How to Keep Your Children (and Your Neighbors) Happy on a Long Flight
Before the Flight
- Talk to your children about flying. Reassure them that it’s safe, especially if they have never been on a plane before.
- If possible, book your flight during times that coincide with your children’s sleeping patterns, such as early morning, late at night, or naptime.
- Pack a healthy dosage of your children’s favorite snack. Not all children like pretzels and peanuts, and a hungry kid is not a happy kid.
- If your children have a favorite stuffed animal or blankie, then pack it and ensure that it’s readily available to them during the flight.
Take-Off and Landing
Children’s ears can pop painfully as a result of pressure changes during takeoff and landing. There are several ways to alleviate this:
- Drinking lots of water
- Chewing a pacifier (for infants and toddlers) or gum/chewy candy (for older children)
- Yawning and/or swallowing frequently
During the Long Flight
- Give your children a special ticket for every half-hour that passes. Children can get impatient on long flights, but giving them a physical, tangible indicator of the passage of time that tells them exactly how much time has passed and how much time is left will make the flight go by faster.
- Have a secret stash of toys at the ready. In order to make sure they don’t get bored, give them one toy at a time. Reward them for fifteen minute or half-hour blocks of being well-behaved with a new toy. That way, the novelty doesn’t wear off on the toys all at once, and good behaviors are reinforced.
A few suggestions for plane-friendly toys include:
- Coloring books
- Have an iPad? Sit your children down with a movie or their favorite TV show and they’ll be entertained for hours on end.
Get creative! Children can be entertained by all kinds of unexpected things.
- Wear jewelry, especially jewelry that makes a little (non-intrusive) noise, such as beaded necklaces. The noise and stimulation is perfect for amusing babies.
- Bring post-its from home and let your children use them to decorate the seat in front of them.
- Do each other’s hair and/or makeup, especially if they like to play dress up.
- Pack some scrap paper or cardboard and a sticker book, and let them go to town!