How to survive flying with other people’s kids

How to survive flying with other people’s kids

A recent survey by airfarewatchdog found that 85% of people would like to see a separate section on planes for people travelling with their kids. While that's both unrealistic and a little selfish, screaming young 'uns can add to what's already a stressful experience for many people. Here's some suggestions for how to survive the experience, drawing on some ideas from airfarewatchdog.Bring your iPod and a good set of headphones. With your favourite podcast (or perhaps a solid dose of AC/DC) and a pair of earphones that also incorporate noise cancelling technology, you'll be able to block out external distractions. Of course, that won't help during take-off and landing, which is a no-electronics zone, but it's a start.
Choose the right seat. If you hate getting kicked in the back by an overexcited child, try and get seated in the first exit row in the middle of the plane. On a plane with two exit rows in the centre (which covers pretty much every Jetstar and Virgin Blue plane), you're guaranteed not to have a child behind you, since kids can't sit in exit rows. Even in planes with a single exit row, you won't have any next to you. (On Virgin, you will probably have to pay extra for the option though.)
Choose the right time. While it's not a foolproof rule, very few parents have the energy or time to catch a 6am flight, so aim for that. In many cases, you'll also save money on the fares.
Talk to the guardian. Some parents are so zoned by the experience of flying with children (or of parenthood generally) that they really don't realise their brats are acting up, so have a polite word with them and the situation could calm down. Be realistic, though: there's not much a mum can do with a 10-month old whose ears have popped.
Any other tactics for surviving a flight packed with children? Share them in the comments.


  • Lumping children together in one small section isn’t the solution.

    Of course, if I’m travelling and there’s a fractious child nearby there’s a part of me that’s going to wish they were further away. BUT I never wish for the child to be lumped in a group with a whole bunch of other [potentially or actually] fractious children and babies. That just compounds the problem for everybody, including the children and parents as well as those nearby – and let’s be honest, on a plane someone is always going to be nearby.

    That segregation approach is particularly challenging for parents of well-behaved older children (8 to 13 range). One of my relatives was once automatically relegated to a child section on check-in because she had a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old with her. They’re well-behaved, quiet kids and experienced travellers. They wouldn’t have caused anyone any grief. Instead they had to endure 4 hours up the back of the plane right near three or four babies, who managed to set each other off with their crying. They had a miserable time and they didn’t deserve that.

    I believe in the divide and conquer rule. Unrelated children, especially if under 5, should be seated a minimum distance AWAY from each other, so that parents only have to worry about the behaviour of their own children and so they can have a fighting chance of achieving the nirvana of a settled baby.

  • I spent 12 hours from Frankfurt -> Bangkok with a lady with a crying baby. I was seated in the row in front of the exit area, so the lady thought, instead of waking my family, I will move to the area at the exit row and hold my crying kid here, every 20 minutes, so no sleep this time.
    2 hours later I boarded a plane from Bangkok -> Brisbane (14 hours with a Sydney stopover) and some delightful parents (2x couples, 6 kids) thought they would let their kids 5 and under SCREAM and climb over chairs the whole way. A poor other lady was stuck on the end row of the kids and they carried on, so no sleep again. And a Dad thought he would bounce his toddler son on his knee until the child SCREAMED with delight. All well and good at home but on a full planeload, not so good. No earphones could have helped drain out those terrors. I am all for family zones on planes

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