Ugly Side of Air Travel with Kids

Posted on Feb 12 2015 - 3:02pm by Aubrey


I travel by plane with my kids, not a whole lot, but probably more than the average person. I’ve written about tips on how to travel with a baby solo, child seats on a plane, kid frequent fliers and toddler travel gear… I usually try to keep my posts positive and look at the bright side of things and offer my advice and tips on how to make your life as a Mommy (parent) easier, but when I was going through some photos from one of our last (air) travels with the kids, I realized there’s something I needed to write about…and it’s not pretty.

I’m talking about the “UGLY side of Air Travel with Kids,” and it has more to do with factors that are not in our control, than it does with anything we are doing as parents. So here goes, 3 things that are just not cool…

Transportation Security Administration aka security screening. If you think about how you packed your carry-on luggage and items, and know what you have to do to get through security it’s a pretty easy process. I can go through it with my 2 toddlers and our stroller faster than many adults who can’t figure out what “empty out all items in your pockets” means. However, since I do have toddlers and they need milk or juice or water, etc… when you travel through a checkpoint which is lacking certain security instruments, you are subject to pat downs and extra screenings in order to successfully keep all of your aforementioned items and not toss them out. When it comes to bottles and things I can open, they are able to test them easily, but if I bring a closed juice box, milk carton, etc… If I don’t open them and that checkpoint (usually smaller airports/cities) doesn’t have proper screening machinery, then you will get a full-body check.


And the reason it’s “ugly” is because on our last trip, Daddy got the pat down – and as you can see in the photo – it’s not pretty, to have an innocent kid watch as some stranger puts their hands on Mom/Dad! My 2-year old toddler didn’t quite understand why Daddy was holding his arms out, and started to worry about what was happening..then my baby even proceeded to hold out his arms in the same manner as if he too would be subjected to a pat down as well. As a Mom, it was more than uncomfortable.. and certainly not a “picture” that evokes a happy travel memory.

Grumpy Passengers
It’s like a given that there will always be someone on a plane who dreads the thought of a loud child being anywhere within earshot when they sit down. I understand it can be unpleasant, especially if it’s a long flight, but if it’s bad for you, it’s even worse for me. The last thing I’d want is for my child to be the most vocal human on the plane. I do not enjoy a squirmy baby who isn’t happy to be all cooped up and confined in a small space, but hey, we all need to get to where we’re going, right? Please believe, as a parent I do my best to pack all the snacks, distractions and permissible toys to get us through the flight with little or no incident.


No, I’m not going to pack a “goodie bag,” to give to all the surrounding passengers to apologize for possible “bad” behavior by my child, and really I shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it before it even happens, IF it ever even happens! Every single person on this planet was a child before they became an adult…so I’m pretty certain that every single person in this world has been or done something to annoy another person at some point in their childhood/lifetime. My child has just as much of a right to be on the plane as you do, and there’s no need for you to give me the side eye, talk under your breath or be hostile toward my family. Children are like sponges and they see your “ugly” behavior and as an “adult” you should be better able to control yourself than a small child who is learning all the wonders of the world.

Limited Resources
There are only so many diapers, bottles and toys you can pack for a plane trip. As a Mom I do my absolute best to plan ahead, and pack a little extra in my bag to make sure I have all my bases covered for the trip. Yes, that includes additional provisions for unforeseen delays and changes. However, during our trip over the holidays, what should have been a 8 hour trip turned in a 24-hour journey to get to our destination. You can bet I was stressed about running out of diapers and milk. Sure, the airline staff can bring out soda and pretzels to pacify some of the adults in the crowd, but that’s not going to work for a 1 and 2 year old. Complicating my situation is that in the airport we were at, all the airport shops had closed and chances are slim that even if they were open that they’d carry the diapers and milk I needed. Luckily we made it without incident and stretched our resources to the max…BUT, I’m not gonna lie…there’s no fear like that of running out of diapers, wipes and milk!