Tips for airport and airplane with children
Surving the airports and plane trip based on my personal experience of traveling alone with babies and young kids
So, you have booked your tickets, packed your bags, arrived at your departure airport. Before you actually get on that plane, you still need to pass the airport security check. My experience: annoying and difficult! Well, maybe that also depends on where in the world you are. My family friendliest security check so far: Athens International airport. In Athens I am always assisted by an airport representative and children get priority. I have also been helped with folding/opening the stroller and this has never happened to me in other airports. Nevertheless, the key word for any airport that you may be travelling to: be well prepared. Tell your children what is expected from them and they need to listen to you and stay close. Tell them in advance about procedures, that you will leave all your items on the belt for scanning, your valuables last so you can keep an eye on them whilst you also pass the metal detector (kids go first). I then push all the baskets and kids towards the end of the table where there is more space and less people. I open the stroller and put the child back in. I make my children wait for me whilst I collect the other items. I have children that cooperate well in these kind of situations. If your children find it more challenging, go over these things at home before your flight. If this is the first time that you are going to fly with your children; talk about it at home, buy a book, show them the procedures, visit an airport and so on !
Arrival at destination
For me personaly, the hardest part starts now: tired kids, leaving the aircraft, finding my stroller and claim our luggage. Here is were I need help and were there is usually no help offered by the airline unless previously booked (and paid). Someone needs to stay with my children whilst I am pushing myself through the crowds finding our bags. I need to lift them from the belt (remember travelling light!) and store them unto the lugage cart. I also need to push the lugage cart AND the stroller with children towards the exit. Sometimes people offer help. Sometimes no one seemed to bother. I gues the hardest part was when the baby was too heavy for the babycarrier and my oldest was not able to push the stroller for me. But I managed and we did travel and we did arrive. I still use the stroller for the 3 year old and she is being pushed by her older sister. PS. Always check what type stroller is accepted by your airline. You need one that goes all the way up to the plane door. For this purpose, the airlines usually accept the light weight umbrella-style stroller.
The plane trip
If you can choose your seats when you make your online booking, choose the closest to the front of the plane as possible. The biggest challenge of the plain trip is getting on – and off board. You want to be as close as possible to the exits to avoid waiting time and impatient kids. Further, travelling at the back part of the aircraft is bumpier and therefore less pleasant for your children (and yourself!). Ask the airline staff at the check-in desk, and/or on board of the aircraft if there are any empty seats in front of the plane. Keep in mind that the safest place in a plane is in the seat in the seatbelt. This can be challenging for toddlers because it is difficult for them to sit still. Try to keep your child entertained and do not start walking up and down the isle. If your child is being potty trained, you may want to consider putting a nappy during the flight. Changes are that you cannot make it on time to the toilets. Changing a daiper on a baby is not difficult in the airplane WC. There is a foldable changing table above the toilet. But for older kids, this changing table is too small so you will need to do this standing up. When it is snack time on board, I never order hot drinks. In need for caffeine; choose a coke or iced coffee instead. For you children, ask the flight attendant to fill the cub halfway. Eating on board can be a challenge; the food is usually very hot so be careful when you have a baby on your lap. I used to wait until my baby slept or asked the flight attendent to bring my food later so I could help my children first. If you are traveling with another adult, consider booking two or more seats in front or back of each other. Some airplanes do not have 4 or more seats next to each other, the advantage is that the most active children can sit behind their family members and do not bother the seatback of another passenger. Finally, my best advice would be to enjoy the trip and relax. Remember that air plane travel is the safest way of transportation, your child cannot get lost on board and us parents do not get to sit down very often in our daily lives. Things will get easier when the little ones grow older and you will be enjoying the airport and airplane with children!