Published March 2023
Screaming children on a flight is nobody’s idea of fun. If you're flying with kids this year, have you thought about how to keep them entertained throughout the journey?
A family holiday can be a great adventure, especially for young travellers. But being prepared and keeping children occupied will make the experience more enjoyable for you as well other passengers.
To help you plan ahead, we've created a handy guide covering the main issues to consider when flying with kids – from bag allowances to hand luggage essentials. We’ve also rounded up the easiest ways to keep your little ones comfortable and busy on the trip.
How to fly with children
Taking to the skies with small children can be an exciting adventure – these practical tips for flying with a baby may help you prepare for the journey.
Please note that the following is a guide only, check all requirements with your individual airline before you book.
How to fly with a baby
- Some airlines allow babies to fly from two days old, but others advise from two weeks.
- Your baby will need to have their own passport.
- If seating infants in laps, one adult per child may be required.
- Check with the airline to see if your baby needs their own seat, or if one is required for the use of car seats, carrycots, harnesses, and bassinets.
How much hand luggage can you take?
Luggage allowances vary from airline to airline, so find out from the company you are flying with what you can take on the plane. Typically, babies up to two years, in your lap, can have a bag for their flight requirements.
A child over the age of two, in their own seat, would usually have full hand luggage allowance.
You may also be able to take a fully collapsible pushchair.
What do you need in your hand luggage?
When flying with kids, you’ll need the following in hand luggage:
- One nappy for each hour you’ll be travelling, plus extra for delays.
- A disposable changing mat, wet wipes, and nappy sacks.
- Expressed milk or formula, boiled water in a baby bottle or baby food for the journey – this can be over 100ml, but you may be asked to taste it as a security measure.
- Blankets to help comfort your baby, or if the plane is cold.
- Spare clothes, in case of spills.
How to deal with travel-related issues
Before you leave for the airport, talk your child through what will happen:
- Going through security
- Finding their seat on the plane
- Take-off and landing
Show them a book about aeroplanes so they can learn more about the wonder of flying. Your confidence and calmness with reassure them.
This is common in children between the ages of three and 12. Treatments include:
- Diluting salts
Children’s ears can be more sensitive to the changes in pressure. On take-off and landing, feed your baby or give your child hard boiled sweets to suck.
A cold can exaggerate ear pressure. If you have to fly, ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids to ease dehydration.
How to keep children entertained on a flight
Make a travel journal
Make a start on the journal before the journey and they can focus on new things to add during the flight.
Let your children have their own camera or take pictures on your phone and set them a project to document the journey.
Learn something new
Teach your children basic words from the language of your destination. You could use an offline app on the flight to keep them engaged.
Buy a book about the country you are going to, including its food and local customs.
Audio books and music
Download some audio books and your child’s favourite music onto a phone or tablet. Make sure to use child-friendly headphones.
Tablets and readers
A perfect tool with many ways to distract and engage children:
- Use offline apps/games
- Download ebooks
- Download films/TV
- Drawing apps with a stylus
Children are very adaptable to new experiences, so they can quickly become confident and happy flyers.
Even the best planned journeys can run into complications. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, our guide to dealing with flight disruptions has information on the types of support and compensation you may be entitled to.
Take a look at our travel insurance guides page for more helpful travel advice.