Air travel with children is always tough. With children along, you need more prep time, you must be extra alert at the airport to not lose track of them, parents and children are a bit nervous, ear pain may ensue, and you may deal with other perhaps loud, rude, or inappropriate fellow passengers.
Enjoy the flight the way Southwest Wants You To
Here are my top five tips for making your flying experience as pleasant as Southwest Airlines claims it will be.
1) Set flying rules with your children ahead of time and stick to them.
These should include rules for behavior from the time you load up the car until the time you arrive at your destination. Outline behavior expectations for packing the car to the airport, in the car, at the airport, and in flight. Have a behavior chart with you with stickers or tokens and designated prizes for every large part of the trip. For example, your child calmly passes the wait in the security line, sticker. They pass the walk through the terminal, sticker. They pass the wait in the terminal, sticker. Perhaps for every three stickers they receive a candy, and a filled sticker chart is an outing on the trip or room service at the hotel!
2) Ignore rude passengers.
Be aware some people get very nervous before and during a flight and can be especially short tempered and rude around children. Just don’t respond to rude comments. If your child has a diagnosis or severe symptoms, bring a typed up card with you explaining the diagnosis, and if someone stares or is rude, hand them that card. You can perhaps say something like “Thank you for understanding my child has autism. He is doing his best and if you would like to learn more please go to the Autism Society of America website. You can also donate there for a cure.” Don’t forget to always smile and remain composed while you are dealing with these people.
3) Set your expectations realistically before you plan and go on the trip.
Don’t take the kids or don’t go if it is not worth it. Perhaps you need to medicate before you travel. Make sure you are prepared for difficulties and know what you are getting into before you go.
4) If you decide to go for it, do try Southwest because they do LUV.
Talk with the crew before and during your trip so they can help advocate for you during your airport and airplane experience. They may allow you to skip waiting in lines, get you food and water faster, and help you with rude passengers.