Teach children travel etiquette when you fly

posted in: Travelling with kids | 1

Children on planes! Read any forums lately on that subject? You’d be surprised at how many people wish there were kid-free flights, and how a hot summer in hell is more appealing to many than a long haul flight near someone else’s children.
Although I’m all for travelling with your kids, I do get where they’re coming from. I’ve been on flights with some horrors… but most of those horrors have been adults. (Special mention to the following…)
– The smelly guy in the seat next to me from Tokyo to Hong Kong.
– The American insurance company convention attendees going hell-for-leather with the free booze…
– The phantom farter on that flight to Taipei.

The kids who I’ve seen misbehave usually do so because their parents allow them to. (Special mention to the following…)
– The woman who boarded with four kids and immediately handed out the bags of lollies. Wow, that was one hellova flight!
– The woman who allowed her snotty-nosed toddler to run up and down the aisles, stopping to annoy the other passengers constantly. (Here’s a tip—just because you think your child is delightful doesn’t mean anyone else does… or should)
– The couple who allowed their kid (Damian) to kick my seat all the way from New York to Frankfurt.

An acquaintance of mine once put her children’s bad behaviour down to “high spiritedness… they’re smart.” Actually no, they simply haven’t been taught how to behave. Simple. (Don’t you love these parents? All children are high spirited, even the well behaved ones!)

Enforce some boundaries and rules when you travel (always, but that’s another blog) and your children will be well behaved. Below is a list of basic etiquette tips while you’re on a plane.

– Don’t kick the seat in front of you, (especially if you’re an adult). I usually remove my kids’ shoes on a long haul flight, just in case they accidentally do it, but they know that if I catch them doing it on purpose I’ll remove the whole foot.

– The armrest doesn’t belong to you. (To the men who read this, I know this comes as a shock.)

– The flight attendants have other people to deal with, so be patient.

– Always wear shoes to the toilet. (Which means you need to put them back on again, unless you’ve removed a foot, and then the shoe can be thrown out!)

– Don’t let your kids run up and down the aisles, ever. They need to learn to be patient, and to sit and their seats. On long-haul flights, take them at regular intervals to the back of the plane where they can stretch and play a few games. (See our book Around the World in 80 Ways for ideas) Then it’s straight back to their seat.

– Don’t let them stand up and peer over the seat at the passengers behind. What might be cute to you wears thin real quick for others.

– For younger children, break the flight into sections to help pass the time: sleep time, playtime, reading time, movie time, meal time, stretching time etc.

– Encourage your child to play or read alone—they shouldn’t expect you to be their constant entertainment.

– Reinforce that they need to be polite, patient and quiet.
Help your children develop patience and respect when you travel. Have rules. Enforce them. And enjoy the benefits of travelling with mostly well-behaved kids… yes mostly… after all… they’re still kids.