Tips for Travelling With a Toddler on a Plane

You’re about to board a flight with your toddler. He loves the airplane but is still young enough to need someone to hold his hand. You’ll have access to snack packs and drinks, but that won’t be enough. What do you feed him? How do you keep him occupied? 

Travelling with a toddler on a plane can be challenging but also fun. Whether you’re a parent flying solo or flying with your partner, you’ll need a complete toolkit of resources to make it through a flight with a toddler. First and foremost, staying calm and coming prepared with the following tips will help you and your toddler remain safe and have fun in the air.


Luggage and packing for the trip

When flying with a toddler, it’s essential to pack smart and adhere to airline luggage guidelines. Here’s a quick summary of key points to consider.

Pack a well-stocked carry-on bag with essentials such as diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, and medication. Include a variety of age-appropriate toys, books, and activities to keep your toddler entertained during the flight.

Check out fun Children’s Luggages on AmazonBe mindful of airline baggage allowances when packing your checked luggage. Include extra clothes, diapers, and other necessities, keeping in mind that you may need easy access to these items upon arrival at your destination.

Check with your airline regarding their policies for strollers and car seats. Most airlines allow you to check these items for free or gate-check them so you can use them until boarding the plane.

Use packing cubes, ziplock bags, or compression bags to organize your luggage, making it easier to find specific items when needed.

Clearly label your luggage with your name, address, and contact information. You may also want to add a unique identifier, such as a colourful luggage strap, to make your bags easy to spot on the baggage carousel.

Fly direct 

Travelling with a toddler can be an adventure in itself. Ideally, you’ll want to book a direct flight for your travels to minimize the hours spent confined to the airplane. 

If you must connect on one or more flights, however, allow for a longer layover. The added time will give you an opportunity to use the restroom, walk around, and grab an airport snack. You’ll also avoid having to rush to a connecting flight and risk missing the connection.

Where are you planning to fly? Read our guides for different destinations around the world

Book a separate seat for your baby

Some airlines offer reduced fares for kids under two and will allow your child to sit on your lap. However, you might prefer to book a separate seat for your child. You’ll appreciate the extra room to spread out, and your toddler will love having their tray table and chair just like the grown-ups.

Flying business class with a toddler

Flying in business class with a toddler can be a rewarding experience, as the extra space and amenities can make the journey more comfortable for you and your little one. However, it’s essential to be well-prepared and considerate of other passengers. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable flight

Many airlines offer priority boarding for passengers with young children. Take advantage of this to get settled in your business class seat before the general boarding process begins. This will give you more time to organize your belongings and help your toddler adapt to the new environment.

Business class offers more spacious seating, allowing extra comfort when travelling with a toddler. Use this extra space to let your child sit, play, or nap comfortably. Make a cosy corner with blankets or pillows to create a familiar space for your little one.

Business class often provides an extensive in-flight entertainment system. Bring child-friendly headphones and explore the available movies, games, and TV shows suitable for your toddler. Remember to take breaks from screen time and engage in other activities to keep your child entertained.

Business class usually offers flexible meal service, allowing you to choose when to have your meal. Schedule your mealtime according to your toddler’s routine, and inform the cabin crew about dietary requirements.

Many airlines provide amenity kits for their business-class passengers, which may include items such as eye masks, socks, and toiletries. Use these to make your toddler feel more comfortable during the flight. You can also ask the cabin crew if any child-specific amenities are available.

Inform the flight attendants that you’re travelling with a toddler and ask for assistance, such as reheating baby food or milk. They’re usually happy to help and may offer extra tips to make your flight more enjoyable.

While business class offers a more comfortable flying experience, it’s essential to be considerate of other passengers. Keep noise levels down, and use headphones for any electronic devices. If your toddler becomes fussy, walk to the galley or restroom to soothe them away from the seated area.

Arrive at the airport early

Get to the airport at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights. This gives you plenty of time to get through security and arrive at your gate.

Plus, arriving early helps to minimize the stress of travelling with children. It’s better to have extra time than to be rushing through the airport with a screaming toddler.

How to get to different airports in the world? Read our local guides for various destinations.

Rent or buy baby gear in advance

While a stroller is an airport necessity, other types of baby gear are rentable, such as cribs and high chairs. Contact your destination hotel or rental property beforehand to ensure you have everything you need on the other end of your flight.

If you’re staying with family, you can arrange to have items delivered or shipped to your destination. In some cases, like when you know you’ll be visiting grandma and grandpa frequently, they might like having their own set of baby gear available for when you visit.

Pack snacks

Make sure you have plenty of fun snacks! Not only does snacking keep your child busy, but chewing, swallowing, or sipping from a bottle or sippy cup can also help alleviate ear pain during takeoff and landing.

On board the plane, you can remind your child that there will be a “special snack” given by the flight attendant. They’ll enjoy getting a special treat they weren’t expecting. 

How to entertain a toddler on a plane

Travelling with a toddler on a plane can be challenging, but there are several ways to keep them entertained during the flight. One of the best ways is to bring their favourite toys. Choose toys that are easy to pack and will keep them occupied for a long time, such as puzzles, colouring books, and small figurines.

Another great option is downloading their favourite movies and TV shows onto a tablet or smartphone. Make sure to bring headphones so they can watch without disturbing other passengers. This will keep them entertained and allow them to relax and wind down during the flight.

Playing games is another fun way to keep toddlers occupied on a plane. Simple games like “I spy” or “guess the animal” can be played without any materials, while games like card games and board games can be brought along to keep them engaged.

Reading stories and books is also an excellent option for keeping toddlers entertained during a long flight. Pack a few of their favourite books, and choose books with lots of colourful pictures and simple storylines. You can also read the in-flight magazine or create your storybook by drawing pictures and making up stories.

Looking for fun place to travel with your toddler? Read our guides for different destinations around the world.

Lean on technology

While you might limit screen time at home, your plane ride is the perfect time to bend the rules a bit. Bring your tablet and some headphones, and come prepared with a few age-appropriate movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and playlists downloaded and ready to stream. 

Another option is to provide your toddler with a cheap, disposable camera or an instant camera that prints pictures immediately. Then, please encourage them to take photos of their favourite sights.

Bring extra everything

You can’t go wrong packing extra diapers, baby cream, nappies, changes of clothes, bottles or sippy cups, and food for your travels (for yourself, too!). You’ll be glad you did in the event of spitups, potty accidents, or flight delays. Also, dress in layers—both you and your little one—so you’re able to stay comfortable throughout your travels. Temperatures can get chilly on the airplane, but you might find yourself breaking a sweat making it through the airport. 

Choosing the airline

When choosing the right airline for travelling with a toddler, there are several factors to consider. One crucial factor is seating options. Look for airlines that offer seating options that are comfortable and convenient for families, such as bulkhead seats or seats with extra legroom. Some airlines also provide bassinets for infants.

Another critical factor is in-flight entertainment. Choose an airline that offers a variety of movies, TV shows, and games on its in-flight entertainment system to keep your child occupied during the flight.

Additionally, consider the airline’s reputation for customer service, as helpful staff can make all the difference when travelling with a toddler. Finally, check the airline’s policies on baggage allowances, special meals for children, and other amenities that can make your trip more comfortable and convenient.

Qatar Airways

Here are some additional tips specifically for travelling on Qatar Airways with a toddler

Reserve a bassinet seat: Qatar Airways offers bassinet seats for infants up to 2 years old. These seats are in the bulkhead row and come with a bassinet that can be used during the flight.

Check the baggage allowance: Qatar Airways allows passengers to bring a certain amount of baggage for free, but the allowance may differ for infants and toddlers. Make sure to check the baggage allowance for your child before you pack.

Request special meals: Qatar Airways offers special meals for children, including baby food, toddler meals, and kid-friendly options. Make sure to request these meals in advance.

Take advantage of in-flight entertainment: Qatar Airways offers a wide range of movies, TV shows, and games on its in-flight entertainment system. Bring headphones for your child and let them watch their favourite shows or play games to keep them occupied.

Qatar Airways is known for providing excellent customer service. Don’t be afraid to ask flight attendants for help if you need it, whether with getting your child settled in their seat or finding a quiet spot to walk around with them during the flight.

Ryanair

Here are some things to keep in mind when travelling with a toddler on Ryanair

Ryanair charges extra for seat reservations, but it’s worth it to ensure that you’re seated together as a family. You can also choose seats near the front of the plane for easier boarding and disembarking.

Ryanair has strict baggage allowances, so make sure to pack light and bring only the essentials. You can bring one small bag for your toddler to keep with you in the cabin, but larger items like strollers or car seats will need to be checked in.

Ryanair charges for food and drinks on board, so bring your own snacks and drinks for your toddler. Make sure to bring enough to last the entire flight, as there may not be many opportunities to buy food or drinks on board.

Ryanair is a budget airline, so don’t expect any frills or amenities like in-flight entertainment or complimentary blankets and pillows. Bring your own entertainment and comfort items for your toddler, such as books, toys, or a cosy blanket.

Ryanair has strict rules and policies, so make sure to follow them to avoid any issues or extra fees. For example, make sure your toddler has a valid passport or ID card, and arrive at the airport early to allow plenty of time for security and boarding.

Traveling with a toddler can be unpredictable, so be prepared to be flexible and patient. Bring plenty of snacks, toys, and other distractions to keep your child occupied, and be prepared for delays or other unexpected issues that may arise.

easyJet

Here are some tips for travelling with a toddler on EasyJet

EasyJet offers free seat reservations, so consider reserving seats near the front of the plane or in the exit row for extra legroom. You can also choose seats together as a family to make boarding and disembarking easier.

EasyJet has strict baggage allowances, so check the policy for your destination and pack accordingly. You can bring one small bag for your toddler to keep with you in the cabin, but larger items like strollers or car seats will need to be checked in.

EasyJet charges for food and drinks on board, so bring your snacks and drinks for your toddler. Make sure to get enough to last the entire flight, as there may not be many opportunities to buy food or drinks on board.

EasyJet is a budget airline, so don’t expect frills or amenities like in-flight entertainment or complimentary blankets and pillows. Bring your own entertainment and comfort items for your toddler, such as books, toys, or a cosy blanket.

EasyJet offers priority boarding for families with young children, so take advantage of this service to board the plane early and settle in before the crowds.

EasyJet has strict rules and policies, so follow them to avoid any issues or extra fees. For example, ensure your toddler has a valid passport or ID card, and arrive at the airport early to allow plenty of time for security and boarding.

Travelling with a toddler can be unpredictable, so be prepared to be flexible and patient. Bring plenty of snacks, toys, and other distractions to keep your child occupied, and be prepared for delays or other unexpected issues that may arise.

British Airways

Take advantage of priority boarding: British Airways offers priority boarding for families with young children, allowing you to board early and settle before other passengers.

British Airways provides baby-changing facilities on board and in airport lounges. Use them when necessary, but also consider changing your toddler’s diaper before boarding to avoid any discomfort during the flight.

Bring a stroller or baby carrier: British Airways allows passengers to check in one stroller or car seat for free, or you can bring a baby carrier on board. This can be more convenient when navigating the airport and boarding the plane.

Take advantage of in-flight amenities: British Airways offers a range of amenities on board, including child-friendly meals, blankets, pillows, and entertainment options. Take advantage of these to keep your toddler comfortable and occupied during the flight.

Communicate with the cabin crew: Don’t hesitate to communicate with the cabin crew if you need any assistance or have any concerns during the flight. They can often provide helpful tips or accommodations to make the trip more enjoyable for you and your toddler.

Emirates

Emirates provides bassinets for infants, but availability is limited. Request one when booking your flight and arrive early to secure it.

Emirates offers an on-board nanny service on select flights, where trained childcare professionals can help take care of your toddler during the flight.

Use the “Fly With Me” animals: Emirates offers a range of cuddly “Fly With Me” animals that toddlers can take home as souvenirs. These can also double as a comforting travel buddy during the flight.

While Emirates provides kid-friendly meals, it’s always a good idea to pack extra snacks and drinks in case your toddler gets hungry or thirsty between meals.

Emirates can keep the cabin temperature quite cool, so make sure to dress your toddler in layers to stay comfortable during the flight.

Emirates lounges offer a variety of amenities, including play areas for children. Take advantage of these to give your toddler a chance to stretch their legs before the flight.

Even with Emirates’ in-flight entertainment options, it’s a good idea to bring your own toys, books, and games to keep your toddler occupied.

Prepare for the Unexpected 

Make sure you have all the necessities in your hand luggage bag in case your flight gets cancelled, you have an extended layover, or your luggage gets lost. If you need to stay in a hotel, you’ll be glad you have toothbrushes, toothpaste, contact lens solution, extra undergarments, and other essentials. 

Toddler travel checklist

  1. Book a direct flight or one with a longer layover.
  2. Reserve a separate seat for your child.
  3. Buy your fares early to ensure the best seating.
  4. Allow extra time at the airport.
  5. Rent baby gear at your destination.
  6. Pack snacks.
  7. Bring along toys and activities.
  8. Use technology as needed.
  9. Pack extra everything.
  10.  Prepare for overnight layovers.

Frequently asked questions

What types of liquid are allowed in my hand luggage? 

When boarding a plane in the UK, containers must hold no more than 100ml and must be placed in a resealable, clear plastic bag. The bag should ​​hold no more than a litre and measure approximately 20cm x 20cm. Note that you are allowed to take liquid containers larger than 100ml through security if they contain baby food or baby milk. 

See additional restrictions and exemptions here, and check on the rules and restrictions with your destination airport if you’re travelling internationally.

When is the best time to fly with a toddler? 

Aim to travel during naptime or overnight so your child is more likely to sleep.

Where should we sit when travelling with a toddler?

Try to book a window seat to give your child the best view of the sights below. If that’s not possible, the middle seat is preferable over the aisle so your toddler isn’t reaching for people or rolling carts as they pass by. 

Should we pre-board?

Take advantage of pre-boarding with your young child to allow extra time to get settled on the plane.

Do I bring the stroller on the plane?

Most airlines will allow you to gate-check bulky items such as strollers. At the gate, request gate-check tags and attach one to each item, and leave the items at the end of the jetway before boarding your plane. You’ll then retrieve them either from the same spot or from baggage claim once you disembark from the plane. For more specifics, ask your airlines about their gate-check policies.

What happens if I can’t sit next to my toddler?

If you weren’t able to secure a seat next to your toddler, you might be able to switch seats with someone once aboard the plane. Ask a flight attendant for help making the switch.

Should I bring a car seat?

Most experts recommend bringing along your child’s car seat, provided it’s certified for airline use, says What to Expect. Contact the airlines before your travels to ensure your car seat is approved for use on an airplane. Secure it to the airplane seat with the airplane’s seatbelt, sans base.

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