Q. What if my child has a tantrum on the plane?
A. Stay calm yourself! If your toddler throws a fit, the worst thing you can do is freak out. "When you start panicking, your child picks up on your tension and can get even more upset," says Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children. Do what you do at home to soothe a tantrum: Walk around, hum her favorite lullaby, or distract her with a toy. And while it's only polite to try to keep your child from disrupting the flight, don't worry too much about what other people think. Apologize, but remember you'll most likely never see your fellow passengers again.
You should bring your child's car seat. This means you'll probably have to buy an extra ticket, but holding your toddler for the entire flight can be a drag -- and it's also unsafe. Plus, the car seat is familiar to her, and she's already used to traveling -- and napping -- in it. And don't forget to pack a carry-on bag filled with snacks and toys. Bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers, in particular, are essential travel tools because sucking on them during takeoff and landing is a smart way to relieve ear pressure in a young kid.
Finally, decide at the gate whether you want to pre-board. "Getting on early gives you extra time to get settled, but it also means your child has to sit for that much longer," says Rivoli. A better idea is to have your spouse get on the plane and install the car seat, while you let your toddler run around until the final call.