The best seats to book, and 7 other tips from airline staffers on flying with kids.

Travelling can be tricky for all of us. But as every parent knows, flying with young children comes with its own very specific set of challenges!

But there are plenty of ways to make sure your flight is enjoyable – for you and the kiddos.

Watch: 7 annoying plane habits you should avoid (if you can!). Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Mamamia spoke to Kate*, who has learned a lot about family travel during her 21 years as a member of the ground staff team for airports in Melbourne and Sydney. We also got some insight from Aaron*, a flight attendant, who has truly Seen. It. All.

Here are their expert tips to make life easier for families flying with children.

Flying tip #1: Pick the best seats.

We know you don't always get the seats you want. But if you're in a position to pick, you can definitely hack the aircraft's configuration for a smoother flight with kids – particularly on long-haul flights.

For longer trips, like from Sydney to Los Angeles, you'll likely be on an Airbus A380, says Kate, which is a three-four-three configuration. For parents with two kids, booking the centre row, where there are four seats, is ideal.

"Many parents opt to sit in the D and G aisle seats with both kids in the centre E and F seats," Kate says. 


"The benefit of choosing the aisle seats is you can get up anytime to stretch your legs or take one kid to the bathroom without disturbing the other child (or parent) if they’re sleeping. 

"Also, there are no strangers in your row for you to climb over to get out or who have to climb over you."

Flying tip #2: Ditch the bulk where possible.

Babies and kids need a lot of *big things* – strollers, cots, car seats... But Kate has some handy tips on how to make that side of things a little bit easier.

"If you're visiting relatives, ask if they have a stroller or portable cot they could lend you to use at your destination," she advises, rather than taking with your own. And if you aren't visiting relos? There are plenty of businesses that rent out travel supplies for babies, like car seats, prams and cots, so you don't have to pay extra to check your own in at the airport.

If you would prefer to bring your own stuff (because sometimes you just need your own stuff), Kate recommends the Baby Zen YoYo Travel Stroller, as you can take it onboard most aircraft.

Flying tip #3: Give yourself extra time.

It might go without saying, but allowing plenty of time to board the plane will alleviate a lot of pressure on parents.

"Kids will feed off your energy, so get to the departure gate prior to boarding commencing and board the aircraft as soon as possible. This will help ensure you don’t miss out on overhead compartment space for your [airline approved!] stroller or carry-on items that won’t fit under your seat," Kate tells Mamamia.


Flying tip #4: Don't forget your formula. 

You might be surprised to learn this, but a lot of parents forget to pack formula on flights – domestic flights especially, where the trips are usually shorter. But that doesn't mean your newborn or toddler won't get hungry!

Flight attendant Aaron tells Mamamia that some parents assume baby formula is carried on flights, but it's generally not the case.

"We need to save as much space as possible, so those kinds of inclusions don't happen," he explains, adding that if your child is a formula drinker, it's a good idea to "pack it in your carry-on and we can supply warm water (or boiling water if you want to save it for later) on your flight."

Don't forget the bottles, either!

Flying tip #5: Bring a gift.

Flight attendants are rushing as soon as they step foot into an airport, so if you're keen to get some of that first class treatment, Aaron says taking the time to buy a chocolate block or a bag of lollies for the flight attendants never goes unnoticed.

"We appreciate it and we make sure they know we appreciate it, too," he tells Mamamia. 

"It obviously isn't a necessary purchase just to guarantee you will be treated well on a flight – because it is our job to serve you – but it's like a little tip. Remember, our job is a front-facing customer role, just like a waiter or barista, so to feel appreciated goes a long way in our books."

Flying tip #6: Let (willing!) staff help.

It goes without saying that not every flight attendant wants to hold your baby, but Aaron tells Mamamia that more often than not, it is a highlight to be able to snuggle with a newborn or cuddly toddler when there are moments of peace on the aircraft!


"I love holding babies on flights and so do most of my colleagues," he explains. "It's a nice break from the monotony of an exhausting shift and walking them up and down the aisles gives respite to tired parents as well. It is a win-win!"

Flying tip #7. Charge up the right way.

While some aircraft might come with built-in screens and entertainment, there is a chance that your children's favourite show might not be available to them. So don't forget to charge all your devices, and pack the kids' headphones in your carry-on.

And if you do run out of juice mid-flight? 

"If you get the choice, use the AC power point on the aircraft to charge items, as a USB port only has a trickle charge and will only basically stop your device from running out of steam at a slightly slower rate than not being charged at all."

Flying tip #8: Nix ear pain.

We all know the feeling of blocked ears – and how much it can hurt. But when you're a kid? All you know is you're in pain. There are a couple of tricks parents can try to minimise the feeling, says Kate. 

"If you have an infant, try to feed them for take-off and on descent to minimise any ear discomfort," says Kate. 

"Older kids may find a lollipop helps avoid ear pain." The sucking motion can help change the pressure, releasing the unpleasant sensation. (Plus, who doesn't love lollipops?!)

*Kate and Aaron are known to Mamamia, and have chosen to remain anonymous for this article.

Feature Image: Getty.

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