Travelling with Children

10 top tips to make your journey as smooth as possible

At Manchester Airport we see millions of passengers travelling each year, with lots of parents and children flying abroad for the very first time. And while family holidays are fun and exciting, we know that travelling through a busy airport and going on a flight with babies and young children can feel a bit daunting…

Our travel advice experts have put together all the essential advice, information and top tips you need for travelling with your little ones, to help make your journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Before you go

airport travel with children

1) Contact your airline

Contact your airline and find out how to reserve seats in advance, so if you’re flying as a family you can guarantee you’re all sitting together. The airline might even be able to help you book a flight that’s unlikely to be full, so you could get an empty seat next to you, or even a free row, giving you all a bit more space.

Your airline will usually offer a variety of things onboard for children too, such as sky cots, baby food, toddler meals, and children's entertainment, so contact them in advance to see what’s available.

Also ask your airline for advice on what items can be taken onboard the aircraft, such as booster seats or buggies.

2) Choose the right seats when booking

It’s best to book the seats that suit you and your little ones, rather than risk being randomly allocated to seats that aren’t quite suitable. For example, if you’re flying with a baby, an aisle seat might be the most convenient option, as it’s easier to get to and from the toilet when you need to.

With young children, a window seat might help keep them entertained. But it could also be a bit disorienting or distressing for a child who isn’t used to flying, or who has a fear of heights, so weigh up the best option for you and your family.

3) Book a daytime flight

Where possible, try to fly during reasonable daytime hours, so that your child's daily routine isn’t disrupted too much. There are also more restaurants open during the daytime for meals with your children, and more shops to help keep them entertained.

4) Pack your hand luggage for the plane

If you’re flying with a baby, you might want to pack:

  • Dummies

  • Nappies

  • Wet wipes

  • A change of baby clothes

  • Plastic bags (for used nappies or to wrap any clothes that get dirty)

Breast milk can be brought in hand luggage in containers of up to 2000ml (even if you’re travelling without your baby). You can also bring formula milk, cow’s milk, soya milk, sterilised water, baby food and cooling gel packs – but your baby must be travelling with you.

If you’re flying with a young child, you might want to pack:

  • Favourite toys, books or puzzles

  • Travel pillow

  • Wet wipes

  • Hard sweets – which can help with the sensation of ears popping when the plane takes off and lands

On the day

airport travel with children

5) Use the free drop off area

All passengers can use our free drop off area, where it’s just a few minutes’ ride on a shuttle bus to your terminal. The shuttle bus service runs 24/7, with marshals on hand to assist.

If you’re being dropped off by someone who wishes to accompany you to the terminal, then they can use the free shuttle bus too. They can also take the free shuttle bus back to the drop off area after they’ve said goodbye.

6) Allow plenty of time

It might sound obvious, but cutting it fine is a sure-fire way to make travelling with children a lot more stressful…

Plan your journey to the airport in advance, making sure you’re aware of any roadworks that could affect your route. If travelling by public transport, keep a close eye on schedule updates. And arrive at the earliest time your airline recommends (normally two hours before departure for a short-haul flight, or three hours before departure for a long-haul flight).

At the terminal

airport travel with children

7) Buggy & pushchairs

The process and timing for checking in your pushchair or buggy might differ depending on your airline. To ensure a smooth experience on your travel day, it's a good idea to reach out to your airline ahead of time to check.

8) Baby changing & breastfeeding

Baby changing facilities can be found across all three terminals, either inside or nearby the ladies' toilets. Our baby changing facilities also include chairs to make breastfeeding easier – but please be assured that Manchester Airport promotes breastfeeding across our entire site, and we do not restrict where breastfeeding can take place.

9) Pre-order baby milk service

If your child needs medication while you’re at the airport, or if you need ready-to-drink infant milk for your holiday, you can pre-order it before you travel and collect it from Boots after security check-in.

For further information on this and other pre-order collection services, please visit the official Boots website. You can also purchase baby milk at WHSmiths in Terminal 2.

10) Heating up food and baby milk

Lots of our restaurants and cafés will warm up your baby milk free of charge – they’ll do this in hot water rather than in the microwave, as commercial microwaves are too powerful for baby milk.

A wide range of the airport restaurants also offer kids’ meals, and food warming facilities are available too.

T1: Starbucks, The Grain Loft, Bar MCR, Café Balzar, Giraffe

T2: Amber Alehouse, Pot Kettle Black, VIT, Starbucks, Apiary, Archies, Bridgewater Exchange, San Carlo, Wagamama

T3: Costa, Flat White, Kiosco, The Lion and Antelope, Pork & Pickle, The Nook, Trattoria Milano

For more information about travelling with babies and children, visit our FAQ page or contact one of our friendly experts today.

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