New research from British Airways has shown that children today take their first flight three times earlier than their parents did, and by the age of ten will have travelled to four different countries.

One in 10 babies take to the skies before they have even turned a year old – and a tenth of under-17s are even signed up to airline loyalty programmes. This is in stark comparison to their parents, as a fifth of those surveyed, didn’t get on a plane until they were 18.

Claire Bentley, managing director for British Airways Holidays, who commissioned the research, said, “Air travel has become much more accessible to people over the last few decades. We now live in a connected world, where new destinations are opening up all the time and as a result, children are not seen as restrictive to travel, but essential travel companions, with rich experiences and new cultures to discover. Many family holidays are now taking place abroad allowing children to experience a flight at a very young age.

“To make travelling with little ones easier; this summer we’ve introduced a number of new initiatives at our home at Heathrow; including family boarding passes, a dedicated check-in area and fast-track security exclusively for travellers with children under 12.”

Despite this wanderlust, one in ten parents admitted to being unprepared for their first flight as parents. A third confessed to forgetting to take their child’s favourite toys (34%), while one in five (21%) even forgot to pack their child’s medication. A quarter (27%) failed to plan their child’s sleep around the flight times.

As a result, four in 10 parents find travelling with children – from newborns all the way to 17 – stressful and the biggest fear when flying with kids is how to keep them entertained for the duration of the flight. This is followed by worries about disturbing other passengers and the pressure in the cabin causing their kids pain. Their fears may not be justified though as only 16% said they have been left embarrassed by their child’s behaviour on a flight.

Written by: Alexander Preston

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