Family expert guide for coping with strikes and delays

Coping with strikes and delays, planes flying off into the sunset

Airport strikes and delays can be a nightmare at the best of times, never mind when you’re travelling with young children! Unfortunately delays aren’t an uncommon nightmare for families holidaying in peak season – so what should you do?

Family holiday expert Wendy Shand shares her top tips for handling potential airport disasters such as strikes and delays with ease…

On Booking – Do make sure that to give the airline relevant mobile numbers and upload the airline’s app if they have one. That way, they can send push notifications about delays, strikes and cancellations.

Think Ahead – No one likes a delay, but it can be made fare less stressful with a bit of pre-planning.  Give some thought to food and drink, entertainment and uploading popular apps, and games and download favourite cartoons and videos before you leave home.

Keep in the know – Knowledge is power.  In the run up to your holiday it’s worth being aware of what’s going on in the news.  Also check the airline’s website or app regularly for further updates.  This also enables parents to carefully manage their time.

Keep calm – Once a delay becomes apparent, it is really important to stay calm.  Children are sensitive to anxiety and may well begin to play up.  A delay or strike is very much outside of passengers control so acknowledge that there is nothing to be done about it, and stay light hearted. The whole family will have an easier time.

Coping with strikes and delays, departure board

What’s around? – Do have a scout around the airport to find out what there is for children.  Look out play areas and good vantage points for watching the planes.

Food & Drink – Pack plenty of food, snacks and drink in the hand luggage and hold some back to cater for a last minute delay. Fluid is not allowed through security, so ensure that everyone is kept well hydrated with water from one of the shops in the departure lounge.  For babies and young children, think ahead to what meals will be needed if a short-ish delay happens.  If a longer delay happens you may need to be flexible about what you feed your baby.

Entertainment – Depending on the children’s ages, have a host of activities prepared.  Books, kid’s magazines, colours and colouring books are a good start whilst a pack of cards is great for pairs, snap and a myriad of other games. Make sure phones and tablets are fully charged (and that a charger is on hand as well) and consider uploading some news games and apps for the journey. It’s also worth having a balloon or two and a small ball for really long delays. A small pool skimming ball works well for throwing, catching and rolling activities.

Sleep – Try and keep babies and toddlers in their routine, perhaps by taking them for a stroll in their buggy.  If possible, persuade toddlers to take their regular nap, and have a pashmina or scarf on hand to wrap them up if needed (even if you are travelling to a warm country, a jumper or scarf is useful for cold departure lounges).

For very long delays or cancellations – Each airline has its own delay and cancellation policy, so do ask.  When it looks like long delay is likely then ensure that the ground crew know of any young children, and ask for an early decision of possible.  In the case of air traffic controller strikes, it well worth making alternative arrangements early on and cutting your losses. 

 Coping with strikes and delays, ryanair plane with mother and child looking

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Wendy Shand
Wendy Shand

Wendy Shand is the founding director of Tots To Travel, mum of three, award winning mumpreneur, traveler, business enthusiast and author of ‘The Mother of Invention’.

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