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Airport delays and strikes threatening your holiday? Here's how to cope...

Airport delays and strikes threatening your holiday? Here's how to cope...

If you are off on holiday abroad with your family, it can be difficult to avoid strikes and airport delays these days.

Tired children waiting in airports for hours on end can be a nightmare start, or end, to a wonderful trip away. It’s hard enough to cope with the mountain of stuff that travelling with babies and toddlers requires these days, without the added stress of a few hours trapped in the departure lounge. 

If you know of impending airport strikes or problems, it’s worth making a phone call before you leave for the airport to see what the state of play is. This could save you hours of trouble.

Here are some other top tips for coping with delays and disruption in the airport, courtesy of Wendy Shand, founder of holiday company Tots To Travel:

On booking

Make sure that to give the airline relevant mobile numbers and upload the airline’s app if they have one. That way, they can send push notifications about delays and cancellations.

Think ahead

No one likes a delay, but it can be made fare less stressful with a bit of pre-planning. Give some thought to food and drink, entertainment and uploading popular apps, and games and download favourite cartoons and videos before you leave home.

Keep in the know

Knowledge is power. In the run up to your holiday it’s worth being aware of what’s going on in the news. Also check the airline’s website or app regularly for further updates. This also enables parents to carefully manage their time.

Keep calm

Once a delay becomes apparent, it is really important to stay calm. Children are sensitive to anxiety and may well begin to play up. A delay is very much outside of passengers’ control so acknowledge that there is nothing to be done about it, and stay light hearted. The whole family will have an easier time.

What’s around?

Have a scout around the airport to find out what there is for children. Look out play areas and good vantage points for watching the planes.

Food and drink

Pack plenty of food, snacks and drink in the hand luggage and hold some back to cater for a last minute delay. Fluid is not allowed through security, so ensure that everyone is kept well hydrated with water from one of the shops in the departure lounge. For babies and young children, think ahead to what meals will be needed if a short-ish delay happens. If a longer delay happens you may need to be flexible about what you feed your baby.


Depending on the children’s ages, have a host of activities prepared. Books, kid’s magazines, colours and colouring books are a good start whilst a pack of cards is great for pairs, snap and a myriad of other games.

Make sure phones and tablets are fully charged (and that a charger is on hand as well) and consider uploading some news games and apps for the journey. It’s also worth having a balloon or two and a small ball for really long delays. A small pool skimming ball works well for throwing, catching and rolling activities.


Try and keep babies and toddlers in their routine, perhaps by taking them for a stroll in their buggy. If possible, persuade toddlers to take their regular nap, and have a pashmina or scarf on hand to wrap them up if needed (even if you are travelling to a warm country, a jumper or scarf is useful for cold departure lounges).  

For very long delays or cancellations

Each airline has its own delay and cancellation policy, so do ask. When it looks like long delay is likely then ensure that the ground crew know of any young children, and ask for an early decision of possible. In the case of air traffic controller strikes, it well worth making alternative arrangements early on and cutting your losses. 

Tots To Travel has created a free  ‘Holiday Planner Pack’ filled with hints and tips for parents travelling with babies and toddlers, which can be ordered from

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