Flying With Kids in 2021
We’ve flown a lot with our kids since they were babies! Their first flights were at 4 months, 3 weeks, and 8 months, and hasn’t stopped. Well, it stopped in early 2020, for obvious reasons. And then restrictions made it a bit tougher to fly. We’ve flown a handful of times recently and found that, other than mask mandates, not much has changed.
Here are some tips for flying with kids in 2021! Have questions? Feel free to ask! A longer blog post is also in the works, covering packing tips, airplane activities, and more. Some of our favorites for road trips can also be used on airplanes!
Masks – Masks are required for ages 2 and up; some airports may be a little lax on this, airlines are not, and may not allow neck gators. Delta has been rumored to be understanding for young kids not always keeping a mask on. If your child is 2 and older, expect them to wear a mask the majority of the time. Masks are not required when actively eating or drinking. Our tip? Don’t overuse this option. If you can wait for snacks until you’re at cruising altitude. And you know your child best. We purposely did not fly with our 2-year-old this last trip because of the mandate and knowing she would not be able to follow the rules. She stayed home with dad.
Negative COVI-D test – please check if a negative COVI-D test is required at your final destination. We did not experience this in our handful of flights, but a friend going to New York last month did have to have proof before boarding a direct flight from Phoenix. These regulations and masks are the two biggest changes in flying.
Long lines – airports are usually notorious for long lines, and we’ve found that 1.5-2 hrs check-in before a flight is a good time frame. Even at Phoenix Sky Harbor, check-in lines took 20 minutes, and security lines ranged from 10-30 minutes. Have all your ID’s ready when checking in (we always travel with copies of kid’s birth certificates, even tho it’s not needed; the exception is sometimes under 2), and consider doing carry-on only if possible. Phoenix was horribly long in delivering our luggage after one flight; it cost us an extra 30 minutes.
Limited food inside terminals – while Phoenix seems to be operating as normal, other airports were not. Bring reusable water bottles to refill, and plenty of snacks and food. Restaurant lines can also be longer, or with limited menus. Also note, most play places are still closed. If your kiddos need to burn some energy, find an empty gate away from the crowds and let them run!
Limited service on an airplane – our last flight with Delta offered full service which was great! Our flights before with American in January did not, but they did offer a bag to each person with a small bottle of water, snack, and hand wipe. So check ahead to what your flight(s) may offer, and plan ahead with food. We default to sandwiches and chips and fruit for an airplane meal. Protein bars are also a good option.
As a flight attendant, and a mama of a delightful little girl with food allergies, I ask that you don’t recommend nut products as a snack on the airplane. And if you do, to please warn parents to pack something else just in case the flight crew asks you not to consume any foods with nuts that you may have brought with you. If by chance someone does have an airborne nut allergy, and you have eaten that food, it could cause a medical emergency and result in an aircraft diversion, and no one wants that.