I belong to several aviation geek chat groups. Lately, the chat has turned to what is seen as the annoyance of those who fly with unruly children. Before I had my daughter, I was one of those who said “why can’t they control that child” or “why can’t they get it to stop crying?” But I now remember that old saying. ” Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.”
I took my first flight with my daughter when she was only 10 days old. At age five, she is now a seasoned traveler (complete with her own frequent flier numbers) who is constantly complimented by passengers and crew every time we fly. I have never seen her have a fit on a flight and she’s my favorite travel companion. How do I do it?
Easy. I was a Girl Scout through high school, and that organization’s motto is “Be Prepared.” Before every trip, we involve our daughter in the preparation process. When we made the transition to a bigger, airline friendly car seat for her, we did a demonstration so she would see how she fit in the new seat. We showed her what to do when going through security, and now she puts some adults to shame when going through the airport checkpoint.
We take out the map to show her exactly where she’s flying. I let her print out and carry her own ticket. She hands the skycap the tip when we check our bag. To her, it’s just a grand adventure. And it also helps that our airline of choice, Southwest Airlines, is very kid friendly.
We let her pack her own little backpack, which has the following: a change of clothes; baby wipes; lotion; hand sanitizer; coloring book; reading books; crayons; portable DVD player; three movies; two lollipops (for ear pressure); snacks (just in case the airline has little to no selection); chap stick; and a stuffed animal (that doubles as a pillow). Having all these items in a bag she can carry or roll will sustain her on a trip from DC to San Francisco with no problem. I also have her iPod Touch and my iPhone with movies and cartoons on them as back-up.
I am amazed at how many parents do nothing to prepare for a trip. I’ve actually started bringing extra toys and books for kids who are trapped on a metal tube with nothing to do. So with a little preparation, I think we’d see happier children — and adults — when flying the crowded skies this holiday season. Happy Holidays!
On another note, I had the pleasure of being the guest host on the latest episode of the Airplane Geeks podcast. Our guest was one of my favorite aviation people, Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group. His monthly newsletter is a must-read. Check it out here, and let me know what you think!