Nowadays challenges have become an intrinsic part of most air travels – Eurocontrol analysis shows that in 2017 44% of European flights were delayed. While adults fight boredom with coffee, smartphones or other tools at hand, children and toddlers are left in solitary to confront the inevitable fatigue. But travelling with little ones doesn’t have to be difficult – here is a list of 5 tips to save you from the walk of shame along the aircraft aisle.
Apart from a widespread belief, child’s birth certificate in EU is not recognised as an official his or her documentation when travelling. According to the EU website, in addition to a valid passport or ID card, all children travelling with a group or a supervisor should have a formal document that’s signed by both parents authorising their child to travel. Child’s birth certificate is required when travelling outside Schengen area and when little one’s surname does not match that of at least one of the parents.
One of the main challenges that parents face on flight is to make their child sit still throughout the whole journey. Instead of looking for possible toys or snacks in a passing trolley, bring your own. Take your little one’s favourite snacks, colouring books, crayons and don’t forget to install some games or cartoons on your tablet and phone, as these devices do a great job of keeping them engaged. Toys like plastic guns, swords and other items that might draw airport security’s suspicion are better left at home.
Also, while liquids must be carried in containers of no more than 100ml, there are exceptions for food and milk packed for a baby – take as much as you need. Parents are allowed to have breastmilk, formula, cow’s milk and baby food in their hand luggage. Pack meals that are easy to open and not messy.
Finally, pushchair policy varies between airlines, but on most cases, you will be able to take it up to the aircraft steps and then hand it over to the airline or airport staff. After landing, the pushchair will be presented back to you at the plane’s door at your connecting city or destination. Travelling with your little ones will quickly fill up your luggage, so pack wisely.
Family policy differs according to the carrier. Rules determine the price, age limits and baggage allowance for children. Some carriers allow toddlers aged 8 days to 24 months to travel for free, provided they sit on an adult’s lap. There might be a chance to pay for an extra seat, but then the little one should be comfortable sitting in a child restrain or a car seat that’s approved for the use on an aircraft. Instead of a free ticket, other airlines offer child discounts.
Air travel can be split into three parts: a take-off, actual flight and landing. Yet sometimes flight is delayed with passengers already on board. Eurocontrol data shows that in 2017, 87% of the biggest EU airlines’ flights were delayed before departure. When flight’s delayed for more than 2 hours, all passengers should be given refreshments, served meals and given an access to the Internet.
Normally the first and third part of the flight are the worse for children, as they don’t know how to pop their ears and alleviate ear pain. Toddlers should be given a bottle and those over 3 years old – a hard candy to chew on. We can’t anticipate what will happen on board, but besides the additional cushions and throws available on request, it’s convenient to know that there is always some kind of assistance from your flight attendant available.
While family seating policies vary according to the airline, they all must comply with the official guide issued by the national Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that, at least in Britain, specifies seating of children close to their parents as every airline’s priority. Try to reserve seats away from the toilets, galleys and stowage, as building up queues, meal preparation and coffee machine might give you hard time putting baby to sleep.
“Travelling with your children might be worrying and tedious, but a well planned trip is much better at dealing with meltdowns, tantrums and flight disturbances that might cross your way. In short, we recommend getting familiar with airline’s parental policy and going over air passenger rights that are essential in case a flight gets disrupted. EU law defends each family member that has a seat,” says Marius Stonkus, the CEO of Skycop.