Surviving Flight Delays with Kids: Tips for a Smooth Journey

Travelling with children can be a delightful adventure, but when faced with unexpected flight delays, it can quickly become a stressful ordeal. Keeping children entertained and calm in such situations is a challenge many parents dread. However, with the right strategies and preparation, you can transform this potential chaos into a manageable and even enjoyable experience. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to handle flight delays with children, ensuring your journey remains smooth and stress-free.

four children walking through an airport

1. Stay Calm and Positive

Your children will take cues from you. If you remain calm and positive, they are more likely to do the same. Explain the situation to them in simple terms and assure them that everything is under control. Turning the delay into an adventure can help shift their perspective and reduce anxiety.

2. Be Prepared with Essentials

Packing a well-stocked carry-on is crucial. Here are some essentials to include:

  • Snacks and Drinks: Pack a variety of snacks and drinks to keep hunger and thirst at bay. Avoid sugary snacks that can cause hyperactivity.
  • Entertainment: Books, colouring books, crayons, tablets loaded with games, films, and educational apps can keep your children engaged.
  • Comfort Items: Bring along comfort items like a favourite blanket, stuffed animal, or pillow to help them feel secure and relaxed.
  • Change of Clothes: Accidents happen, and having a change of clothes can save the day.

3. Utilise Airport Amenities

Many airports offer family-friendly amenities that can help pass the time:

  • Play Areas: Look for designated play areas where kids can burn off energy.
  • Family Lounges: Some airports have family lounges equipped with toys and comfortable seating.
  • Interactive Displays: Airports often have interactive displays or exhibits that can captivate children’s interest.
travelling with pets

4. Engage in Activities

Keeping children occupied is key. Here are a few activities to consider:

  • Story Time: Bring along a few favourite books or tell stories to spark their imagination.
  • Games: Simple travel games like “I Spy,” card games, or portable board games can be a great way to pass the time.
  • Educational Fun: Use the time to engage in educational activities such as puzzles, word searches, or learning apps.

5. Explore the Airport

If the delay is extended, take a stroll around the airport. Exploring different areas can be exciting for kids:

  • Window Watching: Watching planes take off and land can be fascinating for children.
  • Shops and Cafés: Visit shops and cafés, and perhaps allow them to pick out a small treat or souvenir.

6. Know Your Rights

In the event of a significant delay, it’s important to be aware of your rights. You might be entitled to compensation for flight delays, depending on the circumstances. Understanding your entitlements can help ease the financial burden of unexpected delays, check out AirHelp for more information on your rights.

family travel tips

7. Communicate with Airline Staff

Stay informed by communicating with airline staff. They can provide updates on the delay, suggest the best course of action, and might even offer additional assistance for families travelling with young children.

8. Stay Flexible

Flexibility is crucial when dealing with delays. Be prepared to adjust plans as needed and maintain a sense of humour. Flexibility helps you adapt to changing circumstances and keeps stress levels down.

9. Practise Patience

Patience is essential. Delays can be frustrating, but keeping a positive attitude and practising patience will make the experience more manageable for you and your children.


Flight delays are an inevitable part of travel, but with a little preparation and a positive mindset, you can manage them effectively, even with children in tow. Remember to stay calm, be prepared, utilise airport amenities, engage in fun activities, and know your rights regarding compensation for flight delays. With these strategies, you can turn a potential travel hiccup into a memorable adventure for your family.

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