Should kids be limited to families-only section on airplanes?

A recent poll by Skyscanner revealed that almost 60 percent of travelers would prefer that airlines make families with children sit in family-only sections on flights. In addition, almost 20 percent would prefer to fly on child-free flights altogether! We know that some kids are loud and obnoxious on airplanes, but so are some adult passengers. Although many parents wouldn’t mind sitting in a families-only section, not all fliers agree. Here’s how to make sure your child is on his best behavior when flying.

Little girl on airplane

Not surprisingly, the travelers who voted for a family-only section said they don’t have young children and want to sit as far away from kids as possible. Of the parents of young children polled, only 7 percent said they wouldn’t mind being limited to a families-only section.

What does this mean for traveling families? If you do have a choice, try to seat your family next to other kids or a sympathetic-looking grandma instead of a traveling bachelor businessman. If you don’t have a choice, plan ahead to ensure your kids will behave themselves on airplanes.

Why kids cry on airplanes

The top factor that causes babies to cry non-stop during a flight is ear pain due to the change in altitude. If your child has an ear infection, cold or sinus infection, try to reschedule. Otherwise, make sure you are breastfeeding or giving your baby a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing. Give older kids suckers, gum or other treats that encourage swallowing. The swallowing action prevents pressure from building up in your child’s ears. If your child has a stuffy nose, check in with your doctor about giving a decongestant before the flight.

Make a travel kit

For a baby, pick up a couple of small (and preferably quiet) colorful toys that will pique her interest. If she has a favorite toy or blanket, bring that along as well. Snacks such as crackers and goldfish are good to have on hand to keep older babies and toddlers happy and busy during flights.

Most parents would agree that flying with a mobile and often unpredictable 2- or 3-year-old can by trying. Schedule your flight when he’s happy and rested — or during naptime, if you think he will sleep. Otherwise, pack a portable DVD player and headphones, and let him watch his favorite movie (Wiggles, anyone?) A coloring book or another new but quiet toy may also occupy him during the flight, as well as a special treat such as a sucker.

For kids, handheld game devices and portable DVD players are great options. Many families also bring cards and play a few rounds of “Go Fish.”

SheKnows Message Board readers share their tips:

  • Send one person on the plane first to get set up while the other can walk around the terminal a bit more before having to get on the plane. It helps so they aren’t cooped up as long. — 2LittleGuys
  • Pack a change of clothes (at least shirts and undies) in case you get stuck somewhere or get spit up all over. — 2LittleGuys
  • Don’t overpack toys and stuff for the carry-on. I always did, and we would only really get out one toy and spend quite a bit of time just playing with the cup and ice we were given. — 2LittleGuys
  • I would bring extra blankets — the plane gets cold — and change her just prior to boarding. I hate trying to change a kiddo on the plane. — JBB373
  • Finally, ignore any glares you get. Almost everyone on the plane has or will fly with a child at some point in their lives! — JBB373

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