How to take the stress out of flying with children

Mother and baby at the airport
Credit: iStock

Hitting the airport with your little ones this summer? Skyscanner rounds up their top tips for ensuring baby’s first flight goes without a hitch…

Understand the charges and regulations for each airline

If you’ve ever looked into flying with babies, you’ll know that there are so many variations in the charges and regulations involved with taking your baby on a flight. Different airlines have different rules, and while some charge for one thing, with others, it’s free. Check out the table below, which explains all of the variations parents need to be aware of when flying with babies.

Ryanair £25 one-way 1 stroller or pushchair + 1 car seat, booster seat or travel cot Children over 2 years must occupy their own seat. Full adult fare. No
British Airways Around 10% of adult fare 1 pushchair, 1 car seat, 1 hold luggage (allowance included in adult weight allowance) Additional seats can be booked for infants of 6 to 23 months. Cost varies depending on route. Yes
easyJet £22 one-way 2 of the following items are included for free: pushchair, baby buggy, travel cot, carrier, car seat, booster seat. Children over 2 years must occupy their own seat. Full adult fare. Yes
Emirates 10% of adult fare 2 of the following items are included for free: 1 pushchair, 1 carrier or car seat, plus 10kg of hold luggage Children over 2 years must occupy their own seat. 75% of adult fare. Yes


Plan, and plan some more

Blogger Vicki from online parenting magazine Honest Mum‘s top tip for flying with kids is be prepared-over-prepared.

Vicki says, “You can never have too many wet wipes and snacks! Fill your bag with snacks, games, playing cards, a portable DVD player in case the aircraft doesn’t have one and make sure you buy water once you’re through check in.”

“I always take extra clothes and medicine, you never know when your kids might get a temperature or feel unwell.”

Wet wipes and pull-ups

Cathy from says: “Pack some spare clothes for them and for you – even now my daughter is potty trained, I’ve kept some emergency pull-ups.”

READ MORE: 5 sleep tips for travelling with toddlers

“Plus, you can never have too many wet wipes! That way if there are delays or you’re in a plane that’s stuck on the runway for ages, you won’t be panicking…or spending a whole flight smelling less than fresh after an accident or unexpected illness.”

“You almost certainly won’t need it but it makes me feel much more relaxed, and I think my daughter picks up on that too. That way flights are an exciting adventure, not a potential nightmare scenario.”

Keep it simple

A game can keep kids occupied and make the journey fly by – but you don’t want to be carrying lots of equipment to make it work, so keep it simple. Easy games like I-Spy are the best.

Get a backpack for hand luggage

Gretta from says: “My kids are teenagers now, but my top tip for flying with younger children is to have a backpack as hand luggage so that you have both hands free. That makes it easier for you to carry your child, or hold their hand, or push a buggy, or show your passports or whatever else you need to do at the airport.”

Hold your baby up high

This one doesn’t work for everyone, but some parents have found that holding their baby above their head makes them stop crying. No scientific reason we can think of for this one working but if it does the trick… not one to do during take-off though!

Pack each child a ‘plane bag’

Katie from says: “Pack them a plane bag – We have three young children and my girls have amassed many flights between them at a young age.

“We always pack a plane bag for them, we don’t let them see if before we get on the flight and in it are cheap pocket money toys to keep them entertained.”

Family at the airport
Credit: iStock

“Things you can buy in supermarkets and that only cost a couple of pounds each, like crayons, colouring books, little sets of Lego they can build and of course sweets in case all else fails! They love it and get excited to open them as soon as we are up in the air.”

Check in early

If you’re flying with the family or holidaying with your extended kin, you’ll be struggling to all sit together if you leave it late to check in. So do this online as soon as check-in it opens.

Pre-order your baby milk

If you bottle feed, you might be unsure about what you’re allowed to take. Will you have to taste it at security? How much are you allowed and will it be enough? Save yourself the hassle by pre-ordering your milk from Boots and collecting from a store in the airports departures. Find out here which airports are available.

Be a slave to the (circadian) rhythm

If possible, choose a flight time that corresponds to your child’s sleeping pattern. If they’re shattered and it’s bedtime back home, you might just find they’ll drop off.

Consider travelling with an iPad or tablet

Travel blogger Monica from says: “Most parents start off with good intentions when it comes to screen time for their little ones but you’re definitely allowed to let your standards slip during a flight!”

READ MORE: Top tips for travelling with children

“Load your tablet with games, songs, TV shows and Disney films to keep them entertained for as long as possible. Even tiny babies can be distracted for 10 minutes by a cartoon with a catchy song and it can be just long enough to enjoy your in-flight meal or avoid a tantrum.”

“Also, invest in some kiddie headphones so you don’t annoy your fellow passengers with those catchy Disney songs.”

Keep them comfortable

An impractically-dressed child is an unhappy child, so get them fixed up in soft, roomy clothing that you can easily take on and off as the plane’s air conditioning demands – pyjamas are probably your best option. It’s worth taking a pillow, too, so they can snuggle up in the window seat against the wall and drift off.

Remember the wonder of flying

Remember that your little ones don’t associate budget airlines with baggage restrictions and commuting for business – and they’re probably quite excited about going up in the sky, so you should be too. To them, flying is still wondrous, so point out the small houses, the clouds, the setting sun. And if you’re desperate, get them to count how many passengers are on the flight. We kid you not, this has been known to work a treat!

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