Wednesday, March 9, 2011

11 things kids (and adults!) should NOT do when traveling by plane

Traveling on long flights with small children can be a parenting endurance test. Even if your children are not hellions, the excitement of travel, the boredom of travel, the loss of sleep, and the discomfort of high altitude can make them go a little nuts at times on board or at the airport. That's life. Perfection is not required, but common sense is advisable.
Getting ready for travel with 2 pieces of hand luggage.

You can't expect your kids to be little angels 100% of the time, but there are some things you definitely want to avoid. Here are my list of the 11 things your kids should definitely not do while traveling. This list can be applied to adults too by the way. After all, toddler-behavior is not always just exhibited by toddlers.

  1. Kick the seat in front of them - This is the number one pet peeve of many travelers, whether its done by kids or adults. Use your strongest parental super-powers to make it stop.
  2. Play with the tray - If the person sitting behind you keeps opening and closing their tray, or leaning on it, that can be about as annoying as when someone is kicking your seat. Kids usually love playing with the tray, but try to nip that activity in the bud.
  3. Scream for no reason - Babies are excused from this rule of course, because babies always scream for a reason, even when you can't figure out what the reason is. Older kids should not scream on board: it's crowded and aggravating enough just to be on a plane with hundreds of other people. Sick kids get more of a pass from me. If they're sick and whining or crying because of that, all you can do is try to comfort them.
  4. Play with noisy toys - The easiest way to enforce this is to not bring any noisy toys on board. Put them in your checked luggage instead.
  5. Push things between the seats - Putting food, utensils, toys, snacks, shoes, greasy fingers or whatever else between the seats so they interfere with the people sitting in the row in front, is a big no-no.
  6. Run around when in a security lineup - This is not safe. Often, there are no-go areas close to where the checkpoints are at the airport, and you do not want your kids setting off alarms or security guards. If the kids need to work off some energy, do it in the looooong airport hallways or empty-ish areas near the gate.
  7. Hold up the line at security - Kids (and adults!) who hold up the line by not putting their jackets, shoes, bags and whatever else is required on the conveyor for the x-ray machine will definitely get the evil eye from other travelers. Try to be proactive so your kids know what's expected of them. My kids occasionally balk at going through the metal detector, and it sometimes helps if you (or an accompanying adult) goes through first to show it's ok. Just do your best to get your kids through as smoothly and quickly as possible.
  8. Getting in the way at the luggage carousel - This is annoying for other passengers but also dangerous for the kids. Many children find luggage carousels fascinating, but they can get seriously injured by sliding or tumbling bags or by the conveyor belt itself. If your kids stand in front of other passengers trying to claim their luggage, things can also get ugly. Try to at least keep them away from other passengers, and encourage them to stand back and wait, helping you to keep an eye out for your own bags.
  9. Put messy stuff on their seat or other parts of the plane - Yeah, don't do that. Other people usually do not appreciate putting their hand in sticky things left behind by others. Try not to bring messy snacks (anything covered in chocolate for example), messy markers or other obviously messy items on board. Kids will often manage to make a mess out of nothing, but at least limit the possibilities. The liberal use of wipes also helps!
  10. Yard on other people's seats - Kids might think it's hilarious to stand up on their own seat and push or yank on their seat or the one in front. Both activities are seriously annoying for other passengers.
  11. Getting in the way when boarding the plane - People getting in the way of others when boarding the plane is a big pet peeve of mine. One example are the passengers who fiddle with their carry-ons for what seems an eternity while holding up everybody else. Once you've located your seats, get your children out of the way as quickly as possible, even if you switch seats with them later. There's always time after everyone's in their seat to get more organized, and other passengers as well as the flight crew, will appreciate it if you don't hold up the boarding process.


  1. This is a great list, and I will admit we're guilty of at least of few of them. (But I'm proactive about correcting my kids!)

    There was a time, though, when we flew with our 14-month-old and she literally screamed 75% of the time. Oh. My. Gosh. That was a hard flight. Our other three kids had never acted that way. Her personality is just a little high-strung. I wonder how she's gonna be on the next flight now that she's 2?

  2. That does sound like one of those nightmare moments for a parent. And really, when they're 14 months, there isn't much you can do. You try your best, but they are not really easy to "reason" with at that age. My son has a much more anxious personality than my daughter, and that has caused incidents for us when traveling (like when he wouldn't put on his seat belt... and cried and screamed about it poor guy). I hope your daughter has a better trip on the next flight! Sometimes things do get easier as they get older. I will find out if my son's fascination with trays is still there when we fly later this year!


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