Flying with children, especially on a long-haul flight, can be a challenge. Most children aren’t great in confined situations or staying occupied for several hours at a time. However, there are various ways to successfully minimise the stress of this experience and ensure your holiday starts off in the best way possible.

If this is your first time flying with your little ones, then here are our 5 tips for flying with children. From packing an extensive range of snacks to a variety of toys and engaging activities, there are a number of ways you can attempt to keep your children happy and occupied throughout your flight.

little girl at airport

Tips for Flying with Children

To make your first flight experience with children bearable, it is worth investing in some serious preparation for this trip. Before booking the flight, you need to be aware of the variations in regulations and charges from different airlines, especially when it comes to flying with children. Each airline has different rules, so it is worth looking into which company offers the best service for the price. For example, both British Airways and easyJet offer free priority boarding on all of their flights for families with children.

Each airline also varies in the price they charge for children flying; some have a set fee, whilst others ask for a percentage of the adult fare. You also need to be aware that some airlines have restrictions on how much free hold luggage they allow for baby equipment, such as pushchairs and travel cots.

You also need to take their bedtimes into consideration. If you book out of peak times, then you’re more likely to get a spare seat that your children can lay across to nap on. If your children are pre-school age, then flying out of school holidays shouldn’t be too much hassle; it is worth it for the quieter planes. It is also worth avoiding booking your flights on a weekend or a Monday, which tend to be the busiest times.

Make sure to perform thorough research before booking your flights to ensure you have opted for the most suitable airline for yourself and your children’s needs. Here is how you can prepare your children for the trip and keep them occupied throughout the duration of it.

little girl on yellow suitcase

1. Mentally Prepare Your Children for the Flight

It is important to get your children excited about the prospect of flying. Make sure to make the travel day feel just as much part of the holiday, especially if they haven’t flown before. To build up the anticipation around the day and ensure everyone is excited about flying, purchase new outfits or special snacks that your children consider to be a treat. Investing in new colouring books, toys or apps on the iPad can go a long way to making the day seem especially exciting to a four-year-old. If your children are really little, then it may be worth wrapping up small toys and handing them out sporadically. This will keep them amused and occupied for longer.

If they are a little bit older, then you need to enforce the fact it is vital they are well behaved and listen to you throughout the boarding process. They need to understand the importance of the travel day and that you are depending on them to ensure everything runs smoothly. You can incentivise them with the prospect of treats and new toys when they are on the plane.

Once you are seated, make sure they have a good window view and that you talk enthusiastically throughout the takeoff. This will intrigue them and keep them occupied for the first little while. We also suggest limiting their fluid intake about 2-4 hours before your flight to prevent them needing the toilet during check-in, boarding, or the takeoff.

2. Comfy Clothes

The temperatures in the cabin can vary widely, so it is important to dress them in comfortable clothes with plenty of layers. You also need to think about the temperature of the country you are arriving in. If it is guaranteed to be 30 degrees when you land, then it is worth dressing them in shorts and t-shirts but with a onesie over the top. UK weather in the morning is rarely warm enough for minimal clothing.

You also need to make sure to have packed spare sets of clothes in your hand luggage. A combination of any of the following items should have you covered for all events; leggings, thin joggers, long sleeve tops and sweatshirts.

If you’re planning to leave your home in the early hours of the morning to catch your flight, then it is worth dressing your children in the clothes they are going to wear for that day, the night before. If they are only going to be asleep for a few hours, then this tactic will help to minimise the chaos that is included when waking up and getting out the door in the morning. You can then change them into the spare clothes you have packed in the hand luggage once you are on the plane.

little boy playing with toy

3. Pack Each of your Children a Plane Bag

It is a nice idea to pack each of your children a bag of things to keep them entertained. If they are aware that there are treats in the bag for them, they’ll be excited to open it up as soon as they’re in the air. However, make sure to pack toys and games that are guaranteed to keep them occupied for a significant amount of time. We suggest colouring books and pens, puzzles, picture books, Lego sets, small toys and card games. It is also worth including different items in each of the bags so that your children have more to occupy themselves with.

It is also highly recommended to take an electronic device with you, specifically one that allows them to play games and watch films on. This will be your saving grace and last resort if several hours have past and your children are bored of colouring and puzzles. We advise not to get the iPad out before it is necessary otherwise they won’t be interested in the toys and games you have specifically bought to occupy them.

Remember to also pack headphones so that they can watch movies or play noisy games without disturbing the other passengers. You may also want to invest in a portable charging device, such as a power bank. Utilising the features that iPads offer is a sure way to guarantee yourself a peaceful flight.

children eating on plane

4. Pack Plenty of Snacks

For toddlers and children over the age of one, make sure to purchase a sufficient amount of snacks to go in your hand luggage. Every airline varies in the type of food they provide on a flight. And if you know your child is likely to be fussy over the food, then it is important to have alternatives for them available. Children also get peckish, especially when they are bored, so providing them with snacks that take a while to eat is a perfect way of keeping them quiet and still for a few minutes. Apples, breadsticks, a packet of crisps, are just a few ideas of what kinds of snacks you can keep your children occupied with.

We’d also suggest avoiding sugary sweets that are likely to make them hyperactive and a pain to control or keep quiet, but it is the start of your holiday so you can be lenient on them. It is probably best to balance out the lollipops and packets of sweets with healthy snacks, such as bananas. If you are trying to be healthy with your children and minimise their sugar intake, here are 50 aeroplane snack ideas. This article also contains ten child-friendly treats, including marshmallows, jelly beans and cookies. As we said, this is the first day of your holiday, so there is no harm in a few treats, especially if it provides you with some peace and quiet.

You also need to make sure you have plenty of fluids for them to drink. Although it is best to control what your children drink before the checking in and boarding process, once you are settled on the plane, they can go to the toilet as many times as they like – it’ll give them something to do.

If you are flying with a baby, then it is suggested to give them their bottle of milk both during takeoff and landing. This is because not only will it distract them, but it equalises the pressure and prevents their ears popping. To prevent slightly older children’s ears from popping and causing them discomfort, make sure to give them a sweet to suck or chew. Hardboiled sweets are an effective method but should not be given to small children. Instead, give them a sweet to chew and make sure they start to chew it before the plane reaches the runway.

happy baby on aeroplane

5. Take Soft Blankets and Cuddly Toys

If your children own special blankets or cuddly toys that they use at bedtimes, then make sure these items are in your hand luggage. You’ll want your children to nap during the flight, and if its an overnight flight, you’ll definitely want them to sleep. Make sure not to wash the blankets before the holiday; they will have a familiar smell of home that will be comforting to them.

It is also important to stick to your baby or toddler’s bedtime routine as much as you can. Provide them with their special blanket and cuddly toys, and if their usual home routine consists of a bedtime story and a bottle of milk, then make sure they receive it. It is also worth letting them stay up later so that they are more likely to sleep straight away, but don’t let them reach the point of being overtired and then not want to sleep at all.


If you implement the majority of the advice we have suggested in this article, then hopefully your first flight with young children won’t be too traumatic. However, children are highly unpredictable and there is no guessing how they will behave throughout a long-haul flight. To further make your travel day slightly less stressful, make sure to book airport taxi transfers in Milton Keynes. This will ensure you arrive on time for your flight and will save you the hassle of having to park.

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