The Complete Guide to Toddler Tantrums at 35,000 ft


No-one enjoys a flight with toddler having a tantrum. Not the passengers, not the parents, and the child is certainly not having a good time. JetKids presents to you our guide to preventing and solving tantrums mid flight.

You are flying at 35,000ft for numerous hours in what is essentially a small box and full of strangers. It is understandable why some children might struggle to enjoy the situation especially when experiences are more pronounced at a young age. It is not uncommon for a child to cry pretty much non stop during the long haul flight. At least it feels like they do not stop.

girl with flowers

Passengers are giving looks at you and there may even be a complaint made to the flight attendant or directly to yourself. Have you tried to hold your baby like this? Perhaps you need to change her nappy? Why don’t you tell your child off? Not very helpful for a stressed out first time parent flyer, and simply annoying for a frequent flyer parent whose kids just do not like flying. Parents won’t get the opportunity to eat properly or relax. Yet most importantly, the child is the one having the worst time.

First: The Child

It might sound straight forward but working out the cause of your child’s tantrum is the way to get them to calm down the quickest. There can be countless reasons why your child is having a tantrum from wanting to sit in a different seat, to wanting to get off the plane. We have listed a few here and how to solve them:

1. Hunger

Travelling does not always give many opportunities to sit and eat. Whilst you are on the flight, make sure that you get your kids to have a snack or a meal depending on the length of the flight. Food that you know your kids will like will be much easier to get down. We have written a blog post previously on food when flying with kids.

stay prepared

2. Sleep

Well, at JetKids we are experts on this matter. Making sure kids have a comfortable and safe space to stretch out is vital to help kids relax. The BedBox is perfect in creating a bed for babies and kids to lie down or use as a leg rest. In the attempt to recreate the sleep environment that you have at home, you are reducing the possibilities of over-exhausted children crying. No longer shall there be any problems trying to get into the right position or being told off for letting your kids sleep on the floor!

sleeping on plane

3. Change

It might sound obvious however it is possible to forget when you are on a long haul flight that your child has gone several hours without a diaper change. Additionally, giving kids a fresh change of clothing before a sleep can help them feel calmer and less sweaty.

bedbox packed with items

4. Air Pressure

A change the air pressure can make ears painful. This is especially true for little ones. A drink upon take off or landing is the best way to prevent or solve this. For little babies, try breastfeeding or using a dummy. For older ones, a fruit pouch gets them sucking on something long enough to clear their ears.

boy pulling another boy on suitcase

5. Boredom

If none of the above work, then your child is probably feeling a little bored or frustrated about being cooped on in one place. Perhaps it might not even be boredom. They simply might want to do something they are not allowed to do. For example, going for a walk around the plane is not always the best idea as you may get in others way. You may also find that your 18 month old doesn’t know when to stop! Instead of taking building bricks with you, ask the flight attendant for some plastic cups to build a tower with.

Some of our Instagram followers have made great suggestions:

  • “Lots of stickers!” @mummyandarchieboo
  • “Bring an iPad” @tresboysmama
  • “Buy some new small toys & colouring books with stickers but wrap them as a gift so when they’re getting bored give them another gift. They get excited to receive it, the wrapping takes them time to open and then they play with their new toy which passes time.” @kel3012

Next: You – the parents!

Hello? You are doing a long flight plus travelling to and from the airport with young kids! It is certainly not as easy as flying by yourself. Therefore to be best prepared for any tantrum you need think about yourself. If you are flying with another adult, take it in turns to look after the restless child. There is no shame to ask a fellow passenger or flight attendant to hold your child whilst you eat, go to the toilet or do whatever you need to do with two free hands. One of the reasons we have the BedBox is to free up parents hands to allow them to watch a film or have a little “me” time. This is not being selfish, it is making sure you stay sane enough to deal with the next half of the trip!

mum and girl

Lastly: Passengers

One of the reasons why a tantrum at 35 000 ft can feel so horrible is because you can almost feel the stares of the other passengers on you. Ignore it. Watching your child cry is not fun, you are not enjoying it. Then comes the debate: should you apologise? Assuming you have followed our advice above, you are already doing all that you can to make your child happy. Additionally being in the centre of the storm where your child is prone to hit or scream in your ear, passengers 3 rows behind have a positively peaceful experience.  Thus you are not required to apologise, feel embarrassed or regret flying.

off the plane

Some people like to give out gifts to other passengers on the plane before take off as a “pre-apology” for their kids behaviour. Your child has as much right to fly as anyone else. No one can expect them to act any older than their age. This being said, be polite and considerate to others. You never know, they might lend a helping hand!


So next time you fly, remember there is no need to feel stressed about a potential tantrum. Keep your child safe, comfortable and happy as well as yourself before worrying about anything else.

The BedBox is available to purchase here.