Naina Shahani-Mirchandani is a mother of twins and crew member with Southwest Airlines. So there is no one with a better perspective on how to keep kids and other fellow passengers safe in the friendly skies:
Momaboard: What is the most unsafe thing a parent can do on a flight?
Naina: Not listen to instructions from a uniformed crew member is the worst thing a parent can do. For example, during take off and landing, a child should be secured in his or her car seat or buckled safely in a seat. No exceptions. If a parent is holding an infant, the infant does not have to be buckled in with the parent, rather, he/she should be held tightly in the arms. This is so that a crew member can grab the baby in the event of a crash if the parent is unable to attend to them.
Momaboard: What emergency procedures should parents really pay attention to when flying with their kids?
Naina: It’s always important to eyeball your closest exit. Also when traveling with an infant if there is a loss in cabin pressure make sure to wear your oxygen mask first and then help your baby.
Momaboard: How does the airline crew really feel about kids running up and down the aisle?
Naina: A child should really be occupied in his seat and should not need to run up and down the aisle. It’s very annoying to see a child let loose especially while we are busy with our service. On long flights, its understandable to stretch one’s legs but we expect parents to accompany the parents and please, wait till the meal service is done!
Momaboard: Do crew members receive special training to deal with kids?
Naina: We really have no formal training to deal with kids. But, if a child is crying on take off and landing we do suggest nursing the baby or giving him a pacifier so his ears don’t hurt as much. For older children who are just having a bad day, we try to distract them with snacks and coloring books. We are trained to give CPR and to use a defibrillator on infants and children . If a child is conscious and may be choking, we can perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Momaboard: Any other other flying tips, how to keep kids busy, great resources for parents and kids?
Naina: Always travel with a lot of activities for your kids, coloring books, a dvd player , reading books, toys, anything that will keep them busy. Also make sure to have milk, baby food etc. as you may not always get what you want on a plane. Carry an extra set of clothing, plenty of diapers, baby tylenol and other medications etc. And finally, a blanket- it’s almost always cold on a plane.