Monday, May 18, 2015

5 Simple Ways Airlines Could Make Flying with Small Children Easier

Pretty impressive, huh? One hour of bliss
and then one jerked in his sleep and knocked
the tray table. It was great while it lasted.
Dear Airlines,

Traveling with a lap baby is difficult. Traveling with a lap baby and two kids under 5 is like child boot camp. Your kids are expected to be quiet, stay in their seats, eat off little tray tables without knocking anything on the floor, sleep during the day, eat in the middle of the night, and go to tiny bathrooms where they are not allowed to touch anything. I just finished a 30 hour flight from New Zealand to Germany, and I personally think I have now earned my ranks as Commander in Chief.
Seriously, no one wants to sit next to a screaming toddler or an uncomfortable baby.  And yet, hardly anything on a plane has been made with children in mind. It is in everyone's best interest to improve conditions on airplanes for families.

Therefore, here is my list of 

5 simple things you, the airlines, could do to make flying with small children on long flights easier.

1. Get rid of the bassinet and find something more practical to hang on the wall. I’ve flown now with three children and I can tell you, flying with a child under 6 months is the easiest.  Babies at this age sleep a lot and are usually very content to sleep on your arm. After six months, most babies are too big for the bassinet anyway and it’s annoying always having to wake them up every time the seat belt sign comes on. Instead of a bassinet, I would love to have a mini high chair or seat with shoulder straps so that I could feed my child somewhere other than my lap.  Or, they could hang up one of those toddler wall toys, so that your little ones would have something to do other than lick their armrest or walk back and forth through the aisles.

Jonas at seven months in the bassinet
2. Find a different way to strap a baby onto your lap. Those little extra seat belts that you fit onto your own seat-belt are very impractical. The baby always ends up having to sit right on the metal part of your own seat-belt and whenever you try to move your child around, say to nurse, you often accidentally unhook the child’s belt. Surely, they could make a better harness that is not so clunky. And honestly? I bet having your child in a baby carrier strapped to your chest has got to be a thousand times safer. It would sure be easier, especially with super squirming babies like I had.

3. Add sack lunches to your meal choices. Adult ones and ones for kids ages 1-6. First of all, on most long flights you don’t get your meals until the middle of the night when your children are already asleep. If you wake them up, they are then supposed to eat off of little tray tables with tons of little cups and saucers which love to get knocked off on the floor, especially when they are not picked up for an hour after the meal. Don’t even add turbulence to this equation. Toddlers and airline meals are not a good combination. Secondly, if you have a lap baby who either refuses to go to sleep or sleeps wildly, it is impossible to eat your own meal. If there were sack lunches with say bologna sandwiches, fruit, and animal crackers, you could give your children their lunch whenever they were hungry. Also, it would be possible to eat your own meal while your lap baby is awake. My first child at seven months slept only an hour and a half of an eleven hour flight. Trust me, mothers would be thrilled to not have to deal with those meal trays.
My child training for the marathon

4. Add drink bottles to your coloring books and crayons that you give to the children as handouts. Children under 6 are not capable of not spilling things. And, while you are at it, make a little fold out ring on the back of the seat in front where they can put their drink, instead of on the tray tables. Although the cups would cost slightly more, I’m sure the money would easily be saved on cleaning costs alone.

5. Ditch the huge TV in the front of the plane. It’s always on the bulkhead wall where all of the families sit with their little kids and it is annoyingly distracting.  It’s not only bright, but unlike a TV at home you can’t shut it off when it is time to put your kids to bed.  It is really hard for little kids not to look at a TV screen when it is on. My oldest child was incapable of tuning out the TV and it made it really difficult to get him to sleep. Everyone has a TV on the back of their chair. You don’t need an extra one as if the plane is a sports bar.

I’ve flown a lot with little children and I can guarantee that if your children are happy, the other passengers are happy as well. No one wants over-tired, hungry children sitting next to them. Implementing these five things would make flying so much more humane, and would make me feel more like a mom instead of a sergeant.

Thanks in advance. Please don't hesitate to contact me for further suggestions.


One Tired Mom

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelley, thanks for these practical and creative tips. I haven't travelled with toddlers before, but I've seen parents struggling on long flights. It's so stressful for everyone involved! I hope someone influential in the airline industry reads this and does something about your suggestions.
Sending you and your boys love.