How iPads Have Changed The Lives of Parents Who Fly with their Kids

Just a quick note: I flew down to Florida with the girls (no wife) on Wednesday. We’ve flown with them lots, but I haven’t had the joy/opportunity of/to fly with them alone.

When we all flew together in December, I told Scarlett (age 5) to stop kicking the seat in front of her 17 times. How do I know? Because I counted and told her each time (ie, “That is the 13th time I’m asking you to stop kicking the seat in front of you.”) In her defense, at that age their feet stick straight out, and they’re pretty much bouncing all the time, so it’s not so much as they’re kicking the seat inasmuch as the seat is in the way of their foot that is constantly bouncing. Small consolation to the person in front of us, but there ya go.

I brought iPads for both the children on this trip, hoping that would help at least part of the 3 hours fly by quickly. I remember flying down to Florida to see my grandparents on Eastern L-1011s and trying (barely) to watch the movie on the screen 17 rows in front of my while sticking plastic tubes in my ears (space age!).

Scarlett took the iPad and watched movies for 3 straight hours (while plying herself with snack after snack). Sage pooh-poohed the iPad and watched a movie on her seatback ($6 well-spent). For people who travel with children, how much easier has it gotten over the past 2 years or so? Just a few years ago you had to pack a crate full of stuff to keep a 4 or 5 year old entertained on an airplane. An iPad filled with movies and games pretty much does the trick (fine, I’m a terrible parent. Sue me.) It makes everyone’s life on the plane vastly more pleasant.

I’ve also noticed that when I fly alone, I’m thinking about legroom and service and eating and all the other nonsense we bloggers tend to blah blah blah about. But honestly – the girls wanted me in the middle seat (horror!) and I gladly took it. I never noticed the pathetic 31″ pitch (no exit row with 3 year olds), and I took no food nor drink from the flight attendants. I don’t even remember if they came around to ask me. I was so thrilled that neither of the 2 were complaining about being bored or having to go to the bathroom 37 times, that it was the best flight I’ve had in a very, very long time (business class to Europe included).

I know that if you don’t have children this makes no sense whatsoever. But for those with kids, is there anything better than knowing your kids are occupied when you’re flying? (Read: that they’re not torturing you about boredom?) Thanks, iPad!


  1. So true! The concerns of a single traveler vs that of someone traveling with young kiddos is so so different. Glad you had a great flight – super use of the iPads!

  2. Travelling with tablets is a no-brainer if you have kids. My crowd is older than yours, so therefore less troublesome, but I still have a far more enjoyable flight if I’m able to entertain them. The ipad is an obvious solution — especially when your airline doesn’t provide AVOD. I just had an 8 hour flight with my gang on an AA 757, where all you get are a couple of overhead movies. The kids preferred playing Monopoly on the ipad for hours. Load some books, games and video onto it, and you can take your kids anywhere.

  3. If you keep them glued to the iPad 24/7 I might say you’re a bad parent but everyone on the plane is happier when children are duly entertained on the flight. You can save your life lessons about dealing with waiting and boredom, using your imagination and all that other child-centered parenting advice for when they’re alone with you on a roadtrip. Viva le iPad!

  4. i completely know where you are coming from. A trouble free flight with kids is better than first class alone.

  5. We have an iPad and I’m desperately trying to encourage my 1 year old to watch movies on it in preparation for long flights. however at this stage we get about 10 minutes of attention before the ‘excitement’ of the plane takes over and the desire to run/climb push is too much. Hence we are relegated to short flights for hopefully no more than about 6 more months. but when she can watch a whole movie (or 2) I will be extending the flights accordingly. and no I don’t think the blogger is a bad parent. Who else on the plane wants to have their seat back kicked, or see another toddler being walked up and down the plane 72 times.

  6. We drive far more often than we fly, but the iPad and the in-car/van dvd are the most important inventions in history. More important than fire, the wheel, or the wedge. But only slightly more important than the snowblower.

  7. I bought 2 HP Touchpads when they had the fire sale explicitly for travelling and so there would be no fights (whether in car, plane, train, etc).

    Pair that with head phones, perfect. I even bought a cheap headphone splitter in case they both want to watch on 1 screen.