Depending on the person, flying can be an enjoyable adventure or a total nightmare. Fear of flying is called Aerophobia, and an article by ABC News pegs the number of people in the United States who have a fear of flying at "just 6.5 percent of the population". A phobia of flying can happen for a number of reasons, a past bad experience or anxiety over what might happen during the course of a flight. And there are certainly a number of anxiety-inducing aspects to flying for just the everyday person.
So imagine how being a parent on the plane must feel.
Most parents have concerns over how their little ones will fare at 30,000 feet in the air, considering all the effects flying can have on the average adult. And sometimes other passengers don't make the situation any easier. There is a pretty big stigma against parents bringing their young children with them on the plane. Viral videos showing children have tantrums on flights or adults getting into altercations over crying babies show just how divided we are when it comes to flying with children. Some people have even gone as far as suggesting that there be "child-free" seatings and even flights, so passengers who don't wish to interact with children don't have to. As of now, there are no "child-free" services offered by any commercial flight in the United States, but the debate over it seems to grow as time goes on.
Whether our readers are on one side of the other, we've gathered 15 tips and tricks parents can do to avoid a cranky kid, and 10 for passengers traveling with them.
Traveling can throw off most adult's schedule and jet lag is something that no one really wants to deal with. So imagine being a kid and having to deal with jet lag.
Being tired leads even the most well-behaved kids to be cranky, so one way to avoid a tired tot is to try and book a flight that falls closer to their sleeping schedule.
Flying in the morning works better for babies since they are usually asleep. An article by Today suggests taking a red-eye in extreme cases - "since kids cannot fight sleep beyond a certain point".
Being trapped in the same space for hours wears thin on even the most patient of adults, so imagine how hard it would be for a kid. While there are times that passengers have to be seated on the plane, there are other times when they are free to move about the cabin.
Walking around helps reduce the chance of clotting, according to an article by NPR.
Children old enough to walk will probably appreciate the opportunity to walk around, and it'll be a parent's chance to soothe a fussy baby.
No one will say that it doesn't suck to be trapped on a plane with a kid who is not happy and is doing their best to let everyone know it. Tensions can mount between passengers and parents, which doesn't help anyone involved.
Passengers need to try and be patient and give parents time to calm their children down.
Even if a child fusses on a plane, it doesn't mean that they'll fuss during the entire trip. Often they just need something and once they're pacified they should be fine.
Sometimes a cranky attitude is the result of an empty stomach. No matter how short of a flight you think it'll be, always make sure to bring along something for the kids to snack on. Not all airlines offer free snacks, and the choices might not always suit a kid's taste, so packing along a ziplock bag filled with snacks is a good idea.
According to ThePointsGuy.com, JetBlue and Delta "sit at the top when it comes to providing complimentary child-friendly snacks and drinks."
Delta also provides special meals for babies and children 2-12 upon special request.
There are a quite a few parents out there that don't really want their kids to watch TV. Too much TV can be a bad thing, and it could promote unhealthy habits in young children.
But a little TV every now and then can be a good thing, as there are a lot of educational programs for kids now.
And being trapped on an airplane limits the number of activities a kid can do, letting them watch TV for a little bit will be good for them and the passengers around them.
So most parents don't really want their toddlers handling their expensive phones. Not only would it be super inconvenient, and expensive to have to pay for repairs or to replace the whole thing entirely, but tons of pictures, phone numbers, and other precious information could be lost.
But, when it comes down to either keeping a fussy toddler happy or holding onto a phone, most parents will probably fork it over and let their babies play Candy Crush. Just watch them with it and have a charger ready once they're done playing with it.
Often we hear about situations where kids are behaving badly on planes. It gives a pretty unrealistic view of how kids actually fly. The majority of flights with children on them go on with little to no incidents involving a crying baby or a screaming kid.
Most kids are pretty well behaved if made comfortable and entertained.
Praising them for their good behavior is a good way to encourage them to stay good. Just like adults, a good compliment can really make a child's day.
Becoming a parent will really put a test on a person's patience. Kids won't always be the most well behaved, even when a parent does everything "right" to get them to be.
But just because a kid is being "the worst" that doesn't give a passenger the right to act the same way.
When it comes to a situation with kids behaving badly, things only get worse when adults start to act the same way. The best thing any passenger can do is to keep their cool and be the mature adult that they are expected to be.
Social media has shown a trend of parents of babies and young children handing out "goodie bags" to fellow passengers. The bags usually come with earplugs, some pieces of candy and a little note explaining that they are traveling with a young child and that they apologize for any inconvenience it might cause them.
While it certainly isn't something that should be expected of every parent, it is a sweet and thoughtful gesture.
At the very least it shows that a parent is fully aware of the disturbance a cranky child could cause. And who doesn't like free stuff?
Sometimes parents can feel like it's them and their kids against the rest of the world, or at least the plane.
It would not hurt to become the ally of another parent, who is probably the most sympathetic person on the plane.
Parents who engage other parents in friendly conversation just might gain an extra set of helping hands when it comes to keeping their kid from being cranky. The kids could play together, or the parent could watch the little one for a moment.
Everyone needs a little help sometimes, and that can be especially true for parents on a flight. With the stigma of crying babies on a plane, parents could really feel like they're on their own when it comes to taking care of their kid.
Passengers who don't mind would make a parent's day if they offered some assistance.
Watching a kid while the parent grabs something from the overhead or even takes a trip to the bathroom could really help out in the long run. Even playing peek-a-boo to keep a curious kid entertained might make a parent grateful.
What parents, and passengers, have to understand is that flying can be a pretty big experience for a kid, whether it is good or it is bad. Especially if it is their first time flying, they are put in a whole new environment that they have no control over, with a whole cabin full of strangers.
Parents should comfort and cuddle their children, trying their best to keep their cool.
"Acting out" is often a kid's only way to show that they are in distress.
Taking the time to prepare in advance is a good idea, especially when it comes to booking seats on a plane. Some airlines allow passengers to pick their own seats, but for the ones that don't families run the risk of not getting seated together.
The best way for parents to confirm where heir family will be sitting is by going to the check-out counter to confirm where they'd be sitting on the plane. If the plane isn't completely booked, there is a chance for parents to request a change of seating so that the family can sit together.
There are people out there who would prefer it if there were special "child-free" planes available, but that doesn't seem to be an option in the near future. Instead, there are a few tips passengers can take to avoid being in the "eye of the storm" of a temper tantrum.
One is to avoid booking the seats on the back of the plane.
A lot of parents aim for those seats because they're the closest to the bathroom. Avoid the very front of the plane too, as the roomier seats are appealing to parents as well.
Sometimes it isn't possible to book the exact seat wanted beforehand. Passengers worried that they might get stuck next to a cranky kid can go to the checkout and request a seat change at the counter. But what about situations where a passenger is already on the plane and they're sitting next to a baby that just can't be soothed.
They should ask one of the flight attendants if its possible to be moved. Now that isn't to say it's always possible, even if there seem to be seats available.
This might be one of the more unexpected tips but there are a few articles, including one from Today and Reader's Digest that suggest this little trick. The idea is that kids love surprises and offering them surprise goodie bags will keep them entertained and distracted.
What goes in them doesn't have to be expensive, spending less than $20 at the dollar store can get a person a lot of toys and activities.
Don't let them see the goodie bags beforehand and hand them out periodically. It's a fun and ingenious way to keep the kids happy and a flight peaceful.
People seem to have the impression that airlines are only interested in getting as much money as they can out of commuters, and that their comfort isn't their concern. That isn't the case, and airlines will often do their best to try to accommodate everyone to their best abilities.
When it comes to cranky or fussy kids, there isn't a whole lot flight attendants can do.
If changing seats isn't an option then a passenger can reach out to the airline and try to explain their situation. Sometimes they can get credit for their next flight.
Anyone who flies knows that getting on the plane isn't as simple as just, well getting on the plane. There are boarding groups and depending on which group a passenger is in determine when they get on the plane, and if there will be enough room for their carry-on bag.
For parents it's important that they have enough time (and space) to get their whole family as settled in on the plane as possible, and early boarding just might be their best bet. Some airlines, like Southwest, have special boarding groups just for families.
When it comes to cranky kids, there aren't a whole lot flight attendants can do. They can talk to the parent about calming their child down, and they can try to help, but there isn't really any sort of "magical solution" to fixing the problem.
Passengers can't always be moved out of the situation, so the best thing they can do is ignore it. Passengers are welcome to ask for earplugs, and if they have their own they can use those to at least block out the sounds of the cranky kid. Headphones work too.
When the plane takes off and begins its ascent to 30,000 miles in the air the air pressure quickly changes. Air gets trapped in the inner ear, causing pain. It happens for kids too and if they're young enough they won't be able to do most of the tricks available to help alleviate that pain in their ears.
Parents should expect and prepare for their kids to complain about their ears. For children old enough, bringing along some gum from them to chew might help. For babies letting them suck on a bottle or pacifier can help.
For the parents feeling a little on edge, having a hot drink during a stressful time might help to take some of the"edge off. Sometimes flight attendants might compensate a passenger with a free drink, and most planes both serve adult beverages and allow passengers to bring ones from home.
Of course, a passenger shouldn't go overboard. With the change in atmosphere, a passenger might feel the effects of an adult beverage a lot quicker than normal. It's best to stay hydrated by drinking water along with it and avoid salty foods.
Some parents do admit to giving their kids Children's Benadryl and other medicine to help them sleep through the flight. There are people on the fence on whether this is alright to do or not, and of course a person shouldn't give their medicine they don't need.
But, considering the aches and pains that flying can cause for adults, giving the little the recommended dose of Benadryl just might help them cope. And if the little one is actually sick, its best to bring some medicine along in general. That includes medicine for gas.
Sometimes it might seem like a parent isn't doing their best to try and soothe their kid. It downright might even seem like they have no plans on taking control of the situation, and that they seem deaf to the cries and fusses of their own child.
But that doesn't mean, under any circumstance, should a passenger try to step in and take care of the situation themselves. Asking the parent if they need assistance is one thing, but no parents would want (or would allow) a stranger to try and tell them or their kid what to do.
We all know that most kids like to hear stories and being stuck on a plane for a few hours is a good opportunity for any parent to test out their storytelling skills. Make up a story about the trip, like the planned destination or what will be done once the plane lands.
And if a parent isn't feeling the most creative, packing along a few books to read will work too. Not only is telling a story a possible distraction, but it also makes for a good bonding moment between a parent and their child.
So a passenger is patient, they do whatever they can to try and either get themselves out of the situation or try to block out what is going on. A passenger might feel like they're at their wit's end, and they might have a few choice words to say to a parent.
Instead, a passenger should direct any issues they have to the flight attendant and let them speak to the parent directly. Parents are probably already on edge, and they could get pretty defensive towards anyone who they feel have any animosity between them and their kid.
Sources: ABCNews, Reader's Digest, Today, ThePointsGuy, NPR, BravoTV, BusinessInsider