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Toddlers and Long Haul flights......

21 replies

LadyP · 07/03/2004 11:44 they really mix?

Am currently trying to convince DH that it would be nice to have a long-haul hoilday to the US this year, but he is not keen as DS is 2.5 and he has visions of mega-tantrums and embarrassing struggles to try and stop him running up and down the aisles.

So, I'm trying to arm myself with as much ammo as possible to back up my claim that all will be fine.

Any tips would be very grateful or tried and tested methods of keeping toddlers entertained for at least 7 hours

OP posts:
batey · 07/03/2004 11:52

Depends who you fly with IMO, We've only done Virgin with long haul and kids 'cos they seem able to cope with kids on board. They get good goodie bag/rucksacks, can pre-book kids meals, have kids T.V. channel, etc. My dd1 was just 3 last time we did long haul. we're off again soon, dd1-6 and dd2 almost 4 and going with Virgin again. dd1 was fine for most of the 13hr flight, dd2 was HARD work but was only10ms old. HTH.

bloss · 07/03/2004 12:08

Message withdrawn

august24 · 07/03/2004 12:39

I fly regularly back to the states, and even though my almost 3 year old is pretty hard to deal with off of an airplane, she is quite good on them! I agree about going on a plane that has individual t.v.s and gives goodie bags to kids(BA does them too) Also have a bag full of goodies that your son either has not had before or has forgotten(marking pens, sticker books, small books, small toys, candy, juice etc etc) I have done flights in the morning and in the night, and I find that my daughter sleeps on both types of flights. One thing that may help you all is to get two seats together and then on far away, so you and your husband can take turns with your son, and also be able to have a break. Or else book the bulkhead and make a playspace/nap place on the floor. HTH

zebra · 07/03/2004 12:54

We let our kids run up and down the aisles. At least, while the flight attendents aren't serving or such. It's better than trying to keep the cooped up; it's not like they bother anybody. People will smile at you, you'll have an excuse to chat, everyone will be bored stiff and glad for a little non-invasive distraction like watching toddlers explore the world.

I've flown to California & back 3x with 1-2 toddlers... My tips? Bring plenty of snacks (fruit is good, although you won't be able to bring it into USA). Spare clothes, esp. pants & trousers; somebody will make a mess on or in them. Also, Normally I keep electronic toys packed away in the house, but bring them out for special occasions like long haul flights. We book direct with BA when we go which is (I think) A) as cheap as we have ever found, and B) means you have your seats as soon as you buy the tickets.

GillW · 07/03/2004 17:00

We regularly do the trip to the West Coast of Canada - and by getting a late afternoon (UK time) flight out, and an evening (Canadian time) flight back Ds just stays awake until he's had time to get bored of watching what's going on - usually only about an hour, and then sleeps until we're almost at the other end. And he isn't usually a good sleepter. Really it's not as bad as you think - the hum of the engines seems to make them drop off really easily - perhaps I could get a tape of it and use it at home...

suedonim · 08/03/2004 00:25

We've done a fair number of longhaul flights in the past couple of years and tbh, it's amazing how well behaved children are (excluding the Baby From Hell on an internal US flight last August!). I wouldn't worry too much about it, LadyP, as long as you take some entertainemnt and food etc. Go and book those tickets now!

Friends who flew to the US last year were quite perturbed to find they were seated behind toddler triplets but apparently all three were little angels. Only one child even got out of his car seat, the entire journey. The worst bit was that one filled his nappy just as the plane began its descent and so he couldn't be changed immediately. The air was a trifle fruity as they came in to land!

hana · 08/03/2004 08:47

I echo what everyone else has said - go and book your tickets! I have just returned from a trip to the east coast of Canada (8 hours) with my dd who is nearly 2.6 Lots of treats and suprises in her little luggage trolly kept her amused, and the cabin staff are always great. There are usually other little people on the flight as well, so that works as a great distraction. She loved playing with the headphones, also had a couple of new books, playdough, stickers etc. I've been flying with dd since she was a baby on this route and it has been getting easier ( she gets her own seat now) Lots of luck if you decide to go!

Metrobaby · 08/03/2004 09:03

LadyP LOL - Go for it. You know our dd and what a bundle of hyper activity she is and we flew to the carribean last year when she just turned 3yrs. I second Virgin being a good airline for kids. We took a few toys and books too to keep her occupied and it helped that our flight wasn't fully booked so anyone sitting near us who didn't want a noisy toddler simply moved away.

Hulababy · 08/03/2004 09:12

LadyP - go for it and give it a go. We are taking DD to Florida next summer when she will be 2years and 4 months. It's about 10 hours on the flight. I am planning on arming myself with a bag of entertainment for her - books, crayons, toys, snack, etc. And I will allow her to get up and have walks up and down the plane too. Your DS may well be fascinated by having his own seat, looking at the sea out of the window, spotting other airplanes in the sky, having his meals, and having a nap, etc.

We are planning next Easter on a 23 hour flight to Australia when DD will be just 3. Hopefully this summer's flight won't make us want to cancel that idea

GillW · 08/03/2004 10:54

One other thing - there WILL be someone who complains vociferously about you having a toddler on a flight. There almost always is. Ignore it. The cabin staff told us that it's a common ploy to try to get upgraded, and they are well aware of it and don't fall for it. If anything they will move you to a better place, rather than moving the person who complains. They also kept slipping us extra chocolates, offered spirits after dinner, and gave the chap who had to sit next to the complainer Champagne "for the inconvenience".

zebra · 08/03/2004 11:07

I've never had anyone complain about my tots... The worst was coming back from CA once 14 month old wanted to run around just after the movie finished, and it was a bit crowded by the Lavs. I got a few "Looks", but that's the worst I've had, in 6 transatlantic flights. I am better sussed now about when to let them go walk-about and when to keep them seated.

SHIREENSMOM · 08/03/2004 11:16

im takind dd to florida not next year the year after she will be 4.5 im waitting that long bacause she is so hypo but i think she will be ok ( ive never been on a long flight)

ive heard that virgin are the best my aunt took her 4 kids ages 1+ on a long 10 hour flights ans she said they were fine good luck

Quackers · 08/03/2004 12:03

In my experience the best behaved passengers were the kids!!! It was the business men that were the worst! Tots are happy to sit and colour, play games, watch videos etc. They never ran up and down the plane. The best kiddies were those that had their own little bags with toys and sweets, drinks to supplement those that we give out on board. I never have probs taking my own DD on a plane either. I suppose it's all in the preparation! Go for it!!!

LadyP · 08/03/2004 18:35

Thanks for all the responses.

As Metrobaby already knows, DH will not give in this year (we are off to a luxury cottage holiday to France instead with some fab friends).

However, he has agreed to go to Orlando in April 2005 with said friends who will have 2 kids by then!

With our DS, that should make merry travelling for 10 hours

Thanks again and in April I shall book Virgin by MN recommendation

OP posts:
catinthehat · 10/03/2004 13:14

Zebra - what did you mean by "I am better sussed now about when to let them go walk-about and when to keep them seated." Can you give a bit more detail please? (I want to avoid "looks" IYKWIM)

hatter · 11/03/2004 13:21

In the nearly four years since having kids we've flown to Australia,(with a twenty-month old, while I was 6 months pregnant!) the US twice, South Africa, Zimbabwe and numerous flights to Europe, and I don't regret a single one of them. Be prepared with colouring, small (and preferably a couple of new) toys, and snacks and treats. Best amusements for ours have been dolls with clothes to dress and undress, put to bed, feed etc, and mini drawing pads - little plastic things with a little sort of screen that you write on using a magnetic pen and then rub out and start again - about £2 from ELC. You can't possibly expect to constrain a kid in their seat for that sort of length of time - as long as its safe (ie no turbulence, trolleys out the way) let them run - it will keep them happy, they will make friends with other passengers and if you get any "looks" or complaints point out that you could, if they prefer, constrain the kid and subject the complainer (and the rest of the plane) to the consequent screaming. Go easy on the sugary treats: they send ours hyper which is not what you want...

Tartegnin · 16/03/2004 12:41

A few more tips from a seasoned long-hauler:

think about bringing a car seat which is flight approved - kids are used to being buckeld up in them and don't seem to complain as much as a seat buckle - plus extra height and head support are more comfy - make sure it will fit in the seat, though - any anyway, you'll need it if you're driving at all in the US, as all states, I think, require children in car seats

take a change of clothes not just for your toddler, but for you/DH too, as messes have a way of getting all over ... nothing worse than sitting for hours in an apple-juice soaked tshirt (yes, am speaking from experience!)

bring LOTS of little toy suprises and wrap them in tissue or wrapping paper (unwrapping is half the fun!) - about one per hour is our rule - they can be super cheap things, but best not to have too many parts. We usually go for Mr Men books, crayons/paper, small Playmobil set, little toy cars, tea set and the like.

think of what special snacks might really be a good treat - our daughter, for example, loves having "brown bubbles" which is essentially 2/3 fizzy water and 1/3 Coke - not very healthy, I know, but a rare treat and definitely incentive to behave - also, gummy bears. I would bring lots of snack food and water/juice, since kids meals are not reliable (sometimes not loaded, even when ordered, and other times, full of junk food) and anyway, not always served when needed. Healthy snacks plus treats are a good combo.

Depending on where your son is on toilet training, I would consider packing a couple of pull ups or similar, just in case. Even when our daughter was pretty reliably toilet trained, we had to throw her into a pull-up one bumpy flight where she really tried to wait for a bathroom visit, but we weren't able to leave our seats due to tubulence. We put her in a pull up right there at the seat and even then had to convince her it was ok to have a pee ... it really saved us, though!

Space permitting, bring a full size pillow and a nice fleecy blanket - really helps tuck them in and encourage sleeping - especially on the return overnight flight.

If you have one, or can borrow on, a portable DVD player and some cartoons would be VERY VERY good - look into whether you can plug it into the seat, though, otherwise, battery life is only a few hours. Some airlines, like Continental, have a family channel on the flight entertainment system, which is almost all cartoons, anyway, so look into that on the airline website.

Happy flying!

Tartegnin · 16/03/2004 12:45

Oops - forgot another important one: running up and down the aisles is not a good idea - too much happening and too many chances of misunderstandings with crew/passengers. We do walk up and down with her, though, to check things out and have a periodic pee. Most important tip, though is to really let loose in the airport before boarding. We try to find a quieter part of the concourse - not just by the gate where everyone is waiting to board, but maybe by a gate with no flight about to leave, and we encourage her to play tag or climb up and down and over seats and the like. The more physically active she is before the flight, the happier she is to settle into her seat with some toys and snacks for a while.

zebra · 16/03/2004 13:29

Oh well, guess I'm the only one who let's them run up and down! I find that preferable to listening to them scream...
CatInTheHat: Times I keep them in their seats. During take-off, of course. Right after takeoff & right before landing the staff are moving around doing things. While the staff are serving. And Right before and after the movies are on the toilets get crowded -- unless my tots need the toilets, too.

catinthehat · 18/03/2004 22:36

thanks Zebra

susanmt · 20/03/2004 22:44

We took ours on a 11 hour flight to Vancouber last summer aged 3.5 and 1.5, and I was 5 months pregnant. I'm afraid we resorted to drugging them with an antihisthamine when they wouldn't sleep! It did help and they got a good sleep which made things easier at the other end (both ways!!!)
Sticker books, tapes and walkmans, leap-pad with headphones, plenty of the food they will eat and more nappies than you think you will need (like our flight out was delayed 7 hours!!)
I took their grobags as they were used to sleeping in them and that helped.
Someone to help when you arrive (if you can - we were travelling to visit family) - so you can catch up on your sleep and get over jetlag even if they are totally out of synch!

Go for it - we had a fab time and dd1 keeps askign when we are going back to Canada!

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