How to fly with kids
BC (before children) we were the kings and queens of the mini-break. We ignored the violent orange of easyjet and embraced being in Berlin one weekend and Barcelona the next. Cash went on flights, cheap rosé and metro tickets, and we knew how to work the system to get the cheapest prices or max out the airmiles.
PC (post children) we thought we’d still be able to manage the holidays abroad, and knew we’d do it better than the family with the out-of-control kid on a Trunki, taking out old dears as he careered to the luggage carousel. We judged those who feared flights – how hard could it be fgs?! Just entertain them with some wholesome games, minimal-but-acceptable levels of screen time and a gentle lesson on the aerodynamics of flight.
Cue a hollow laugh. I’m famous amongst my mum friends for flying to Australia with a 7-month old with diarrhoea and surviving. But only just. I would have emigrated or chartered a ship to return any way other than by plane, but my husband wasn’t in agreement.
There are so many tips online for flying with kids. Wrap Poundland presents for them to open every hour on the hour. The unwrapping keeps them happy, the gifts keep them busy. Until they drop it and you dislocate a shoulder getting a Matchbox car out from under the seat in front of you. So yeah, use those hints and tips, and some of them are really good. But here’s the Bell from Bow lowdown on how to fly with kids.
· Ella’s pouches are not your friend on the plane. Air pressure gets to them. I sprayed an innocent passenger with bright orange mango purée. Thank you, kind lady, for giving me a smile and not sending me your dry-cleaning bill.
· Air pressure gets to kids too. They will fart the whole way. If you don’t get a poo you are incredibly lucky. If you do get a poo, changing your child is another lesson in contortionism as the loos are tiny even without the changing table pulled down. But it is NEVER acceptable to change a shitty nappy on an aeroplane seat. One day I will fly without kids, and I don’t want to sit on THAT seat.
· Don’t limit screentime on the plane. If they are happy to watch Paw Patrol for 1/3/7 hours, embrace it, order a beer and read the new Jilly Cooper. Rules are NOT made for aeroplanes.
· But don’t think you can bribe a kid to stay in their seat with Smarties. They will get a sugar high in an enclosed space and you will pay the price.
· You can always have a drink, even on a morning flight. It’s cocktail hour somewhere, and you need the sustenance.
· Take spare outfits for all kids, and spare tops for all adults (see: kid with diarrhoea, mango Ella’s pouch. Add raisin dribble and crayons).
· Don’t over-apologise. Sure, your kid is annoying kicking the chair in front, but you are doing everything to stop him short of gaffer-taping him down. Ok, they are noisy, but you are insisting at normal, every-one-can-hear-you tones that they use their “inside voice” whilst muttering threats of no more ice-cream ever unless they just shuddup. Essentially, if you aren’t being a dick and insisting little Flora can post crisps down the next-door passenger’s cleavage due to “freedom of expression”, and you are trying hard to ensure your precious poppets aren’t completely feral, then you are being a decent parent. Don’t let any judgy looks, or snide comments tell you otherwise. It’s hard flying with kids. All you can do is your best. (And that’s so much easier when you are at least one gin down).