As thousands of Australian families prepare to jet off on their summer holidays, is it possible to prepare kids, and yourself, for a long flight that’s stress-free and kid-friendly? Here’s some simple and effective pre-planning tips for in-flight enjoyment from the very people who take to our skies daily.
British Airways has prepared – with help from its crew – a list of top tips for travelling with children. Over 1.5 million children fly with British Airways each year, and during the peak school holiday period alone the airline flies half a million young travellers.
Senior first officer and mother of two, Carley Lear, says: “Many pilots, including myself, fell in love with flying at a very young age so we are usually pleased to share our enthusiasm with kids who want to learn more. Children of all ages are very welcome to come to the BA flight deck to meet the pilots. The best time is after landing when passengers are disembarking. We sometimes have stickers and postcards for children and will be more than happy to talk about flying and what all the controls and buttons on the flight deck do. Budding young pilots of the future can also ask their pilot to sign their junior flight log-book which they can get from the cabin crew for free during the flight.”
Father of two and senior cabin crew member, Justin Cox adds: “As a parent I understand that travelling with kids can at first seem like a daunting prospect, but it really needn’t be. After my 12 years as BA cabin crew I have found that flying can be made more comfortable and even fun for kids by following a few simple pointers.”
- Before your child’s first flight in their own seat, sit them on the sofa at home with a cushion between you as the armrest, explaining how it’s going to be on board.
- Take a small compact travel pushchair for easy cabin stowage onboard. Regular-sized pushchairs or strollers will normally have to go as hold luggage.
- Pack their favourite teddy, pillow or comfort blanket to help them get to sleep more easily and make it feel more like home.
- Sometimes waiting for take-off or leaving the aircraft can be boring for young children. A bag of treats can work well at this point as a distraction.
- While visiting the flight deck mid-flight is no longer allowed, if you ask the crew they are usually happy to arrange for children to see flight deck after landing.
- If you are flying somewhere with a big time difference try to allow yourselves two days when you get back to give your children time to get back into Aussie time and their normal routine, before they go back to nursery or school.
- Keep your child entertained. The in-flight entertainment system provides a wide range of kids’ programmes, movies and music. Pack a portable DVD player or a pre-programmed iPod with your kids’ favourites. However, try to avoid taking games with lots of fiddly bits like jigsaws. They’re likely to get lost during the flight and cause upset upon arrival.
British Airways prides itself on the levels of customer service it offers to families and children. On long-haul flights the airline has a special child friendly menu, which parents can book free of charge in advance. Children are also given entertainment packs as they take their seats.
The airline will also help to arrange seats in advance of check-in opening to ensure families can sit together on their holidays.