For 27 years, my friend Cille has been a flight attendant with Delta Airlines. She has clocked in, probably, millions of miles and has traveled extensively for free on standby with her husband and two children as well. She is a wealth of information when it comes to air travel tips.
She knows a whole lot about flying in an airplane, long and short distance. Having two children of her own and serving thousands upon thousands of passengers… from Los Angeles to Tampa, Memphis to Chicago, New York to Atlanta… the destinations are different but the nature of her work is the same.
I asked her to share some tips and lessons learned from her 27 years experience and am so glad she did.
Parents, your feelings transfers and shows in your children:
One of the most interesting thing she said was, if a parent is afraid of flying, somehow that fear will transfer to little children. Parents with anxieties, unprepared and tense during flights and travels are the ones who usually have children that are difficult and ‘troublesome’.
It does not matter what age your children are, parents who are calm will have happy little travelers.
Importance of snacks:
The days of free drinks, free snacks and food are long gone. Since airlines are cutting back on free things, Cille continues by saying the need to bring your own snack for local or international travels. You may not have enough time to grab a snack at the airport and usually the prices at the airport and in the airplane are way higher than what you could get at your local grocery store.
Plan ahead and get plenty of snacks for your children.
Don’t forget the baby formulas and food:
There are times when parents with babies did not bring enough baby food and baby formulas. That could be devastating if the child needs a certain type of baby formulas. Usually the airlines have ’emergency supplies of baby formulas’… but what if the child is allergic to the type they carry?
Bring baby formulas, baby food and extra diapers. Have ample time to prepare ahead.
Something to drink always:
“Mom, I’m thirsty,” kids crying in the background. With the airlines restrictions on liquid, parents and guardians with children need to prepare enough water for the flights.
Cille said parents should always prepare for enough snacks and water for the unforeseen circumstances of delay or lack of suitable snacks carried by airlines or in the airport terminal.
Your carry-ons and overhead compartments struggles:
These days with baggage fees, most passengers carry the maximum size carry-ons. Those that board last may find the overhead compartment bins taken. Usually passengers are frustrated with the crowded planes and lack of space for carry-ons.
Most airlines, including Delta Airlines, provide free service to passengers who have no space for their carry-ons. Airlines will accommodate carry-ons for free. Of course, you need to know the maximum size and weight of your carry-ons you bring on board.
One good tip is to get duffel bags or soft bags you can place underneath your seat if the overhead compartment bins are full. Soft duffel bags take up little space and are more flexible for storage.
Remember seat assignments for the whole family in advance:
With airlines cutbacks, Cille has been noticing most flights are full in capacity. Families who do not have seat assignments in advance may be sorry at check-ins because of the separations of seats between parents, children or both.
It is important to have your seat assignments in advance to avoid disappointment and inconveniences.
Something to occupy their time:
Children of any age and adults as well need to have ‘something’ conveniently placed in their carry-ons or small bags at all times. Bring books, little toys, hand-held games, laptop, iPod, iPad… anything that can occupy their time and your time.
Extra clothing and undergarments for a day:
Tuck in a Ziploc bag essentials (toothbrush, tooth paste) and extra clothing and undergarment for a day. If your baggage is mishandled, you have something to change into for the day. Or if a child spilled a drink, he or she will have a set of dry and clean clothes to wear throughout the flight.
Tips on unaccompanied minor:
Flying and traveling on an airplane is a great experience for children and adults. Delta Airlines and most other airlines have complimentary unaccompanied minor programs for children 5 years and above. A child between the ages of 5-8 can travel on a direct flight unaccompanied. Children above 8 years old can travel unaccompanied on flights with connections.