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Top toys to take on a plane this summer!

As the schools begin to break up  for the summer holidays and the great family getaway parents are wondering how to entertain their children on those long flights.

A recent survey by British Airways found this really is a big concern for parents with 60 per cent of revealing they were unable to keep their child occupied for longer than 30 minutes.

So what is the answer and which are the top toys to take on a plane?

The airline recently conducted a social experiment, placing 30 youngsters on a flight for two hours with a selection of toys. The children, aged two to 10, were given 90 minutes playtime and observed by scientist and TV personality Robert Winston and a team of educational psychologists.

What toys to take on a plane - Finn Garrett 9 and Lord Robert Winston

What toys to take on a plane – Finn Garrett 9 and Lord Robert Winston on British Airways.

The surprising findings (for the airline but maybe not for most parents who see their children playing with the boxes on Christmas Day!) revealed that it was actually the cheapest toys that kept the children occupied for the longest. Play-Doh and toy-of-the-moment Loom Bands topped the list with 80 per cent of children and 70 per cent of parents saying they would take these on a flight in the future. Both toys, costing from just 74 pence and £1.99 respectively, kept more than half of the children occupied for longer than 40 minutes.

Archie Sturt 3 Nicola Sturt and Lord Robert Winston  (British Airways-David Dyson)

Archie Sturt 3 Nicola Sturt and Lord Robert Winston playing on British Airways

The most popular toy among two to five year olds was Play-Doh, while Loom Bands were a firm favourite with the five to 10 year olds. Timeless classics such as Lego and Top Trump cards also scored highly with this age group; keeping them entertained for an average of 37 and 33 minutes respectively. But you don’t want to be loosing that special Lego piece under the seats during a flight!

Professor Winston, said: “Although the temptation is for parents to play a film in the hope that their child falls asleep, activity based toys, such as lego, sticker books and travel games are also a great way to keep them engaged. Bringing out a different toy at regular intervals is guaranteed to keep them quiet for longer than 90 minutes.”

Cathy West and Elodie 2 with toys on British Airways

Cathy West and Elodie 2 with toys on British Airways

In the poll of 2,000 people a quarter of those surveyed said they worried about their children disturbing other passengers, while more than half were nervous about disrupting their youngster’s sleeping pattern.

British Airways top ten toys to take on a plane:

Children's luggage

Children’s luggage

  1. Loom Bands
  2. Playdoh
  3. Lego
  4. Top Trumps
  5. Uno
  6. Usborne Activity Cards
  7. Magnetic travel game
  8. Aquadoodle!
  9. Finger puppets
  10. Sticker book

But what should you put your toys in when you go on a flight?


Dr Vivian Hill, educational psychologist from the Institute of Education, said: “Toys that spark the imagination and encourage creativity, rather than static toys like soft toys and dolls, are proven to keep children occupied for sustained periods.”

Dr Vivian Hill shares her top tips for a stress free flight with children:

    • Have drinks to hand they can sip on for take-off and landing so they don’t concentrate on the air pressure; which can affect children more than adults
    • Buy new toys and games for the flight as newer toys entertain them for longer
    • Bring out different toys at regular intervals. Wrapping them and giving them as presents works really well
    • Concentrate on packing activities as opposed to static objects such as dolls and cuddly toys
    • Think of games with extended play. Finger puppets and activity cards are both toys that can be drawn out to last a lot longer
    • Think about games that you don’t need to carry. Verbal games like I Spy and Twenty Questions are good ways to pass the flight time
    • If it’s an evening or night flight take pyjamas. Getting children ready for bed will help avoid disrupting their sleep pattern

The PlaneTalking Tip is basically – ‘ remember what cabin you are flying in’.

This test looks like the children got to travel in the best seats. Most economy seating doesn’t offer a great deal of space, even for a child. The fold down table isn’t massive and you don’t want to be chasing bits of Lego across the cabin floor.

Something cheap like Loom Bands means it isn’t the end of the world if you loose any and you don’t need loads of room. And you could make a bracelet in the airline colours for a crew member! Don’t forget to quote us airlines on that idea!!

What are your top tips when travelling with children? Tweet us @Plane_Talking


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