How to keep your kids (and every other passenger) happy on the plane

That amazing family vacation has been planned and you have all been counting the days until finally the moment of departure has arrived. Getting to the destination is the final hurdle but at the same time, it is often the one that is feared the most. Well, it’s about time we changed that! There are strategies that can help to keep the kids happy on the plane.

The fact that the flying-part is so dreaded by many parents, is not surprising. Traveling with kids creates a myriad of emotions on both sides:

On the parents’s side: Did we forget something? Have we respected the maximum luggage weight? Will the travel run smoothly? We are gonna get our reserved seats, right? Are the kids in a good mood? Will the accommodation meet our expectations?

On the kids’s side: ‘Oh, I’m so excited to fly! I don’t like to sit still! I’m freaking out! I’m so tired! Are we there yet?

It is crucial to control this wave of emotions and keep the peace. But how can you do this while facing a long-haul flight? The following tips will help you achieve this!

1. Book wisely

If your intercontinental flight consists of multiple legs, then choose the stopover wisely! Read all about it on the page Layover vs. stopover.

2. Reserve your seats well in time

Are your kids over 2 years of age then make sure to reserve the seats in advance through the airline’s website. The CosmopoliClan considers the SeatGuru website or free app essential! It allows you to search for the seatplan of every flight so you can make the best choice in seats. Are your preferred seats unavailable, then you can set an alarm on the free Seat Alerts app (click here for iOS and here forAndroid) in order to be notified if those seats will be released.

A seating row in a TAP airplane with CosmopoliClan's Jade being happy on the plane and smiling to the camera and dad reading an in-flight magazine3. Prepare the kids

Is it a first flight for them or has it been a while then we recommend you going through the basics so they know what to expect. YouTube can help you do so (we like the videos from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol such as this or this one) but there are also a bunch of apps out there that can do the trick (check out Tiny Airport from Smart Apps for Kids, available here for iOS and here for Android). Make it clear to them that some fellow-passengers might be tired and value their rest and that others might be cranky because of the lack of space. Then let the kids come up with some suggestions to keep it fun for all: some ground rules that they have thought of themselves will be remembered and followed up on so much easier.

Two CosmopoliClan's kids happy on the plane, looking at the camera, against the backdrop of a Tui plane wing and a bright blue sky

4. Bring your energy

Make sure that all your electronics are charged upon departure. When you plan on intensively using your tablet during a long-haul flight, then you’ll need to recharge it along the way. But how do you know if this is even possible o your specific flight? Well, it’s easier than you think: again the SeatGuru website or free app come in handy and then more specifically the comparison charts. If you can’t charge your electronics on the plane then look for an alternative. Another reason why you should make sure to charge your gear is security: some countries might require you to switch on your devices to make sure they’re genuine.

5. Arm yourself

The kids are looking forward to this amazing vacation and they are usually very excited when they can finally board the aircraft. They are ready but… are you? Because of the limited cabin space and the your dependence on the handluggage only, you better make sure to have prepared a clever entertainment strategy in place to keep everyone happy on the plane. Take into account what you can and cannot bring to avoid disappointments at the security check. CosmopoliClan's Jade being happy on the plane with her hands in the air while sitting up in a window seat

6. Let it go

If you seem uneasy during then your kids will too and trust me, that’s the last thing you want as a parent. Accept that you can’t control most aspects of the flight so undergo them with grace. Remember the minor things that you still do control, the most vital one being the general mood of your family. Consider this time aboard the plane as a chance to spend some quality time with the kids, without the usual distractions. And if things don’t go as planned then so be it. Remember that it could have been even worse. Think of a baby getting sick during landing, ‘treating’ you the one time you didn’t bring spare clothing, missing your connecting flight and spending 6 long hours in transit in your overpriced newly-purchased clothing and you will get what I mean. True story!

7. Wait for it… wait for it… and… happy on the plane

Before you know it, your kids will consider flying a routine. And then you might even get scenarios as these:

CosmopoliClan's Jade taking a nap on the plane, with her head on the pillow and covered with a blue blanket
CosmopoliClan's Alegra taking a nap on the plane, with her head against the airplane middle seat and covered with a blue and green striped blanket

If you have a flight coming up soon, don’t despair! These tips might help you to keep your kids happy on the plane. From now on, let the vacation start at the moment you close the door behind you. Of course lists like this are never finished so if you have some best practices to share then give us a shout in the comments below!

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