How to survive flying with kids (and maybe even enjoy it)September 28, 2017
Now I’ve flown solo several times with a toddler and a baby I feel qualified to offer some advice to any parents who might be worried about flying with kids. And believe me I was worried too! Very. I had a horrible, nagging feeling about it, like I used to get when I had homework to do, and didn’t know where to start.
Was it a barrel of laughs? Well, no, not really, but it wasn’t as anywhere nearly as bad as I thought, thanks to some advanced planning, helpful cabin crew, the kindness of strangers and some expert tips. I even found time to watch a film. I know. WINNING.
To help you on your next journey I picked the brains of Frankie Starling, Cabin Service Supervisor at Virgin Atlantic, who has helped countless families enjoy themselves at 30,000 feet. She says, “We have so many families travelling with us and we know how difficult it can be for parents trying to keep children entertained on what can be a long flight. We always try to make the journey as easy and enjoyable as possible for our customers including showing kids TV shows, serving children’s meals and handing out special kid packs to help give parents a little break on board”.
Here are her top tips for families travelling with Virgin Atlantic
- Forward food thinking: Ensure your little ones receive a children’s meal onboard by ordering one online 48 hours in advance. The meals offer food specifically designed to appeal to children, such as Pasta Bolognese with dinosaur pasta, yoghurt tubes, bags of fresh fruit and vegetables, mini Cheddars, raisins, and jam sandwiches.
- Goodies galore: We provide kids packs for all children that are collected when you board. The waterproof bag contains a child-sized eye mask printed with either star-shaped sunglasses, Kanye West’s style shutter shades, goggles or snorkels, warm socks with a trainer or sandal design, a rainbow pen and a Lonely Planet Travel Journal.
- You’re not alone! Speak to crew once onboard as they can provide all parents travelling with children with a plastic bag – we know they generate a lot of rubbish. They can also provide you with emergency essentials in the event you run out, such as nappies, jars of baby food, plastic spoons and straws.
- Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment: The airline has a superb selection of the latest child-friendly movies, a dedicated TV channel and games suitable for all ages.
- Surprise, Surprise: A top tip is to bring a couple of new toys/books onboard that can be wrapped and opened at pre-selected times.
- Sky high exercising: When it’s safe to do so, it’s fine for children to walk up and down the aircraft during the flight to stretch their little legs.
- Time to snooze: To make flights comfortable for your baby (and peaceful for you), Virgin Atlantic have specially designed in-flight cots which you can prebook free of charge. You can also bring your own child car seat to fit in your child’s seat as long as it meets safety standards.
- Children travelling alone: If your child is travelling without you, don’t worry, Virgin Atlantic offers a dedicated service for unaccompanied minors aged between 5 and 15.
And my top tips…
- Manage your expectations: Long gone are the days of catching up on all the movies with all the tiny wine, so don’t be disappointed when this doesn’t happen, and celebrate if you do get the chance to relax. Now it’s all about the kids, and if you’re prepared, it can be fun (who doesn’t love stickers and snacks?).
- Forget the rules: Sure they might be on a Gina Ford-style routine when at home, but up in the air things are different, so try not to stress about nap times and bedtimes. They might be overstimulated by the new surroundings, or be lulled to sleep by the white noise of the aircraft, so expect the unexpected.
- This goes for food too: If it’s going to keep them quiet, give it to them. Within reason. One reader told me she had great success by feeding her child lots of sugar then enjoying the inevitable crash that led to hours of sleep. A risky strategy! Knowing my luck she’d be bouncing off the walls…
- All the stickers: Kids are weird about stickers, and they can keep them occupied for AGES. Ditto moulding clay and play dough, though be prepared to get it in your hair/all over your trousers.
- Pack for disaster: You never know when a sickness bug will strike, there will be a poo-nami (technical term) or you will get covered in yoghurt/apple juice/snot, so pack extra clothes for everyone. Kids and adults. And a giant muslin to mop it all up. And all the wipes. No, more than you think.
- Backpack and baby carriers for the win: Keep hands free with a baby carrier for the little one (crucial for airports that don’t supply strollers at the other end) and a backpack for all your gear, rather than a tote-style bag. And get kids involved in packing their own bag (while hiding some surprises in your own to keep them busy during the flight).
- ASK FOR HELP! Seriously, it’s almost impossible to go to the loo if you’re flying alone with little ones (three of us squeezing into the cubicle then my toddler crying because the toilet was ‘scary’ was a low point for me) so befriend a crew member or kindly neighbour. It can make a huge difference. Don’t be shy. As we say in Newcastle, ‘shy bairns get nowt’ – in other words, if you don’t ask, you don’t get (to go to the loo).
DON’T FORGET! I’ve teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to offer my readers a huge 15% off flights to London, until the end of the year! Yes, that means Christmas in the UK for bargain prices, long weekends away and maybe a holiday to recover from the summer (I’ve checked online and with the code Christmas flights are currently AED3,260 return).
All you need to do is use the code PE001 when booking online at www.virginatlantic.com – just type it in the Show Advanced Options box – and you’ll get 15% off flights in any cabin class, including Premium Economy and Upper Class.
The code is valid until September 30, on travel until December 31, 2017. You can see all terms and conditions below.
- This discount (code PE100) entitles the promocode user to a 15% discount, on flights from DXB – LHR – DXB on our listed prices. All flights are subject to availability at the time of booking.
- This discount is only valid for return direct flights from Dubai to London Heathrow.
- This discount is applicable to fares for any cabin (inclusive of Economy, Premium Economy and Upper Class).
- This discount is applicable to the base fare only. Taxes and fees apply in addition.
- This discount is not valid for one-way tickets.
- This discount is valid for one booking only per user. Multiple ticket purchases are permitted under one booking.
- This discount is not valid for group fares (group fares are only applicable for nine passengers or more on one booking).
- This discount is not valid on codeshare routes.
- This discount may only be redeemed via the Virgin Atlantic website.
- This discount is only valid for flights booked by 30/09/2017. Outbound departure date must be no later than 31/12/2017.
- Return flight must be within 12 months of outbound flight.
- Open return is not permitted; reservations are required for all sectors at the time of booking.
- This discount is valid for Child and Infant fares. Children pay 75% and infants not occupying seats pay 10% of the net fares.
- All fares are inclusive of taxes and surcharges. Taxes and fees will not be subject to the 15% discount.
- Date changes, cancellations, refunds and no-show charges apply as per fare conditions at the time of booking.
- Passenger will be charged a name correction fee of USD 50 if the name is not exactly as per passport.
- Passengers must abide and be subject to Virgin Atlantic’s published terms and conditions of carriage, which are available from any Virgin Atlantic office and website.
- Virgin Atlantic reserves the right to change these terms and conditions and withdraw this offer at any time.
For further information or to book visit www.virginatlantic.com.