27 May 2015

Traveling on a Plane with 2 Kids Under 4

I've been asked how was our experience traveling on a plane with two kids under four.

Firstly, I expected the worst. I say keep your expectations on how the flight will be low, so anything above that is a great experience. I say this because our very first plane ride with one child, wasn't the best, so since then I've learnt to be prepared to expect the worst.

This time around, with two children, on a 7 hour plane, in a nutshell ... pleasant. The boys did surprisingly good, so the experience was positive.

On both flights we were seated together in a row of four seats, occupying only three. Kai is under two so we didn't have to buy him a seat. Unfortunately both flights were full so no blocking (or free) seats, so that Kai could have his own seat on this flight. On the way there we had a lunch time flight so the boys managed to have their afternoon naps on the plane. They also ate the plane food, Eli loved the individual entertainment unit in front of him, and watched the kids movies and shows they had on offer for most of the plane ride. I think both boys were excited and just taking in their new surroundings. On the way back we had a night time flight which I was nervous about, just in case they didn't sleep and there was a plane full of people who wanted to sleep. But surprisingly they slept through most of the flight. They were knocked out asleep before dinner was served, and woke up an hour before landing.

Eli experienced the pressure in his ears during our flights. He didn't complain too much about pain, more that he "lost his voice" cause he couldn't hear himself talk properly during the decent. 

Personally I think the characters that we got stuck with next to us, was what made the flights difficult. On the flight to Philippines, I sat next to an older Filipina, who semi lecture me throughout the whole trip, on the importance of practicing and teaching my children our native language. She told me of another passenger she met before boarding who, was born in Australia but can still speak tagalog. When one of her friends came up to check up on her mid flight, she tells her in tagalog, I'm filipina but doesn't speak it ... um hello I understand what you're saying. The ironic thing is, her story is she met a man online who lives in Australia and guess what language they communicate in ... english. 

On the way back from Philippines I got stuck next to miss never been on a plane ever in my life before. She would ask me questions at the most inconvenient time, like when I'm trying to settle a child. Get me to change the movie on her entertainment unit, and during the decent she felt the pressure in her ears, and she was freaking out, wondering if this was normal. 

I realised during this trip the airport was also a bit of a stressful situation. It was really hard to keep two kids entertained between waiting periods. I have boys and they don't sit still. The airports are crowded, busy, surrounded by strict security, there's too many distractions and it almost feels like a library where you can't be loud, so its a place not really suited for children. 

So my advice for traveling on a plane with two kids:

  • Packed lots of stuff in their hand carry to entertain and distract them during the long waiting periods and from the flight, such as books, crayons, toys and iPad. 
  • Bring extra change of clothes to keep them comfortable. We actually ran out of extra clothing on the way to Manila cause Kai peed on me, twice.
  • Packed enough food that they usually eat in case they don't like the plane food. In our case the boys consumed most of the food I brought before the flight, so Eli was asking for a particular snack during the flight but I had none left.
  • Before boarding establish a bag that you will keep stored under the seat in front of you. This bag should have in it all the key items you think you'll need so you don't need to keep getting up and reaching for your stuff from the overhead storage compartment. Keep things like nappies, wipes, food and clothing - enough for the flight. Also store your passport and pen for when you need to complete any customs paperwork before you arrive. 
  • Check in early. So you can get it out of the way and potentially change seats if you're keen to. We didn't select our seats before we flew, cause that was an extra $25 per person per flight. So the airline automatically selected our seats for us. We check in relatively early on both flights and managed to change our seats to a preferable seating row and arrangement. 

Have you flown on a plane with two young children before? What lessons did you learn from your experience? 

You can read about our experience flying with one child over here
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