We have flown twice with the boys; I think the key to success is being prepared. We also waited until they were a bit older; youngest was four when we first went to Portugal, so was toilet trained and more manageable.
Depending on the length of the journey - we have only braved smaller flights so far (4 hours tops!) - make sure you have enough to keep your children occupied. Ideally for my own sanity I sit between them too, as in close proximity for any length of time sibling rivalry kicks in and they can start calling each other allsorts and sneakily getting a few sly nudges in or even a quick punch if they think mummy isn’t watching… it gets pretty embarrassing quickly as usually someone will roll their eyes at me (and not out of comradeship!). I noticed on our flight a lady with a toddler walking up and down the aisles trying to settle her little girl, every time you smiled at her, her whole face would light up in response. So try not to judge what people need to do to calm their child, smile at them and you might be rewarded with a beautiful smile in return!
If they have grown tired of their own magazines, colouring, books and gaming devices I tend to make a big occasion of reading the in-flight magazine with them and the menu for food! Also getting some food can break up the journey time, usually they have snack packs that come with mini crackers, dried fruit, cheese, basically lots of little packets to open which can amuse them for awhile longer! But if you want to keep it cheaper bring some nibbles from the airport to save a few quid, but along the same theme!
Schofields have written a very interesting article on The Baby Website with hacks to make air travel more bearable! I totally get the importance of packing wisely but kept it mainly to entertainment needs for my boys but depending on the age of your child baby wipes and spare clothes are an absolute must.
Certain airline companies make a proper fuss of children, Emirates for example have kids packs with educational facts and crafts for them to do, they also have the award-winning entertainment system, ice with 100 in-flight games! They go all out on attention to detail, look at the little festive meal packs.
Picture Credit: Emirates
I like how Schofields say not to worry about other passengers giving you the look! But try and relax as long as your child isn’t frantically kicking the passengers in front chair relax and enjoy the journey, look out the window together (if you have pre-booked and managed to get a window seat that is!) and remember the flight is bringing you one step closer to your holiday!