Airplane food normally doesn't have the best reputation. It's bad enough for grown ups. But how are parents suppose to feed their kids at 30,000 feet?
Most airlines do not serve complimentary meals any more. Most sell snack boxes, sandwiches or salads priced at $8-$12 each. I was recently on a nonstop flight from Newark, NJ to Honolulu. I bought a large ham & cheese sandwich in the airport. Half for dinner and the rest for breakfast. I also bought granola with dried fruit and my favorite cookies. Many folks on my flight were caught by surprise both by the lack of food choices offered and their cost. There were "kid" menu choices but, if you're little ones are finicky eaters, it would have been a long flight!
Airlines do have a BYOF policy (Bring Your Own Food). Parents can prep and pack their own family airplane picnic or purchase carry on food at the airport. If you are planning on bringing your own meals and snacks along be aware of TSA guidelines for Food and liquids. There are also specific rules for baby food, formula and breastmilk.
Here are some tips for what works out best for kids to eat on board....
1.Besides TSA rules, if you are flying internationally many countries have rules allowing fresh fruit, plants and vegetables across their borders. Parents should plan to bring healthy, pre-packaged food and snacks to avoid problems at customs.
2. You're on vacation, it's a time to splurge and indulge but wait until you get off the plane. Don't pack your kids full of too much sugary treats and expect them to remained settled on a long flight.
3. Airplanes can get delayed. It's always smart to have the food and water you'll need with you. Pack what you need...and then pack some more just in case.
4. Some kids can experience severe pain in their ears due to the altitude changes they experience on take off and landing. Getting your child's ears to "pop" can relieve their discomfort. Young infants will cry as a natural reaction to get their own ears to pop. You can help soothe this discomfort by offering little ones something to drink during take off and landing. Swallowing helps to alleviate ear pain. With older kids, having gum or hard candy can help too.
5. Bring any untensils that your kids may need to use during their flight. Bottles, sippy cups, spoons & folks etc. Space is at a premium. If your child is a messy eater a bib is a good idea. If your child is a VERY messy eater, a change of clothes for the both of you may be what you will really need.
6. Avoid allergens. A PB&J might be a favorite picnic favorite of your child but it might just cause another passenger great distress.
7. If your child is a big milk drinker, you should probably by some at the airport and bring it on board with you. Most airlines only stock enough milk for coffee and tea service.
8. If you're child needs formula, often pre packaged bottles or powdered formula will most likely be the most convenient during your flights. Flight staff will help you to warm bottles but they will not heat any other carry on meals.
9. Pack light- Small, light nutritous snacks might be more tolerable in the air than a big heavy meal. Nibbling on frequent snacks will help to pass the time and be easier on tummies.
10. Keeping kids well hydrated during your flight is important. Most airlines do offer free water, juice, soda, coffee & teas. Again sugary sodas should be avoided.