Flying With Kids: Things to Know Before You Board That Flight

Flying with Kids - Airport

When it comes to flying, I don’t think I can consider myself a flight expert. But with a few international flights with kids under my belt, I think I have learned a few things or two over the years. As we plan a Summer trip to Thailand with our kids, I start to collect information and start planning. One of the first thing is to secure a ticket to fly back from the land of the free to the land of smiles.

Getting Cheap Tickets

There is a great article from Frugal Traveler on booking a flight the frugal way. What a perfect timing! So this post won’t be talking about how to score the cheap flight to Bangkok. Because quite frankly, I just use the Thai travel agent. I think they have provided the best price.

Things To Know Before Flying with Kids

Getting tickets is just the beginning of your trip. It’s something that I used to think that I can now relax and plan my itinerary on my destination and get to the airport with plenty of time to board my flight.

Oh.. How wrong was I!

There are a few things you must do before (way before) you trip to help ensure that you will have a smooth flight.

1. Sign up for that reservation notification – Flights DO change!

Once you have booked your tickets and received your reservation, go ahead and give them your information (email or phone) so they can contact you if there is any changes in your schedule. Trust me, you will want them to contact you. Or make it a schedule to check your reservation every other weeks to see if there is anything changes.

My recent trip to San Diego I didn’t know about the schedule change till it was closer to our departure date. By that time, I was too late to be able to assigned seats for us to sit together. I forked up a few more bucks for extra legroom so that at least one of us will sit with our kids.

And I just got off the phone with Delta to book myself and my kids on a new flight back from Narita to Atlanta. Why? Because the flight from Bangkok to Narita has new schedule and I will only have less than an hour for the connecting flight. Luckily, I received notification way before my travel date that we are able to get booked on the new flight and get a good pick of good seats.

Flying with Kids - Airplane

2. Find the best seat and get it assigned

If you plan ahead and book your flight early, your chance of getting your seats together with your family and your kids is high. So don’t wait until the last minute. Go online and pull up your reservation to get the best seat you can get.

I typically use Seat Guru or Seat Expert to check out for the best seat. I have to say it doesn’t give much of the ‘Best’ seat but it will give you enough information to make a good decision.

I didn’t know before checking their sites that on one of my flight half of the economy class will be equip with power outlet. Traveling with kids in this digital age, power outlet is like pure gold. So I wouldn’t have known that with our economy class ticket we will get the privilege to have such amenity!!! Needless to say, I go ahead and get our seat in the front section to secure myself a seat with outlet. Now, if I know how to find it on the plane.

3. Online check-in but double check your gate at the airport

With the airlines charge you from checking your bag to checking in at the counter, it’s probably one of a must do before you leave your house heading to the airport. Checking in online will not only save time but money when you fly with your kids. You don’t have to wait at the counter and can proceed directly to the gate.

But one travel tip based on my own mistake is to double check your gate at the airport before you start marching down the walkway. We did that before.. Trusting in the accuracy of the boarding pass in my hand, we headed to the wrong gate. Luckily, the new gate wasn’t too far from the original one.

However, when we travel internationally I still need to check in at the counter. Since we will be checking in our luggage.

4. Find Things to Do at Your Airport Beforehand

There is no doubt that half of your travel time will be spending at the airport. And if you have bad luck like us you might get stuck at the airport for longer than you want.

So before you head out, do a little research to check out if your airport for your connecting flight or your departure flight has any family-friendly facility. There are several resources that compile an extensive list of children play area in the airport in the US and major international cities. The most comprehensive one that I have found is the Kid Airport Diversion guide from Cheapflights. But make sure to double check with the airport website for more update information.

About Amy Querido

Amy is the owner & author of The Q Family Adventures Travel blog, family blog chronicles her family trips, tips and tricks. She hopes to inspire family to travel with kids one adventure at a time. Connect with Amy on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. I agree with those items & would like to add another. Having two small children of my own, we travel every year to costa rica and I have learned to purchase a drink for each of them after we go thru security & before we board the plane. They always seem to be thirsty & not willing to wait for the flight attendants drink cart.

  2. Great advice all around. I just learned about a cool avaition guide that might be fun to look at on the plane called “plane spotter”, which tells you facts like the difference between a DC-10 and 747, etc. Also, an open-invitation exists for you if the kids want to try out a My Busy Kit for in-flight activities. Take a peek at http://www.mybusykit.com/products and I’ll sport you. Thanks!

    • Hi Lorraine,

      That’s a great activities and certainly will help cure the problem if we get stuck at the airport. :) I will send you an email about it. I certainly would love to check out your busy kits. They look like a great companion for family travel!

  3. As kids get older, having fully charged electronics is key. It is amazing how often I find that I haven’t charged my phone or computer and end up in a pickle …

    • Hi Amie,

      Very good point. I also try to use Seatguru to find the seat the has power outlet. Not all economy class has that and not all airplanes have that. So it’s best to be prepared with fully charge battery. :)

  4. These are great tips!
    We also love traveling (domestic) with Jet Blue. Their seats are more roomy, and they have individual TV’s that work out great for our daughter.

  5. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the
    head. The problem is something that too few people are speaking intelligently about.
    I’m very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something relating to this.

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