Tips for Flying with Young Children, Part 1

I’m delighted to share a post from Christopher on flying tips with young children. Y’all, this family has experience, seeing as they fly with FIVE young children from Kansas City to Seattle. 

Sarah asked us to share a bit about our travel to and from Washington with the kiddos. Logistics have gotten more intense over these past years, but we’re just getting to the point where the older children are able to help a bit.

We bought a double stroller at a garage sale that has been a huge blessing in the airports. We’ve found that we can put both car seats in the back seat of the stroller (double-stacked), and a bungee cord is a huge help with stabilizing the car seats. A kiddo can ride in the front seat, and we can hang a diaper bag on the handle. For those who are concerned about their image and looking good/polished while traveling: it’s not the ideal setup. 🙂 However, it makes logistics MUCH simpler for us.

Something else that greatly simplifies logistics is a baby carrier. This enables Anna Marie to carry the baby while keeping hands free to carry things and help the other kiddos. (Side note, but other families might be interested. She was given an Original Ergo before Joshua arrived, which she loved; and then received an Ergo Omni 360 after Elizabeth was born and highly recommends it as she feels like the company made some great improvements. They’re expensive, but if you have baby gift money … you can buy them at Bed Bath and Beyond using a 20% off coupon.)

When we arrive at the airport gate, we’ll gate-check the stroller. We can then roll it down the jetway, and at the bottom, we collapse it down and put it into a stroller bag. (We’ve heard that the cargo holds on planes are filthy; and by the looks of our bag, it would seem so. The link is Titus2’s Amazon affiliate link, see the Privacy Policy here.) Anna Marie heads onto the plane with the children, and I then will carry the car seats onto the plane. We like flying Southwest (and really like booking flights with reward points because the flights can be canceled/changed with no penalties) and if a flight has extra seats available, lap babies can get those seats. By bringing two car seats on the plane, if there are extra seats available the lap babies can ride in them; if not, some of the other children can ride in them. Carrying the two car seats onto the plane isn’t easy, but we stack them and it works. Not to mention the flight attendants always offer to help. Note that car seats must always be by the window so as to not block egress in the event of an emergency.

We sit near the back of the plane for a few reasons. With Southwest’s open seating, it’s easier to get seats together (although the flight attendants would coordinate getting us seats together if we needed it). Plus, it’s convenient for us being close to the restroom. It also allows us to be a bit out of the way for others.
When we get to our row(s), Anna Marie busies the children looking out a window (part of why it’s nice to be in the back so it’s not inconveniencing others while we take a few minutes to get situated) while I take a minute to wipe down the walls/seats/chair backs/little trays with a sanitizing wipe. While we don’t want to be paranoid about germs, this enables us to not worry about little ones touching everything around them (and they do!). I’ll install the car seats (it’s a good thing to be familiar with how the car seats will strap into the airline seat belt: working with the car seats can be difficult and there isn’t usually much time to get them buckled in).

If you’re interested in the Southwest credit cards, here is the link. At certain times of the year, they have better bonus points offers. 50,000 is a good bonus. Right now, one of the cards says 65k, but when you click into more details, the extra 25k is AFTER you spend $15k.

Watch for Part 2!

In Christ,

“This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

17 thoughts on “Tips for Flying with Young Children, Part 1”

  1. Thank you so much for this post Christopher! Know few families with loads of little kids and this will help them a lot. Looking forward to part 2 and some photos.

    I always enjoy reading posts from you and Anna Marie and admire how you both are so well organised and prepared for everything.

  2. Great tips! You are organized and have it down to a well oiled machine. I have also wiped down the areas around my seat and have occasionally worn a mask!? Not sure if the kiddos would like that?

  3. Awesome advice! We, too, have flown Southwest with our family several times. Many of the tips you have described here are the same things we use with our family of nine to make our flying experience efficient and fun.

    We also love to sit in the back of the plane for the same reasons, plus, you get a more unobstructed view out the window so far back from the wings. All of our children love a chance to be in the window seat, so I have a seating chart made up for our family long before we fly so that everyone knows what to expect and who sits with who during the flight. The chart is different for every separate flight. That way the kids each get a chance at a window seat if possible, they get to sit by a particularly requested sibling, and I can assign an older sibling to a row to help handle the younger kids. The seating chart makes a huge difference when trying to get everyone into their seats on the plane (and a huge help to our sanity in situations that have such potential for chaos :)!)

    When used responsibly, as I know your family does, credit card point deals are a great way to save money. We use them for the bonuses we need and cancel them before the year is up. The Southwest credit cards really are the easiest cards out there to fulfill, and Southwest has the cheapest seats for points that I have seen. Last year when we flew, our family spent a grand total of $238.80 for all nine seats. That amount was based on annual fees for two cards plus the government 9/11 fees of $5.60 each way per person. We had enough points to totally cover all nine tickets. (We don’t get early bird because it would more than double our costs, but even when we have been in the B group for boarding, we still have managed to get seats all together in the back with no problem.)

  4. These posts are so incredibly helpful!! Thank you so much, Christopher, for taking the time to write down these tips! It is such a blessing to know how other families handle things, especially one with lots of littles!

  5. Awesome tips! We also brought our car seats on the plane when flying. It’s much more comfortable for the kids to sleep and be contained. A lot of people will check their car seats, but I was concerned about them getting lost or damaged in the cargo hold. Also it’s much safer in case of any bad turbulence.

  6. Put a label on the back of the kid between their shoulder blades (like Hello My Name is) with the parents name & cell number. Do not put the child’s name on it. If the kids get separated someone can get the parents paged ASAP.

    It is just too easy to separated from a child – there is always one who is silent and drifts away.

    We were given this advice when we brought the fearsome threesome home from Kazakhstan. An upset child is barely able to communicate their own name let alone know Mama & Pop’s real names.

  7. I laughed when I read the “good/polished” comment. I think all of us who have ever flown with children just understand we are trying to make it though. I liked the tip about going towards the back of the plane to have more time to get situated, especially since you don’t have too much time to install a car seat. We will be flying Southwest next month with our 4 year old and 10 month old to go to a wedding in Arizona. We are always looking for good tips and will try heading to the back of the plane.

    Any tips on keeping little ears from popping? So far we just use bottle for the baby and a jolly rancher for our 4 year old.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Colleen! Loved the part about just trying to make it through! 🙂 I’ll see if they have any ear-popping tips for the final installment next week! Blessings.

  8. Christopher, I love hearing from/about you and Anna-Marie; please pop in more often!

  9. Wow! I can’t imagine trying to get through security and fly with all those little ones. I’ve never flown before, as our family always drives when we go on vacation, but I think it’d be neat.

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