Flying with Children: How to Navigate Air Pockets and Ensure Safety

May 23, 2024

Following the Singapore Airlines turbulence incident at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, it's crucial to ensure a smooth travel experience for your children, particularly during flight incidents like air pockets. This not only alleviates parental stress but also guarantees the safety and comfort of your little ones. Today, we're sharing indispensable family travel tips for flying with your kids and how to navigate air travel confidently, keeping flight safety in mind.

Preparing Your Child for the Flight

Choosing the Right Flight Time

When preparing for air travel with your child, scheduling a flight during their nap time can greatly enhance the chances of a peaceful journey. A nap-time flight means your child is more likely to slumber through, easing the experience for both of you. On the flip side, if your child bubbles with excitement about flying, opting for a time when they're fully awake might help avoid any fatigue, making family travel smoother.

Importance of Selecting the Right Seat

Ensuring your child's safety during the flight starts with selecting the right seat. If you're bringing a child car seat, it's best to install it in a window seat to keep the aisle clear in emergencies. Opting for seats over the wings can also be a wise choice, as turbulence tends to be less pronounced in these areas. Moreover, seating arrangements like infant seats, bassinet seats, or child harnesses can enhance flight safety, ensuring a secure environment for your little one.

Discuss What to Expect on the Day

Discussing what to expect during the flight, including potential clear-air turbulence and changes in air pressure, can help prepare your child. For older kids, explaining why their ears might feel uncomfortable and how to alleviate it is crucial. For the younger ones, maintaining a positive and calm demeanor can encourage them to stay relaxed. Engaging them in activities like drawing or offering snacks to chew can also help mitigate any discomfort, ensuring flight safety.

Navigating the Airport and Security With Ease

Utilizing Family-friendly Airport Services

To streamline the airport experience for both parents and children, many airports offer specialized family travel assistance, such as priority boarding and dedicated family lanes at security checkpoints. Additionally, services like stroller rental can significantly ease navigation through the terminal, adhering to stroller requirements and enhancing the overall travel experience.

Keeping Kids Engaged and Calm during Wait Times

Keeping kids engaged at airports is vital, as they can easily become overwhelmed. Packing their travel activity bags with small toys, puzzles, and coloring books can keep them entertained during long waits. Engaging in fun and educational airport scavenger hunts is another way to occupy your children, making family travel more enjoyable and less stressful.

Tips for a Stress-free Security Screening Process

Make sure you are aware of the airport policies and prepare appropriately to ensure a seamless security check. Take advantage of TSA PreCheck if at all possible, as it allows families to bypass lengthy lineups and streamlines the procedure by not requiring you to remove your shoes, belts, or lightweight jackets. To ensure your children are ready and to reduce fear, it's also crucial to explain the security process to them in advance and avoid rushing which can make everyone feel more stressed, always allow additional time for unanticipated delays.

In-Flight Strategies for Comfort and Safety

Handling the Turbulence or Air Pocket Incidents

Especially during turbulence, it's crucial to ensure that everyone, including children, is properly seated with their seat belts securely fastened. Engaging in soothing activities like playing games, watching movies, or storytelling can distract and calm your children, drawing their attention away from the turbulence. Using soothing language to reassure them that turbulence is akin to road bumps and will pass, and checking on them post-turbulence, can help maintain flight safety and comfort.

Dealing with Air Pressure Changes

To assist in balancing ear pressure and minimizing discomfort during climb and descent, encourage your child to swallow or yawn. For babies, sucking on a bottle or pacifier can facilitate this process. If ear discomfort is a significant concern, considering a nasal decongestant about 20 minutes before takeoff or descent can offer relief, ensuring a safer and more comfortable flight experience.

Entertainment Options and Managing Screen Time

To keep your child engaged, mix up their in-flight entertainment with both digital and non-digital options. Alongside bringing books, coloring supplies, and small toys, ensure your tablet is loaded with their favorite movies and games. It's wise to limit screen time to help maintain your child's sleep routine, especially on night flights, ensuring they stay rested and happy.

Dealing with Jet Lag in Children

Dressing kids in pajamas and providing them with home blankets or travel pillows can create a cozy sleeping environment onboard. Consider using an eye mask or window shades to block out light. For babies, encouraging sleep might involve holding them or using a baby carrier. Upon boarding, adjust your child's routine to the new time zone right away, utilizing natural light to help reset their internal clock. Aligning meal times with the destination's local time, including infant and child meals, can also help mitigate jet lag, making family travel smoother and more enjoyable.

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