1. Photograph your child on your digital camera or smartphone as you are leaving the house to go to the airport. This is a brilliant tip that could save valuable time in the horrible circumstances that you get separated from your child en route. Airports are busy, crowded places and you will have a lot of things (and little people) to keep track of. As much as we'd all love to have eyes in the backs of our heads, there are occasionally those heartstopping moments when you & your child lose each other in a crowd. Having a (very) recent photo of your child in the clothes they are actually wearing would be immensely helpful to airport staff and people helping to track down your missing child! It is worth talking through what to do in that sort of situation with older children... tell them who to seek out, where to go, etc... I've also made good use of Travel ID wristbands too. Just for peace of mind it's worth it!
2. Make sure you verify all your special requirements at check-in BEFORE going through to airside. For example, if you have requested children's meals or bassinets, it's a good idea to double check these have been noted. If you are planning to gate check any items (like your pushchair/stroller) make sure that it, or the bag you plan to pack it in, is also given a label to go in the hold.
3. Look for a 'family' lane in the airport security. In larger airports, there are often lanes dedicated to families travelling with small children. This means shorter queuing time for impatient toddlers which is a boon, but also staff used to dealing with families and all their paraphernalia. If you are using the Gogo Babyz Travelmate with your car seat, you may need to remove this from your car seat before putting it through the xray machine, however, some airports do have the odd machine wide enough. As mentioned previously, you may need to justify travelling with some liquids/foodstuffs for your baby or young toddler. See my previous section for more advice about what you can and cannot put in your carry on hand baggage.
4. Ask about priority boarding. Some airlines allow families with children to board the plane first (although this may involve an additional cost with some airlines). This can be very useful if you are using your child's car seat on the flight, as this will give you time to sort out the car seat and get your child settled (with a snack or activity) before all the other passengers start crowding on.
5.Remember my tip about packing an in-flight-bag-within-a-bag (explained in part 2 of this series). Once you have boarded and taken your seats, remove this bag and make sure you have all your essentials for the flight in that bag... snacks & drinks, kids' headphones, any electronic devices you plan to use, a few activities/books, enough diapers for the flight plus a pack of wipes. Put this bag on the floor under the seat in front or in the seat back pocket if possible. Other items like changes of clothes etc... you can leave in your main hand luggage bag and stow this safely out of the way.
6. If you have to install your child's car seat (or restraint system) on the plane, remember to recline the seat. You will find it much easier to thread the airplane seatbelt through the back of your car seat this way and you can return the seat to upright in time for take off. If you are travelling with another adult, it can sometimes be easier to board seperately. Send one adult onto the plane with the car seat and allow them 5 minutes to get it sorted out before the other adult boards with the child.
See more in this series of posts:
- Section 1: Planning Ahead
- Section 2: Packing
- Section 4: On Board - Eating, Using the Bathrooms & Ideas for Managing Behaviour (coming soon)