc, and a favourite blanket or toy to calm them.
Tips to keep children happy during flights
- Gift-wrap a new toy. Tell them they'll get to open it only if they behave.
- If they are old enough, let them carry a bag with some of their favourite toys, books and games. Keep this under the seat instead of in the overhead locker for quick access.
- New colours, storybooks, stickers and games will keep your child occupied for a good part.
- Encourage your child to sleep as soon as the flight has taken off.
- On the return flight, engage older children with the task of putting together a scrapbook with photos, tickets, maps and postcards collected on holiday.
— Andrea Bailey is a UAE-based freelance writer