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How to Survive Flight Delays with Kids

Posted by Maria Inês Pinto on 20/09/2014
How to Survive Flight Delays with Kids

Travelling as a family is fun and definitely rewarding, but it requires extensive planning. And the funny part is, no matter how much you plan, you will always come across unexpected twists of events that will throw all those plans out the window. But that’s part of the fun, right?

Of course, but in many cases it’s nice to come prepared. One thing that can easily be foreseen is flight delays. They occur often and can range anywhere from 30 minute to 6 hour delays. So if you’re going on holiday with your little ones soon, check out some of these tips to make sure you’re ready to handle a delay.

Before leaving for the airport, there are a couple of things you can do to be prepared for flight delays:

1. Monitor the weather a few days before you leave. This is particularly important if you’re travelling from or to a snowy destination in winter or a stormy place during tropical rain seasons. It will be easy to predict if your flight will be affected if extreme weather conditions occur.

2.  Start checking the status of your flight before you leave the house. There are plenty of phone apps that will enable you to check if your flight is on time or if a delay is expected. In case you’re not the most tech-savvy person though, calling your airline a few hours before you’re planning to leave the house will do the trick as well. There is no point in leaving your house earlier if your flight has already missed its schedule and will be delayed a couple of hours.

If you only find out your flight has been delayed once you’re at the airport, make sure to follow these tips:

1.  Be informed about how many hours of delay are expected and if that will affect your connecting flights, if you have booked any. Look for other flight options or reroute if appropriate.

2.  Make sure to pack baby formula and food in your carry-on to feed your little ones if the delay is long. If your children are older, head to a snack bar or gift shop and look for healthy options so they won’t get hungry. Resist the urge to feed them sweets as that will only make them jumpier later on.

3.  Allow your kids to engage in quiet play amongst themselves or with each other. If you’ve packed books, toys or portable movie players in your carry-on, this is a great time to bring them out.

4.  Ask for help, if needed. Flight attendants and airport staff will be more than happy to assist you in finding the nearest shops, restaurants and toilets if you ask.

5.  If your flight is expected to delay many hours, consider getting a room at the airport hotel. Sometimes, having a private place to play and rest can ease the kids’ anxiety (and your own too!) about the delay.

In the case that you only find out your flight has been delayed once you’re already seated on the airplane, there are still a few things you can do to make sure you can survive your flight delay with kids:

1.  Make sure to always have some snacks on you. Granola bars, crackers, bananas, water, and apples are all great ideas for treats you can bring on your carry-on. And they’ll be life savers if you’re stuck on the plane too long.

2.  If the plane door hasn’t been closed yet and your children are getting antsy, ask the flight attendants if you can bring your children outside to the jetway. Flight attendants don’t like crying children either so it’s more likely than not that they will be understanding. Walk up and down the aisle with them or simply let your little ones play with their toys on the floor while you wait for the plane to be ready for take-off.

Flight delays are a nuisance but the most important thing when dealing with delays when you’re travelling with kids is to keep your attitude in check. Children will pick up on your frustration or anxiety so make sure to keep a positive attitude so that your little ones are happy while they wait.