Toddler Friendly Flights – Emirates Airlines

We recently traveled return on Emirates airlines from SA to Europe (including stopovers at Dubai) with twin 4-year olds.

We chose Emirates airlines as they fly directly out of Durban, and they have excellent perks for little travelers.

Here are some of my favorite things about Emirates when traveling with toddlers:

1. Kid Friendly Meals

Children’s meals are served first, so parents can usually aid their little ones with their meals before their own arrive.

The kids meals are lovely! The girls had Mac and cheese, roast chicken and mash and spaghetti bolognaise (all served with a side of veggies). They were served chocolate cake with sprinkles for dessert and waffles and chocolate sauce for breakfast. They had crackers and cheese, individually packaged cereals, and chocolate bars and strawberry milkshakes. The girls were well fed on our flights, and although they didn’t eat everything, I did not have to worry about them going hungry.

2. Kids Toys and Activities

Emirates is extremely kid-friendly. Little travelers get a blanket and collectible plush animal. Older children get an activity pack in a sling bag that includes puzzles and coloring.

On some flights the girls got little backpacks with an activity book that included stickers and color pencils.

They really enjoyed their blankets and plush toys. They still use them even today.

Our haul from just 4 flights
Lovely bag with a ton of activities
What’s inside
A furry backpack with sticker games

3. Kids Entertainment

There’s an endless supply of entertainment available for children on the Emirates play on demand ICE entertainment system. From puzzles to video games, coloring to cartoons, the screen provides unlimited entertainment for children. There’s a beautiful collection of family movies, including Disney classics, and a long list of children’s popular series and songs. Long haul flights are definitely not the time to be limiting screen time.

4. Cool rewards program

The Emirates Skywards Skysurfer program rewards its young travelers in much the way typical airline loyalty programs do. But there are additional perks for kids, such as guaranteed window seats and points that can be redeemed for toys and gadgets on the Emirates online shop.

5. Families come first

Emirates is one of the few airlines that still allow passengers traveling with young kids to board first. It is such a relief to get out of those long lines, get seated, set them up with their entertainment and catch our breath while the rest of the plane boards. On long haul flights the boarding process can take up to an hour. Imagine standing in a line with a crabby toddler for that long?!

For some the stopover in Dubai might be off putting, but I really enjoyed the break in a otherwise long trip. I appreciated being able to get off the plane, walk around and use regular-sized bathrooms! I think it also created a good opportunity for the girls to overcome any “cabin fever” that may have started to set in.

I highly recommend Emirates for family-Friendly travel, and I’ll be hard pressed to choose otherwise when we travel again.

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Top 5 Airplane Activities for Toddlers

 

We recently flew from Durban to Europe – two long haul flights – with twin toddlers.

To say I was having sleepless nights prior to the trip is an understatement. You see, prior to having my own kids, I was extremely intolerant with children on flights. I was the mean woman staring you down if your baby would not quiet, and the one tutting at parents whose toddlers threw tantrums.

I judged frazzled, overwhelmed parents without a shred of mercy… so I was convinced that my karma would come back to bite me in the rear. I imagined one (or both of my girls throwing epic tantrums onboard) and a million eyes staring me down with accusatory judgement. I mean, I would deserve it, right?

Since having kids, it’s clear that those parents were not out to get me when their kids cried on my flights. It wasn’t about me at all. It was about toddlers who were bored mindless because they’re not made to sit still for 8 hours at a time. It’s about little babies who’s ears are painfully adjusting to the altitude differences. I know that now, and am able to empathize – something I wasn’t able to do before.

But since I was convinced my kids would be monsters on the plane, I did a ton of research into activities that would keep them busy on the long haul flights.

I can highly recommend the following, bearing in mind that my children are four years old.

  1. Melissa and Doug Water Wow books

This was a standout winner for us. This exciting paint-with-water coloring book includes four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. Simply use the pen to color in each scene–details and vibrant color appear with every stroke! Magic! The girls played with these books for hours on the flights, and they’re still not bored of them months later!

  1. Play Doh

A universal favorite with kids of all ages, we packed a few cans of Play-Doh in the girls backpacks for in case of emergency (aka meltdowns). It is the perfect quiet-time activity and kept their attention just when the flights were starting to feel endless. I didn’t take any cutters/accessories, worrying the girls would lose them, but in hindsight, I should have carried a few to keep them engaged for longer.

  1. Dot to Dot Coloring Books and crayons

I bought inexpensive dot-to-dot coloring books for the girls, along with a pack of crayons each. Emirates Airlines provides a cute activity book for kids as well. We pulled this out when the girls started getting antsy about sitting in one place for over 6 hours. Since they were newly introduced to the dot-to-dot concept, the found it very entertaining.

  1. Melissa and Doug Puffy Stickers

I would recommend this for children who are slightly older (above 5, I think). These reusable stickers come with a folding board scene that can open up to create a playmate for the stickers. You can find different scenes such as Vehicles, Town, Safari and Riding Club. I bought the Fairy and Mermaid ones for the girls. I would recommend it for older kids as I found my girls didn’t fully grasp the concept of creating a “story” with the stickers, and rather stick them on the tray table!

  1. Wrapped surprises

I read this tip on numerous blogs, and it works! Wrap a few inexpensive toys in gift wrap, and present it to the child who’s extremely bored/on the verge of a tantrum. The excitement of opening a ‘present’ will instantly transform their mood and grab their attention. I bought 2-3 cheap toys from the Crazy Store and wrapped them up before the trip. I only had to use this tactic once, but it really does work!

Like I said, I was worried sick about their behavior on the long flights, so I prepared in earnest. You could use just one of these tips -or all- depending on your level of OCD!

If you’ve flown long-haul with little kids before, let me know what’s worked for you!

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I’m off to Europe… so why aren’t I more excited?

I’m leaving for a 20 day Euro Trip in exactly a week’s time.

And while I’m somewhat excited, I’m mostly consumed with guilt. You see… I’m a terrible mom. I’m going without the kids. Whaaaat?! Yep, you heard correctly.

I’m flying off on a fun-filled holiday, and I’m leaving my kids at home. I can’t even use the guise of “business trip”, because honestly, there isn’t going to be any work.

We fly into London via Dubai and spend 5 days exploring the city. My sister is heading there for a Taylor Swift concert, but the days will be filled with touristy activities and pub lunches. I’ve been to London many times but I never tire of the city’s energy.

We then board a Eurostar train for Paris and spend the next 2 weeks in my old home town. I haven’t been back since we moved to SA when the Twincesses were 2 months old! So it will be wonderful to catch up with my friends and family and meet old colleagues again.

We plan to hit the museums and shop the biannual Paris “soldes” (Paris’ world famous sale), that just happens to coincide with our trip… imagine that!

We’ll walk along the Seine and eat baguettes unapologetically each day.

On our last weekend there we will steal away for a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. I’ve only been to the Dutch capital once before, so it will awesome to see the city again. But I solemnly swear… I’m NOT riding a bicycle in traffic again. I choose life.

So as you can see… a whole lot to look forward to… but the nagging guilt just won’t go away. I’ve tried to ignore it, but today I find myself questioning, analyzing it. Why? Why do I feel guilty?

My kids are probably too little still to appreciate the trip, never mind the cost of traveling to Europe on the ZAR. They’re not on a regular school term schedule, so they’d miss a chunk of school stuff.

But more than the various practical reasons… why shouldn’t I have this? My girls are three years old and it’s the first time I’ll be away from them for an extended period of time. I’ll miss them like crazy… but I need this! I want this! I deserve this!

So here’s to new adventures in the great beyond… and coming back home to where my heart will always reside.

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