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Air Travel Etiquette with Children

by Joy Weaver

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Air Travel Etiquette with Children Whether it is a vacation or unexpected travel plans, flying with your children can be a pleasant experience or miserable for everyone involved. Planning and preparing are determining success factors, and along with it remember; your children are watching you! Your travel manners and behavior are powerful examples for your children.

Best advice
Sit down with your children before you leave home and prepare them for the flight process. Explain step-by-step what to expect at the airport, on the plane, and give exact instructions on how to behave … and you must follow the same rules!

Basic instructions
Explain the seriousness of baggage check-in, and the screening of bags, which consist of placing items (including our shoes) in a container, that is then placed on a conveyor belt, that will pass through a scanner, and finally will exit on the other side of security.
Also, before you leave home remind your kids that it's illegal to mention or make jokes about bombs at the airport or in the plane. Please know, even a kid joking around can result in expensive fines and dreaded delays.

Speaking of delays - Parents remember that any seasoned traveler understands flying means delays. Just because we have kids in tow, does not mean our flight will not be cancelled or delayed. Expect it!

Since waiting is anticipated, pack entertainment, and include more activities than you think you'll use, delays can take hours. Pack activities such as books, activity/coloring books, travel-sized board games, playing cards, and CD players. If your child has a portable video game you will never appreciate it more. Don’t forget to charge it up and pack the charger too! (Note: when playing video games in public – keep the volume low and use indoor manners voice.)

More excellent advice

Book flights for non-peak travel times: Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesdays during the middle of the day or later in the evenings.
Give your child safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated. Also consider using a child tether in the airport. When checking in and claiming your luggage there may be moments when you have to let go of your child's hand.

On the Airplane
Take-offs and landings can be painful for youngster’s ears. Depending on their ages, bring along ear filters, which buffer eardrums against rapidly changing air pressure. Also, swallowing can alleviate pressure, so sip on a beverage, or eat a hard candy.
Most children will want to sit by the window to enjoy the view. Don’t forget to explain the buckle-up procedure, and remind your child never to push on the seat in front of them with their feet.
The FAA's has weight guidelines regarding child safety seats:
  • For babies less than 20 lbs., use a rear-facing car seat
  • For children 20 - 40 lbs., use a forward-facing car seat or booster
  • For kids weighing more than 40 lbs., use the airplane seat belt
For more information regarding child safety seats on planes, please visit:

Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert, speaker, and author of Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. For more information, please visit

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