Air travel with young kids?

My parents are going to visit my brother in Virginia at the end of March because the airfare is good. They invited me and my family to go with them. However, I cannot stay as long as they are (2-1/2 weeks). So I will leave a few days after them and come back on the same flights.

However, we have 2 kids, ages 3-1/2 years and 21 months. The kids have never been on an airplane flight. We live in Hawaii. The connection point is in Houston. It’s about a 7 hour flight to Houston and a 3 hour flight from Houston to Dulles, with a 4 hour wait at Houston.

My wife and I are quite apprehensive about the flight over, since it will just be the two of us trying to watch 2 kids. Coming back should be easier since my parents will also be on the plane.

Is this a bad idea, to go on such a long plane trip with two young kids? Any suggestions on making it as painless as possible?

New books, coloring things, and new quiet toys. What do your children normally like to do in their quiet time. This is indeed a long flight with yourng ones. But I flew From Honolulu to LA, with four kids. I also flew from San Fransisco to Helsinki with two.
Call the airline in advance and request children’s meals. Do not expect your kids to enjoy the flight. eople without parents may look at you and scowl. But any parent with kids will be understanding.
If your kids are prone to motion sickness, use Benydril.
They may cry, don’t be too upset, the noise of the plane muffles it.
Give each one a cup or bottle to drink during takoff and landing to help their ears.
If I can think of anything else I’ll check back in.

We recently did MEX-LAX-HNL and back with an 8 year old and a 15 month old. They’re experienced air travelers so it was a bit easier, but still it was somewhat stressful.

Second coloring books, quiet toys and books. If your kids eat candy, you might also want to bring along some chocolates to keep them occupied. Also I’d recommend that you sit in one row with one kid, and your wife a couple of rows away with the other. After a few hours of being couped up, possibly uncomfortably or with perceived family stress, they’ll be antagonizing each other. We didn’t reserve a separate seat for the baby, but were lucky to have people offer their seats and sit elsewhere on the planes.

We didn’t get any scowls; people were mostly sympathetic to the stress of flying for kids.

To the extent that it’s safe, there’s space and they don’t disturb others, let them move around a bit during the layover.

I’d check with an MD or at the very least a pharmacist before using Benadryl, it might be contraindicated for small children and there might be other products available for pediatric use. If you intend to use it for sedation, be careful not to administer until you really need it… otherwise you’ll have a fully rested baby in search of stimulus.

Have a safe trip!

Hold on there. I’ll assume you meant People without kids, which is me. If I hear the occasional “shhh” or “be quiet sweety” I’m fine, but if I turn around and see that the parent clearly doesn’t give a shit about the noise their child is making, you better believe I’m going to scowl at them. That same scowl is reserved for ANYONE who happens to be making too much noise on an airplane.

All my friends that do have children behave the same way - there’s understanding, and there’s inconsiderate parents. I don’t think my childlessness has anything to do with it.

Instead of scowling, why not help those unfortunate parents out by offering to read to or play with their kids? Oh, sorry, crazy idea! I am also a parent and also hate it when kids scream and cry on airplanes, but unlike some people, I feel more sorry for the parents than myself. Re. advice for flying with your kids - bring a variety of little toys and introduce one at a time over a long period. And drink. The parents, I mean.

I think you need to read my post again. You know, the part where I said my problem was with the parents who “don’t give a shit about the noise their child is making.” I do not consider those types of parents “unfortunate parents” and I sure as hell don’t feel sorry for them.

But let’s assume that you do consider these uncaring types of parents “unfortunate.” Why don’t I want to help? Lemme see. Because I’m trying to sleep? Because I’m trying to get some work done? Because I’m trying to read? Because I’m trying to watch a movie? Because other adults may be trying to do these things and don’t want me back there talking and playing and stirring up someone’s kids? Because I’m not allowed to leave my seat? Because I don’t like to fly and I don’t like walking around? Because I’m too busy “feeling sorry for myself”? :rolleyes:

Or how about: Because I don’t understand why the unfortunate parents can’t offer to read or play with THEIR OWN DAMN KIDS? “Crazy idea” indeed.

… because raising kids is an exhausting, 24 hour task and it’s nice if other people help out once in awhile, especially when they’re all trapped together in a metal tube in the air. And also, it probably would be even less stressful and anger-producing for you than sitting there, gritting your teeth, resenting them.

Parents almost NEVER “don’t give a shit” that their kids are acting up. Most of us do plenty of reading and playing with our own kids, but we get plenty tired, too.

I hope you find a nice, sterile gated retirement community to live in that doesn’t allow kids. Then you can sit around in peace with your friends and talk about your health problems.

For a long trip like this, I would second the advice about getting coloring books, toys, etc., but keep them as surprises, and let the kids open a new “present” every hour or so.

And don’t forget to bring an extra color book for Dookus.

I don’t see them asking anyone for help. Not me, not other passengers, nobody. Would anyone with parents be OK with a complete stranger approaching their children on a plane and offering to play with them? It’s really confusing to me that you think this kind of thing happens on an airplane with any sort of frequency. And not to put too fine a point on it, but why the fuck should I care about how exhausted some stranger is b/c of their decision to travel with their children? I’m usually pretty damned exhausted myself when I’m trying to get work done on the plane.

Where did I say that’s what I was doing? You’re new, so I will cut you some slack, but putting words in my mouth I did not say is never a good idea here.

Utterly, patently false. I have seen it so many times it’s hilarious that you can say something like that without a smiley.

You’re doing it again. Where have I said that I don’t like kids? That I want to live where kids are not allowed? What I don’t like are parents that don’t care that their kids are running around and making noise w/o their intervention ON AN AIRPLANE, a closed environment which I do not enjoy, kids or no kids. Neither do all my married friends with children, so you can ease up on your generalizations.

I am a happily married man who doesn’t have kids for reasons you do not deserve to know about. One more ridiculous comment about my character like the ridiculous one you just made, and I take you to the Pit, newbie or not.

I think Chinaguy started a thread about this once–or else contributed to a similar thread, having had experience flying over the ocean with a wee one. Lots of good suggestions there.

Take snacks that take a longer time to eat, like cheerios or goldfish. I always buy my son something new to do or play with. I often bring flash cards with pictures, or “Color Wonder” coloring books. Now that he’s three, we also always take our laptop so he can watch a DVD or play some computer games–this really makes the time go fast.

Benadryl revs some little kids up, so I wouldn’t use it. I suppose you could try a test run before the flight.

Houston probably has a kids’ play area somewhere. Plan on using it. Four hours is actually a good layover with kids. We had three hours in Minneapolis at Christmas, and it ended up being wonderful. We didn’t have to rush to our connecting gate. We went to the play area (which in MSP is especially good) and I sent my husband off to have a decent sit-down dinner while I chatted with the other parents in the play area.

I worry less about ideal behavior in the airport. Let the kids get their energy out while they still have room to move. If you start admonishing them every breathing moment when you’re checking in for the flight, imagine how sick they’ll be of listening to you by taxi and takeoff. I used to be so tense about being the “good parent” with the “angelic little traveler” that I got on the poor kid’s case the minute we put the suitcase in the car. I have since learned better.

Another tip: start engaging them in play before they get bored or cranky. Don’t wait for them to NEED your attention before giving it to them.

And if they cry or get cranky, hey, that is what kids do sometimes, plane or no plane. Do your level best to handle it well, but realize that everyone on the plane gets sick of sitting and being cramped and breathing stale air and being told to fasten their seatbelts. Toddlers just express it more. There ARE people (and I’m not saying Dooku is one of them) who have an attitude about childrens’ mere presence on an airplane. I’ve seen people roll their eyes and even groan when we came to their aisle. Unbearably rude–just remember that even if your kids act up, they’ve got a better excuse for their behavior than those adults ever will for theirs. Heh.

Finally, your kids are human, too. You paid for their ticket just like everyone else paid for theirs. This is my mantra when I encounter those rare people who act like they have a right to determine who deserves to be on the plane.

Generally, my kid has always done better than expected.

About Benadryl… it IS approved for children 2 and up. Follow instructions, of course. Even better, DO consult your pediatrician before flying with infants or toddlers, ESPECIALLY if the poor dear is prone to ear infections or sinus troubles.

Dramamine might be even better for motion sickness… but I don’t know about how it works in young kids. Ask your kid’s doctor.

You know, SOME kids actually enjoy flying. I took my first flights when I was 2-3 years old. Mom says all she had to do was put me in a window seat and I’d spend the whole flight staring outside, no noise, no fuss – just noseprints on the window.

(Now I’m a pilot - gee, go figure…)

Now, as for seats… although the FAA does permit children 2 and under to fly on an adult’s lap I strongly suggest you do not do this. There are car seats that are compatible with airplane seats - call the airline and ask. It is much safer for your child to be in a seat and strapped in. If you put your kid in a car seat in a motor vehicle traveling at 30 mph why wouldn’t you put him/her in a safety seat, strapped in, in a machine that travels 500 mph? It will also keep your child safe in the event of unexpected turbulence.

Having traveled entirely in coach when not doing my own flying, I am famillar with the whiney, cranky, crying child effect. Well, kids cry, fuss, and whine… it’s normal to hear some of that. If I can help out the parents I will, because it makes everyone’s ride more pleasent. Otherwise, I’ll just try to endure. Please, toys for “quiet time”, and nothing that will function as a dangerous projectile. And DON’T let them kick the seat in front of them, THAT will make me ticked off.

Welcome aboard, Kite. Now try to be behave.

I knew one very brave (or insane, I’m not sure which) woman, the wife of a friend, who took her 3 kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, ALONE, from LAX to Budapest, and then ona train to her hometown in southern Hungary. I’m sure it was completely nerve-wracking (they’re very good-natured kids, but also very active), so it probably helped to know that she would soon have a much-needed summer of help with them from her parents and sisters…plus lots of nice, fresh country air, sunshine, and animals to wear them out so she could get some much-needed rest.

My parents used to give me and my sister Dramamine on long trips (plus Etch-a-Sketch and lots of books) for long trips. It knocked us out cold. That was age 2+; I have no idea what effect it woulld have on younger kids, but I’d be scared to find out. Benadryl is an allergy drug, not an anti-motion sickness drug, AFAIK. It sure does have that handy side effect of drowsiness, but I’m a believer in using the proper tool for the problem.

Honestly, I think I’m opposed to drugging kids for trips on general principal. I never required chemical aids to behave as a child, and neither did my sisters (except for the one who DID get motion sick a lot).

I agree with Eva - use motion sickness drugs for motion sickness. Benadryl is an allergy drug, but does have a use in children with allergies or congestion.

Truly, ask your doctor about what to give small children. Especially those with chronic ear troubles, which can cause horrible pain if untreated.

We fly Miami-Tokyo with our kids about every 6 months. And have been doing it since 3 months after each was born. Ages now 3.9, 2.5, and 10 months. so we have some experience.

First, Check into the plane’s seat configuration. Since it is from Hawaii the long leg is probably 2 5 2 in coach. What we do is reserve the seats in the 5 middle section, But we leave the middle seat open. With 2 kids, no one in their right mind wants to sit there except on an extremely full flight. that way with no one in it you will have an extra seat so they can lay down on and sleep. When you check in tell them to try to keep it open, they usually will put a block on it for you and try not to fill it untill all other seats are exhausted

Second, Dont take a bulkhead seat as you will need the space under the seats to put things for them. Also, Make sure the seats in the row you choose has arms that swing up so they can lie down. bulkhead, and usually the 2nd one behind usually don’t move and that destroys the benefit.

Third, Pack a separate backpack for each of them with toys and books. Of course quiet ones are best, bring favorites as well as new ones to surprise them.

Fourth, Bring a PC with a DVD player, the movies on the plane won’t interest them, and even if they can’t here the volume that well, the visual will be a distractor especially if it is a favorite.

Fifth, Bring a change of clothes for them and YOU. Many is the time we have had vomit and it is your clothes you want to change.

Sixth, Plastic bags for diapers and possible wet clothes.

Two of you should be able to handle it just fine. You will find the stewardesses helpful as they want you to be happy as everyone else is effected.

Take more diapers and snacks than you think you’re likely to need. I was very glad to have done so last summer, when the travel agent did not forward our request for kids’ meals to Icelandair. Lunch was smoked salmon baguettes - my kids aren’t particularly picky, but that was just too much for them. Fortunately I could feed them out of my backpack. Not the healthiest lunch, but they weren’t whiny-hungry until the next meal.

Bring extra diaper wipes, too. It’s amazing what they’ll clean off.

And if the baby still uses pacifiers, stow lots of them in convenient pockets. They are going to fall on the floor, and you don’t want to put them anywhere near your child’s mouth again once you get a good look at the carpet. Eeeew.

Personally, I’m on the no-medicine side of the debate. Worst case scenario? The medicine makes the kid just drowsy enough that the new environment is overwhelming.

I’ve taken at least one kid on a total of five transatlantic flights now, ranging in age from 4 months to 8 years, sometimes alone, sometimes with my husband. Three isn’t a bad age at all for travel. 21 months is rougher, but with two adults to trade off, you’ll do just fine!

Coldfire, Dookus was throwing a tantrum and I offered him color books. Where is the harm in that? I wish someone would offer ME toys! And Dookus, yes, I have offered to read to a kid on an airplane and the parent was infinitely grateful, not suspicious. Re. the Benadryl comment, yes, a worthy consideration.

And for the record, I don’t like being around other people’s kids acting up, either. It’s bad enough when mine are, but it’s worse when I made special arrangements to make other arrangements for my kids, and instead of getting a break, I have to listen to ANOTHER set of kids mewling and being hooligans. The difference here is that I don’t just blame it on the parents. There’s often a lot more to the picture than you know.

Uh, wasn’t it [n]Kite** that offered me coloring books? Did you steal JillGat’s password?

And the harm in that is that you’re putting words in my mouth I didn’t say, misunderstanding my original comment, unnecessarily painting me in a bad light, and making a hilarious insult on my user name, all in MPSIMS.

And I find your “more to the picture than you know” comment hilarious in light of your overreaction towards me.

Nah Dooku, it’s just JillGat’s offbeat sense of humour. Having met her, I can assure you she’s mostly harmless. :slight_smile: