How to make your children flight happy

HAPPY DUO: Children can get quite restless on a long haul flight.   Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

EVERY year around 100 million Americans go on holiday by aeroplane, of which four in 10 will be taking their families with them, according to an AAA Travel Survey taken prior the pandemic.

That four in 10 will be worrying about one thing. How am I going to be able to keep my kids happy and to sit still for however many hours it’s going to take to get to my destination. That was a fear I had a few years back.


Late flight so that they sleep when lights go down

One trick up my sleeve was to book a late flight, so at least when the lights went down my kids got at least six or seven hours sleep. That would have covered a large chunk of my flight time. Another option is to try and get a seat near the front and pray that nobody goes for the middle seat. That way your child has more room and can stretch themselves out and get a longer sleep.

Baby seat is a good investment

For smaller children it might be worth investing in a baby seat which may prove more comfortable than an airline seat. If you are taking a baby onboard it’s best to breastfeed them when the plane is taking off or landing. The reason behind that is that the changing altitude may make their ears pop, so if they engaged in feeding it may take their minds off it.

Travel insurance for all those little accidents

Once they have had their sleep they will be full of energy. I would then walk them up and down the aisle before mealtimes to give them some exercise. You could take them to the toilet for a quick wash and change into fresh clothes. For older members of the family it would be imperative to stretch their legs to avoid blood clots or deep vein thrombosis. For that reason and many others, I always have travel insurance with me. And with kids, accidents can happen.

Another way to keep the little blighters happy is to bring lots of treats and offer them more if they behave. Take it as a given that even if you are in economy the kids won’t like the food, not to say that the adults won’t either.

Bringing games onto the plane in your hand luggage could be a very useful tool in keeping your children occupied and telling you they are BORED!!! There are lots of cheap games that you can buy.

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Card games can while away the hours

For slightly older children having a regular pack of playing cards can offer hours of fun. Think of Snap, Poker, Rummy, Crazy Eights, the list is endless. If the flight isn’t that long you could end up finishing it in your hotel.

Magnetic games are a favourite of mine

One of my favourites is magnetic chess, where the pieces don’t wind up under your seat if the plane hits a bit of turbulence. However, there are others magnetic games such as checkers, bingo and tic tac toe.

Popcorn and electronic devices to watch films

Take a portable DVD player with you, a tablet, iPad or laptop with pre-loaded films. Or you may decide to download something new. Remember to fully-charge your devices in case the seat you are in doesn’t have that facility, or it’s plain not working. Remember to add a few snacks to your film watching such as popcorn, crisps or chocolates.

Learning in an aeroplane environment

You could turn your aeroplane into a school classroom. Bring a portable carrying case full of pens, crayons and markers to allow your kids to start working on those coloring books, or doing math tests, puzzles and the like. >>Check out this review on this building blocks toy<<

Kids get hooked on online games

With Wi-Fi being available on planes, you could entice your kids to play games online. Once they are hooked you’ll be lucky to get them off the plane at arrivals. But be aware that there may be seats faulty charging points.

Miniature toys can be interesting

There are lots of miniature versions of your child’s toys like a mini Bop It, and an Etch-a-Sketch.

Read your favourite books

Find out what your children want to read and then surprise them with the books on the plane. If they are not keen on reading books, then made you can come up with some audio stories that you can get from your local library. For older children they can download onto an iPad or MP3 player.

Pop-up Cards can be fun

You may want to show your kids some pop up cards  and have some fun.


Midnight plane to Georgia

Put all your child’s favourite songs on an iPod and that should create enough hours of listening to get them through the journey.

Surprise toys

Buy some new toys but don’t show the kids until you are up in the air. The secret is to find out what they like. It could be a super hero, comic character, a toy car or a piece of jewellery or Lego.

Airline can help out if all else fails

If all else fails, you may find that airline staff might come to the rescue with a cuddly toy, offer children in-flight entertainment, provide video screens to watch Disney films and even invite kids into the cockpit before or after the flight. Some airlines hand out airline pins to good children.

Everyone is happy being kept  busy

At the end of the day everybody wants a happy and safe flight. Therefore, it’s always good to be prepared with snacks, toys and any electronic equipment that will keep your kids occupied. If anything, you don’t want to get into arguments with your kids on the plane which can be highly embarrassing, or passengers having to listen to your children wailing for hours. If you can’t find a way of keeping your child you can rely on airline staff to at least find a cuddly toy or provide them with some entertainment. Sent from my iPad

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4 thoughts on “How to make your children flight happy”

  1. Travel tips for long flights with children is very helpful, Excessive crying, shimming or arguing is not what people have in mind when travelling on an airplane for a long trip. You have presented many useful ideas that will ensure that a faililies trip will be successful as well as the other passengers onboard. This is a win win situation for all. You have definitely presented some very insightful ideas that should be taken to heart.

    • Hi Toplink, thanks for your generous comments. Taking small children on holiday can be a challenge so there has to be a way to keep them occupied as they get bored very easily. I always think that a soft cuddly toy for a child that they go to bed with is probably the first thing they need to take with them. Then it’s something that you can engage in with your child. For that reason building blocks could be a very useful toy. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

  2. What a great topic. I do not have children (but my girlfriend has a boy and a girl). Now they are 12 and 14. But I still remember how difficult it was in a car if we had to go far. Imagine in a plane. I think that your flight idea is brilliant! But today, electronics devices are maybe your best friend when you travel. Treats works but only for a moment. Great article!

    • Thanks for liking my article. Even if you don’t have kids, if you are on a long flight, there’s always someone on the plane who has them, and you feel for the parents and the kids, who both seem to be suffering. The parents, because they can’t keep their children quiet, and the children, who are bored to tears and are aggravating their parents. Therefore, it’s important to be prepared, and there are lots of ways you can keep them entertained including electronic devices, which you picked up on. However, I sometimes feel that good old-fashioned building blocks are just as good and there’s no fear of batteries running out. It works for me. I’d love to hear from more people to see if they agree with me. 


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