Flying with a 3 year old

This is the first of a series of posts detailing our February 2017 holiday to Florida, hopefully giving a few hints and tips along the way if you’re planning on doing a similar trip in the future.

This time last year, I published “Flying with a Toddler” (https://leedsdad.com/2016/03/01/flying-with-a-toddler-2622016/) but the toddler is more of a three-nager now, so I thought that it would be good to refresh…

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This time, we flew with Virgin Atlantic from Manchester to Atlanta and then onwards to Tampa, all in all, about 10 hours in the air and total travelling time of 21 hours from door to door! Flying from Manchester is quite good with a young child as there is a toddler play area in Terminal 2, and a really decent play area for slightly older children in Terminal 2. As we found out, such facilities are not as available Stateside…

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Terminal 2 play area

On board the plane, the leg-room was decent in the standard seats, but the additional legroom seats felt very spacious and with the additional cost being only a few pounds, it is well worth it. There were seatback TV’s with a wide variety of programmes/films etc for all passengers – however, given the attention span of a 3 year old, this would never be enough… The Virgin Atlantic website suggests that children goody-bags are handed out, but we didn’t see them anywhere, but they would have been good to see.

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Remember to pack child sized earphones!!

Perhaps the most simple and cost effective method of entertainment was to pack small toys that you tend to get from a vending machine for £1 and allow the child to open one whenever they got bored. So long as you get different ones, it should keep them entertained for a while and clearly don’t cost much. If you have a larger budget, a tablet would be useful for all the games that they can entertain themselves with (check before travelling they don’t need internet access!) Also, letting them have their own bag (even if you have to carry it) is a great way of giving them a sense of responsibility and pride.

However, clearly a 9 hour flight is a long time for anyone and so meal time is a bit of a treat! Make sure you book your special meal a few weeks before departure. This is what Heidi was served as a “child’s meal” for lunch and tea (I put it in quotes as the serving was ample for a 3 year old!)

While Virgin do fly directly to the House of the Mouse, flying indirectly does tend to cost less and while the travel time is longer, it does break up the day a bit. Yes, it is an inconvenience, but if it is the difference between having a holiday or not, the extra bit of adventure is well worth it! Also, you get to clear Customs and Immigration after your first flight which makes it quicker at your final destination. Even with a sleepy 3 year old, it was easy to manage the various passport and security checks.

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However, the easiest way to fly with a 3 year old, is to try and let them sleep and if they are happy with their own company, let them be and relax a bit yourself, after all, it is your holiday too!!


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