Is it easier traveling on an airplane with a preschooler than with a toddler? The short answer is yes. Why? Longer attention span. Play-doh, coloring, and iPad games definitely keep her attention much longer at 3 1/2 than they did at 2 1/2. She can also be bribed as well as understand to a degree that we must wait.
Was it perfect? Oh hell no.
I planned our plane trips for overnight, hoping she’d sleep. Well, two flights were cancelled, and we ended up with a cushy hotel room and food vouchers, all on the airline’s tab. So that was nice, but she was wide awake and full of energy for the four hour plane trip in the morning. Not good! I’d already used up her toy surprises at the airport and on bus shuttles, so nothing was really new anymore. Fortunately for me, the lovely young woman in the seat next to us was willing to play video games with her for some time.
It was still one of our worst flights ever… at one point she was jumping on the seats and begging to run through the aisles (for the 49th time) and lost it completely when I said no, trying to hit me (which hardly ever happens anymore). I was beyond ready to get off that plane.
On the other hand, she was so manageable in the airport, on shuttles, trains, and buses. She didn’t need to be locked into her stroller ever, even through security. No running off. This is so huge compared to last year! She truly enjoyed the play areas, watching the planes, the rolling floors… just everything. Except for about half of the one flight, she was a total joy.
And the flight home? She slept from before take off, through baggage claim, through a train ride and a bus shuttle… all the way to the car. Damn.