Travel tips

Flying with Children

Last updated 2nd June 2017

Top tips for surviving long and short haul flights with nippers in tow, and keeping them entertained throughout without disturbing other passengers.

Before you fly

Book flights near bedtime to minimise disruptions to routines. An overnight flight might seem like an odd choice but if your child sleeps for the bulk of it, it’s worth it.

Book a bulkhead seat. If travelling with babies this provides you with access to a bassinet cot (otherwise your baby has to stay on your knee the entire flight).

Think about your seating. Sitting little ones by a window gives them something to look out of, and somewhere solid to lean a pillow against when they’re trying to sleep.

If however you’re likely to be doing regular visits to the toilet, an aisle seat is obviously less disruptive to the other passengers.

Wear out children prior to boarding. If you’re flying with Virgin, pay the extra £20 per adult and £12 per child and treat yourselves to a pre-flight chill out in the Virgin Holidays’ V-room at Gatwick Airport. The dedicated play area for children means parents can take the time to relax before the flight.

Find out what family facilities at UK airports are available to you and your family.

During the flight

Take lots of snacks with you. Having lots of your children’s favourite food eliminates any upset caused by fussy eaters or airline food they may not like. Don’t forget sweets for ear popping during take-off and landing. Be prepared: order your travel snacks from before you head off on holiday.

Don’t rely on the airlines’ in-flight entertainment. The majority of airlines don’t switch on the systems until the aircraft is at cruising altitude and switch it off before descent – that leaves a lot of entertainment-free time, which can be filled by reading, quiz books or colouring. Try these top travel gadgets to keep kids entertained.

Pack an inflight i-nanny (iPad), it is worth its weight in gold during long-haul flights: a book, music and video player, gaming device, quiz master, and much more besides all in one device. Buy your iPad on Amazon.

Have a few surprises, which can be pulled out as needed – new toys or books which can offer a degree of distraction from the boredom of sitting in the same place for hours on end. Avoid toys with small parts or that need a battery – these will have to be turned of during take off and landing.

Pictures by ©RayArt Graphics / Alamy, ©Food Centrale Hamburg GmbH / Alamy, and