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Air travel, masks, 2y/o?

12 replies

Clarbar · 13/05/2021 15:40

Hi all. My daughter (2.5 y/o) and I are flying to the US in late May. We're both US citizens so allowed in, from the US perspective. And I do not consider this a leisure trip, so it's OK from the UK perspective. Really exciting but extremely nerve wracking.

There's lots to be anxious about, but I wonder if anyone can share their stories of flying with toddlers + mask wearing? It's airline policy (United Airlines) for anyone over two to wear a mask for the duration of the flight (and airport time, of course), which I absolutely understand and support, but I worry about the real-life application of this rule. As I know you all know, the UK is quite lax about young kids wearing masks, so my daughter has hardly ever worn one. So it will be a big adjustment for her to wear one for a very long day of travel and, potentially, in everyday situations in the US where there's a different expectation for kids. I've read horror stories of families being kicked off flights when toddlers do the normal toddler thing of refusing whatever it is you want/need them to do (wear a mask, in this case!). Again, I understand the need to be as safe as possible for all passengers, but - uuggghhh, just still so anxious.

We're going to really practice wearing a mask for extended periods between now and then, talk about it lots, look at pictures of kids travelling in masks, employ copious screen time in the moment, etc etc etc.

But I think it would do a lot to ease my fears if anyone could share stories/tips/whatever of air travel with masked toddlers, how supportive/realistic/strict you found airline staff to be, etc.

Thanks in advance!

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lakesidelife · 13/05/2021 15:53

If everyone has one on it should be easier for her to understand she needs to have one on too.

Mask wearing in the USA varies a lot between states. The state I'm in does have pretty strict mask wearing but other ones we've been in are much more casual.

The nursery dc here have no particular issues with mask wearing but they have been doing it for months.

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 13/05/2021 19:35

Will you have to quarantine on arrival into the US bearing in mind you’ve been in the UK till now?.

I would talk to her about the need for her to wear her seatbelt during the flight and particularly during both take off and landing. Take enough foodstuffs that she likes to eat for the flight and do not at all rely on them to provide.

I would like to correct you on one point you made.
Children under the age of 5 have not had to wear masks in the UK (they were officially made exempt) so it’s not at all about the UK being lax.

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 13/05/2021 19:40

Actually it’s boarder than this, children in the UK (England) under the age of 11 have not been required to wear a face mask.

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Clarbar · 13/05/2021 19:58

Thanks for your response @lakesidelife

@AttilaTheMeerkat CDC doesn't require fully vaccinated international arrivals to self quarantine on arrival, so no, I won't have to quarantine. And, yes, I'm aware that's the UK law. In relation to the US guidance from the CDC which says children over two should wear masks, wouldn't you say that the UK law is less restrictive/more relaxed? So I don't think I needed correcting, but cheers all the same.

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 13/05/2021 20:29

You stated that the UK is quite lax about young kids wearing masks, that is what I pulled you up on because that is not true. Anyway that’s all I have to say on that.

You would not have to arrive at the airport more than 3 hours prior to departure. What I was advised previously is that masks usually last about 4 hours so it would be adviseable to have a change of masks during the flight.

Some states e.g Florida and Texas have no such restrictions on travellers in terms of vaccination required etc but others like California do. Requirements are totally dependent on which state you are visiting.

I hope your visit goes well and I look forward to visiting the US when President Biden decides to lift the travel ban imposed in March 2020 by his predecessor.

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lakesidelife · 13/05/2021 21:12

If you are fully vaccinated you won't have to wear a mask in most outdoor situations now.
So it is unlikely that your dd would be expected to.
I might take a scan of your vaccination certificate on your phone when out and about.

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SpanielSprint · 14/05/2021 08:58

It’s true that the UK rules are less restrictive but you used the word lax, which implies a degree of negligence (ie rules are not being enforced) which is not the case. The UK just has different rules.

FWIW I think the expectation for a 2 year old to wear a mask throughout a long haul flight is ridiculous and basically discriminatory against anyone who has a very young child. Hope it goes ok for you.

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Clarbar · 15/05/2021 12:13

@SpanielSprint I can see how my choice of words came across as though I was insinuating negligence on the part of the public, but that really wasn't my intention at all. I very much appreciate and agree with the UK's rules re: children and masks, and have not had any experience with anyone being cavalier about masks. So my apologies for not being more careful with my wording.

And I think I owe you an apology @AttilaTheMeerkat - I have been so consumed in my anxiety over this travel, that when challenged a bit, I lashed out with a bit of a snarky reply. That's not at all fair to you, when you were only trying to make an important clarification and provide some helpful advice, so I am sorry

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AttilaTheMeerkat · 15/05/2021 14:11

Apology accepted, do not worry about it😀.

We do live in uncertain times and as a British citizen I still cannot visit the US, a country where I have made great memories.

Re United I would take along any foodstuffs that your daughter likes for the journey and do not rely on the airline to at all provide (a change of clothes may also be useful). I would consider using a stroller to take her through the airport, this can also be used on the jetway and left at the aircraft entrance. Tie something brightly coloured and inexpensive around the handle for easier identification.

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OlaMillions · 12/11/2021 13:56

It's been a while but how did the flight go? I am also contemplating taking a flight to the US with my 2.5yo but the thought of getting him to wear a mask makes me beyond anxious! Has anyone else done this recently? And if so, what airline and how strict/accommodating were they? I've read all the horror stories of families being kicked off flights because a toddler refused to wear a mask but I wonder how exaggerated they are?

Disclaimer: I totally understand the reasoning behind having everyone on a flight wear a mask and I am absolutely in favour of mask wearing in public and on public transport. If we do end up taking the flight I will absolutely try my hardest to make my child wear a mask but I think we all know that once a 2.5yo decided to do (or not do) something, they can be very hard to persuade otherwise. Having read several articles about this, one quote sticks in my mind in terms of mask wearing on flights, 'Treating a 2-year-old like a 30-year-old is foolish and unnatural'.

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Pl242 · 12/11/2021 22:57

I have only just realised that kids 2 plus are required to wear masks on flights to the USA. I’ve not been following as not relevant to us but now likely we will travel to the States next April with our children who will be 5 and (just) 3 at the time. I’m not criticising the policy but the mere thought of this is already making me very anxious! I’d be grateful to hear how the OP or anyone else got on in this situation. Ie. A young child, not used to wearing a mask at all in the U.K., getting on with wearing a mask on a long day of international travel.

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Fallagain · 13/11/2021 19:31

@AttilaTheMeerkat

Actually it’s boarder than this, children in the UK (England) under the age of 11 have not been required to wear a face mask.

Over 5s have to wear one in walk in test sites. The UK says children under the age of 3 should never wear a mask due to safety concerns.
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