Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On-board entertainment for traveling kids

One of the best new-fangled additions (apart from smoke-free flights) to long-haul air-travel since I started flying many years ago, are the personal entertainment screens. In the olden days, of course, we all had to watch the same movies on one screen somewhere at the front of the cabin, instead of having a selection of movies on the screen in the seat-back in front of you.

I can't even imagine traveling like that today. Having my kids watch movies and kids' shows on their individual screens on board has helped them (and me!) pass the time on many long flights over the years. The only problem I've run into with it are that the headphones given out on board are often too big and not very comfortable for children. This is why I now bring two sets of kids' sized headphones on our flights.

Another problem can be the design of the remote connected to the screen. Many airlines use a touch-screen, but KLM has a remote control that attaches to the inside of your arm-rest. I don't really mind the remote, but the way it's attached to the seat means that it's very easy to accidentally hit pause, play or something else simply by moving around. On the other hand, the remote makes it possible for the kids to play games, and that definitely added some entertainment value to our flight with KLM.

Finding new favorites on board
Sometimes there are movies on-board there that the kids have watched before, but I've found that often they end up discovering new favorites when we travel. Here are some of the movies and kids' shows they've discovered "in flight":

My kids spent an entire 8+ hour flight watching this movie over, and over, and over again. They'd never seen it before, and I hadn't either. Of course we had to get it once we came home, and it's been in steady rotation ever since. Definitely a funny one!

This movie was a couple of years old by the time my kids watched it on board a plane. Both of them loved it. And again: we ended up getting it once we came home. (I think I now know why it's a good thing for movie companies to get their films to play on flights!).

Ice Age - Dawn of the Dinosaurs
We had already seen the earlier Ice Age movies, but had somehow missed this instalment until we caught it on a flight. If your kids are into dinosaurs (like my kids are), then this is probably a sure-fire hit.

This little bunny, originally from Holland, became my daughters absolute favorite last time we flew KLM. Next time we travel through Schiphol, I might have to pick up one of those Miffy-dolls for her too.

Classic Donald Duck cartoons
On one of our long flights, they showed a selection of old Donald Duck cartoons as one of the kids' options and my son picked that to watch for almost the entire flight. Once we got home, we dug out our old classic Donald collection from the DVD-shelf where it had been all but forgotten for a few years.

This show, created by Icelandic gymnast Magnus Scheving (who also stars in it as the super-hero Sportacus), looks pretty crazy: big rubber-faced puppets interact with a few human actors in the bright-colored world of Lazytown. My daughter (4 years old at the time) absolutely fell in love with it when we traveled with Iceland Air last year. I spent the flight watching it without any sound on her screen and found that to be a rather trippy experience. However, it's a fun kids' show with a great message about eating healthy and being active.

Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Inventor Wallace and his intelligent dog Gromit have been two of my favorite animated characters ever since I saw A Grand Day Out at a short film festival many, many years ago. It was great to see my kids share that love after they watched this movie on a flight. Since then, they've also become fans of the other Wallace & Gromit movies: The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave. All the movies are available together on Blu-Ray in Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection.


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