Traveling with children can be a delight and a challenge. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has the following tips for safe and stress-free family air travel. Please use the tips in any print or broadcast story, with appropriate attribution of source.
General Air Travel Tips
Allow your family extra time to get through security - especially when traveling with younger children.
Have children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off for security screening. Children younger than 12 years are not required to remove their shoes for routine screening.
Strollers can be brought through airport security and gate-checked to make travel with small children easier.
Talk with your children about the security screening process before coming to the airport. Let them know that bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) must be put in the X‑ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
Discuss the fact that it's against the law to make threats such as; "I have a bomb in my bag." Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines.
Arrange to have a car safety seat at your destination or bring your own. Airlines will typically allow families to bring a child's car safety seat as an extra luggage item with no additional luggage expense. Check the airline's website ahead of time so you know their policy before you arrive at the airport.
When traveling on an airplane, a child is best protected when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child. The car safety seat should have a label noting that it is FAA-approved. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be stowed in overhead bins or checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars, taxis or ride shares. Children who weigh more than 40lbs can use the aircraft seat belt.
Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult's lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat.
Alternatively, there are also some FAA-approved harnesses for older infants and toddlers that fold down in a small, compact bag for convenience.
Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum or drinking liquids with a straw.
Wash hands frequently and consider bringing hand-washing gel and disinfectant wipes to prevent illnesses during travel.
Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
Consult your pediatrician if flying within 2 weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.
If traveling internationally, check with your doctor to see if your child might need additional vaccines or preventive medications, and make sure your child is up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Bring mosquito protection in countries where mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are present.
In order to reduce jet lag, adjust your child's sleep schedule 2-3 days before departure. After arrival, be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
Stay within arm's reach of children while swimming, as pools may not have safe, modern drain systems and both pools and beaches may lack lifeguards.
Ensure that your child wears a life jacket when on smaller boats and set an example by wearing your life jacket.
Conditions at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the U.S. Carefully inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options. (Also applies to travel in the U.S.)
@2018 American Academy of Pediatrics