Towards making flying smooth in the holiday season, mega carrier, British Airways has offered parents some basic reminder steps to ensure a pleasant flying experience for passengers, including children.
According to Kola Olayinka, the country commercial manager for West Africa at British Airways, British Airways has always been concerned about ensuring a comfortable flying experience for every passenger to prevent stress on board.
Offering advice on how to enjoy a good flying experience, Olayinka explained that, ‘’When travelling with children, it is important to have a careful plan and take certain precautionary steps that will ensure that a child is relaxed, occupied and comfortable.’’
He added that, being in a confined space with a noisy youngster can be awkward for parents and irritating to fellow flyers. “Most children are naturally quite excited about flying. The trick is to harness that interest, without them getting over-excited, while ensuring they do not become fretful in an unfamiliar environment.”
Olayinka thereafter proposed steps to enjoy flying with children without stress to include the following:
• A happy flight starts online before you leave for the airport. Sites like BA.com have comprehensive details of paperwork required for traveling with minors, so you can plan ahead. You can also order children’s meals online, or get help from the hostess. You can also reserve equipment such as bassinets for infants. There is plenty of information about family travel at http://www.britishairways.com/en-za/information/family-travel?source=MNVINF2family_travel&link=main_nav
• Take advantage of all the concessions offered to families such as being allowed to take strollers to the door of the aircraft when boarding. Families also get priority when boarding, and you can wait until other passengers have disembarked before doing so with your family.
• Understand air-pressure: the pressurisation in passenger aircraft is likely to be your child’s main source of discomfort. During ascent and descent, giving the child food or drink will trigger his or her swallowing reflex, which will help the ears equalise.
• Most parents have a good idea of which foods make their kids overactive and tetchy, but in general, avoid sweet treats of ones that have artificial colourants when travelling. Chewy snacks like biltong or dried fruit will help with pressurising their ears while limiting the spikes in blood-sugar that can result in tantrums. Rooibos tea can be a good alternative to fizzy drinks and while it is good to keep the child hydrated, do not overdo it, as this can result in nappy-changes and trips to the toilet.
• Pack favourite, familiar snacks for the kids, to supplement the meals served on board.
• Keeping the child occupied is obviously crucial, if he or she is awake. One tried-and-tested trick is to gift-wrap treasured toys and present them when the child gets bored. It may also be good time to buy some new toys and ration them out during the flight. This is probably one time to avoid toys like Lego blocks as they can fall in hard-to-reach places. Also, be sensible about toy guns or knives, which airport security staffers are likely to confiscate.
• Mobile devices can be a boon for parents and although many families ration children’s use of tablets, a long-haul flight might justify a little leeway. It is worth spending a few thousand Naira on portable chargers to increase battery life. Headphones are useful too, for movies, music, apps and games, but crayons and paper are evergreen favourites.
• Generally, it is better not to sit kids on the aisle, as they may bump passing trolleys, which have hard edges and hot water.
• Do not over-pack. You have to carry it all. You will need the basics – wipes, nappies, sanitisers and so on – but if your child is an infant, you will need to carry him or her as well.
Finally, Olayinka advised parents to remember that the aircrew are their allies and it is in their interest to ensure that they have an enjoyable flight, urging them not to be reluctant to ask for help.