The Top 10 Tips for Flying with Kids

Did you hear that American Way (American Airline’s inflight magazine) is featuring the House Fairy this month? The House Fairy is flying high on this news and she prompted me to celebrate such wonderful publicity by making this handy dandy tip sheet for you mamas who fly. With vacation time here, and if flying is in your plans AND you’re taking the kids with you, here are what made my top ten list for happy flying. . . short of drugs. 

I know which one is my favorite, which one is yours?

1. Be Prepared                    

reusable_bagDesignate a carry-on as the entertainment bag. Keep what’s in it a secret, bringing out surprises as the trip goes. Busy kids are happy kids. Bored ones have the ability to terrorize everyone on a flight, including you.

  • books
  • notebooks
  • pens
  • crayons
  • coloring books
  • Ipad with favorite movie 
  • Kindle
2. Get Gum                      

sugar_free_gum_june_3Children have very small ear canals and when the cabin is pressurized tiny ears can hurt. Chewing sugarless gum can help and once the jet is air bound it isn’t needed. 

3. Let it Suck              

Nurse during take-off, or have a binky ready. I don’t think I’ve ever taken off without hearing an infant screaming because his little ears hurt. Sucking helps.


4. Turn Bedtime into Fly-time        

Matching PJs don’t just have to be at Christmastime. Deck your whole family out in new jammies for the flight. You’ll crack up the flight attendants as well as fellow passengers. Tell your kids you get to have a pajama party on the plane. You may have a hard time sleeping on a flight, but I’ve never met a kid on a red-eye that wasn’t asleep and I’d love to see a fun-loving family dressed for bed on a red-eye.

5. No Sugar                   

sugarWhen the flight attendant comes by with the free sodas and juice, just say “NO, water or milk please.” Bring treats high in protein and fat. Nuts and cheese, veggies and mayo. Hungry children and those high on sugar will get fussy and disruptive.  

6. Make Sure Price is Right

cashCheck the ticket prices for infants as you may be charged more for your baby than yourself. Some airlines charge up to 75% for a ticket without a seat. In this case you don't save money! Buy a normal ticket. At least you’ll get extra space and that’s really valuable.


7. Go Potty Before Take-off 

Even the ones who pipe up and say, “I don’t have to,” make sure everybody goes before take-off. Cut back on fluids before the flight, the same as you do before bedtime or they’ll be up and down the aisle. Torture for the guy who sits in the aisle seat and your kid’s are in the window seat. This is sensible advice for adults too. Drinking five pints of beer before getting on the plane is dangerous, especially if you’re held up during taxiing. Of course, there’s always Depends.

8. The Air Police are Watching               

One of my friends who had to fly with her rather hyper three-year-old told me this worked wonders. “I warned Rachel to behave or the Air Police would have to come. I pointed out the TSA uniformed agents and told her they also look out for badly behaved children. I’m not suggesting I scared her out of her wits and I didn’t tell her what’d happen if they caught her being a brat; I just used the suggestion as a way to teach her respect for those in uniform and it definitely gave me a psychological edge.”

9. Peek-a-Boo 

Babies love to be held up over your head. On a flight, they get to see all the passengers and many will be trying to get baby’s attention. It’s a great way to calm a baby and it’s good for your upper arm muscles.



10. Practice Enlightened Selfishness     

Follow one of the airline’s cardinal rules: in case the cabin loses pressure, put your oxygen mask on first and then assist your child. Take care of yourself first and everything will take care of itself. If you feel good and are rested, you’ll be far more able to cope with the inevitable tests thrown at you by your busy little ones. So, eat right, get your sleep and give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport early.

Safe travels, Mom! Have a wonderful time with your kids wherever you’re going. I’d love to hear your ideas and I’ll share them with moms on the go. Oh, and please share my tips with moms who are ready to take off!