Frugal Foreigner: In-flight Entertainment for Kids (and Other Airplane Tips)

If you’re new to my posts, read all about it here! You can read all previous posts in the series here.

I have two : a 3-year-old and a 1 year old. They’re adorable. Doesn’t a 14-hour flight with them sound like FUN? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. That’s why I did a lot of planning ahead. We were lucky – every single piece of baggage we brought, including our stroller, arrived safely, and we only had minor breakdowns from the .

The trip took two days (40 hours of actual time passing, plus the 12 1/2 hour time difference). We flew overnight to New York City, where we spent a 10 hour layover with my brother, went to the Top of the Rock, and, through a happy coincidence, met Kim and her husband!

Then we flew overnight again, to Delhi. Maggie surprised us by sleeping most of the way. Dalton was grumpy, but slept on and off. We had purchased four seats, and had an empty seat next to us, and lots of pillows and blankets.

When we arrived in Delhi, we couldn’t figure out if our baggage was being checked all the way to Bangalore, or not. When it didn’t arrive on the carousel we inquired about it – I’m pretty sure they went and got our baggage off the plane to Bangalore and brought it to us! When meant we had to check it in again. My superstar Maggie pushed her brother in the stroller so we could handle all 16 pieces of luggage.

We had to go through security again in Delhi. I was impressed with their security measures. To me, it seemed thorough without being over-the-top. Carryon items are scanned, as in the US. We removed metal objects and our laptop, as requested. Then everyone goes through a metal detector and is also scanned with a metal detector wand. There is a separate line for ladies, who are scanned in a curtained room by a female guard. As we collected our bags, they had me open and search one of them for “two bottles”, which turned out to be baby food jars (with metal lids). We were allowed to keep them. They also found an unopened bottle of water in one of my bags and asked me to open and test it. Brilliant.

As we went through security, the tags on each of our carryon items was stamped, as well as our boarding passes.

The flight to Bangalore was just a few hours, but our kids were done with traveling. Maggie slept, but then cried and cried when we woke her up to deplane, and Dalton only slept the last 20 minutes. The Bangalore airport is an hour drive from the city (with a couple of our suitcases on the roof), so by the time we arrived it was after 1 AM on Sunday morning, having left our house around 9:30 PM on Thursday night.

My sister is visiting (she planned a vacation to based on our original dates) and we are quickly adjusting to the time change. I’ll have lots of fun things to share with you as we get settled in the next little while. In the meantime, here are some tips that helped me prepare for the long journey with the kids.

First, we bought a portable DVD player. We had to get Maggie used to wearing earphones, but she loves her “little TV”. 5 hours of battery power = 5 hours of peace and quiet (from her at least). Or so we thought. The first time we turned it on, she fell asleep within 10 minutes, and slept for 9 hours. We used it two other times, with Dalton’s favorite Baby Einstein shows (he likes Neighborhood Animals)

Another trick up our sleeve (or in our carryon) was presents. We brought stickers, new coloring books, matchbox cars etc and wrapped them up to pull out when the whining was only about being bored on the plane. Then we ended up booking nighttime flights. We only used a couple of them on the last leg of our trip.

Compact but long-lasting. Other things we packed to get maximum enjoyment out of our carryon space included a magna-doodle we got for car trips, and a car playmat I made especially for this trip. We also picked out a selection of books, because both of our kids love to read, coloring (baby likes to sort the plastic colored pencils), and small animal toys.

We didn’t bring any baby toys. He is perfectly happy chewing on his stuffed animals, or a piece of junk mail. Baby toys take up so much space, and he’s going to outgrow them soon. Our main concern for him was sleep. He cries himself to sleep even in the best of circumstances. He did do some screaming, and he did eventually go to sleep. The real problem we had was entertaining him when he wouldn’t, and my husband and I were tired.

As I mentioned last week, we packed several changes of clothing for each of us. We are carried on anything of value (all the DVDs and electronics we brought). Because I knew our routine would be messed up, I packed plenty of snacks. I wasn’t able to bring very much milk for the baby, but we brought crackers, baby food, goldfish and animal crackers, raisins, granola bars, etc to tide us over when we were hungry at weird times.

Other tips for with children:

  • Carseats are considered a special item and, even in this day of ridiculous airline fees, you do not have to pay extra to check one on any airline I’ve checked – even if your infant does not have a ticket. You may also gate-check a stroller for free.
  • If you purchase a seat on the airplane for your baby, you will still have to hold him during taxiing, take-off and landing, though safety seats can be used during flight.
  • If your baby is under 20 pounds, you can request a bulkhead row and a bassinet. Keep in mind that bulkhead rows do not have under seat storage.
  • Regarding TSA security measures, we didn’t once have to do an AIT scan. Babies do need to have their shoes removed, but I wasn’t asked to take him out of the sling (in the past, when I used a Baby Bjorn, I had to remove that). Milk, formula, and juice in reasonable amounts may be carried through security, but will be tested and inspected. We also carried on children’s medicine exceeding the 3 oz limit, and jarred baby food.

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