Rules for air travel with children

You are seated on a plane, watching the remaining passengers board when you notice them: arriving mother and child. The offspring come in all shapes and sizes. Never mind them for now, keep your eye on the mother. The future of your trip - whether it is about to hold reading, working, taking a nap - or its sudden alternative, sitting with a screaming child - is unfolding before your eyes. Watch closely because what you really want to know is whether that mother is coming equipped. Hopefully, she is carrying a small, colorful backpack. If not, run for cover.

I love children but the quarters up here are a little too close. It requires a basic level of parental intelligence - say mid-range- to know that when you bring a child on an airplane you'd better keep him happy. This is not rocket science but common sense in America has been in need of a booster shot for at least the last decade.

Wechsler's Rules for Air Travel with Children:

  1. If the oxygen mask drops, put your own on first then assist the child. This, of course, runs counter to every mother's instinct so it is announced at the beginning of every flight.
  2. When travelling with children, be prepared to keep them entertained. This doesn't require a significant financial investment. It does require bringing a sufficient variety of quiet ,age-appropriate activities to keep the child happy for the length of the trip. It may also require - at least part of the time - that you participate.
  3. If the child is old enough, explain expectations to him before the flight.
  4. Do not try to teach a child any lessons on an airplane. This is not the time to square off about limit setting. This is a time for distraction and entertainment. The people sitting within hearing range do not want to hear your child crying or screaming.
  5. If you are doing all of the above and the child is still unhappy, other passengers are likely to be empathic and try to help.
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