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Why Hell Is Flying With Children

For those of you who follow my blog closely, you know I have a post on tips for flying with toddlers. In kind, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. And so, I couldn’t resist the urge to request to feature Meredith’s post. – Alana

While there are countless articles on successfully flying with kids, read the reasons despite the prep flying with kids is its own version of hell


Recently I’ve come across a lot of posts with titles like “Easy Ways to Fly With a Toddler” or “8 Things to Pack for a Kid-Friendly Flight.” I don’t question the advice in these articles. These writers have air travel down to a science, from when to fly so your infant doesn’t scream for five straight hours, to the amount of baby shampoo you can carry on before Homeland Security steps in.

Still, I’m not buying it.

First off, I’m never going to be this organized. If we manage to leave the house with both my toddler’s shoes on his feet, I consider it a personal victory. We’ve made it through Security with a stroller, two tiny humans, and a thousand magic markers in tow? Score! Sure, my daughter’s toothpaste has been confiscated, but hey, we made it on the plane with five minutes to spare. I’ll call this one a win.

But let’s be honest. No matter how organized I am, no matter how many coloring books or electronic devices I bring to distract my kids, that flight is still going to be hell. Here’s why hell is flying with kids.


While there are countless articles on successfully flying with kids, read the reasons despite the prep flying with kids is its own version of hell


1. Flying without kids is hell. I remember the good old days, when you didn’t have to arrive hours before your flight, the airlines served something resembling food, and checking a bag didn’t require a second mortgage on your home. Nowadays flying requires a special kind of fortitude. Add in the inevitable delays and security lines rivaling Disney’s Splash Mountain, and you already have a recipe for disaster. Add kids to the mix, and be prepared to enter a special circle of hell.

2. Toddlers on planes are hell. My little guy is an explorer. He’s never met a table he didn’t want to scale, or a cabinet he didn’t want to empty. The idea that he would willingly sit still for three hours in a small, contained space is laughable. There’s a movie showing? That should keep him busy – for about five minutes. The iPad full of kids’ apps? Those monkeys jumping on the bed should kill another fifteen minutes (along with my last shred of sanity). That leaves two hours and forty minutes of “Wheels on the Bus,” chocolate-fueled bribery, and my best WWE moves to keep toddler in his place. Oh, and did I mention he’s not potty trained? [bctt tweet=”Try changing a diaper in a plane bathroom during turbulence. It’s a whole new Mile High Club.”]

3. Entertaining on a plane is hell. My 6-year-old, by comparison, is easy. She watches TV. She colors. She navigates the bathroom. And all of this keeps her quite busy… for about an hour. Then she wants Mommy to join in. Unfortunately, bonding while strapped to a seat has its limitations. After 20 minutes of our drawing pictures and playing I Spy, she’s bored and wants to play Nail Salon on the iPad. Except that Mommy isn’t allowed to paint nails, or choose sparkly rings, or really do anything besides watch my daughter give an endless progression of electronic hands manicures. Of course, if we want to up our game, there’s always Wedding Salon. That includes facials.

4. Childless adults on planes are hell. The glares. The eye rolls. I haven’t encountered this much disdain since entering my high school cafeteria. The moment I step on the plane with my kids, every childless adult is silently hoping my brood and I “accidentally” get locked in a bathroom. It doesn’t matter that these same adults scream into their cell phones the moment we land, or apparently bathed in perfume before boarding. I had the nerve to bring kids on their plane, and therefore, they must kill me with their eyeballs.

5. Other parents on planes are hell. You’d think other parents would be natural allies. And yet, they are inevitably part of the problem. Either they’re letting their kids behave like hellions, adding to the collective resentment against those of us traveling with pint-sized passengers, or their kids are perfectly behaved and they’re looking at me with smug judgment, silently accusing me of all sorts of crimes from feeding my children non-organic cereal to failing to enroll them in Latin classes. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in coach. I’ve learned to keep my head low and avoid eye contact.

While I appreciate the value of preparation, I’m tired of articles that suggest I can control my flight experience with a correctly packed diaper bag. Instead, how about 5 Apps That Won’t Make Me Wish for a Crash Landing? Or, 48 Games to Distract My Toddler, 5 Minutes at a Time? Now, these would be useful. In the meantime, consider me grounded. I’m sticking to the car — where the only people giving me dirty looks are the 25 stuffed animals crammed into the back seat. And they’re not talking.


  1. Haha! I love this one! I just convinced my husband we should take the kids on a vacation too. I’m definitely not sharing this with him! I agree with you that flying without kids is torture, so it’s only worse when you add kids in the mix.

  2. Oh flying with children. My saving grace with my youngest… Now this is extremely bulky but they make bags with wheels to pull them, I found it to be my saving grace. I brought my daughter’s (who is 2) car seat. We do a lot of long road trips so when she is strapped in that thing she is used to being in it awhile. I went solo with her and my son and managed. I just pulled that sucker behind me and it Really worked! She couldn’t climb all over me or the seat or the tray table. Give it a try if you fly again with a little one!

  3. So funny! So true. Ouch!! I always laugh at how lenient I become on a plane or even long car rides. Snacks until your tummy aches, all the soda the flight attendant will bring you and hours of movies. Check.

  4. yes, yes, YES to every word here. there is nothing worse than air travel with kids. we’re flying with my kids in march and i’m ALREADY stressing about it.

  5. LOL! Flying with children is survival at its finest. We have gotten lucky with the kids behaving. That in itself has never been a problem. For us its the anxiety of when I know (yes no matter how many suckers, gum, juice or otherwise) my oldests son’s ears will hurt. He used to cry and scream!
    Ohhhh for the days of flying alone 😉

  6. Hehe love this!!! My child is pretty behaved when she flys but it really is still hell… Other parents I think are the worst too. Most of the time I see parents just letting there kids do whatever they want, scream, kick seats, run around the plane etc, making my kid wonder why she can’t act that way.

  7. I’ve never been on a plane with my little guy, but I sure do not think I would want to. I can only imagine the hell that you describe!

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