Flying the (Kid-)Friendly Skies

On my first airplane trip, when I was very little, I got a silver pin that looked like pilot’s wings, a coloring book, and a peek inside the cockpit. When I was slightly older, the cockpit was off-limits, but I got a plastic pin, and a coloring book, and a flight attendant took me on a tour of the plane (one of the double-decker ones). Now, kids are lucky if they don’t get thrown off the plane for crying.

I saw this post the other day on the most kid-friendly airlines, based on, as the author says, such things such as “priority boarding, snacks, entertainment, etc.” I love lists–who doesn’t?–but this was left me wanting more.

Granuaile

Kid friendly or friendly kid?

First, I can’t find anywhere in the post where this list came from. Did the author do the research and compile it herself? (Super cool if she did–that must have been a lot of work.) If so, was it based on feedback from friends and family, from social media, from the airline’s PR departments, or from her own experiences? Without knowing how the author compiled the list, I’m not sure how much weight to put on it.

Second, how is this different from a list of major domestic carriers? Did any of the big airlines NOT make the cut? Was the list compiled specifically to target American carriers, or did no foreign carriers rate? (Reading other posts about parents’ favorite airlines, I don’t think the latter can be true.)

Third, how were the ratings tallied? What was the criteria? Was each criterion weighted equally, or were some given more importance? For example, was boarding priority given the same weight as gourmet kiddy food and a backpack full of gifts?

Fourth, did the creators of this list award points for things that make flying nicer for humans in general (snacks for all, free entertainment) or only those perks enjoyed by children?

When we flew Icelandair last fall, I wasn’t expecting much. I’d read countless travel-review blurbs that said Icelandair had terrible food and was a pretty cut-rate experience. Flying with Granuaile, however, was a joy. Before the plane had taken off, an attendant had given her crayons, Icelandic coloring pages, headphones to keep, a pillow, and a blanket. As soon as we’d reached cruising altitude, before the beverage cart started circulating, an attendant handed her a hot grilled cheese sandwich, cookies, and a drink. Best of all, in Granuaile’s eyes, everybody had full control of a TV screen, built into the seat back in front of them, and there were plenty of kids’ shows at the touch of a button. Adults have to pay for their own food and entertainment, but Icelandair treats kids lavishly.

In doing a quick search of the Internet, it seems plenty of parents have opinions about their favorite airlines for kid travel. I’ve seen great love given to Air Malta, British Airways (repeatedly), Japan Airlines, Air New Zealand, Virgin, Quantas, Turkish Air, Gulf Air (two words: SKY NANNIES!), Emirates, and Lufthansa. While each of these airlines sound wonderful for their frills and perks, these are special-occasion airlines for most Americans. Seventy-five percent of my family travel is domestic, usually between Columbus and Seattle.

Frequent flyers usually have definite airline opinions, but I don’t have great brand loyalty, usually choosing the cheapest flights. Most domestic American carriers seem the same to me, especially in their rush to cut frills. Since starting to fly with children, I can’t remember an airline giving Granuaile special treatment. In fact, most have even cut priority boarding for families.

Sky Nannies sound pie-in-the-sky wonderful, but I realize they’re not likely to be embraced by American cost-cutting carriers any time soon. Failing that, I’d still like to see:

  • airplane bassinet

    Bassinet, carrycot, skycot--whatever you call it, it's a safe and cozy spot for your baby

    Bassinets/carry-cots: I’ve only read about them, never tried one, but they seem to appear only on foreign carriers, on trans-oceanic flights. Flying coast-to-coast in the US is a long haul, and a long time to have a tired child on your lap.

  • Snacks and drinks (water is fine) for children. Yes, parents should bring their own, but things happen.
  • Roomier restroom changing tables–hah!
  • Airline staff should be familiar with various travel apparatus. Parents who fly semi-regularly knows that a Sit ‘n Stroll exists, even if they don’t have one. Yet each time we take ours on board, the staff seems never to have seen one before, questioning us repeatedly about what it is, whether it meets FAA regulations, etc.

    Sit 'n Stroll

    Sit 'n Stroll: the greatest stroller/car seat ever. No lie.

  • Free TV with even just a few G-rated shows–kids don’t mind watching repeats, and PG can be too violent for younger kids.
  • Airport playgrounds and lounges for families. The few times I’ve used an airport lounge to wait for a flight have been wonderful, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking my young children into one. Airport playgrounds are a wonderful thing, just not as common as I’d like.
  • Priority boarding. It’s hard enough maneuver children, bags, and a car seat without the added pressure of people pushing past you, lifting bags over your head, and huffing angrily.
  • Family sections on the plane. Travelers without kids don’t want to be kicked in the seatback or listen to crying babies–I get it, and trust me, I don’t want my kids to kick or cry. That said, if they do, I’d rather be seated with other kicking, crying kids and parents who–it would be hoped–might have a bit more patience.

Do you have a favorite airline for family travel? What sort of amenities are important to you when you fly with your child?

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50 Responses to Flying the (Kid-)Friendly Skies

  1. It’s been awhile since I’ve flown with my three sons (including twins) but we always liked JetBlue. Priority boarding was always a must as we had to wrestle car seats on board. Also, it was important that they’d let us “gate check” our double stroller. Roomier changing tables? Absolutely! We used to change the kids right before boarding and then hope for the best.

  2. Terra says:

    Do you really find it necessary to bring a car seat with you on trips? I am hoping to avoid that and assumed I’d be able to get one with a rental car at the other end.

    Our twins are already 2 and we have avoided flying until now but my parents won’t let me get away with my excuses for much longer. Totally dreading the experience, but hoping we can get a decent layover and live without naps for one day.

    • SKM says:

      We’ve taken a chance on a rental car seat once, but won’t do so again.

      A) We love the Sit ‘n Stroll SOOOOOOO much. It’s a stroller for the airport and your destination–it’s a carseat! If you want to try it out for an upcoming trip, I’d be absolutely happy to let you.

      B) Delicious Baby did some really interesting investigative work on rental car seats and discovered that they are often expired, unsafe, filthy, etc. The time we rented one, we had a good experience, but it was annoying to install an unfamiliar car seat in the parking garage. (The Sit ‘n Stroll is really easy to strap in, another point for it.) One of Delicious Baby’s posts on the subject is here: http://www.deliciousbaby.com/journal/2007/dec/22/advantage-rent-cars-frightening-car-seats/. It changed my mind about renting car seats.

    • rivkachka says:

      We’ve been able to check our carseat, for free, with both Continental and Southwest. Before booking, you could contact the airline and see what their policy is on carseats. It seems they are considered a necessity, like strollers, and are therefore free (for now).

  3. You raise some interesting points… I especially liked the last one about seating families with other families. When I’ve traveled by plane, it seemed that there was a kid nearby (at least 50% of the time), lol, but I didn’t mind. However, if I knew that I was going to be seated near a family section, it would be nice to prepare myself for the possibility of crying babies. I really think that the airlines might take to that idea.

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

  4. Raul says:

    Wow you have really taken the time to create your own list and have seriously thought this through… 🙂 Good Job!

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

  5. So, I hate to go off topic and all, but has anyone had the experience of flying with their pets? Provided a job opportunity comes my way, I may have the need to move my three cats with me, and the only way to get to the location is by plane. Just wondering…

    • SKM says:

      I haven’t, but the thought of it scares me tremendously. I once shared a flight to Halifax with a guy who kept his cat in his duffle bag. They were returning home from living in South America and the cat was well drugged. Then we got waylaid by fog in Maine and the tranquilizers wore off. He and the cat shared a hotel room for the night and this poor miserable kitty had to get on the plane the next day to continue on to Nova Scotia without any drugs. It was quite an experience.

      Sorry for going off topic myself. 🙂 Good luck with the move.

    • Michele says:

      I have flown a lot with cats as I moved around the world. Best to find a carrier who is used to dealing with animals – globally British Airways is the best. They will hand feed and water animals, and have special kennels for long layovers. In the US Continental carries animals and has a division that deals with it. They aren’t as warm and fuzzy as BA but did an efficient job for me. However, you have to check all along the way that the crate was boarded – even ask the flight deck to check on this – and removed. You should water and feed the cats several hours before you start your journey and then withhold as the time for travel gets near. Cats travel quite well, but do get stressed. Generally they go to sleep. I have tranquilized and not – and now won’t give them anything. Some cats react really badly to it. Having flown with 2 cats several times I chose to give each separate containers (which is a pain) but I thought they wouldn’t work each other up / have a fight. It worked well. Just put something soft in that has a recognizable smell for them. Make sure you have access to food incase your flight is delayed mid-way……but you have to check what the TSA will allow – or put it in your checked bag. Hope this helps – and remember the animals are pretty resilient – even if they will disappear under furniture for the first week after you arrive!!
      And double check your aircraft has a pressurized hold.

  6. CrystalSpins says:

    Wow…I’m starting to dread my upcoming flight. I wonder who is most Crystal-friendly. I think the family section is a GREAT idea. I’m one of those who doesn’t particularly like children and I’d rather not be seated with them on a plane.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  7. We just had a great experience with JetBlue with our baby. But babies are different than kids. They don’t exactly require much from the airline. Im all for family sections though. I was dreading the death stares from people who think I somehow have control over whether a 5 month old cries.

  8. This is fantastic. My daughter and son-in-law live in London and already, their 14 month baby has been to at least six countries, including several times to the US. I’ve already sent her your link to the Sit n Stroll and will have her check out your post.

  9. Michele says:

    Great post. My 13 year old has amassed a truly impressive amount of miles with Continental since she was 2 ( and largely it is the only transatlantic non-stop carrier heading where we need to go). On her first couple of flights she got the little pilots pin, was invited into the cockpit (on the ground) twice and we did get priority boarding when she was really little. However, as she grew I had to ask for it, and remind them to do it. Other than that she could have been a piece of luggage. Other US carriers flying internally are much the same. Flying with LOT Polish airlines several times she was given a little bag with bilingual books, cd with music an activity set. They also treated her like a very special little person. British Airway offered nothing special (she was an older kid by this time) but they did treat her as a person. The help the airlines give is weak and god help you if you have to travel with your child / children alone. My advice – get there early, be nice to the gate agent (which sometimes helps), have a little bag of surprises for during the flight and try and be as rested as possible before you do this. And ignore other travelers and their looks – unless there are other parents there who offer you help. I would definitely have liked to have a special play area in the terminal and better food available.

  10. Skynannies? I wish. My last flight was about 6 months ago with my 6 month old daughter. We flew Delta and when we asked about priority boarding they said that they would let us know. Well when boarding came they made us wait for our “zone” to be called. No priority boarding on any of the 4 flights that we took. And changing tables that was another story.
    I have another flight coming up in September and my daughter will be 13 months and walking. Each day the flight comes closer I dread it more and more.

  11. bubba and me says:

    Great post! I still haven’t had the guts to fly with my little guy yet but I love your suggestions.

  12. rivkachka says:

    Great, great post! I absolutely love the ideas of airport playgrounds and family seating. I would much rather sit near another mother juggling her kids/snacks/diapers/whatever than near someone who may or may not have ever been around children! It would definitely take the edge off.

  13. sinBalas says:

    Encuentro genial la idea , excelente

  14. Robert Bain says:

    Nice to read about wonderful stories of great service on airlines – I was starting to think that it was just a flight no matter who you were and which airline unless you paid for first class. So many bad stories out there – it is nice to hear some good things

  15. What I’d love to see is an airline, or planes designated for families with children. It would make flying so much better for those with out children, and those with.

    • SKM says:

      I see where you’re coming from, but having a specialty airline would be fairly expensive, right? The only way budget travelers get cheap fares now is because of all the business travelers paying full fares. I could see some select routes being able to make it work, especially between major hubs and, sad to say, Disneyland. But even then, would non-families be allowed to buy a ticket on a family flight? (Of course.) Would families still be welcome on other flights? (I’d hope so.) If so, how is that different than our current setup? Sorry, not to poke holes in your idea–I’d love to hear more.

  16. Jim Hagen says:

    This post is so typical of modern parents who think they should be the center of attention. The airlines don’t look after their paying customers, why should they look after your kids?

    • Michele says:

      I don’t think most traveling parents expect (or want) the airlines to take care of our kids. Just a few points of consideration, like a little extra time and somewhere to change diapers would be nice. I have been buying a seat for my daughter since she was 18 months old, with no discount so I do not feel it unreasonable to hope for her needs to be met. And as to modern parents and expectations – I am old enough and have flown since very young (and very long haul) to remember the treatment you used to get on planes. There was perfume, cologne, shaving kits in the toilets, the cabin crew knew your name and treated you with care. As a traveling child I was treated like a welcome guest on the aircraft, and it wasn’t uncommon for the captain to make a point of saying hello during disembarkation. The world has changed, but care and attention shouldn’t.

  17. robburns says:

    My wife and I have flown long haul twice with our son. Once at 3 months, once at 15 months (a few weeks ago). Each time we travelled return to England from LA.

    1. Sit and Stroll – the most underrated piece of travel equipment available. Gets you from one side of the airport to the other and even, if you are lucky or have a seat, on the aircraft. WOrd of warning – British Airways UK DO NOT do gate check. And are proud of it.
    2. Its all about the crew. We have had amazing crew – above and beyond the call of duty. And grumpy as hell, do it yourself crew. For me the distinction between airlines is not valid. We have flown with BA, US, AA, BMI, Delta, United. Most of them.
    3. Airport security – In Manchester UK, they took our ice packs but let us keep our milk. They made us open yogurt pot style sealed cartons to test, rendering them useless. They took all medication that wasn’t prescribed because it was 18ml over the 100. They threatened us with the no fly list when we argued. Disgraceful. In contrast with Philly, LA, Heathrow, Chicago O’Hare, all of which we found to be very accommodating and respectful.
    4. Flight vest – Baby B’air (I think) do a vest that the child wears and you can strap it to your seatbelt so in the event of a sudden drop the child doesnt hit the roof.
    5. Bassinet – If you request it in advance they will try to get it. No good for more than a newborn, but it zips them in and prevents them from being thrown by turbulence. A large pillow and blanket can be used as a bed across the tray tables or across your knees. A bit awkward at mealtimes but what is convenient about travelling with kids?
    6. Rubber toys wrapped in paper occupied our boy and didnt injure or maim when he threw them.
    7. Organization. My wife had everything planned. She knew where the diapers, wipes, milk, food, toys, water etc were in which bags and so we could get everything quickly and easily.

  18. zomelie says:

    I flew with my daughter for the first time when she was three months old. I very quickly learned that infants and planes do not mix and not for the reason you may be thinking. She slept for most of the trip, so other passengers didn’t have to be bothered by that woman and her screaming kid. No, the problem was that I had to change her diaper in that tiny joke of a bathroom you get when you fly coach on a domestic flight. I guess the joke was on me. I have two little ones now, but I don’t plan to travel with them anytime soon. I will definitely be looking for the kid friendly skies when I do.

  19. Chrissy says:

    Love the post! We’ve flown a bunch with our two (now 4 & 6) and it’s usually a pain. We have used the bassinets (Air France) and they were great. Ditto a play-yard for kids at the airport. We had one once and it was great. Only problem it was BEFORE security instead of after. More of those after security please!!
    I’d add: if you’re going on a long flight (4 hours or more) bring a change of clothes on the plane (two if you’re traveling with an infant); our kids inevitably threw up on themselves or worse. DVD players are very helpful (as are new little toys, crayons, coloring books) for those flights where you are not guaranteed a TV (buy a back up battery for a long flight and good headsets so your kids can hear over the noise) and for unexpected delays that try everyone’s patience. We have taken the car seat and not; be warned that on international flights they often won’t let you use your car seat on the plane and will make you gate check it. Also, if you have to change planes with the car seat it’s a pain (and we’ve done it with the thing that straps it onto your back and the pull bag). Bring LOTS of snacks (again, the delays can kill you). Agree with Michele that being nice to the gate agent can help. Get to the airport early to let the kids run (and also to avoid running thru the airport to make the plane). And last, let yourself just get into the zone. It’s probably going to be a little chaotic, things are going to be out of your control, you may have to sing twinkle, twinkle or the Thomas song for hours, not to mention provide some sort of barrier so your kid doesn’t kick the seat in front of him/her, but it’s for a (mostly) fixed amount of time and hey, travel is about a little inconvenience and pulling yourself out of your regularly scheduled program. Your destination is always within sight!
    Bon Voyage!

  20. RussellsFeet says:

    We just flew JetBlue for the first time with a 3 1/2 year old and 8 month old. The kids did well and loved the experience (Buffalo to Orlando). I, however, was less than thrilled with JetBlue. As a seasoned business traveler, I know my ins and outs. My baby son wears a special foot brace 15hrs a day, it had to be on during the flights. Yes, it’s awkward and is a good test of compassion for the airline.

    The good: pre-boarding and the nice attendant who gave my daughter an extra apple juice. The bad: seating assignment hell. We booked a trip to Walt Disney World and both ways the seating assignments were ridiculous. The worst was the return – my 3 1/2 year old daughter on one window, me on some other window (w. baby on lap), my husband elsewhere on plane. We managed to secure the bulkhead on route to FLA, but the stewards worked hard to juggle other guests. Back to Buffalo, we waited in line for an hour to sort out the seats. I indicated that I would like the bulkhead, due to my son’s special needs. She grouped us in Row 2. Turns out that the bulkhead was empty, the attendant offered it to a guest who was over 6’6″, but not to the mom with a child with special needs and an awkward brace that bashed between the seats. Once settled, I was reluctant to move to the bulkhead – but trust me, I will be complaining!

  21. nice to read your blog you have deep views

  22. Wow great blog! We’re preparing for our first long-haul flight from Brisbane, Australia to Tokyo, with our 1 and 3 year old boys. We leave in 3 weeks and although I’m really excited about the trip, I’m beginning to dread the flight! Thanks for the tips, I’m taking as many as I can get!

  23. Anne Jensen says:

    Alaska Airlines always lets families with small children and “anyone else needing a little extra time down the jetway” preboard.

  24. cheneetot08 says:

    What a darling! He looks so cute, looking at this picture reminds me of my first trip in a plane. Back then stewardess would offer headsets and coloring books for young tykes to keep them preoccupied.

  25. justjaneva says:

    I worked in the aviation business for over 16 years, my partner still does, and I can remember when kids were treated like little princes and princesses! I’ve got loads of those metal pins from travelling as a kid myself. The dawn of low cost travel certainly put paid to those little extras. We have been travelling with our son (now 4) since he was 3 months and mostly we have had no trouble, but definitely feel ostracised by the other childless passengers. We did travel from the UK to Australia with a basinette seat a few years back but spent much of the time lifting him out of the basinette due to turbulence under instruction from the flight attendants – a complete nightmare! Wish we’d had one of those ‘sit n strolls’ though, I’ve never heard of them before.

    Great post and congrats on your Freshly Pressed!

  26. omega57 says:

    Rule 1; kill ’em with kindness. Flying with kids means expect nothing extra and often you will be surprised by politeness fro staff and fellow passengers. Generally we don’t have problems. Try for bulk head seats. Always take more diapers than you think. Be prepared. Follow the rules about carry ons. Check out the web site. We never expect decent family friendly shows unless there is the screen in the back of the seat so we carry a DVD player with an 8 hour extend battery. Head sets or buds need to fit their ears. On trans pacific flights we change into PJ’s and brush teeth. This helps us sleep better especially when they are younger. We are extra friendly and polite. And generally we get what we need. Order kids meals ahead of time. Sippy cups are helpful. Take extra wipes for spills. Some times the flight attendant really can not help out soon enough. Find the nice flight attendant.
    The backpacks have books, crayons, markers, coloring books, little toys. For sitting in the airport we always had those toys to help out. Read aloud books help. Nano, etc. are great. Hand sanitizers in tiny bottles, tiny flashlights, long flights we have flip flops for toilet trips; the floors get a little wet and often shoes are hard to get back on. Go to the toilet before the meal!
    Be considerate of others like you want. You did pay for the seat and golly, sometimes families just have to fly!

  27. bhannahjane says:

    I can see why Turkish Airlines made the list of kid-friendly crews. The Turks are absolutely ga-ga (pun intended) over children; doesn’t matter whose they are, they love ’em. That being said about the culture, I fly with THY a lot and have never seen any particularly ‘special’ treatment given to kids.

  28. raisingable says:

    When traveling with a pack of little kids I always DECLINED the invitation to be the first on board because it added 20-30 additional minutes when we would all be confined to a very small space, strapped in a seat belt. I let them run around freely until the gate attendants were ready to close the bulkhead, then slipped into our seats quickly.

  29. Kim Johnson says:

    My 2 and 4 year olds have traveled by plane about 1-2 times per year, with 2 transatlantic flights under their belts. As is inevitably the case, some flights have been great and others not so good – owing mostly to kids’ moods, lack of experience with planes, and the parents’ expectations being misaligned with kids’ needs. As someone said, getting yourself in the zone and having an open mind and low expectations is a useful thing.

    One lifesaver not yet mentioned for me is a 3-point harness/restraint system that does better than the built-in seat belt and is much less bulky than the sit n stand or car seat (though it won’t solve your car rental problems on the other end). It’s FAA-approved (though most airline personnel have never seen it) and is called CARES – Child Aviation REstraint System. I love it because it closely resembles the car seat buckles my kids are accustomed to, and they tend to expect to stay in their seats as a result (if adequately entertained by the aforementioned toys, dvd players, crayons, etc). It’s not ideal for sleeping, because it keeps their bodies rather straight, but with reclining seat and a neck pillow, we’ve made it work. Check it out: http://www.kidsflysafe.com/

    Other observations and anecdotes:
    (1) I applaud the Delta employees on my recent Paris-Pittsburgh flight who kindly helped the lady who’d traveled with an infant and 3 carry on bags (none with wheels or backback straps) and no baby carrier (baby bjorn). Both her hands were filled with the baby and she couldn’t get herself to her seat or anywhere in the airport without help. I watched her look anxiously at the luggage carousel and helped her but had to wonder what lavish assistance she was accustomed to at home that she had assumed the same would be available on a commercial flight!
    (2) On that note – one of my secrets to reducing flying stress is to have carryons that don’t bog me down – backback variety if possible, to allow hands free for any kid-related needs (holding, grabbing, chasing). Once my oldest was 3, we gave her a small wheeled suitcase carryon to give her a sense of control over this otherwise restrictive experience. It keeps her focused when walking in the airport (most of the time), though it slows her speed quite a bit.
    (3) I once saw a couple on a Delta Paris-Chicago flight give the flight attendant a kids microwavable meal to have heated up, with no hesitation or resistance. I hadn’t thought of it but will in the future!
    (4) A nice little perk on our recent Delta Paris-Pittsburgh flight was having the flight attendants pass out the snack to kids first before wheeling the carts through the whole plane. Our kids got their gelato and frozen pizza beforehand, giving us ample time to help them eat before being burdened with our own food on our plates. Nicely done!
    (5) Same trip was the first time I entered a restroom that had no changing table! Perhaps I didn’t look hard enough?!? It was fairly easy to have my 2.5 year old stand on the closed toilet seat while I changed her standing up. So glad she didn’t have a bowel movement!

    I’ve flown a lot since I was 4 months old and have an immense respect for flight attendants and passengers alike. All the little things the airlines and people do to make flights more enjoyable for everyone is much appreciated!

    • SKM says:

      Wow, Kim, thank you for an incredibly detailed and thoughtful comment.

      A question about the CARES harness–I just picked up one at a garage sale for a few dollars, but haven’t tried it yet. I was assuming that I’d use it for my 3yo, since she’s grown out of the Sit ‘n Stroll–has your experience been good with older kids, rather than babies?

      • frenchy612 says:

        I’ve had success with it with my 2 year old and 4 year old. Started it using as soon as I was paying for their seats – 18 months. At 18 months it was a challenge, but it was as much the fact that my kids weren’t used to being in a plane, on their own seat, with a parent next to them but unable to be in parent’s lap. It’s adjustable – though not sure what the max age would be.

        My 4 year old would otherwise be wanting to stand on her seat or walk the aisles – I’ve had a great experience with it with her because of her personality, the fact that she can’t open it herself, and that she’s used to it b/c it’s so like a carseat.

  30. rivkachka says:

    I’ve seen a few recommendations to grab the bulkhead, but on my last flying experience (Little Man was about 17-months or so, and I was about 7 months pregnant), I selected a bulkhead seat (it was free seating), and the flight attendant came over and informed me that I wasn’t allowed to have anything on the floor. She was pretty gruff about it, and I ended up moving to an aisle seat closer to the center of the plane.

    There were so many things that I needed from my diaper bag (snacks, toys, books, drinks, etc.), that I felt like the extra space wasn’t worth the hassle of having to get up to get my supplies. Is the “nothing on the floor” rule only during takeoff and landing, or is it for the whole flight?

    • SKM says:

      My understanding, and seatguru seems to agree, is that the “nothing on the floor” only applies to takeoff and landing, and that you’re allowed to keep things on the floor during the flight. Now, whether that changes in times of increased security or turbulence or flight attendant whim, I don’t know. http://www.seatguru.com/articles/bulkheads.php

      • rivkachka says:

        Great, thank you so much! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. I really enjoyed your post, and I’m enjoyed all the great comments it’s generating!

  31. Aiman Amani says:

    I guess the best kid-friendly airplane I’ve ever board is the Singapore Airlines back in 2002. I was 7 then and my 2 younger sisters and I were on our way to Bali, Indonesia during the school holidays. The first plane we boarded for that trip was ‘okay’ but the plane trip after from Singapore’s Changi Airport was excellent! It was my most memorable plane trip.

    First, the airport was great! They have a play area for kids (with slides, swings, rocking animals and a TV playing a cartoon) and the ‘electronic leg massage machine’ here and there (for our tired parents). There was also a sleeping lounge but we didn’t stop there because my youngest sister was still 2 years old and she might upset the others.

    And then we boarded the airplane and I remember describing it as the ‘coolest plane I’ve ever, ever seen’. Each seats have their own monitor built into the back of the front seat and a game controller and as I remember, there were around 20 to 50 games that we could choose from (enjoyed by both adults and kids). There was also a headset which provided audio entertainment for kids and adults. Also, each of us has our own ‘phones’ which we could use to speak to other passengers in the plane. I remember my sister and I calling each other, our mum and dad.

    After that comes the food. I don’t know what was the kids menu for the non-muslims but for the muslim children, they serve us an adult-size serving of delicious fried noodle. I mean, really, really delicious and I remember my mum commented that our food was better than hers. Even the Chinese lady beside me (who wasn’t a muslim) told me that she wished her food was like mine.

    And then comes the service and gifts. I remember one or two of the stewardess came to our row and gave my sisters and I a ‘Lucy’ doll (‘Lucy’ from the ‘Snoopy’ cartoon) and some coloured pencils (which my mum noticed that they were of good quality) each. And when my youngest sister cried, one of the stewardess that came before brought her more gifts and stayed to talk to and play with her. In a few minutes, the stewardess left and my sister was giggling and playing with her new toys. When it was time to disembark, I wished that the plane was 10 hours long instead of a ‘short’ 2 hours.

    After observing my younger sister and brother in their plane trips, I think what I want for a kid-friendly plane was, like you had said, a family cabin with lots of things to keep the kids occupied. Kid-friendly stewardess would also be wonderful and very helpful especially to mothers of many kids.

  32. Great post! Would love to feature it (or something similar) as a guest post on my website when the new version goes live in a few weeks!

  33. I haven’t been overseas with a baby before. She is currently only 3 months old and my husband is planning a trip for us to Europe. Can anyone give me tips on what we can bring on board for the baby and if she’s too young to travel for hours on a plane?

    • SKM says:

      Congratulations on your daughter and your trip. My daughter first flew coast-to-coast when she was only 3 months old, and she did well. I don’t think she’s too young. If anything, it’s slightly easier when they’re still in the sleep-eat-sleep-eat stage. My recommendations from personal experience:
      *If you use a pacifier at home, bring several. Her ears will hurt on takeoff and landing and sucking rectifies that. I’ve seen a lot of people recommend that you feed a baby during those times, but if it’s not a normal feeding time, you risk them not eating and just screaming instead.
      *If you nurse, you might want a pashmina and safety pins. I worked up a nice little curtain around our seat by draping and pinning the pashmina to the seats in front and behind me.
      *If your airline has them, DO request a bulkhead seat and one of the in-flight bassinets.
      *Bring several changes of clothes. Poop happens.
      *I don’t usually see diapers in the airport sundry shops–bring your own.

      There are some other great travel-with-baby sites out there. Take a look especially at Delicious Baby and Ciao Bambino. Thanks for visiting!

    • Jim Hagen says:

      Why are you taking the trip? Dragging a baby who will not remember anything to tourist spots in Europe is a waste of money and will only stress you, the baby and the people around you out. Save your money and take the trip when the child will be aware of it.

      • SKM says:

        Jim, It’s a fair question. I have another post planned on this very topic, because it comes up so often. Check back with me periodically and we’ll see if I can make the case for it 🙂 But in the short run, I agree with rivkachka–our life didn’t stop when we had children. Of course trips are better when the kids are old enough to participate and remember, but there’s much to be said for going when they’re portable and cute. In many countries, they help bridge cultural boundaries that exist between adults. My mother often said she found France much friendlier when she had a baby or two with her.

    • rivkachka says:

      Kudos for taking a trip with your little one! We made an intercontinental trip with our son when he was seven months old, and I actually found it much easier to do as opposed to now, when he’s older and wants to move around more! At three months, your little one should (hopefully) be easy to travel with!

      SKM really covered all the bases. I love the pashmina curtain contraption! Also, you might look into a modest nursing cover – like this: http://amzn.to/cG3IXm I used something like that and actually had a flight attendant thank me for having it! Plus I didn’t feel as self-conscious.

      Finally, disregard any potential naysayers. It’s great that you’re taking a trip with your little one. You’ll have wonderful pictures, great memories and you’ll see that life does not stop once you have children. It just gets more interesting.

  34. Michele says:

    There is a great website http://www.travelforkids.com/ that is a wealth of information on what to do / where to go / what to take, etc. If you look under trip planning they have a section to do with babies. You will be able to use this site for years as your little traveller grows up.
    Have a great trip!

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