An open letter to everyone on a plane with a toddler

Flying with a toddler

Ahhhhh flying with a little snotty sproglet toddler. Whoever is worried about flying with a baby really has no clue yet because trust me that’s a doddle compared to flying with a toddler. And to all those p***** off people who happen to be on a flight over the next few months with a toddler sitting near you…this one’s especially for you!

Dear fellow passengers,

Right now, you’re probably in one of either two camps. The first – total utter blissful ignorance as to the ways of a toddler, looking all gooey at my toddler frustratedly trying to get their seatbelt on because you are yet to embark on the crazy journey that is parenthood. Yup, I bet you’re thinking…ahhh what an adorable cheeky monkey! Yes, that’s because you’ve only just sat down in your allocated seat. Let’s check in again later yeah?


you are an old git never been there, or who has never wanted to have kids (hey, I don’t  blame you), or is trying to forget you ever went there, wondering who on this airplane you can bribe to not sit anywhere near the toddler, particularly if you are sat SMACK BANG IN FRONT of the toddler.

Look, here’s the deal.

I have already asked my toddler a BAJILLION times to:

  • Keep quiet
  • Not kick the seat in front
  • Not keep putting the tray table down so it bangs your back all the time
  • Not have a tantrum or freak out
  • Not sing or shout at the top of their freaking voice when you’re trying to catch some zzzzzs
  • Not keep peering over the seat at you
  • Not play that REALLY irritating game on the ipad
  • Make the most of the activities I’ve packed to keep them from driving you nuts

I have reasoned, begged, bribed and even played weird mind games to make this journey more comfortable for you and everyone on the plane with this toddler.

But the truth is, they are a toddler, their brain still has a long way to go in terms of development, and you just can’t expect them to behave like we do like a plane…. I know you think they are a possessed Tazmanian devil, and that we must be terrible parents for not being able to control them yadda yadda yadda; and that you feel like beating your self over the head with a club for booking this flight, or seat, or for being fooled into thinking they could potentially be cute at first look.

But hey, we have to live with this ALL the time. You have to live with it on a flight for a couple of hours. So deal with it. And remember you too…were once a toddler gremlin who annoyed the hell out of everyone.

Also might I add that you actually get to have a proper “holiday” at the end of this whereas we just get more slave labour, just in a different country so….enjoy! Plus we hate you too, single traveller

Yours very apologetically,

One mortified mother

***Did this post tickle you? Go on and give it a little Twitter, Like or Stumble then please!***


  1. Thank you for this. We’ve got a 10 hour flight with our 2 year old son coming up so I’ll be keeping this in mind at all times. I always pray for other toddlers or babies nearby so we’re not the only ones!

  2. Haha I must admit that I had zero toddler tolerance pre-twins… I’ve just realised; it was karma! Dayum!

    Great post – good point reminding the fact that they were a toddler too once! Also, you are braver than me; I don’t have the confidence to go abroad with mine for a few years yet!

  3. Excellent and so true. We flew last week with toddler and baby (four humans, three seats). It was *only* a four hour flight but I’d had two G&Ts and an extra chocolate mousse before the little plane on the screen in front was a third of the way home. The only saving grace is that we wisely decided to put potty training on hold whilst we were in the air, and shoved NG in a pull-up. No-one needs to share our hell 35,000m up. #coolmumclub

  4. I have yet to brave flying with Josh and to be honest it’d probably be easier to do it now rather than when he is a toddler! I love this post though – makes you laugh in a certainly intimating situation! Brilliantly worded though! xx #coolmumclub

  5. Hahaha and this is the reason why we have yet to take our four on a plane! We did it when Eva was a baby and Lewis was 8, but since the other two came along there is no way I am taking three little ones on a plane any time soon! For a start there aren’t enough hands to control all four of them for the duration of a flight, and also I am terrified of flying and have to take valium, so the thought of me drooling and the kids running wild brings me out in a cold sweat! UK holidays for us!! #coolmumclub

  6. Gosh, long flights with kids – nightmare! But you do have as much right to be on that plane as anyone else, and really, adults hate being confined for a long time too. The kids are only acting out what everyone else is thinking. #coolmumclub

  7. lol – my kids used to run up the aisles and just stop and stare at people.. on one holiday to florida I literally just gave up about 4 hours into the flight! My husband was furious with me, but I literally just said ‘f**k it!’ not the best attitude I agree! I am happy to report that they did get (a bit) better after that lol #stayclassy

  8. We paid for our seats just like everyone else and we did our best to keep the Tubblet amused for the duration of the flight … Sometimes she was fine, other times not so much. But it’s just x hours of your life … Get over yourself! I’ve seen adults behave equally badly or worse out in public.

  9. Brilliant! Luckily the big one has always been really good on flights and we venture with the tiny one for the first time in July. I’ll have a bottle and dummy at the ready! #coolmumclub

  10. I took little man abroad when he was 9 months old, before fully mobile and I can safely say I now will not be taking him until he is at least 3 or 4. Baby stage was enough to tip me over the edge, let alone dealing with a hyperactive non sitting toddler……I congratulate those parents who can take their toddlers abroad and deal with the glares and tuts, because I certainly cant! #coolmumclub

  11. hahahahaha! Everytime I want to go anyway that is not on this tiny island I have to get on a plane with a THREENAGER who is obsessed with that tray, what is it about that fricking tray? And it makes the loudest noise when it gets pulled down and rammed up and pulled etc etc. I always end up wrestling youngest over it and I always a grumpy git sat next to me and it ain’t Mr C!!!! #Coolmumclub

  12. I made the decision some time ago to put all travel plans on hold for a few years! I just feel physically ill at the thought of getting my two (2 and 3) through an airport, onto a plane, through a flight, off the plane and through another airport…. Nah, I’ll stick to the occasional week in Devon for the time being! 😉

  13. Oh I just love your closing paragraph! Brilliant! I feel your pain – one of mine was a terrible traveller – in her mind it was the “Georgia Lily’ show for the entire journey but for the rest of the aircraft I can only apologise – still gives me nightmares! It gets easier though and I try to be hugely sympathetic to those travelling with toddlers now having been there! #coolmumclub

  14. ah it’s so hard isn’t it! I used to be the miserable git who’d get majorly peed off with the kids hehe. I now have a kid and can feel everyone’s pain! no one should feel awkward – it is public transport at the end of the day! #coolmumclub

  15. Ha ha sooooo glad mine are past this stage now, I am definitely more tolerant of other parents noisy little critters now I’ve lived through the nightmare with my own two!! Worth printing this out and passing round the cabin at the start of the flight 🙂 #coolmumclub

  16. I’ve not yet braved a flight with our toddler and it’s not something I’m overly eager to do! But when that day does happen I plan to have several mini plane gins and hope for someone with a louder child than mine. #CoolMumClub

  17. So funny! This is me all the time, ‘Stop looking at those people’. Drives me mad when kids do it to me haha..

  18. Well said. We’ve been o a flight where a man (if you can call him that) actually tried to start a fight with my husband because by dearest son kept kicking his chair. I ended up publicly crying in an East-Enders style flight special. So stressful, it has put us off. Better to drink your way through it I imagine! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub xx

  19. We have just cancelled our first flight as a family of 4 as we were due to go in Sept. Just the thought of attempting it with a 1 and 3 year old was enough to give me the shudders. We’re taking them to Salou instead next summer, and we’re driving! Love this and if we ever do brave a flight again I shall be printing and distributing accordingly! xx

  20. Eek…us in two weeks with two little blighters. Nervous? TERRIFIED! Sorry fellow passengers in advance!
    x MMT
    Have fun at #coolmumclub Talya!

  21. Hehe I love this, I think I will print it and hand it out to people on our next up and coming flight. ‘Those’ people do nark me a bit, chances are they once even had annoying toddlers themselves but just forgot the trauma that can go with it! We just smile and say, won’t be long now and it’ll all be over…until the next time. Have a lovely holiday xx#coolmumclub

  22. We have a flight coming up soon. I’m not that worried. I think Mr Ipad, stickers and snacks will hopefully keep me girly happy. She’s been ok on other flights so fingers crossed! Also it’s nanny and grandad in front so they may not mind being kicked!! haha. Thanks for hosting x

  23. What makes me laugh even more once is that there are grown adults on flights putting knees in peoples backs, watching their ipads too loudly, coughing, sneezing and making whatever bodily noises they can to wind everyone around them up but nobody is huffing and puffing at them! I once breastfed on a plane which really wound the man in the next aisle up so much he asked to move! Yes, I did stick my leg out as he walked past! Oops! Adults can be just as bad as our little people, they want to remember that xx

  24. This is so true especially the bit about the actual holiday once you arrive! Like you say they only have to deal with the toddler for a couple of hours then they get to lie on a sunbed and relax! But they ultimately won’t have any many hilarious memories from their holiday!

  25. Oh yeh! I have to agree with Whinge Whinge Wine, we recently went on a flight with baby K and the trick was LOADS of snacks and LOADS of cartoons and games on our tablet! He didn’t do too bad to be honest, we had one major melt down but that was because a six hour flight became an eight hour flight due to delays, even we were getting fed up of sitting on the plane!

  26. Oh gosh, I’ve got this all to come in about 4 weeks… my 1-year-old will be on my lap throughout, the flight is at 6am so they’ll have been awake from about 3am, and the 3-year-old has decided he ‘doesn’t like planes’. I can hardly wait. #coolmumclub

  27. Haha great! We did a long haul flight with our three and my god I have never felt so pressured as a parent. I too found myself hating the no kid people because you’re right … They get to have a proper holiday. #coolmumclub

  28. OMG I’m sat at my laptop about to write something similar to this. We went on holiday to Corfu last week and the flight home was a nightmare, my son has ASD and was being, well, a pain in the arse! #coolmumclub

  29. Haha – I do love how obvious it is to spot the ones who never had/wanted kids now…they look totally baffled and never find a toddler tantrum remotely amusing! We were so lucky on our last flight – we had the ones who hadn’t had kids yet but thought ours was very cute…and they played with her the whole flight!!! What a bloody result that was. #coolmumclub xx

  30. So looking forward to our 13 hour flight this summer with a toddler and new baby, I can just sense its going to be fab! I should probably print out your post and hand it out to all our fellow travellers in front, behind or besides us after we board lol 😉 Emily #coolmumclub

  31. I am actually glad I managed to make it this far (youngest 4) without ever having to fly anywhere with my little monsters. I feel for any parents who endure the tantrum toddler and those of us who have been through it are truly the only ones who understand. Thanks so much for hostessing #coolmumclub

  32. Haha – well said! Dylan Moran has a bit on one of his stand ups about people tutting & glaring at little kids reacting badly on planes & what they’re actually expecting you to do about it: ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry: I’ll just slit his throat, shall I? Cos you paid for business class & you’re a busy, busy guy.’ #coolmumclub

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