travel tips with kids - Will Rogers World Airport

travel tips with kids - Will Rogers World Airport
What’s On Your List?
Jennifer James McCollum, Public Information & Marketing Manager for Will Rogers World Airport and
mother of three young children ages 10, 2 years and four months, shares her top travel tips for flying
with kids.
Book it.
This one is easy. Coloring books and crayons help pass the time as well as favorite storybooks. Pack them
along with one or two toys in a small, child’s suitcase with a handle and wheels. Your kids will love
strolling through the airport with their own baggage. It will make them feel responsible and involved in
the trip.
Go High Tech.
If you can afford it, invest in a portable DVD. Bring favorite movies to help chase away boredom in the
airport or on the plane. If you have children in broad age groups, consider bringing portable DVDs. My
10-year-old wants to watch High School Musical while my two-year-old is all about Veggie Tales.
Forcing a 10-year-old to watch two-year-old stuff (and visa versa) could make traveling more stressful
than no DVD at all.
Never pass up an opportunity to potty.
Make sure your kids use the bathroom before boarding a flight. Airport
bathrooms are spacious and cleaner than compact aircraft bathrooms.
Besides, have you ever stood inside a bathroom on an airplane while your
toddler does his business? Not fun. Also, bring baby wipes. Put them in the
seat pocket in front of you before takeoff to ensure easy access in case of a spill
or accident.
Reserve a Sky Cot for Baby
Ask your airline about reserving a baby bassinet (sky cot). You may have to
arrange to sit in bulkhead seats in order to use the bassinet, but check with
your airline to be sure. Bulkhead seats are those behind partitions on an
aircraft such as the “wall” separating first class from coach.
Ear pressure.
Feed your baby before take-off and landing to help with ear pressure issues that
may arise. For older children, ask for earplugs as soon as you board an aircraft.
Hang onto them because your child may need them again before landing. You
can also buy earplugs in the pharmacy section of variety and drug stores. They’re
cheap, colorful (which kids love!) and really do make a difference.
Larger Airports Have Playgrounds!
Think about the playground at Quail Springs Mall. Some airports where you may be connecting have
playgrounds like that one. My husband traveled last November with our then 9-year-old daughter. They
had a three-hour layover in Minneapolis and the playground saved their sanity – especially his!
Fit to Fly?
Flying with a cold can be dangerous for eardrums. In 1997, when I was five months pregnant I flew to
Florida with a sinus infection. On the return flight, I was so congested, I
ended up with a perforated ear drum. I have never had flight attendants be
kinder. No doubt, they too, have experienced this, and it is quite painful.
They helped me by heating a wet napkin in the microwave and then giving
it to me in a plastic cup. I cupped this home remedy over my ear and it
helped, but I still had to see an ear doctor immediately. He put me on
steroids and told me to never, ever fly again with a sinus infection. His
words were particularly meaningful because on top of being an ear, nose
and throat specialist, he had been a pilot in the Air Force. So, do what you
think is best, but remember, your kids’ health is your priority. Flying when they are sick is ill advised
particularly if they have colds, are congested or have ear infections.
Snacks and Drinks
Carry snacks for your kids including low-sugar juice and protein-type snacks. Be sure to tell the
transportation security officer at the checkpoint that you want to declare larger liquids, like milk, or
purchase items after passing through security. According to airlines, milk is often in short supply on
flights. So, don’t blame the cabin crew if they run out. Bring what you think your child will need. Your
fellow passengers will thank you! Oh, and remember to pack spill-proof cups! Chances are, they’ll end up
rolling around on the floor of the aircraft at some point.
Bottle heating
Do ask the crew to heat up your baby’s bottle, but make sure you check the temperature
before offering it to baby. Flight attendants may not have kids and thus may not know the
optimum temperature for baby. In addition, they stay very busy. They may forget the
bottle altogether or return it too hot or too cold.
Carry a couple of plastic grocery bags in your carry on and use them to put trash in including ripped out
pages of the color books, crayons that get smashed and broken, food wrappers, etc. Messy travel is not
enjoyable for anyone and will just stress you out that much more.
Carry a change of clothes for very young children. One-piece clothing is the easiest to navigate!
Be Comfortable
Every day, I walk through the terminal. I see a variety of passengers arriving and departing. I am always
most amazed by the passengers who look the most comfortable. Most often, these are people wearing flat
shoes, loose clothing and carrying nothing on their shoulders. Instead, they pull a small carryon. They
wear ball caps so they don’t have to mess with their hair and their hands are always free.
Harness Your Toddler
I will never fly again without harnessing my toddler. (After looking all over town for
one, I finally found one on ebay!) Here is what happened to me in Salt Lake City last
November. We boarded on the tarmac, which means outside on flat land with the
wind blowing fierce and cold. I had two carryons, my son and his umbrella stroller.
I was pretty organized. Sully was sitting in the stroller. The carryons were hanging
from each handle, and I pushed his stroller, both my hands and back free of
luggage. But, when it came time to take the bags off the stroller, get Sully out and
fold the umbrella stroller up, I was a sight to be seen. The wind blew the stroller
across the tarmac, and in the struggle to maintain control, I lost my grip on
Sully’s hand. A fellow passenger came to my rescue. Thus, I will never again
fly without harnessing Sully. Again, I am in the terminal everyday and I see toddlers bounding down the
concourse. If you have more than one child, the harness is especially helpful. I have seen some that are
actually teddy-bear backpacks. Kids love them.
Call a Skycap to Help You.
If you need help, ask for it. Skycaps, the folks who check your baggage at the curb, are available to help
you with a variety of things. Pack 10 extra $1 bills and keep this handy. Skycaps works for tips and they
can do more than check your baggage. Find someone in the airport to page one for you. They can help
you get your baggage off of the moving carousels (while you manage your children); make a phone call
for you; help comfort a jetlagged kiddo, etc. The voluntary gratuity is about a $1 a bag. Money well spent!
Remember, that time before you had kids?
Many moons ago, I did not have children. They were creatures from beyond - as Buzz Lightyear would
say— Infinity. I did not think they were very cute then and I didn’t like it when they fought me for the
armrest or climbed over the seat and onto my head. I love my kids more than anything in the entire
universe, but that does not mean everyone loves them. In short, do everything you can to manage your
SIDEBAR: Recently, I was on a flight from the east coast. An entire family
reunion boarded the plane with fast food bags filled with burgers and cokes.
The entire aircraft smelled like a French fry. The kids sitting next to me were
squirting ketchup out of packets and licking their fingers. They were tossing
games back and forth across the aisles and over passengers’ heads. Airplanes
are not party buses. Practice the golden rule – DO UNTO OTHERS...
Try to chat quietly.
My friend, Rachel, recently flew to the west coast with her three children. She
told me that on the flight there was a man whose young daughter was quite
inquisitive. She asked questions like, “Daddy, what are clouds make of?” and
“Daddy, what keeps the plane from falling out of the sky? “Daddy” answered each
question meticulously and with great care, and at a just slightly annoying decibel: “Well, honey, clouds
are condensed droplets, frozen crystals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of the Earth or
another planetary body…” By the end of the two-hour flight, Rachel was ready to pull out her hair as well
as “Daddy’s.” By all means, talk aboard your flight – just don’t subject everyone else to your
Final Tip
Traveling with children can be stressful. Take a big, deep breath, and remember the words to this littleknown song by Kim Bolton:
“It's very strange how times have changed
from the present to the past.
When did they grow so quicklythe time has flown so fast.
For it seems like only yesterday
I helped him with his shirt,
or patted my baby on the back,
or kissed away a hurt.
Tell a story, read a book,
wipe a nose, or tie a shoe.
They never ask me to rub their backs
the way they use to do.
Once it was a bother,
just a troublesome kind of chore.
But, now I would give anything
to do it just once more.”
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