7 parents share their nails and fails of flying with kids.

Thanks to our brand partner, Emirates

As much as us Aussie parents love to travel overseas with our kids, flying with the brood can definitely pose a few, uh, challenges.

Over the years I’ve discovered that the key to making family fly time as stress-free and enjoyable – yes, enjoyable – as possible comes down to preparation, exhalation, and choosing an airline that gets it.

One of those airlines is Emirates, whose Department of Family Travel website is an absolute godsend for any parent planning an overseas trip. They even have a downloadable checklist for travelling with kids, in case you’ve got a million things on your mind (which you do).

It’s helpful to check your family baggage allowance before you even start packing, because Emirates has special allowances when travelling with infants or kids under two years old. Then, once you arrive at the airport, they’ve got your sanity sorted with priority boarding.

Once on board, the family-friendly goodness continues with gourmet meals, amazing entertainment and kid-friendly cabin crew that can help with everything from bottle warmers to extra nappies.

There are many times I could have used some Emirates love while flying overseas with my two kids. And I’m not alone. I got talking to some other parents who shared the things they’ve nailed and failed while flying with kids (in the spirit of the Nailed and Failed segment on Mamamia‘s This Glorious Mess family podcast). Strap in for some turbulence.

Failed: A hair-raising incident.

Mum-of-two Cherie had a particularly hair-raising experience with her toddler on a long-haul flight.

“On a 22-hour flight to Scotland, my 18-month-old daughter ended up standing on my lap because she was not coping with having to sit still for that long. She reached over the seat in front of us and pulled a man’s hair. Turned out he was wearing a poorly applied toupee which my daughter picked up and flung to the back of the plane. I had to crawl around on my hands and knees looking for the guy’s hair and I wanted to die!”

Nailed: When a plan actually goes… to plan.

Claudia and her husband had a great time flying from Amsterdam to Singapore with four kids aged five, 10, 12 and 13.

“Our flights were awesome with the kids glued to TV screens watching movies and playing games. I think the flights went so well because we’d talked about it at great length before we headed off. They knew what to expect, how long the flight was going to be, where they were going to sit and who got the window seats.”

Failed: The missing nappy.

Dad-of-three Simon learned the hard way that you should always have nappies on hand even if your child is fully potty-trained.

“We were on a flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles when our three-year-old son wet his pants sans nappy. He stood up in his seat bawling his eyes out with wee running down his legs. This was before we had even taken off!”

Nailed: The secret to sleep.

After being bumped out of the bassinet seat on a previous flight, Penny made sure she had a bassinet for her 18-month-old on a flight from Sydney to Johannesburg.


“When we had the bassinet it was an amazing flight. He slept three times and loved being in his own little space. We tried not to take him out but rather kept giving him things to do – stickers, sticky tape, books, cars, food, food and more food.”

Failed: When food returns.

Food is certainly a great idea to keep kids happy on a plane. But every now and then, for reasons beyond our control, a child will just bring it back up.

Abi remembers a particularly harrowing flight when her son was eight. Let’s just say he gave the girl in The Exorcist a run for her money.

“I fell asleep mid-flight only to be woken by a flight attendant saying my son needed me. I followed her to the toilets to find he’d done a projectile vomit in the hallway that covered all four of the toilet doors. Of course, I hadn’t packed any spare clothes.”

Nailed: The boredom buster.

With her family overseas, Terhi has become a bit of a guru when it comes to travelling with her girls, aged five and seven. On a recent flight, she used her go-to method to bust boredom.

“I wrapped up small surprise gifts for the girls to open during the flight. When I saw them getting bored, I grabbed a surprise out of my bag which kept them entertained for the next two hours. And I remembered to get two of exactly the same gift to avoid any wrestling.”

Nailed: Air safety.

Entertainment is a common theme when talking to parents who have flown long haul with kids. In fact, over 70 per cent of parents worry about keeping their kids entertained in the air, according to Emirates’ Department of Family Travel. And some, like Holly’s husband, get pretty creative.

“Miss Three was asking my husband to read the safety information card. Being the comedian that he is, my husband explained the brace position as, ‘Put your head between your legs and kiss your bum goodbye’. Of course, my daughter thought that was hilarious and kept pointing to the brace position repeating my husband’s delightful words. We were in hysterics! Luckily she doesn’t say it anymore.”

While Emirates can’t help with toupee travesties or comedic husbands, they’ve pretty much got everything else covered. Their award-winning entertainment system, ‘ice’ has more than 150 dedicated kids’ TV channels and a huge collection of kids’ movies and interactive games. When the kids aren’t engrossed in a movie, they can play with a gift from the cabin crew, which include furry friends to take home or Lonely Planet game packs.

And when the kids get hungry, the delicious food will be snaffled up by the even the fussiest eater (chicken canneloni and a dessert of rainbow cake – yum).

Travelling with kids isn’t always perfect but it is so, so worth it. With planning, tips and the right airline, it doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking, exhausting experience – it can actually be fun.

If you’ve had a nail or fail while flying with your kids, we’d love to hear about it so please share in the comments.

Feature image: Jacqui McCallum/Supplied.


The Emirates Department of Family travel provides Australian parents a central resource for travel tips and inspiration for their next family holiday. Before boarding, Emirates offers separate family check-in desks and priority boarding. To beat the boredom on board, Emirates' award-winning entertainment system, 'ice', features over 150 dedicated kid’s channels, plus up to 100 interactive games to help time fly. Family-friendly Cabin Crew are on hand to help, offering personalised service and providing toys, colouring books, pencils and game packs. To fight hunger cravings, Emirates offers tasty kids meals catering to all ages. With world-class family amenities on board, including special facilities for babies, Emirates is committed to putting families first.