We recently partnered with Delta and booked our first airplane adventure with two littles, and what an adventure we had! Together, we escaped to San Francisco for a weekend, to explore the city and to spend time together as a family. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel, ate lots of yummy food, and saw as much as we possibly could!
Up until this trip, we had yet to take the girls on an airplane. I knew it’d be difficult, but I wasn’t prepared for just how exhausting it was. And I now have so much more respect for parents who fly frequently with their children, and whose flights are over 4.5 hours. I did everything I was supposed to do. I packed new activities (stickers, water wow, markers that only write on special paper), their stuffed animals and favorite blankets, and endless snacks. The electronic devices were charged. We checked our double stroller at the gate (life saver!). Yet we were still just shocked at how much work it was flying with kids. Going through security takes 5x longer. Your potty trained toddler (’nuff said). All the extra stuff (that they can’t carry). Strolling, holding, shushing, cuddling, feeding, quieting, comforting. All I wanted to do was take a nap, and I finally did, after Naomi fell asleep and Zoe was zoned out watching a movie!
Our flights were wonderful, thanks to Delta’s new free in-flight entertainment. The thing about kids is they have short attention spans and coloring with new magic markers is only fascinating for so long (apparently only about 3 minutes). Thankfully, all the movies and shows were free. All our screen time rules went out the window and Zoe watched. And watched. Ice Age, Finding Nemo, all the movies. We even played tic tac toe on the seat-back screens. It was the only thing that kept her chatter down. And when Joe took Naomi in his lap and Zoe watched her movie, I got to sneak in a quick snooze.
After flying in 4 airplanes over a weekend, we all feel like pros. Here are a few of our tips for air travel with children:
Dress in layers
The girls were hot and cold off and on, so I had light sweaters in the diaper bag. I also brought along their favorite blankets, which helped to get them both to take a nap on our longer flights.
Bring quiet toys
The night before we left California to head back to Virginia, Joe picked up these little toys for the girls. They had already gone through most of the activities I’d packed during the first leg of our trip, so he wanted them to have something new & novel. Great idea, but poor execution. He bought those little wind-up toys that then UN-wind quite loudly. And the kids want them to bounce around on the seat-back trays, which makes even more noise. So even if it’s a small, airplane-sized toy, make sure it’s also airplane friendly in the sound department.
Take advantage of free in-flight entertainment
We were so thankful for the free Delta Studio entertainment options on our Delta flight. We could even set parental controls on the screen. The movies and shows were definitely a lifesaver, and we can’t wait to fly with Delta next time! Pro-tip: kids have tiny ears, so make sure you bring headphones that fit if you don’t want a frustrated 3 year old. We ordered headphones before we left, but they didn’t arrive on time. So, we had to use earbuds, which kept falling out of their girls’ ears. Zoe was pretty frustrated at first, but she figured out how to fix the problem herself, which was nice. Lesson definitely learned for next time!
Pack smartly and accessibly
If you’re holding an infant in your lap, it’s difficult to get up and move around and fetch something out of your stowed carryon, etc. It’s even a challenge to reach under the seat in front of you (especially if they’re sleeping). So, just try to anticipate what you might need during the flight and have it easily accessible. Place kids’ water bottles (and any other essentials) in the seat-back pocket. Inside Zoe’s backpack, she had more small bags. One pouch full of crayons and markers and other writing utensils. One pouch full of small animals. Two favorite books, coloring books. Her tablet has its own case, too. It helped immensely to be organized and for all their “things” to have a specific place within her backpack. She always knew where to find them, and had to put everything back in place before getting something else out.
Let them play
We quickly learned that whenever we had downtime at the airports (early arrival, waiting to board, layovers, etc.), we needed to let the girls run around and get out some energy. Zoe always wanted to walk and carry her own backpack. It slowed us down a bit, but we knew she’d soon be confined to her seat, so we decided to let her walk around. Also, for those traveling to or from Dulles Airport: they have a brand new, beautiful play area.
That does it for our first airplane adventure! Would love to hear your own stories of how you’ve conquered flying with children (or how you didn’t)! Thanks so much to Delta for partnering with us and making our little getaway possible!
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