If you’ll be flying with a small child over the holidays, you’re probably dreading how stressful air travel can be—but you may not be aware of the safety risks it can pose. Louie Delaware, the Home Safety Guru®, points out six things you should be aware of before heading to the airport.
Get the best seats - On an airplane, not all seat assignments are created equal, especially if you’re traveling with an infant or small child. When making your reservation, you may want to inquire about bulkhead seating for your family. Bulkhead seating is found behind partitions in airplanes. These partitions often separate business class from economy, or contain galleys or lavatories—meaning that you’ll be sitting behind a wall, not a row of seats. (Be aware, though, that some bulkhead seating is located beside emergency exits, and that children are prohibited from sitting in these rows.)
Be first in line - Especially if you aren’t a frequent flier, you may not be familiar with early boarding, an option that many airlines offer to families traveling with younger children.
Make sure that your car seat works as a carry-on - Don’t assume that just because your car seat contains a baby, you’ll be able to carry it onto a plane with no problems. If your car seat doesn’t have the designation “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”—which many models don’t—your airline may prevent you from using it.
Reserve lap-sitting for visits to Santa - If your child is under two years of age, you might find it very tempting to simply hold him or her on your lap for the duration of your flight if the airline allows this option—after all, you’ll save the cost of an entire plane ticket by doing so! However, says Delaware, it’s much safer and easier for everyone (including your child) to have their own seat.
Follow directions—Even if they do go against your instincts. We’re all familiar with the pre-flight safety instructions that instruct adults to put their own oxygen masks on before helping children. As a parent, though, your instinct might be to assist your child the moment masks drop from above, regardless of your own safety.
Stick with renting vehicles - In other words, don’t rent car or booster seats. Avoid borrowing them from friends or family members, too.
“If you know what to expect and plan ahead, your child’s safety won’t be something you have to worry about in the midst of holiday air travel,” concludes Delaware. “Your family’s holiday memories will center around a great visit with people you love, not mishaps on the way to or from your destination.”