Give many parents the choice between a leisurely car ride with their young kids and a two hour flight and they would choose the car in a heartbeat.
Facts are facts: Air traveling with children can be challenge in a best-case scenario. If a few things go wrong, it can quickly turn into a one of the most stressful experiences of parenthood.
In addition to their own supplies, parents must be equipped to quickly handle any need that may arise during the trip. You may have seen parents in airports toting car seats, strollers, diaper bags, strange items of unknown origin and a "parental survival kit" containing books, snacks, pacifiers, and whatever else their child may need or want.
Parents arrive at the gate with a glazed look in their eyes, often with boarding passes in their teeth because it's physically impossible for them to carry one more item. They do all these things in the name of preventing the one thing at the top of the parental travel fear list when traveling with children, the toddler meltdown.
Given all that, most parents would rather face "Are we there yet?" in the family van than "I'm bored" in Concourse C. They'll take "When will we BE THERE?" from the back seat over "How much longer?" from seat 17C. When push comes to shove, many would even take minivan car sickness over "My tummy hurts" right before "We'd like to begin boarding with those passengers traveling with children."
The Reason is Simple
As a parent, you have, at the very least, the appearance of control when traveling by car. On a plane, you're entirely at the mercy of the airline. If your child gets sick in the car, gets bored in the car, gets hungry in the car, has "an accident" in the car, you can pull over, address it and get back on the road. Knocking on the door the cockpit and asking the pilot to pull over is definitely frowned upon.
In addition, if your child has a meltdown in the car, they're only bothering you and the rest of the family. In the air, you may feel the eyes of the other passengers boring through you as you frantically try to calm down your child.
The anxiety of flying with children can be tough to handle. But help may be on the way. RKS, a design firm in California, is working on a concept called Project cAir. It's not a reality yet, but if it goes live, it could be the answer to the prayers of traveling parents everywhere.
Project cAir is an airline that would cater specifically to families traveling with small children. RKS did extensive research into all aspects of family travel, from booking to ground transportation to baggage check and ultimately the in-flight experience. The result is a concept airline that would reduce stress and greatly enhance traveling for everyone.
RKS has seemingly thought of everything a parent or child could possibly want. Projected features include:
- Shuttle busses with child-safe seating
- Family waiting areas with restrooms large enough to fit multiple family members
- Customizable in-flight meal choices
- Stroller and toy rentals
On board amenities would include:
- Larger restrooms, allowing parents enough space to change diapers
- Interactive screens in each seat equipped to entertain and inform
- USB bottle warmers
- Personal refrigerators
- Layered storage with easy to reach compartments overhead and under seats
Other Benefits of cAir
In addition, passengers will have the ability to reconfigure their seats to fit the size of their children, create small play areas and allow family members to face each other in flight similar to train travel.
Seats would also be equipped with drop down sound-dampening privacy screens providing privacy to calm or nurse a child.
Unfortunately, Cair is just a concept at this point, but the fact that it's even being talked about is a great sign for people who travel with children, and also people who don't. Business travelers, honeymooners and others traveling without children would certainly see the benefits of not having the seat in front of the only screaming two year old on the plane.
Until cAir takes off for the first time, there are ways to make traveling with children easier. Here are a few tips to get you through your next flight.