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Airplane travel with young kids.

Japan With Kids - Forums: Traveling to/from and in Japan: Airplane travel with young kids.
By Edman on Tuesday, July 6, 1999 - 6:58 pm:

Does anyone have tips for surviving international flights and vacations with a toddler (or child of any age)?

By pamela S. Paterson on Friday, July 9, 1999 - 11:14 am:

We are just about to do the 14 hour trip over to Tokyo from St. Louis with our two year old. I have a few tips from others who have taken long trips, and I think you will find them useful:
1. Pack a bag of new toys and bring one out every once in a while. When they get tired of that one, bring another one out. This will probably entertain a 2 year old for 10 minutes....:-)
2. Pack paper and pens, the drop table is a cool place for them to color.
3. Try to get up and walk with them up and down the aisle a few times. Let them walk off some pent up energy.
4. Drugs.
Good luck with this. I am personally sort of frightened of this the most out of all of the move.

By James Fahey on Wednesday, July 14, 1999 - 9:38 pm:

We've traveled across the Pacific with our kids more than a dozen times. We've never used drugs. But we do get up and walk with them frequently, and lots of new toys are a good idea.

VERY important if you have an infant or toddler: a bottle with water or milk for take-off and landing. Try to time the delivery of the bottle so the child is thirsty/hungry and give the bottle at the last possible minute. You'll save your child's ears (and the ears of the people sitting around you!).

Don't let your kids nap before take off and make sure they get lots of exercise at the airport. They're more likely to sleep or at least stay quiet on the plane. We always arrive early to give the kids AT LEAST an hour AFTER check in and immigration to walk around. Don't let them sit. They'll just be bored and restless even before they get on the plane. (If you walk with them, you'll sleep, too!) Another way to make sure they get tired before getting on the plane is to have them carry something, even if it's just a light backpack with their own diapers in it. And it reduces your load.

By Emi on Thursday, July 15, 1999 - 4:16 am:

Thank you for all the great tips! My tips for flying with a toddler are:

- Pay for an extra seat or try to fly during times of the year and days when the plane is empty. Don't try to carry the child on your lap! You'll have a very hard time eating and the flight attendants usually aren't very helpful.
- If you do get an extra seat, and you're traveling with an infant, take your carseat along. My son slept in his for at least 2 hours during the flight giving me a much needed break. (We also ended up needing a carseat in Portland, OR, USA, once, as not a single cab company would pick us up - none of them had car seats available, not even on request!!)
- Right after your reservation is made, call the airline and get seat assignments. Try to get the bulkhead seat with the bassinett! Even if you don't use the bassinette, your child can play on the floor. A few times I forgot to get seat assignments in advance and they tried to seat me and my infant in different locations!!!
- If the plane has empty seats when you are about to take off, make sure to grab them asap or they will vanish - the entire middle row if you can get it is especially nice!
- Request a meal appropriate for the age of your child: infant, toddler, child (they also have vegetarian meals available). Make sure to request these a few days in advance.
- Take along lots of small snacks but nothing with lots of sugar to make them hyper. Crackers, goldfish, cheerios, granola, a banana or other fruit (make sure to be finished with it before you go through customs on the other end)
- If you are breastfeeding, it is a great way to put them to sleep and keep them asleep. Especially useful for takeoff and landing.
- New toys! I took a few 1 piece plastic toys that had movable parts. The sticker books were a huge hit- boring for me but kept him quiet for hours!
- paper and crayons (cheap ones as you will inevitably lose some)
- 2-3 favorite books
- portable cd player! put my son to sleep twice when I put the headphones on him
- make sure to bring as many extra outfits and diapers as you can if you're traveling with an infant. My son (around 6 months old at the time) had 3 huge diaper blowouts during one flight to Japan. It was incredible. Luckily, I was wearing supplex pants and was able to wash those areas in the restroom and the pants were dry by the time we landed.
- If you are flying Delta and you get a discounted ticket, you will probably not be able to change the return date. I tried that last time because my son had a bad head cold. When I called Delta, they specifically told me that the flight could not be changed unless the ticket holder was hospitalized, dead, or there was "imminent death"! Incredible...

On a separate occasion, our doctor in the USA suggested drugs to make my son sleep, but he also suggested we try it in advance because some children become hyperactive instead of getting sleepy. We did try it in advance and it did make him hyperactive...

Good luck everyone! Ganbatte!

By Anonymous on Friday, September 10, 1999 - 11:34 pm:

Silly little wind up toys are a great entertainer on flights until the little ones finally fall asleep! Just put down your meal tray and you have a perfect play spot.

By Joanna on Tuesday, January 25, 2000 - 11:30 pm:

I traveled to Japan with a 4 year-old. Since he was a bit older, I didn't have to worry too much about entertaining him. Older kids seem to enjoy the in-flight movies, although many of the movies are not suited for very young audiences.

We flew Japan Airlines, and I was very impressed with their "Family Service" accommodations. I did not have to wait in line at check in and they assisted me with my carry-on luggage, and also made sure that I got through customs without any problems. I'm currently pregnant and after the baby is born, I'm sure my husband and I will fly JAL due to the great service I received.
I know that this probably sounds like a commercial, but sometimes it's nice to have a heads up in regards to kid-friendly airlines.

By Nina Padden on Monday, January 31, 2000 - 8:12 am:


In March my husband and I will be flying to New York with our first baby; she'll be three months old at the time of the trip.

I'd appreciate any advice on flying internationally with an infant, and especially these questions:

- In your experience, which airlines are the most (or least) helpful to passengers with small babies on long trips?

- I'm worried about the effects of air pressure on her ears, especially during the descent (even if I succeed in timing things so that she's feeding). Has anyone had any trouble with this?


By tracy okuma on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 10:16 pm:

I will be travelling to the uk with my daughter , she will be one year old and the flight is 12 hours!
Does anyone have any great tips or advice on what to take toy wise, food wise or basically anything wise, as she is not yet walking and does not like confined spaces, she is a crawler!!
Any advice or thoughts very welcome,

By Joellyn on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 11:10 pm:

I have 3 little girls, ages range from 14 months to 6 years and have traveled with my oldest on airplanes since she was 7 weeks old when we were living in Paris, France, and have driven from D.C. to visit Grama and Grampa in Illinois (a 12 hour drive) over a dozen times. Now, keep in mind that I'm the type of person who would win for having whatever Monte Hall asked for on "Let's Make a Deal" and am always *more* than prepared. (I have shared and traded toys and books with other passengers more than once!)
I found the best things to travel with for little ones are things that either make noise or stick to your fingers, car seat, Mommy, whatever. I've gone through a lot of stickers in the last 5 years of traveling with toddlers and it has been money well spent. Don't worry about cleaning up until you get there! Stickers come off easily enough and if the baby doesn't eat them, you are a winner.
I attached toys and busy boxes to a telephone cord or bungee cord and would loop it around the car seat or in the van, wherever we were. But keep in mind, this baby is never going to be unattended and you should always remove it before the baby or *you* might fall asleep! The little toys that make noise and books that make music are the best. The plane is so loud it doesn't bother people around you (and I'm sure they'd much rather hear toys than your baby cry!). I also found that once my girls knew getting out of their car seat was an option, it was all over. I put the car seat in their seat in the plane, put them in it, they cried for 5-10 minutes, (especially after seeing other people walk around!) then the rest of the passengers are loaded and thinking you are a terrible mother, but after that it was easy saling. The longer I could keep them in the car seat, the better. They ate in it, they slept in it, it's the safest place for them. I've watched mothers chase their toddlers up and down the aisles the whole flight trying to keep them happy; make your decision early what you want to do, because after baby has run around all over the plane, nothing else will make them happy.
Foods that work best for us are Cheerios or Golden Grahams (or any small cereal that you can hand them one at a time), hard Italian bread sticks and raisins, if they have teeth. Any neat finger foods work great. Just not too messy or it gets all over everything before you even blink! The longer it takes them to eat the better!
Pack an extra outfit for you *and* several for the baby, socks, shoes, everything, just in case she spits up. I was trying to nurse for take off so her ears would pop and was so worried about being discreet, I was sopping wet all across my nice, new nursing shirt! If I hadn't packed an outfit for me too, I'd have been miserable for at least an hour until it dried! Pack more diapers and wipes than you can possibly use. Pack extra milk, baby food, whatever you might need. Don't assume the plane will have anything except hot and cold water. I also always pack Benedryl (in case of allergic reaction), a fever reducer and pain meds for me! Hope this isn't too much info! I believe in being prepared!

By Marybeth Stock on Wednesday, March 1, 2000 - 9:27 pm:

For air travel, we've found that the basic rule of thumb seems to be: have a new distraction ready for every hour of the flight. This can mean stickers, small toys, books, snacks . . . This strategy can be a real hit, especially if these items are old favorites that have been hidden away for a week or more before the flight . . . plus a small sprinkling of new stuff (a new finger puppet, a new sticker book) -- the trick is selecting stuff that is easy to carry, and that won't be easily lost.

The bulkhead seat is definitely a plus. . . especially if you are able to reserve a separate seat for your baby & car seat, I usually lay down a blanket on the floor in front of the window seat, create a blockade with the carry-on of toys/food/etc. and let my daughter have her own little area of floor and seat to hang out in. When she was only crawling, she was able to vent a little in this situation. . .

By Steve K on Friday, August 1, 2003 - 4:51 pm:

After flying to and from Vancouver last month on Air Canada, I can only say that no one with kids should fly on Air Canada. Based on my experience and comments posted about U.S. carriers in the Consumer Reports section of this forum, North American carriers seem to be quite insensitive to the needs of and situation faced by travelling parents. We dealt with cabin crews that were imperious, snooty, and generally not helpful. Following the advice posted above, we brought along enough toys, snacks and diaper for both flights. We needed them. They didn't offer us any small toys or trinkets, and they didn't seem to want to provide the formula/diaper package that we had requested and CONFIRMED with staff on the ground. On both flights, they claimed to have lost the formula/diaper package! Ignore their advertising. If an item wasn't commonly available to adults, they weren't interested in getting it. One stewardess ("attendant" does not apply at all) even implied that we had to buy a ticket for our toddler, who was sitting in my lap at that particular moment, before they could help us. She made a quick retreat when my wife showed her our daughter's ticket.

My wife, daughter and I had flown on JAL on two prior trips, and I strongly suggested to my wife to book them for future trips to Vancouver (as far as I know, JAL and AC are the only airlines with direct flights between Tokyo and Vancouver). They offered to hold my daughter, who was four- and eleven-months old on those flights, commiserated with us when she cried during takeoff on one of the flights, gave us the requested formula/diaper package promptly, offered toys, put up and took down the bassinet at the right time, and generally showed themselves to be knowledgable about children.

My tip: choose a family-friendly airline.

By Irena Shie on Monday, August 4, 2003 - 12:08 pm:

I had good experience with Thai Airlines, ANA, and Singapore Airlines. I traveled alone with my baby when he was 10 months, a year and didn't find big trouble. Especially Thai Airways,they came to my seat several time to ask if everything is all right. They played with and talked to my baby. I paid only for one seat and asked those airlines to keep the seats next to me free if it is possible when I cehcked in. And they did.

By Melissa Mcnulty on Monday, August 4, 2003 - 4:40 pm:

I just came back from a trip flying JAL. Well, I guess one thing I have finally learned about flying with kids - the experience definately depends upon the cabin crew of the airline you are flying. JAL has definately gone downhill since the last time I flew with them (pre-child). A hukkery old plane with bad food and lopsided service. I have to say that JAL is still much better than any North American Airline I have flown, but that seems to be because as an airline JAL is used to dealing with kids, so has protocols in place for when they are on board (for example: actually seating mother and toddler together, unlike another airline that shall remain nameless NorthWest - oops).

So, on the plus side of the JAL experience-there are little tv screens in each of the seats so your child can watch a selection of movies(well, two) and you don't have to worrry about inappropriate movies being seen by your child, or lots of flickering tv light to keep your child awake.

They will heat bottles, although I had a trying time on the return flight with the cabin crew member assigned to our part of the plane. I just got the feeling she was really annoyed at having to deal with a mom and child. When I asked for some milk AND for it to be heated up, she looked at me like I had two heads and said "did you bring your own milk?" I wasn't sure if she meant did I pump milk, or did I also bring a refrigerator on board with me, so I said no. She came back with scalding hot milk, so hot I couldn't even hold the bottle. I flagged down the woman who looked like her sempai and asked for some ice to cool the bottle down. The original crew member came back a few minutes later with a cooler bottle and apologized profusely, so I guess something happened there...

One nice thing about JAL is that they didn't snap at me, tell me off, or keep me waiting for things when I asked. This is a biggie in my book, as those of you who have experienced this will know! We were not given any special attention, but we weren't picked on either. We did have someone seated in our row however. I bring this up because when I checked in on the return fliht, the ticketing woman told me that I had been seated with a space between my daughter and I. I know I said. That usually happens when someone travels with a child, so the seat can be left open until the last minute, so hthere will be more room for mom and baby. Oh, we don't do that here! She replied. When I got my seat, there was someone seated in the middle - and get this: the plane not full, and the middle seats down most of the side of the plane I was on were empty - just mine was full! I try not to be cynical, but...?

So, on reflection, I would give JAL an average rating, with extra marks for the tv screen. Fairly unstressful, but not outstanding.

By Melissa Mcnulty on Monday, August 4, 2003 - 4:42 pm:

oops. I meant to post my message on the consumer board where there is a running list of peoples experience's with airlines - sorry!

By Joanne Lin on Tuesday, August 5, 2003 - 4:52 pm:

I flew both Air Canada and China Airlines with my son before. I would say the North American carrier is incomparable with the Asian carrier. We took my son back from Toronto to Tokyo when he was 8 months old. The flight was supposed to be direct (13 hrs). It made an emergency landing at Calgary due to mechanical problems. During the whole flight, they offer NO food, NO drink, and NO service to my son. They told us that they wouldnft offer any food because they were afraid that he has allergy. My son couldnft fit into the airline basset, so I ask them to place the car seat instead. They refused. They asked us to check in the car seat.
My son was very uncomfortable during the whole trip due to the air pressure. He was crying his lung out during most of the trip. No flight attendant offer any help. My husband and I tried to calm him down during the 16 hours flight. It was a nightmare.

Last Xfmas we took China Airline on our holiday trip. The service was superior. They kindly gave us a package with diapers and baby food in it. One flight attendant came to my son and offered him a teddy bear. They came by and smile at my son most of the time. It made us feel welcome. They placed our stroller at the front where the cabin crew put their luggage. So, we had our stroller ready before going out of the gate. It made life a lot easier for us.

I remember Canadian Airline used to have an above the average service before it merged with Air Canada. But the service is going down the hill since the merge. If it isnft the only carrier offers direct flight from Tokyo to Toronto. I would not choose it.

By Cornelia on Tuesday, August 5, 2003 - 11:03 pm:

I have flown with my daughter round trip about twice a year since she was born. When she was 6 months old was probably the easiest. Breastfeeding was a huge asset (also helps pop the ears). However the next turning point was at about age 6. That means there were about 5.5 years where flying was nothing but stressful. Trains are much easier, at least in Japan, because, all in all, Japanese are quite tolerant of younger children. Lately however, her antics on trains sometimes draw actual criticism. That doesn't mean that she does anything wrong or causes hurt to anyone now, but rather that people expect 6 year olds to sit or stand in one spot.

I would stipulate that on the whole, the North American culture is extremely unfriendly towards children under age 6. This shows in any number of places but is particularly noticeable on airplaines. The only place that I have found a business actually making some effort to accommodate young children is in grocery stores where there is often a selection of shopping carts with amusing shapes (such as a car) providing the child seat.

I have done all sorts of things to avoid North American airline companies in the past. Including flying an Asian airline from Japan to the west coast staying overnight, and then doing the last leg of the trip on a western domestic airline. We took JAL once (to Vancouver) and though it was better than UA, AA, AC, and so on, it was definitely not as good as Korean Air. The attendants were very uptight about her moving around visiting other kids (that she had met in the hour prior to boarding).

I think that overall, besides avoiding travel, you just have to steel yourself for a bit of "hell" and try to bring every possible thing that you might need on the plane with you. If at all possible, try to bring the child on board tired out in advance and youself somewhat refreshed. (I have never managed either though).

I also found that Korean Air was more likely to have quite a few empty seats travelling from Tokyo to LA. But the return was generally full. Unfortunately, the routings are not useful for most people, including myself. I am now using Air Canada (fortunately my daughter is older now) because KA closed the option for me to fly through LA. I am now forced to do their flight through NYC which means that we go to Seoul first before Tokyo. Air Canada is however on very wobbly legs. And at the moment those are the only two carriers that sell one year tickets (in North America) for a reasonable amount of money. I don't think you can even get a one year ticket in Japan for a reasonable amount.

I have always thought that maybe a letter writing campaign would convince an airline that it might be wise to have a section not too far from the toilets or the galley, set aside for seating parents with children under 6. Children are very happy when there are other children next to them. There might be a squabble or two, but basically I found that children do a better job of entertaining each other, than trying to entertain themselves or getting their exhausted parents to entertain them. I remember on at least two flights having a family in the four seats behind us, and how great their older kids were with my 2 and later 3 year old. Plus the parents were also more tolerant because they understood (had not managed to forget yet)!

Other airlines that I've used with my daughter along are Garuda Indonesia (very positive attitude towards kids) and Egypt Air (attitude OK but low on ammenities and had a 4 hour delayed departure from the airport). However these were both shorter flights (7 hours or less).

By Dennis Mobley on Wednesday, August 6, 2003 - 10:23 am:

I have to disagree completely (as does my Japanese wife) about Japanese being tolerant of younger children. In fact, I feel it is quite the opposite. As an example, we were asked to leave the Roppongi Hills exhibition last week because my 1 1/2 year old could not sit still and be quiet (what 1 1/2 year old can?) -- and the exhibition is seemingly for kids. Americans seem to remember childhood and say "that's how children are". I have had this discussion with many friends English, Americanand Japanese, and all agree.

Concerning airlines, I have had no problems with UA in the past -- they are pretty "average". Usually quite nice, never had problems warming milk, etc. but they never seemed to go the "extra mile" that I often hear about ANA. I usually fly 2 times a year to San Francisco, then on to Honolulu on the way back.

My most vivid memories are the times when we asked if someone could change seats with us so we could have an extra seat for the baby (so we didn't have to hold him for 10 hours). 2 times Japanese ladies flatly refused to do so, and directly said children are obnoxious (urusai). This was not in reference to our children, but just general statements. Funny thing is, male passengers didn't mind switching seats at all.

By Kit on Wednesday, August 6, 2003 - 12:05 pm:

Well, I'll bet there are as many nightmare scenarios as there are airlines; I know I've lived through some doozies! And smooth sailing on one flight doesn't guarantee the same quality return flight (as one savvy respondent put it, a lot has to do with the flight crew). The best approach I've come up with after seven years of travelling with my son is to cherish the few episodes of kindness that have occurred.

However, to maximize your chances of reeling in some good experiences, these are the (silly? obvious?) steps I go through.

1. Always go prepared for a hostage situation. My son and I were once kept on a plane AT THE GATE for six hours with no food, drinks, or blankets. We were not allowed off. The situation resulted in one of the most expensive lawsuits that the now defunct airline ever faced. But I decided to bring, ever after and always, the bare minimum: one blanket, a day's worth of food & snacks, and two bottles of water. This might sound like the Outward Bound appoach to travel, but I find my son usually prefers the food I packed to the plane gloop anyway, and the extra water never hurts..

2. Remind the airline/check-in folks/gate people several times before you get on the plane that you are travelling with a baby or child. At least one call, the day befroe you go, is a good idea. Some people have trouble focusing below their navels; it helps to gently remind all involved.

3. Just a few weeks ago, I succumbed to pressure from my husband and flew JAL for the first time. For some reason (even though I followed my own advice) they seated me and my son in totally different sections. The plane was jammed (overbooked, in fact), the personnel unusually snappish for Japanese, and the whole atmosphere at the gate tense. JAL has no policy of seating parents and children together, I was told. I responded that I wanted to make that policy known on a popular website, started jotting down full names, and -- guess what? -- we finally got seated together, with an apology. Though it's a last resort, if you're treated badly, it sometimes helps to let people know you will respond likewise. As a treveller, you are pretty much stuck with the behavior of the airline's personnel, but a moderated protest can be effective, too.

4. Treat every single flight attendent like a long lost friend right from the very first moment, and get your kid to do the same (if old enough)--you might find a sympathetic one among them, and it could change the quality of your flight immensely. I've noted that most people treat flight attendents as though they are low-wattage sanitation androids -- barely saying a word to them and passing by as through they didn't even exist (some you wish didn't, in fact), but there's a good one on every flight, I think.

5. Last, laugh when the situation sucks. My son and I got seated next to a baby who bawled the whole trip, squirmed like a piglette, and had bowel problems (which mom, in the aisle seat, decided to take care of at the seat, during lunch service). At first, with two lunches balanced on his lap, and a big fat full diaper on his tray, my son was ready to get mad. I asked him if he would prefer beef or chicken,
indicating the options in front of him. All three of us -- hassled mom, my son, and I -- got the giggles. It was a VERY LONG trip, but laughing was less stressful.

6. I lied. One more: master the technique of making a blanket tent for your kid, if you're stuck in a plane that's too bright, cold, etc. Here's the system I've been told I invented: Tuck one end of the blanket into the food tray, close and turn the thingy, securing the edge. Next, just drape the rest of the blanket over the back of your or your child's seat, making a dark little cave for your young one. Works wonders for us.

By Michael on Wednesday, August 6, 2003 - 2:06 pm:

Even though travel with children on North America based airlines may not be all that comfortable at times, I certainly would not use that as primary (or even secondary) support for the broad-based statement that "On the whole, the North American culture is extremely unfriendly towards children under the age of 6."

From my experience with North America based airlines (with me flying mostly on Delta and United Airlines), the service provided by "attendants" is often unfriendly/poor. However, I would argue that their unfriendliness is often not limited to parents of children under the age of six. They are generally unfriendly to MOST PEOPLE outside of first/business class (particularly those passengers who make a request of any sort), and since 9/11 they have virtually been provided a license to be unfriendly (I have noticed however, that their unfriendliness seems to be (understandably) directly proportional to the number of passengers on the flight (more passengers - more unfriendly)).

However, I would have to say that the airline companies themselves (not the flight attendants), do deserve a little credit for enacting policies which allow the consumer to call ahead and request services/items such as special seats/bassinets, baby formula, baby food, children's meals, and a variety of special meals (low fat, low salt, various vegetarian meals, etc.). From a solely business aspect, all airlines must see children as an unfortunate expense - with seats often booked at fares less than that paid by adults, often requiring more attention from flight attendants, and usually requiring special meals.

The best airline that I have flown for both adults and children (and I have been on both crowded and uncrowded flights on this airline over the past two weeks) is Singapore Airlines. The flight attendants are kind, caring, and attentive to your every need, even though a letter to the editor last week in the Straits Times argued that service on this airline is often directly proportional to skin tone (the lighter the tone, the better the service).

Finally, I must say that I love the "children's section" idea in the post above. We can only hope.

By Steve K on Friday, August 8, 2003 - 12:31 pm:

I agree with Michael's comments about broad-based statements, but would like to disagree with his comments about giving airline companies a little credit for their policies. Since when do passengers distinguish between airlines attendants and the companies they work for? I certainly didn't make such a distinction about the smarmy crew chief who told me to find my own seat when I asked if I could temporarily sit in one of the empty seats next to the food prep area. (My daughter was sleeping across mine at the time.) "These are reserved for THE flight crew," he stated. I hope he invested all of his retirement funds in Air Canada stock.

Anyway, with regard to the those customer-oriented policies that Michael alluded to, it's all fine and dandy that I can make a request, but what good is it if no one follows through on the request? On our way back from Vancouver on Air Canada, we requested a child's meal, a fruit meal for me (in case the child's meal was something my daughter didn't like), diapers, formula (we're in the weaning stage), and seats next to the bulkhead. Everything except the seating had been confirmed in advance. Here's what happened.
- We got zero consideration with regard to seating assignment. In the seats around us, the single travellers seemed to have extra seats next to them, while families, including us, were packed together. At least we were seated together (small favours).
- They "forgot" the baby formula. I asked about it immediately after getting on the plane, and the flight attendant then asked me what I was talking about. She implied that my request was a first for her!
- No diapers. They vanished along with the formula.
- The requested children's meals arrived, but each one (lunch and dinner) was just a smaller version of the adult's meal.
- We got no help and no extra attention from the flight crew.
- I heard no apology (no "I'm sorry" but instead "They didn't pack it" and "It's not on this list").

Regarding the business aspect, as far as we know (my wife is a former travel agent) and according to the comments of other contributors to this discussion, the "seats often booked at fares less than that paid by adults, often requiring more attention from flight attendants, and usually requiring special meals" is a misrepresentative description. The fare for a child is less than the adult fare only if the airline's regular fares are used as the basis of the calculation. Like a lot of people, we buy from a travel agent because it's cheaper than the regular fares. Each of our three tickets was the same price. No discount for our munchkin. And as I mentioned above, our daughter got less attention and a smaller meal, compared with an adult passenger. In my opinion, the economic argument doesn't apply to Tokyo-North America flights.

By Michael on Saturday, August 9, 2003 - 4:35 pm:

In order to confirm the statements by Steve above about ticket prices, I phoned a few travel agencies specializing in discount tickets in addition to Air Canada, itself, to do a little research. This is what I discovered:

Sample Flight: Round-Trip Economy Class Ticket from Narita to Vancouver

Departure: October 1, 2003
Return: October 8, 2003

Research Date: August 9, 2003

--- HIS Travel ---

Adult: Y102,000 (45 day advanced purchase; Non-refundable); Y126,000 (No ticketing limit)

Child (Ages 2-11): Y102,000 (Same as adult)

Infant (Under Age 2): About Y35,000

--- STA Travel ---

Adult: Y97,000 (45 day advanced purchase; Non-refundable); Y122,000 (No ticketing limit)

Child (Ages 2-11): Y97,000 (Same as adult)

--- Air Canada (03-5405-8800) ---

Adult: Y83,000

Child: Y62,300

Infant: Y8300

I did not ask about restrictions, but I assume that these are non-refundable tickets.


(None of the above prices include the required airport taxes and airline insurance)


I then phoned HIS back (15 minutes later) to confirm their rate, and received a slightly lower quote of Y101,000 from a different salesclerk. When I asked her why the HIS rate was so much higher than that given directly by Air Canada, she replied with, "I don't know."

It is also important to note that not all airlines continue to offer child fares. And with American, Delta, United, Northwest, KLM and Air France all eliminating child fares on their US-Europe routes, a full elimination of these discounts may, unfortunately, be around the corner.

By Melissa Mcnulty on Sunday, August 10, 2003 - 11:48 am:

Actually, I have even paid more for a child seat,as it is based on a percentage of the FULL price adult fare. Some Airlines are absolutely clueless when it comes to policies concerning children. Some carp on about the special attention they pay to people with Special Needs, and basically, who has more needs than an infant or child who needs help with everything, but who hasn't felt like they are a royal in the a** to a snotty crew member at some time or other?

I think from now on I am going to become more assertive if I experience rudeness from a crew memner. Perhaps by asking a direst question such as "Are you angry with me?" or "Would you get your manager for me?".Without being aggressive, but polite and firm. Anyone have any ideas/experiences here? I am sick of being held ransom by some of these incredibly passive-aggressive people who abuse their power because they KNOW that we, as passengers stuck in a tin can, can do virtually nthing for ourselves(food, drink, comfort etc) without them. Sheesh, I dunno.

Okay, got that off my chest...Anyway, yes, the economic theory behind why a crew member feels justified being rude to you is totaly unfounded, and completely irrelevant. Rudeness is totally unacceptable. But what to do... .

By Steve K on Wednesday, August 13, 2003 - 4:44 pm:


Thanks for checking my comments and pointing out that many airlines have stopped offering child fares. I'm surprised and shocked by the prices quoted to you by Air Canada. They aren't close to quotes given to me or my wife (both directly and online). Our experiences are closer to Melissa's description of her experiences.

After I read your posting, I ran a quick fare check on Air Canada's website, and for a return flight between Narita, departing 9/9, and Vancouver (YVR), departing 9/16, the base fares are:

adult - CDN $2323.79
child - CDN $1742.79

The fares were the same for flights around Labour Day, and only refundable tickets were offered.

Then I checked They quoted the following ADULT fares for a NRT-YVR return flight on AC: US$653, $703, $720, $771, $821, $872, and $889. Child fares were 75% of the adult fares. Oops! I guess I had better check my facts more closely next time. Anyway, I wonder what the available dates were for the fare quoted to you. The schedule of availability was very restricted for the online quotes:
$653: zero availability
$703: first two weeks of October
$720: Jan. 3, 2004 only
$771: first two weekends in October
$821: zero availability
$872: first two weeks of October
$889: Jan. 3, 2004 only

Fifteen minutes later, however, the site allowed me to get an adult ticket for US$931 and child ticket for US$699, for flights at the end of September only. Regardless, I'm never booking with AC again. If I'm forced to use a North American carrier, then I hope to be like Melissa and be more assertive but not aggressive. But my first option will be to choose a family-friendly airline.

By Melissa Mcnulty on Wednesday, August 13, 2003 - 5:28 pm:

...if you can find one...

By Paula on Saturday, August 30, 2003 - 9:35 pm:

Kuala Lumpur Airport - I have a 3hr stopover there on the way home. Has anyone here explored and found a play area where I can let my boy burn off some energy. I checked the airport website but there's only a one line entry about it and it doesn't show on the map.

By Stephanie Martin on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 12:56 am:

I have been there, but never as a transfer.

I am pretty sure the playground I took my daughter to was just after I checked in, and before I went through immigration. Which is of no help to you if you are just transferring.

Anyway, incase you can get out into the other area it was on the same floor as the check in counters, the counters are at the front and then a block of shops in the middle, and the play area is behind the shops.

Its beside the KFC. Shaped like an aeroplane great for all ages.

But other than that, I don't recall seeing any play things after we went through immigration (on the way out of KL)

I am sure you can ask the transfer staff and they can help you out.

Happy Travels,

By Cindy on Sunday, August 31, 2003 - 9:00 am:

While it may not have a complete listing of international destinations, I found this website very useful when on a recent long layover in Chicago...

There is a book called "Stuck in the Airport" by Harriet Baskas. It lists various food and entertainment options in many airports worldwide. On the expedia website, they have a modified version you can look at:

By Martin Pfohl on Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 5:08 am:

I can reccomend Thai Air for family friendliness!
My 4 yo son and I flew this carrier from LA to Narita and return last month.
When we arrived we were given boarding priority and without questioning was assighned a whole row of seating just for us.
Before even taking off an attendant brought complementary toys for my son and made sure we had everything we needed.
We were able to have a relaxing flight.
Our return was much the same way, except that at Narita the boarding line had become quite long by the time we were ready and this flight was rather full. Going directly to the boaring gate, we were given priority again and was seated next to another person with no spare seats in our row. Quickly though, an attendant came and offered a new seat to the other person and left us that whole row. Again my son was given some toys and we were made comfortable. we had another very nice flight!

By Irena Shie on Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 10:10 am:

I have good experience with Thai airways too. Moreover, when I visited Thailand, I didn't have to line at all at the immigration desk. As they found that I was travelling with kid, they escort me from long line to a special desk, so I finished very soon. They even offered a place to nurse when my baby started to fussy and wanted to nurse. I had visited Bangkok several times, and each time they give the special service at the immigration counter.

By Kit on Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 10:48 pm:

Gotta chime in on kudos for the
brilliant service of Thai Air!
We got toys, orchids (?!), and
tons of attention--in economy.
I also won a free ticket,
unfortunately non-transferable
and with restrictions I couldn't
meet. Still, it left a nice

As for Air Canada (where I have
had some really unpleasant
encounters), I opted last summer
to use two airlines, one carrier
cross the Pacific and then
Continental to fly into Canada.
Believe it or not, the price
came out hundreds of dollars
cheaper (my agent was shocked,
too), and the flight crew was
young and upbeat. They still
couldn't handle hot water for
the baby formula requested by
the couple sitting in front of
us...what gives with that?

Another perhaps helpful tip: if
you fly United, try to get on a
777; these planes have
individualized video screens,
where (if your child is at the
age when this interests him or
her) you can choose from a wide
menu of entertainment (meaning
you can watch a sub-par adult
movie and your kid can watch a
perfectly fine kid's movie).
There are also games, but my son
and I were not impressed.

Happy and safe travels for all
you parents and kids going home
for the holidays!

By Shakiba Khan on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 5:37 pm:

Hi all

I am going to Travel alone to my home country soon with 21 months old Very Hyperactive toddler.I am going to fly on Thai Airline. The total travel time will be 16 hrs, including 4 hrs transit at Bangkok. I would like some advices and suggestions on Flying with Toddler, and also the experience with Thai Airways.

ps: As some of you mentionted to have Sticker books on board to keep kids busy. Does anyone know where can i get them from?

Shakiba Khan

By Jellund on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 6:14 pm:

I havent flown with my boy since he was 4months but regarding sticker books I think the 100yen shop would be a good place to find them and stickers. Also, in the bookshops, there is a monthly babies magazine that comes out called "Genki" written in hiragana, it usually has stickers and matching activities in it and costs around 500yen. Has a lot of drawings and photos in it and kind of peek-a-boo doors in some pages that you can open and close. The last issue I bought came with a set of cardboard boxes that you could make up and stack too. Hope this helps...

By Yuko Kubota on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 6:51 pm:

I haven't flown on Thai Airlines for a long time, but I remember it was fairly okay.

Also, most airlines have amenities for children. Just before takeoff, they will come around with a basket often including sticker books, and perhaps some candies to choose from. Call the Airline to see what they may have for you. Also, while you're at it, I'm sure you're aware of children's meals you can request in advance.

Actually, the most handy toy we ever had was a book made of cloth called "My Quiet Book." Here is a version I found on the internet.

My son's was blue and the theme was numbers. Each page had a special number of things like parts you can put on and off by Velcro, or parts you can squeeze to make little sounds, and there was a vinyl bowl of cloth fishes, and my son would lend a fish or two to babies we met in the waiting rooms. Great item to get through those long hospital days we had.

Keeping your child awake while at the airport also helps him/her to get to sleep inside the aircraft.

By Alexandra Roberts-Judd on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 10:38 am:

I don't have experience with Thai Airlines either, and my kids were a little older when we started travelling long distances. However, having travelled numerous times on flights 15hours+ I recommend that you do not rely on just the airline kids materials. Usually these books or activity kits occupy my kids for about 30mins, if that. What I have found the most successful is preparing an easy to carry bag full of things to do (sticker books, colouring books, cheap crayons, origami paper, deck of cards, reading books that are not heavy). Definitely pre-order the kids meals because they arrive quicker and therefore occupy more time. Also, check whether your flight will have individual TVs/controls because this can make a huge difference. While movies might not be appropriate for your toddler, there is usually a kids TV channel. Alternatively, you might think about investing in a portable DVD player. We did this last year when we had to travel home to Australia from Houston via Tokyo (total travelling time door to door nearly 40hours), and having the DVD player was invaluable. It also means you can control the content.
I also agree re: staying awake in the airport. Encouraging alot of walking around while in terminals is a good idea too. I also limit the sugar intake to avoid any possibility of additional hyperactivity.

Good luck!

By Steve K on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 2:33 pm:

Further to Alexandra Roberts-Judd's comments about toys to prepare, you may want to organize them so that you can pass a new toy to your boy every hour (or half-hour).

When my wife took a similarly long trip alone with our daughter, who was two at the time, she found that my daughter was expecting to be at her destination when the airplane landed. Unfortunately for my wife, that trip involved a transit in San Francisco. Our daughter raised such a fuss.

Thai Airways uses Terminal 2. Does anyone remember if there is one of those indoor gyms after Passport Control area?


By Paula Hansen on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 2:48 pm:

We also travelled with a very hyper wee boy.
I consulted this website when we flew over with our 2/3yr old.
We also went to the health shop and got some tablets called "Kalm Kids", which is made from Hops (you know, what they make beer from). Some people get their Dr to prescribe some mild sedatives for toddlers but we went natural. We also made sure to book a night flight so that he was asleep for most of the flight.
Stuff - we took his umbrella stroller, fav soft toy, wee chalk board, a small lump of playdough and a new pop-up story book. All in a little special "new" back pack with a matching pull along suitcase to make it all extra exciting.
Didn't go too badly, out of 16hrs travelling he was awake for about 10hrs.

By Yuko Kubota on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 6:14 pm:

Shakiba, I forgot to write a very important thing for a first-time-flying toddler. The air pressure shift upon take-off and landing can be very harsh on your ears.

If you're not breast-feeding, be sure to take with you either a milk bottle or one of those un-spillable mugs equipped with a STRAW so that you can keep your child busy swallowing. Swallowing will prevent your ears from being hurt.

Also, I have to say that in any travel related facility, service tends to be worse in busy times, and better on less busy times. You can tell which flights the busy ones are, because the price will be higher on those dates/flights.

By Trupti Gandhi on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 8:02 pm:

i agree with yuko...

what i do is take a few *special* candies... which i give them only once we start decending... they suck on them... and sugar make them kind of less tired as we land... really helpful in transit... as they hate enclosed places and *behaving* in general when they are tired or sleep deprived... they also look forward to the candies and try to "win" it by behaving on the plane.

i also take a cheap *special* crayon box along with a few blank pages and may be one colouring book.... as my son is big now he also reads to his sister while traveling... :) so it is a treat for both... he gets to behave big and responsible while she gets to hear stories... :)

then i let them run in the airplane if the ride is not bumpy and the food service is over... they go around making friends and talking...

my son is 7 now and we also carry travel games with us like chess, ludo, snakes and ladders etc... while my daughter almost 4 now likes to make jigsaws... and picture books...

i also liked the idea of taking the family photo along... so they do not feel strangers when they actually land and meet them..

hope this helps you shakiba.

By Shakiba Khan on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:58 pm:

Hi Paula

About the "Kalm Kids", Can i get that kind of Medicine at drug store here in Tokyo. And do u know what they call in Japanese. Please Reply ASAP.
I am leaving on comming weekend.

By Janine Boyd on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 3:09 am:

My 2 cents as a seasoned traveller and mother of 4
Dont take too much. You have to carry so much already with the extra diapers, spare clothes, drinks, snacks, etc that carrying the toy box is only going to make you more tired. Anyway you know that you are the one that will end up carrying everything, including the kids, so keep it light!

I always reserve the seats below the movie screen. There is a little extra leg room there to allow the kids to play infront of the seat rather than constantly bumping the seat in front, as you are kidding yourself if you think they will sit in their seats the entire flight. (The staff dont like the kids playing near the doors so give those seats a miss)

I also always take a night flight when flying with kids.It makes sleeping that much easier when the routines are the same. Babies are easily entertained till they fall asleep with the zipper on your jacket or making a posting box out of rolled up magazine. I never tell the whole truth about the babies weight as those basinettes provide and excellent play space for the babies that are supposedly too heavy but cant sit in the seat yet. Gives your arms a break too to be able to plonk the baby down right in your direct view, but becareful of falls if the baby can already sit.

Just getting on the plane with their very own TV set and personal tray is pretty cool for older kids. I have let the kids carry a tiny torch with dull batteries that wont hurt other passengers eyes, for fun after lights out.

If the parents play with and talk to their children instead of trying to sleep before the children do they will have some success.

Try to keep up the routines. Play, dinner, clean teeth, toilet, "bath" (wipe face neck and hands with a warm towel), some TV, or a story (This can be a made up one by pretending to read the menu if you forgot the book...babies love animal sounds, older children love to hear about the day they were born, the day they got lost etc)

Your routines should all be finished by the time the lights are dimmed. Dont forget lots of walks during play times around meals and naps. Walks are made fun by looking for a lady with a red jumper, or searching for where the faries might be sitting on the plane.

Use your imagination and dont keep an unhappy child restrained till they are ready to sleep. Use your bags to provide foot rests as chidren tend to slip as they sleep if on the chairs.

I wouldnt attempt to use any drugs, natural or otherwise for the first time on a plane trip.
You might be in for a nasty suprise with an allergic reaction or an overtired child who fights the effects, or simply vomits due to being given something unfamiliar.
Normality is the key. Talk about the trip before you go. make pretend passports, talk about the magic x-ray machines that can see right through the suitcase, let them test their weight on the scales, tell them they will have their own set of lights, radio and head set, talk about the snake like bag conveyer belt, even make a check list to cross off all the things they found as they cruised through the trip.

Provide a lollipop for take off.
Scrictly not to be bitten but sucked as the plane lifts off and not before (helps with the air pressure) And another one about 45 mins from landing. Young babies benefit from breast or bottle feeding at these times, so time your feeds well. No need to wake a sleeping baby just because breakfast is served as they are better off to sleep when they can, and you eat in peace.
Dont expect the kids to eat the plane food. Its safer to carry what you know they will eat, and if they are sleeping at mealtime, leave them be. Just grab the bread roll for nibbling on before passing through customs. Remember all food has to be thrown out before then so dont bring too much.

Have fun yourself and they will have fun too.

By Martin Pfohl on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 4:10 am:

Hi Shakiba San,
I have followed your discussion with much interest as I used Thai air last fall, taking a flight from LOS to Narita with my 4 year old son.
I was very impressed with thier service and would certainly reccomend them to anyone.
BTW, do you have your childs passport and ID papers in order? I was travelling alone with my son, and although I had an official form indicating my son had parental permission from my exwife for travel, I never had to present it and was asked only once about his being alone with me. I believe I found that form and printed off a copy here in a TYK discussion page.
The morning of our trip, we stopped off at a department store and my son got to choose several small and cheap toys to bring and play with. This was a very good and successful decision, as we took a kosokubasu to get to LAX and he spent the whole time playing with his toys and never bothering anyone or getting noisy. When he got tired of one he would simply put it away and play with the next.
As for Thai Air, we were immediatly given priority as soon as we got checked in. At the boarding area, we were escorted to the front of the line and allowed to board immediatly, and given one row of seats completely to ourselves. Quickly after, an attendant came and gave my son a small packet of toys to play with. It was a 'boys' toy packet and contanined a small model airplane which is simple to assemble, a peel off sticker activity book, a block shifting type of puzzle and some coloring pencils with paper. During the flight, an attendant often would come around and check on us.
We did not preorder any food that time. The staff simply gave us a choice of a kids or adult meal.
At Narita, we took advantage of okunai asobiba which was located close to our departure gate. Again at departure time, we were given first priority. After we were seated another passenger took up a seat next to us, but almost immediatly was offered another seat so that we may have the whole row to ourselves again. Again he got a packet of toys and we were frequently checked upon.
Sorry for the long mail, but I hope it will be of help to you in some way.
Have a safe and relaxing journey!

By Paula Hansen on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 10:17 am:

Shikiba, I tried to email you privately but our contact details don't come up.
The following is the website for the product I mentioned, I haven't seen it in Japan, only NZ & Austalia.
Email me privately and we can see about giving you some. I have a half bottle left but am going on a trip next year myself.
Klam Kids has no added sugar, lactos, starch, gluten, yeast, salt,artificial colouring/flavouring, preservatives or animal products.
I aught to be sales rep for this company as other parents on flights I've been on have always eyed up this bottle and my calm child (not normally calm) and asked for some.
You only need 3-6 over the course of 24 hrs. I usually give my son his first one on the way to the airport.
Also good for when you are going out to a special event.
It doesn't zombie them out just takes the edge off so they can sit still.
Up to you.

By julie b. on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 7:45 pm:

DO you know if a new born baby can take the plane???
if anyone can give me tips...

By Liat Friedman on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 10:34 pm:

Dear Julie,

The youngest I've heard of are 1 week old babies, but maybe someone can correct me on that.
My friend gave birth 6 weeks ago to a healthy baby girl and wanted to fly with her 4 days after delivery. Her doctor told her that under 2 weeks is out of the question and preferably 3 weeks. I guess flight duration is also a consideration (in my friend's case - 2 flights and a connection - 20 hours in total).

Hope this helps,

Liat Friedman

By Tina Teoh on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 12:38 am:

I have travel with my baby from Malaysia to Japan (one way about 11 hours including transit) when he was about 6 weeks. And from Japan to Paraguay when he was 3 months old(including all transit hours comes to about/over 40hours journey without bed rest!).And recently from Japan to Malaysia and back to Japan when he was 6 months old. Most of the advice has been given above by many friends here, all I can say is it is easier to travel when the baby is younger (especially when he/she has not learn to turn over yet). So if anyone who has just given birth and are planning to come to Japan with your baby, please do it as early as possible.

By Mary Tokuhara on Friday, April 8, 2005 - 10:12 am:

Airticket for 5month old baby.
A big thank you to everyone who gave me tips on travelling with a baby. My husband met up with HIS (No. 1 travel) the other day to book our tickets to SFO, and we were charged 10% for the baby. 10% of an adult ticket came up to about 20 000yen. I had thought that babies were free, up unitl 2 !? I'll shop around some other travel agencies, but am still wondering if 10% is the norm recently (that's what HIS told him), and we are charged for using the bassinet?

By Bethan Hutton on Friday, April 8, 2005 - 10:25 am:

No, babies are not free, and I'm afraid it is normal to be charged about 10 per cent for a baby's ticket, whether or not you have a seat with a bassinet. The really annoying thing is that it's usually 10 per cent of the official fare, rather than the discount rate, so often the baby's ticket is more than 10 per cent of what you pay for your ticket.

By Diane Daly on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 4:45 am:

Questions about airlines & fares:
Do any of you know of airlines that definitely charge less than an adult fare (flying from USA to Japan) for a 3-year-old, and how to get the discount? Also, is there a preferable time of year to purchase fares from USA to Japan?

By Amanda Jones on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 11:44 am:

I usually fly on American Airlines and they give us a 10% discount on our two year old son's ticket. I just tell them his age and they automatically apply the discount. American considers the peak season to start on May 1 and they raise their prices then. I think they stay at the higher prices until mid-fall. I just used my frequent flyer miles to go back to the states and we were told it was not the peak season.

I would look online for good deals. You could probably get a better deal for your child by buying a discount ticket online than by getting the 10% child disocunt. Also, if you find a good deal online call the airline directly and see if they will match or beat it. I did this once and the airline actually beat the price I was finding on By booking with the airline I also had the option of changing the ticket if I needed to, as opposed to booking online where you cannot change the tickets.

By Bethan Hutton on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 12:04 pm:

The official child fare (for age 2 and up) that I've usually been quoted is 50 per cent of the standard adult fare, but if you are flying outside peak seasons, the cheapest adult tickets (from discount travel agents or online) are usually well under 50 per cent of the standard fare, and they don't give extra discounts for children. So we often end up paying the same for the children.

FYI, the peak travel seasons in Japan are the week around New Year, Golden Week (late April-early May) and mid-August (o-bon season). Ticket prices often double or triple at these times, and flights are fully booked way in advance. School spring break (end March-early April) is also relatively expensive. The cheapest time of year to travel is usually September to early December and late Jan/Feb, but of course those times are no good if you are teaching.

By Amanda Jones on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 12:18 pm:

Bethan, What airlines do you travel that give you 50% off the child's fare? I have been given that price by American when I buy a seat for my daughter who is under two but not for my older son. That price would be worth me changing airlines!

By Bethan Hutton on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 1:20 pm:

Maybe the American airlines are different - my experience is with flights between Japan and the UK and Australia, eg on Virgin, British Airways, Qantas etc. Also, by standard fare I meant the official full fare if you book direct with the airline (ie the maximum you would ever pay), rather than the standard kind of rate you would get from an agent.

For example, as far as I remember from last time, the official fare on Virgin for Tokyo to London return would be something like Y260,000, and so the airline would quote a child fare of around Y130,000, but if you go to a discount travel agent the adult fare for off-peak season would often be under Y100,000, so it's cheaper to buy a discount adult ticket for the children than get the official child fare. At least, this has been our experience in the past, but airlines always seem to be changing their fare structures so this may not be up-to-date.

However, on some airlines if you pay the official rate for economy class you actually get better seats than if you book through a discount travel agent (eg on Virgin you get Premium Economy seats which are more like old-style business class rather than cramped cattle class) so it can sometimes be worth paying the official fares for a long flight, specially in peak season when the discounts through agents are not so good anyway.

PS I just checked on the Virgin website, and when I punched in a few dates at random, the child fare came out at more like 70 per cent, so maybe it's gone up, or maybe I misremembered. Still better than a 10 per cent discount though.

By Anne Bergasse on Tuesday, April 19, 2005 - 1:39 pm:

I think the thing to do is shop around. When we traveled to Canada last year for a one month trip, my son was 1 year and my daughter was 2.5. Her ticket prices were about 50% unless we were already on a discount fare as Bethan suggests and the baby was free (although I recommend getting a seat for a baby since not all flights have extra seats where you can spread out).

I can recommend IKON travel. I've used them for many years. The owner John Bosworth was very helpful to me and it was a complicated booking. He needed to find me tickets for 3 return flights, all synced, special meals and special considerations for our children. He did an excellent job and it ended up being cheaper than anything I sourced on my own. You can get his contact info at

By Cornelia on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 10:36 am:

I agree with Anne. I use a Korean travel agent in Northern Virginia, for my annual round trip ticket to Japan, and on both Korean Airlines and Air Canada there is a slight discount for my child (now 8 yrs) even on the discount tix. It seems to depend on the airline as well as the season, etc. Same here in Japan. Even on the discount tix at No.1 Travel we get a child fare on JAL and Korean but not on United.
And YES, they are changing the pricing structures regularly so this kind of info can become outdated quickly.
Is it me, or has anyone else found that the pricing in Tokyo is more competitive than in the USA?

By Mina on Monday, June 6, 2005 - 11:55 am:

I am flying out of Japan with some stuff that needs to be refrigerated or stored in a cool place. any ideas how to do that?

By Julie Hansberry on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 5:02 am:

If you can find dry ice, that would work, or those re-usable ice packs and an insulated bag. If it is a large item and you want to check it, use a cheap styrofoam cooler and tape it closed (although the baggage areas are always cold anyway). I know expats that have transported frozen meat this way.

By Nancy on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 8:41 am:


We once had vaccines that required refrigeration and the flight attendant took care of that for me. It was only a small box. If you are flying long haul, particularly in the summer, just be sure you have allowed for all the time until the container gets into the hold.

By Mina on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 8:57 pm:

Thanks Julie and Nancy for the tips,
How long does dry ice last?
and also what is "dry ice" and "insulated bag" called in japanese.


By Julie Hansberry on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 11:27 pm:

Have no idea what the Japanese words are, but most lunch packs in the US are insulated, now. If you can be more detailed about what you are transporting I could be more helpful. Dry ice will last at least several hours if it is sealed in a container. Just be sure not to handle it without will burn your skin.

By Yuko Kubota on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 12:20 am:


"dry ice" is "dorai aisu" and "insulated bag" in this case is "ho-rei-bukuro" in Japanese.

I brought about a kilogram worth of Japanese pickles to Madrid last November as a souvenior to my cousin. I asked for advise to the shopkeeper at the department store where I bought the pickles and they put it in a styrene foam box (happou-suchirooru no hako) with a disposable and re-usable ice pack and said I can seal it with packaging tape after I add other things to the contents.

Due to the advise from the shopkeeper, I kept the pickles in my fridge until the morning of the flight, packed them back, and carried the box in my luggage I brought on board and just kept it around my seat. The box was perfectly waterproof and was safe all the way through the long flight and transit.

I think you can also put them in your checked luggage which would end up in an even cooler place, the storage compartment (you know how your suitcase gets so chilled).

I've also heard of a person who kept her souvenior sweets with the flight attendant who put them in the in-flight fridge.

In any case, I think you can get advise either from the place where you're obtaining those cold items or at your airline. Personally, I don't think dry ice would be necessary unless the items are frozen. Ice packs will do.

By Jack Bayles on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 - 9:00 am:

Dry Ice in the hold is considered a
"hazardous cargo" and will cause you a
problem if they know about it. Also is
what you are chilling capable of handling
such cold temps? Ice packs in a small
styro box, taped shut will keep it cool for
more than a day. We have sent bread
samples from USA that arrived cool after 3
days. Dead air space in box is worse than
air space filled with a chilled product

By Mary Tokuhara on Thursday, June 9, 2005 - 3:40 pm:

We just came back from the States last week. Even though my husband called up the airline in advance and got bulkseats confirmed, we still didn't get them when we checked in. They just said the flight was full, and the attendant mentioned about checking in earlier in the future. So even though you've confirmed seat numbers, you stiill have to be early! We were the only couple with a baby on the flight and we had to sit next to the windows... anyway, we survived, maybe because we could lift up the armrest between us ( bulkhead seat armrests are fixed) and so she had more leg space while breastfeeding.
Some more info: Northwest has diapers, but alas, no toys, only playing cards...

By Suzanne on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 7:59 am:


One thing you may want to check is
customs regulations. I don't know where
you're going or what you're bringing that
needs to be cool, but some places are
strict as to what they will allow you to
bring in.

For example, the United States will not
allow you to bring in any agricultural
products or meat products, including meat
in baby food jars (they asked me as I was
returning home in Dec). So most things
that would be kept in a cooler would have
to be left on the plane. And if they catch
you with anything, they will pull you aside
and search all of your bags - which can
take a long time.

I'm not sure about other countries rules &
restrictions, but it may be worth a check.
Save you headaches at the airport.


By Mina on Friday, June 10, 2005 - 11:40 pm:

Now where can I buy styrofoam box? what is it called in japanese?

Thanks all for suggestions,
Jack thanks letting me know about dry ice, I didnt know it was hazardous item.

By Jack Bayles on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 2:44 pm:

a cake shop, ice cream shop, maybe a 100
yen shop or a takyubin ( package delivery
depot). Tokyu Hands I would guess. Keep
your eyes peeled in the gomi/garbage for
a unit thrown out.

By Caroline on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 4:52 pm:

Seiyu usually has those along with cardboard boxes for customers to take home with as they wish during summertime.

By Yuko Kubota on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 5:33 pm:


At least any place where they send food should have some stock of styrofoam boxes of various size.

You can try asking at your local grocery shop, department stores, or major takyubin/takuhaibin services like Yamato or Sagawa.

If they can't sell you a box, you can just order some refridgerated food for yourself, and they will usually pack it in a styrofoam box for you to keep (but of course, you should make sure they do).

Styrofoam is "happou-suchirooru" in Japanese, and therefore styrofoam box is "happou-suchirooru no hako."

By Mina on Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 6:03 pm:

Thanks Jack, Caroline and Yuko for making it easy for me to know where I can get this!

By Cornelia on Monday, July 25, 2005 - 4:22 pm:

Hah! Read this if you want a laugh:

Pain, Agony, Despair: Flying With Children
A travel experience in a class by itself.

Even now, my daughter always manages to finally fall asleep about 10-15 minutes before it is time to disembark.

By Suzanne on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - 4:04 pm:

I am going to fly to the US from Japan for a few weeks with my 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old.

A friend of mine suggested that I try to adjust the girls schedule a few days in advance in order to east some of the jet lag. I've never tried it, neither has she, so I thought I'd see if anyone on this forum has.

We've done the trip a few times already, so I'm resigned to the fact that it will be hard the first few days - but if anyone has any tried & true jet lag tips - I'd love to hear them.


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