Pilot's tip of the week

Flying with Children


Subscriber question:

"We have two children, aged eight and six. They have flown on short hops, but we'd like to take them on longer trips. Do you have any tips for flying with kids?" — Julie H.


“We’ve flown with our kids from six months old. Here are some tips for the under-ten set:

Get kid headsets or ear protection. You can put adult headsets on a child’s head and they’ll look fine, but they don’t seal at the bottom by the jaw. This lets in a lot of noise. Kid headsets have smaller earcups, and you can add noise canceling to these with an aftermarket kit if you want. Some in-the-ear headsets offer pediatric size ear tips that are great for kids. For babies, you can even use hearing protection designed for small dogs. Mutt Muffs is one company that makes these.

If the kids are on the intercom and you can isolate them, books on tape are much better than showing a video. Watching a screen in a moving plane will make most kids ill. But listening to a story keeps them busy while they look around and outside—the best way to avoid motion sickness.

Simple truth: But if you go up a mile or more, most kids will fall asleep, which makes the time pass faster.

Come down … slowly. We used to plan 300 feet per minute. This took some negotiation with ATC when IFR, but many controllers are parents, too. We were always able to work something out, even in New York airspace.

Have barf bags and pee jars. This should go without saying, but it’s essential to have both. It’s good to ensure they’ve eaten a moderate meal. Not too much or too little.

Let them fly! Even if the autopilot is ‘helping.’ Kids love to fly. Give them a booster seat for a better view. Also, teach them to make simple radio calls. You get the best service from ATC when your seven-year-old checks in. Now I want you to do Daddy a favor. Push that button and say we request direct to destination …”.


Want to hear some expert advice on flying with adult passengers and copilots? Here’s a discussion from our Airmanship 2.0 audio series.

Have you ever taken a young child flying and regretted it?

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