How old should children be before they can fly?

No one wants to endure a flight with a fidgety, whingeing, tantrum-throwing child, and it seems their parents don’t, either.

A new survey has revealed Australians have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to the age of children on flights — and most of those plane cabins should be baby-free zones.

The survey of more than 1100 Australian parents by insurance company InsureandGo asked how old a child should be before it was OK for them to be taken on-board domestic and international flights.

About 60 per cent of people said domestic flights were not suitable for children aged under one year old, and 76 per cent said the same about international flights. The overwhelming majority of people said it was not acceptable for newborns to fly domestically (87 per cent) and internationally (92 per cent).

Sorry, kid.Source:Supplied

People started to get a little more relaxed about the idea for older children. Only a quarter of people surveyed said domestic flights were not OK for children aged five and up.

About 45 per cent said kids under five shouldn’t be on international flights, and 14 per cent of people thought children should be at least 12 before an international flying holiday.

InsureandGo spokesman Jonathan Etkind said from a health and wellbeing point of view, overseas travelling could present unique threats to young children.

“This can take the form of anything from infections and diseases that may be present in the country to which you’re travelling, to the pain children sometimes feel due to cabin pressure at the takeoff and landing of your flight,” he said.

Limit screen time as much as possible — and pack some other activities to keep them occupied.Source:Supplied

“It’s important to ensure they are covered under a travel insurance policy in case they unexpectedly fall ill.”

InsureandGo said there were things parents could do to keep their kids comfortable and entertained on flights.

One is to encourage natural sleep — which is challenging on a flight — but can be helped by packing the child’s favourite bedtime toy or reading them a story. Try to discourage screen time during normal sleeping hours and limit overall screen time, mixing it up with other activities like colouring in.

Booking overnight flights that coincide with the child’s existing sleeping routine could help, thanks to the dim lights on night flights.

Encourage children to yawn, swallow or chew — or in the case of babies, bottle feed — to relieve the cabin pressure on their narrow ear tubes that could cause discomfort.

Reserve bassinets where possible and request meals your child will eat during the long flight.

Many people think an international flight shouldn’t be an all-ages affair.Source:istock

It’s not just the wellbeing of the child that makes people object to their presence on flights — many people also simply don’t want to be disturbed by them.

Another recent survey reported 52 per cent of air travellers thought families with young children should all be bunched together in a separate section of the plane.

Other people said they would be willing to pay more for a ticket in order to sit in a child-free area.

“Some believe there should be a separate aeroplane cabin for those travelling without children but I will do you one better — there should be an entire AIRLINE that guarantees child-free travel,” one Twitter user said.

Another person added: “There are child-free hotels, why not child-free flights?”

Several airlines have already responded to the call for childless flights, with Indian airline IndiGo introducing “child-free zones” to some of its services.

Few things rile up airline passengers like annoying kids on flights.Source:Supplied

But international airlines have yet to cash in on the growing demand for kid-free travel options, with Tracey Stewart from Airfarewatchdog attributing the outrage it would cause as the main deterrent.

“It’s probably hard for parents to be super objective for this stuff. Whenever this comes up, people get so upset about it,” she told Business Insider.

“It would be great if an American carrier would give it a shot, but I would be surprised if anyone takes it on.”

Over the years, parents have tried many solutions to the delicate issue of their children on flights — from handing out lolly bags as a pre-emptive apology to doping kids up with cough medicine to tiring their kids out on the airport escalator so they’d fall asleep in time for takeoff.


How old should a child be to fly on domestic flights?

Newborn: 13 per cent

3-6 months: 17 per cent

7-11 months: 10 per cent

1-2 years: 20 per cent

3-4 years: 11 per cent

4-5 years: 4 per cent

5 years and up: 25 per cent

How old should a child be to fly on international flights?

Newborn: 8 per cent

3-6 months: 9 per cent

7-11 months: 7 per cent

1-2 years: 15 per cent

3-4 years: 15 per cent

5-6 years: 12 per cent

7-12 years: 19 per cent

Older than 12 years: 14 per cent.

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