T1. Create a storyboard for them prior to flying. Make it fun with lots of visuals. There are also some great Apps out there which help educate your children about the experience that they will have. “Off We Go! Going on a Plane” is a great one and available on iTunes. It allows your child to interact with the story and also has great sound effects for them to hear and get accustomed to.
2. If it is their first flight, take them to the airport in the days before the flight to get them used to seeing the planes take off and land and hearing the noises. It gives you a nice time to talk to them about their upcoming experience.
3. If your child has Autism and you have a chance to experience “Wings for Autism”, it
is an incredible program to help children learn all about the experience of flying.
4. Have your child pack their own backpack to carry themselves. It gives them something to feel responsible for and allows them to have the same experience as their parents. They can fill it with a few of their favorite things and perhaps bring something new home in it from the travels.
5. Alert TSA to your childs disability. Children with disabilities can be screened without
being separated from their parents or guardians. Be sure to communicate to the TSA agent suggestions on the best way to approach and screen their children. Also remember that children under 12 do not need to remove their shoes.
6. Take full advantage of the early board. This gives you and your children the time to get settled on board and get your things organized before the rush of the other passengers happens.
7. When booking your flight, it is well worth the extra money, if you can afford, to get a seat close to the front. This will make it easier when you are departing the plane. It also often positions you closer to a bathroom.
8. Familiarize yourself with the TSA guidelines for travel with children at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children
Here you can get some great information about transfers and security and general information for those with both physical and cognitve disabilities.
9. Pack Snacks! Let them add a nice bag of some of their favorite yummy's in their backpack!
10. Pack them a brand new toy, load a new movie on your ipad or a load a new video game for them and don't show it to them until absolutely necessary. This is great for when they are having a hard time on the plane! This gets them excited for something new!