Tips for Holiday Flights With a Toddler or Preschooler

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It’s official: US Airways and American Airlines are merged. What’s this mean for parents traveling with toddlers and preschoolers through the Charlotte airport, one of US Airway’s largest hubs: A busy, busy airport.

I flew with my 4-year-old son, 2-year-old nephew and my sister in November. The airport was crazy busy. I’ve flown a lot out of CLT, and usually consider it to an easy in-and-out airport, arriving later than normal and expecting an quick walk to the gate. Though still no ATL or O’Hare, Charlotte Douglas has gotten really busy.

So if you’re traveling with kids for Christmas, here are a few tips from me and some other Charlotte moms via our Facebook page.

1. Arrive early. You don’t want to have to rush to the gate. Plus you never know how long the line will be at the check in counter or security.

2. Once through security, take a minute to collect yourself and then find a window where kids can watch all the activity of planes coming and going.

3. Bring you iPad or digital device. This one is a 21st-century luxury, I know, but if you have an iPad, load it with a cartoon or movie. Books, crayons and activity books are other good things to carry, but let’s face it, the iPad is one device that offers lots of fun. Don’t forget headphones!

4. Pack snacks. Pack LOTS of snacks. Bring an empty water bottle you can fill up once you get past the gate. You can save a buck by buying one water (or use the water fountains) or juice and sharing between kids in their own cups. Gum is always good for helping kids keep ears from popping when going up and coming down. I also packed sandwiches because we were flying during lunchtime. A meal is no guarantee on a flight these days, plus it costs more money and you never know what the choices are. Be prepared with food, that’s all.

5. Potty time! Be sure the kids use the bathroom before they get on the plane. There’s nothing worse than a child needing to pee, but can’t leave his seat until the Fasten Seatbelts sign is turned off. Also be sure kids drink enough water to avoid getting “backed up” while traveling. Traveling is rough on adult systems, and it’s no different for kiddos.

6. Wet wipes. Pack hand sanitizer and wipes. Kids touch everything and there are a lot of germy hands touching everything at airports. Wipe hands often to try and keep sickness at bay.

Now tips from other Charlotte moms via the Charlotte Parent Facebook page on how to make the flight more pleasant for all.

“Snacks, lots of snacks,” Keena Eyster-Terrill

“Music tames the beast. A favorite CD of children songs/Disney movie themes saved us more than once. Lots of little books they have never seen before, Color Wonder markers and paper. And their own seat!” Robin Brown Castro

“Lots of little toys, even old ones, wrapped like little presents. Give them one every 30 minutes.” Melanie Perlman Baron

“New toys and their own seat.” Kathy Stellerine