Flying with kids: Top tips for getting through the airport

The airport can be an exciting place that marks the starting point of your journey. A little preparation can go a long way to making it a fun and enjoyable experience for you and your kids. Here the top 10 tips for getting through the airport smoothly.

Feet in shadow
  • Jetstar
  • September 2018

1. Do as much online in advance as you can

Reduce your queuing time as much as possible by taking care of the travel ‘admin’ online before you go. Check yourself in online, add any extra baggage you might need and get digital boarding passes sent to your mobile phone. These can all be done online via the Manage booking opens in new window page or the Jetstar app on your smartphone. The less paper you have to keep track of, the better.

2. Make it easy getting to and from the airport

Plan your journey to and from the airport early. Depending on your length of time away, it may be cheaper to use long-term parking instead of public transport where you have to buy a separate ticket for each child. As you and your kids might not be in the best frame of mind after a long-haul flight, have a clear plan of how you will transfer to your accommodation from the airport at your destination. Take advantage of any hotel shuttle services that are available. If taxis or hire cars are the only option, research how much it should cost for the journey and any known ‘tricks’ that unscrupulous operators might employ.

Family with passports

3. Get there early and know the rules

Seasoned parents know that everything takes longer with kids in tow. Remember that airports will always be busier in peak holiday periods and there can be unexpected queues. Allowing plenty of time will ensure you won’t have to do that last-minute sprint to the boarding gate. Speaking of boarding gates, some are further away than others, so if you’re not sure, ask airport staff so that you’re not late for your flight. Also, being aware of your luggage limits and sticking to them for both carry-on and checked bags will smooth your check-in and boarding process. You can check your baggage allowances and add more if you need in Manage booking opens in new window. If they’re old enough, make your kids aware of the liquid, aerosol and gels limits and pack their carry-on toiletries in a clear Ziploc bag.”

4. Know what to expect from security

Sometimes the airport experience can just feel like a conga line of officials and queues. Kids might think they’re going to board the plane straight after exiting the car so manage their expectations and explain the procedure – ticket counters, customs, security and so on. Explain how they may need to take their shoes off when they go through the screening process and the items (electronics, etc.) that need to go into the luggage trays for scanning.

5. Make sure everyone’s documents are easily accessible

There’s nothing worse than scrabbling for your passport or immigration documents while the queue banks up behind you, so make sure you keep all necessary documents in a quickly accessible spot. If your kids are old enough to carry their own documents, teach them to keep them in a speedy spot as well. Buy them each a special travel pen for making notes and filling out forms – they come in handier than you think in this age of smartphones.

Kids going through airport security

6. Load up iPads, pack extra power, and keep them all handy

Electronic devices can be a major survival tool in the war against bored kids in airports. Download their favourite shows and apps to their tablets, pack extra chargers, cables and powerbanks and batch them up in a bag so they’re easily accessed for use and security screening. Some airports have free USB charging outlets in food courts and other convenient locations.

7. Pack snacks and empty water bottles

Even the best laid plans encounter unavoidable hiccups like poor weather, so pack plenty of snacks just in case you’re delayed – hangry kids are no fun. Give your kids an empty water bottle each and fill it up once you’re through security to save you having to buy them on the other side.

8. Travel light

Where possible, encourage your kids to travel light. Get them to put as much as they can in their checked baggage and keep their carry-on to the essentials - you’ll be teaching them the fine art of sleek travelling. A paper pad and colouring pencils are great for when they get tired of screens, but just double-check their pencil cases don’t contain any sharp items, such as scissors, or they might get confiscated at security. Alternatively, you can always pre-purchase a kids’ activity pack online via Manage booking opens in new window to save you having to pack them.

Family walking through the airport

9. Designate jobs for the kids

You don’t have to wrangle the whole clan on your own – if your kids are old enough, designate part of the travel process to them. It could be checking which gate you’re boarding or keeping an eye out for when boarding has commenced. Involve and engage them in the machinations of flying and you’ll set them up as confident travellers in the future.

10. Kill time with style

Once you’re through all the official proceedings and you have time to kill, it’s time to let the holiday vibes roll. There are an increasing number of pay-per-visit airport lounge options available where you can relax, enjoy the comfy seats, the buffet and the Wi-Fi that you can access even if you don’t have membership.