As families prepare to board their flights for local and international holidays during the Easter period, Cathay Pacific offers some advice and helpful tips when travelling with children.
“Travelling with a small child on a long haul flight may seem like a daunting experience, but if time is spent preparing yourself and your family ahead of your departure, the journey can be less stressful and more manageable for parents,” says Rakesh Raicar, Country Manager, Cathay Pacific, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean.
“Time spent with family is precious, and every second counts when the family is together. No one wants their holiday time restricted due to careless planning or an oversight that could have been avoided. Plan an overseas trip well in advance, and don’t avoid preparations for the time you’ll spend on the ground before your flight, and for the flight itself.”
- First and foremost, remember that from June 2015, the South African authorities require any adults travelling with minor children to present an unabridged birth certificate for each child, in addition to their passport and other standard travel documents. Keep all your travel documents in one place for easy access.
- Make sure that you are familiar with the latest hand luggage restrictions at South African airports:
- Carry-on bag and 1 slim-line laptop bag per economy class passenger
- No bag should exceed these dimensions: 56cm x 36cm x 23cm
- Weight limit per bag: 7kg.
- Hand luggage which exceeds the dimensions mentioned above will have to be checked-in. This could delay you so make sure you abide by the new regulations to avoid a frustrating travel experience. Please note that a woman’s handbag and man’s satchel are exempt from the regulations.
- Little people love feeling like grownups, so let them pack their own bag (with your supervision) to take on the plane. The bag could hold a few of their favourite toys, as well as a change of clothing, freeing up some space in your own carry-on bag.
- Try to check in online 48 hours prior to your departure, as this will save you time when you arrive at the airport and will allow you more time to get your children prepared to board the plane.
- Make sure you pack enough food and snacks to keep your children fed between meal times on the flight. However, Cathay Pacific flights carry a wide range of baby food that is suitable for all ages, so you don’t need to bring a full set of meals for your little one when travelling. You can also order a special meal for your little one 24 hours before your flight with Cathay Pacific.
- Pack and label any medication that your child requires, and take along a mild analgesic to treat fevers in an emergency. Other basic medical supplies you should take with you include plasters, an antihistamine ointment to treat stings or bites, and a thermometer.
- If your child has a serious allergy, travel with a card that specifies the allergy in the language of your destination, what they are allergic to and how serious the allergy is.
- While babies under two years old share a seat with their parents, you can book a bassinet in advance. These are comfortable for babies up to the age of six months, keeping them strapped in safely while they – and you – get some sleep on an overnight flight.
- If you’re travelling with a toddler, remember that you can keep your pram with you until you board the plane, then ground staff will take it from you to load in the hold. This means that you can still push your little person around the airport between check-in and boarding, saving you from carrying them (or chasing them) around the terminal.
- If your little one needs to take a break and run around the terminal while you’re waiting to connect to your next flight, write your phone number on their arm so that you can be reached if they slip out of your sight. Some duty free shops may sell a device that clips onto their shoe, leaving a remote tracker in your hands. You can then sound an alarm if you lose track of your child, making it easy to find them.
- Check with your airline if you can take your regular car seat onto the plane, to add to your child’s in-flight comfort. Cathay Pacific welcomes forward-facing car seats that have a well-defined shell structure and a single three-point harness on many of its flights. This is great news if you’re going to need a car seat when you reach your destination, as you won’t have to hire one from your car-hire company.
- Take a pack of wet-wipes with you whenever you travel, even if you don’t have children in nappies – they’re great for cleaning up spills, wiping sticky hands and sweaty brows, whether you’re on a plane or out sightseeing. Zip-lock bags are also a great secret for keeping mobile phones safe from rain, for re-packing snacks on day-trips out, and for storing travel-size quantities of toiletry necessities like cotton buds and hair bands.
- Cathay Pacific has a children’s channel as part of their in-flight entertainment, but there is also a wide variety of tablet computer applications available for children of all ages. While unlimited screen-time is never advised, it’s ok to bend the rules on long-haul flights a little, to keep little ones entertained.