Flying is rough. You know this, we know this, so we’re not going to write a long screed about wait times and mean gate agents. There are ways to make life in the air easier, so let’s cut to the chase.
Earlier Flights Are Best for Avoiding Delays
The earlier flight you book, the less likely you’ll be delayed. This is because preventable delays are largely due to late arriving aircraft, and the later your flight, the more chance there is for a late arriving aircraft.
Fewer connections means fewer chances for delay. And fewer nap interruptions for the very little ones.
Not All Seats Are the Same
We aren’t talking about the difference between aisle and window seats. Each cabin configuration is a little different. Some seats have a little extra room. Others have armrests that won’t move. Some planes have personal screens, others have done away with them in favour of tablets. Get all this information before booking or choosing your flight by visiting a seat map website. Some good ones: SeatGuru, SeatExpert, ExpertFlyer, SeatPlans, and Skytrax.
Most airlines allow for online check-in 24 hours prior to travel, so check-in as early as possible. Set an alarm if you have to. You can double check your seats, pay for checked in luggage, let them know you have a stroller, print out your boarding passes, and more. Checking in early lets you troubleshoot early. And besides, the bag drop off line for people who have already checked moves faster than the line for people checking in at the airport.
Bring Empty Water Bottles
Yes, you can’t bring water or other liquids through security. But you can bring empty bottles and fill them up after security.
Lots of people don’t know this true, but: in Canada, you are allowed to bring (most) food with you when you fly. The CATSA says so. In fact, they have examples. This is to say: when you fly within Canada, bringing food is a-okay. If you’re flying internationally, food is subject to the laws of whatever country you’re travelling to once you land. If you finish eating it in the air, you’re fine. So make sure you pack snacks.
Pack an Action Bag
What’s an action bag? It’s a bag full of all the stuff you need to keep kids healthy and entertained when flying. Consider packing an extra set of clothes (in case of delay or accident), cables for every device you’re bringing, lots of spare batteries, snacks, water bottles, little games or puzzles you can dole out when your kid gets cranky, handheld game consoles, colouring books, extra earphones, wet wipes, and a tablet loaded up with kids cartoons. Ideally, you keep custody of the action bag. After all, letting a small child have access to all the snacks at once might result in a stuffed and sorry kid, and airports are great places to lose iPads.
If you want your kids to sleep on the flight, make sure they’re wearing sweats or other suitably comfortable clothes. You also want them in layers, since it can get cold in the air. And insist on slip-on shoes. The security line up isn’t a great place to practice with shoelaces.
Play Terminal Games
If your kid is a ball of energy, make sure they spend some of it prior to boarding. Hunt for spare change at empty gates. Make them do jumping jacks. Give ‘em five bucks and send them on a mission to buy you a magazine. Or, a classic: play I-spy.
Use Ear-Popping Tricks
Little kids don’t really know how to pop their ears, so make them chew gum, make funny faces, or yawn.
Pack a Care Package for Your Neighbours
The Bottom Line
Flying is rough. But it can be less rough when you’re prepared.