I was reading Christopher Elliott’s travel related blog and came across this post about a family that was asked to get off an AirTrans flight after a child refused to calm down. I can understand being asked to get off a flight if a child won’t calm down, purely from a safety point of view but the thing that alarmed me was some of the reactions of other readers suggesting that parents shouldn’t travel with their children.
I’m disgusted with that attitude. Travelling with children can be hard and most parents don’t do it unless they have to, especially over long distances but our world is changing and families are distributed all over the country, and indeed all over the world.
An understanding attitude can help a lot, when I end up down the back of a plane with the families (for some reasons families seem to end up down the back of the plane on flights in Australia) I try to exchange an understanding smile with the parents. I like to think that this helps put the parent at ease so they can focus more on their kids and less on what people around them are thinking.
Nicola and I have travelled with Bella a few times, although Nicola more than myself. In fact when Bella was about four weeks old we flew from Melbourne to Brisbane. She was perfectly behaved but if she decided to scream the whole way there wouldn’t have been much that we could do about it. Anyway, after observing the steps that Nic takes before taking Bella on a plane I offer these tips:
- Pack a bag; if you travel with kids you know how much stuff there is to take with you, but take the time to pack a bag full of stuff that is 100% for the child – even better, get the child to pack it. Be sure to include things that can be done on the plane like sticker books and colouring in pencils, and little snacks.
- Build the trip up; get kids excited about going on the plane and talk about the things that will happen once they get on board including putting on seat belts and pushing back from the gate and take off. If there is a logical sequence of events the kids are more likely to want to put their seat belt on so that they can get to the push back and take off bit.
- Set the rules in advance; don’t make the rules up on the spot. Talk about what is expected of them on the plane including listening what the flight host/hostess wants and doing it. Make it clear that even Mummy and Daddy don’t have any choice in that. In fact if you do it right your kids might actually be telling you to sit down and buckle in
- Make flying fun; one thing that seemed to work really well with Bella is talking about the bumps of turbulence and landing – now maybe she is just a thrill seeker but we role-played her on our knees. It makes it easier that flying into Canberra is a bumpy ride.
I’m no expert but this stuff seems to work.