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Guest Commentary

Flying with Kids? Be Organized!

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 13

By Pam Young

I’m happy to announce I’m featured in American Airways magazine this month! With that good news I thought I’d write about flying with little ones. Now that vacation time in full swing and if you plan to fly with your kids, here are my top ten tips for happy flying. . . short of drugs.

1. Be Prepared

Designate a carry-on as the entertainment bag. Keep what’s in it a secret, bringing out surprises as the trip goes. Busy kids are happy kids. Bored ones have the ability to terrorize everyone on a flight, including you.
* books/notebooks
* pens
* crayons and coloring books
* Ipod with favorite movie
* Kindle

2. Get Gum

Children have very small ear canals and when the cabin is pressurized tiny ears can hurt. Chewing sugarless gum can help and once the jet is air bound it isn’t needed.

3. Let it Suck

Nurse during take-off, or have a binky ready. I don’t think I’ve ever taken off without hearing an infant screaming because his little ears hurt. Sucking helps.

4. Turn Bedtime into Fly-time

Matching PJs don’t just have to be at Christmastime. Deck your whole family out in new jammies for the flight. You’ll crack up the flight attendants as well as fellow passengers. Tell your kids you get to have a pajama party on the plane. You may have a hard time sleeping on a flight, but I’ve never met a kid on a red-eye that wasn’t asleep and I’d love to see a fun-loving family dressed for bed on a red-eye.

5. No Sugar

When the flight attendant comes by with the free sodas and juice, just say “NO, water or milk please.” Bring treats high in protein and fat. Nuts and cheese, veggies and mayo. Hungry children and those high on sugar will get fussy and disruptive.

6. Make Sure Price is Right

Check the ticket prices for infants as you may be charged more for your baby than yourself. Some airlines charge up to 75% for a ticket without a seat. In this case you don’t save money! Buy a normal ticket. At least you’ll get extra space and that’s really valuable.

7. Go Potty Before Take-off

Even the ones who pipe up and say, “I don’t have to,” make sure everybody goes before take-off. Cut back on fluids before the flight, the same as you do before bedtime or they’ll be up and down the aisle. Torture for the guy who sits in the aisle seat and your kid’s are in the window seat. This is sensible advice for adults too. Drinking five pints of beer before getting on the plane is dangerous, especially if you’re held up during taxiing. Of course, there’s always Depends.

8. The Air Police are Watching

One of my friends who had to fly with her rather hyper three-year-old told me this worked wonders. “I warned Rachel to behave or the Air Police would have to come. I pointed out the TSA uniformed agents and told her they also look out for badly behaved children. I’m not suggesting I scared her out of her wits and I didn’t tell her what’d happen if they caught her being a brat; I just used the suggestion as a way to teach her respect for those in uniform and it definitely gave me a psychological edge.”

9. Peek-a-Boo

Babies love to be held up over your head. On a flight, they get to see all the passengers and many will be trying to get baby’s attention. It’s a great way to calm a baby and it’s good for your upper arm muscles.

10. Practice Enlightened Selfishness

Follow one of the airline’s cardinal rules: in case the cabin loses pressure, put your oxygen mask on first and then assist your child. Take care of yourself first and everything will take care of itself. If you feel good and are rested, you’ll be far more able to cope with the inevitable tests thrown at you by your busy little ones. So, eat right, get your sleep and give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport early.

Safe travels! Have a wonderful time with your kids wherever you’re going and thank you for reading my column.

To see what Pam’s got up her cyber-sleeve, check out Want to get organized? Join the club!