When you’re preparing for your activity vacation in Europe we know one thing that might cause huge stress for families is the anxiety parents might face when thinking about taking their kids on flights lasting longer than an hour. How will you get through the airport on time and manage to keep them entertained for the whole journey? We’ve compiled a list of helpful hints to get you through the experience with some forward planning!
Talk about it: If your children have never flown on a plane before, then it’s wise to chat with them about it just so they know what to expect. This can help alleviate any anxieties they might have when it comes to new experiences like being searched at airport security, taking their shoes off or even the noise on the plane! As well as this ear popping can be quite a scary experience if you don’t know it’s going to happen!
Mid-morning flight: While you might be tempted to book an early morning flight to get it all over and done with and make the most of your European activity vacation, we recommend going for the mid-morning flight where possible. This has double benefits – firstly, you’ll have more time to get any last minute packing or planning done, rather than getting up and heading straight for the airport. Secondly, it means your children won’t be as tired and therefore (hopefully!) less likely to add more stress to your day when they’re tired and agitated.
Airport security preparation: Airport security is always something we get ourselves stressed about even though we’re usually through within a few minutes when it comes to our turn. However, it’s always best to plan ahead especially when you’re with family, especially when heading off on an activity-packed vacation where you’ll probably have packed extra sunscreen etc. for all your time in the outdoors! If you’ve packed any of this in your hand luggage, make sure you know the restrictions on liquids for flying (usually no more than 100ml!). However, there are exceptions to the rules for essential medicines and baby milk! A top tip is to have the liquids you are planning on carrying in hand luggage already in a transparent bag (any supermarket should sell these!) so you can easily take them out when it comes to airport security time.
On the Plane
Seating arrangements: We recommend a parent: child ratio of 1:1 where possible, but if not then make sure any kids sat beside each other will get along for the whole flight. Window seats are always a good option for kids so that they can sleep against the side of the plane, and hopefully enjoy an awesome view over the cities they’re leaving and heading to!
Keeping them entertained: Usually children will get antsy when they’re either hungry, bored or tired. So be prepared for any of these situations! Be sure to pack some snacks that they can take on the plane, as there may be a limited choice on your flight or options which your child doesn’t fancy at the time! If hyperactivity is a problem, then maybe forget about those E numbers for the duration of the flight. In terms of boredom, it’s recommended that you plan something new to preoccupy them for every 20mins or so of the flight. The first and last 20mins of the flight can be spent looking out the windows at the cities for take-off and landing, but in between it might be best to pack some books, colouring-in, games or even portable game consoles or DVDs that they can use when it’s safe to do so. With priority boarding available on some airlines for those travelling with younger kids, you’d be silly not to take advantage of this and use the extra time to get the family settled into their seats with all the appropriate distractions devices out of your hand luggage. To help with tiredness, something as simple as packing a travel pillow or blanket can work wonders to help them feel closer to home.
Easyjet – Easyjet have a flat rate which they charge for infants (aged 2weeks – 2years) of £22 per flight. With this, they do not get their own seat but instead must sit on the parent’s lap for the duration of the flight. If you would like your infant to have their own seat then you can contact their customer service team for details on how to do so. For kids over 2years, they must have their own seat and therefore pay full fare.
With babies, Easyjet also let you take 2 bits of baby equipment on the flight for no extra charge. This can be travel cot, buggy, pushchair, car seat, pram, booster seat or baby back carrier. Just make sure that they’re tagged at check-in and either checked-in to the hold (at no extra cost!) or put onto the flight by the crew.
Ryanair – For infants, Ryanair also offer reduced prices including 2 free pieces of equipment (as with Easyjet) as well as a free 5kg baggage allowance and bottle warming facilities on-board. For kids who are just above infancy age, Ryanair offer half-price seats, baggage for check-in and priority boarding.