How to deal with kids on long-haul flights

Andy Wells

Going on a long flight can be exciting for some but for children it doesn’t take long for the whole thing to drag.

In fact, new research has shown that it takes less than an hour for under 12s to get bored on their long-haul journey.

According to boredom specialist Dr Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Manchester, children under 12 start to get fidgety 49 minutes and 47 seconds into the flight.

How to keep a kid entertained on a long-haul flight. Photo: Getty Images

The research, conducted with Emirates airline, also found that 41% of parents admit that they have resorted to bribing their children with sweets, chocolate and crisps in exchange for good behaviour whilst on a flight.

A third (33%) also confessed to relying on electronic babysitters by loading up their phone or tablet with their favourite games, apps, television episodes, and films.

It takes kids 49 minutes to get bored on a flight. Photo: Getty Images

The findings – which also saw two thirds of parents (64%) worry about entertaining their children and 43% expressing concern about their children disturbing other passengers – found travellers aged three to four to be the most volatile.

Dr Mann has now created the Child Boredom Quotient (CBQ), helping parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored so they can enjoy stress-free travel.

She said: “Parents of children aged three to four will start to find that this is when their children are physically very active, gaining independence and when they need more sophisticated things to entertain them than they did when they were younger.

“For instance, the ‘electronic babysitter’ whilst popular for a flight may not work for all age groups and parents of younger children will find that they have less attention span for this than older ones.

“Breaking up this passive activity for active or creative ones will stop children becoming bored, restless and less disruptive.’’

However, it’s not just bribery that parents resort to when travelling with their children on a plane – an honest 7% revealed that that they simply try to relax with an eye mask to block out the disturbance.

And in an age of smartphones and tablets, a simple game of I Spy for younger children is enough to keep them amused, according to Dr Mann.

She added that older children can be given simple materials like notebooks and pens, puzzle books and comics.

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