Flight attendant reveals ULTIMATE list of do’s and don’ts for parents flying with children – revealing why you CAN rely on staff to babysit but should never expect them to clean up for you
- Caroline Kneitz, 34, spent six years working as a flight attendant for Emirates
- She picked up a spread of insider tips from watching parents with their children
- Always disembark the plane last to help other passengers, she says
This week Toronto Blue Jays player Anthony Bass added a lot more fuel to the fiery debate around plane etiquette after tweeting about a flight saga involving his wife and their two children.
The 35-year-old, who is from Michigan but plays for the MLB team in Canada, revealed on Twitter how his spouse – who was traveling alone – had been ‘made’ to clean up their kids’ food mess despite being 22 weeks pregnant.
While he received backlash for expressing his outrage, Caroline Kneitz, 34, who worked as an Emirates flight attendant for six years, told DailMail.com that he was right for this and it should be the cleaners’ jobs to clean up mess: not parents or cabin crew. Although respect for the public space should be exercised.
Here the travel pro, who is originally from the Netherlands and currently based in Dubai, reveals her ultimate etiquette do’s and don’ts on cleaning and other matters for parents flying on a plane with their kids.
Caroline Kneitz, 34, spent six years working as an Emirates flight attendant and during that time she picked up a spread of insider tips
It is not a parent’s or crew’s responsibility to clean – but DO control your children!
In my personal opinion, it’s important to treat public spaces as if they are rooms of your home. I don’t understand what gives people the idea or right to mess up plane to the extent that I have seen. It is like a form of vandalism.
So yes, I do believe a parent should take care that the kid doesn’t mess up the space. Like imagine you’re on a 13 hour flight, would you want to sit on a dirty seat for that long?
Crew are not paid to clean and neither are the parents responsible to clean. The airline employs cleaners who come on board once the passengers have all disembarked.
I have heard of some airlines asking their crew to clean, especially budget brands, but generally the rule of thumb is to leave everything for the cleaners. So that changes the story quite a bit. At Emirates, we were responsible for picking up plastic and other debris from the aisle in case someone would slip or fall. A messy cabin can be a safety hazard as well!
Avoid chips or crumbly foods
The worst offenders when it came to children and the messiest snacks on planes were chips and cookies. There would often be a peppering of crumbs left by kids on the seat and around the footwell.
It’s best if parents pack some home made food which is easy to eat and something the child is familiar with. Chopped fruit and vegetables are great, as they generally leave little mess and they are refreshing to nibble on in the air.
This week Toronto Blue Jays player Anthony Bass added a lot more fuel to the fiery debate around plane etiquette after tweeting about a flight saga involving his wife and their children
Caroline (pictured third from left) said she happily babysat children during flights, so parents shouldn’t be scared to rely on cabin crew
Time flights to your kids’ sleep patterns
I think it is really important for parents to think about timings before they book flights. Sometimes a flight might be cheaper at a weird time of day but then if children are extra grumpy or misbehaved due to a lack of sleep, is it really worth it?
In my experience the worse behaved children on flights were the overtired ones, who had had their sleep patterns disrupted.
Never rely on inflight entertainment to distract your child
The entertainment systems really vary from airline to airline so it’s not advisable to rely on these to keep your children distracted. Some airlines have great offerings, with games and a spread of children’s TV shows, but others are very sparse with their selections.
Some airlines have toys onboard, so it is worth asking the cabin crew. I know we had teddy bears and things like that, which would always go down a treat. Coloring books, I found, would also keep children mesmerized for a good amount of time. Budget airlines tend to have no backseat screens so always pack an iPad in that case.
Take your child for a walk – don’t let them run around
Countless times I would see children being allowed to run around mid-flight and this would often irritate other passengers. I would always advise parents to take their children on guided exploration trips up and down the aisles. As long as you stay in your cabin and class, nothing is generally off-limits.
A little walk up and down will help tire the child out and help adults stretch their legs too. Passengers will generally be more taken by a child with a guardian than one who is left to go rogue.
Parents should be well rested before traveling, Caroline says, as their problem solving skills will be batter (stock image)
Make sure YOU are well rested before travel too
Many times I would see parents bickering and looking exhausted if there was a problem with their child or children. I would advise parents to make sure they are well-rested before journeys.
Half the job is done then. It really is amazing how much sleep can help make problem solving easier.
Disembark the plane last
As soon as the plane hits the tarmac everyone is in a hurry to get off. But if you are traveling with children, I would advise taking your time and disembarking last.
As you will have more bits and pieces to carry, you will end up holding other people up. If you rush, you are also more likely to accidently leave things behind. Factor the longer disembarkation process into your journey and don’t stress!
Also, if possible, try to cut down on packing and be more efficient.
DO rely on crew to be temporary babysitters
Crew love taking a break from their duties to become temporary babysitters. I used to love it! I would let kids wear my uniform and we had a Polaroid camera for fun photos.
Therefore, don’t hesitate to bring your kid to the galley in between services for some entertainment. I found looking after children in the middle of the night helped me to keep alert and stay awake, so I always appreciated parents asking for some assistance.
Carry and rock your baby if they cry
I’m sure you’ve had a conversation with a friend or relative where you ask how the flight was and they say it was great but they had a baby next to them crying all the way. If a child cries then you just have to put up with it, unfortunately.
I was on duty from Dubai to JFK once and this one kid did not stop crying from take off until landing. I handed out ear plugs to everyone in the area until I ran out. The flight was full so I couldn’t reallocate the seats either. Solution: Noise cancellation headphones!
Also, crying babies like to be carried around, so as a parent, from what I’ve seen, it helps to carry your baby around the isles to rock them to sleep. I found when parents did this, it helped so much!
Avoid giving sugar to children
I have seen many kids on flights that are completely out of control. Unfortunately I put this down to bad parenting. I’ve seen parents filling up their kids with soft drinks and only sugar.
I had one mother who requested a coffee for her four-year-old with three sugars in. As crew we are trained not to educate our customers, so even in this case I couldn’t do anything. Shorty after serving the beverage, the child was wild.
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