Pre-boarding is essential so that you can have your bags close to you: diaper bags etc…
Since your child has his own seat, bring his car-seat. He is already used to it and will help him to sleep & keep him safe.
Bulkheads are great for the extra leg room and give the child a place to play, so he is not cooped up in his seat for the entire journey, there 2 major downsides: there’s no travel trays. The do make travel trays for car seat attachment that you can bring… Also with a bulkhead there is no seats in front of you which is good for unsuspecting passengers that your child might throw his toys at but bad because there is no seats in front of you to place you baggage under.
Place the child’s seat next to the window. He can look out or play with opening & closing the window.
Try to book the flight during the child’s naptime, or try to make it so that the child is tired and wants to sleep on the plane. Dress you child in comfortable clothes, pajamas work excellent.
When taking off or landing make sure the child is using the “sucking” motion. Using a pacifier or tippy cup etc… this will help the child’s ears to pop due to pressure changes. Also giving your child (a half hour before the flight) baby Tylenol or whatever you use will help with the ear pain (Talk to your doctor, this is what mine suggested). There are ear-plugs for children just for airplanes (didn’t work for me, though)
I agree with bring a toy for every 30 minutes. A mixture of favorite toys and new exciting toys will help keep his attention. Wrapping each toy like it’s a present will help keep up the surprise element and engaged him more. Don’t forget his favorite toy or blanket. Try interactive toys that will keep his attention. A few suggestions: Playdough, stickers, books, coloring book (I like the Crayola color wonders, they only mark on the specialized paper), etch-a-sketch, etc… Also painter’s tape, I know sounds weird but it’s not real sticky so it won’t hurt their skin and you can make games out of it like sticking it on their nose etc… and when your done with it, just throw it away !!!
Don’t forget snack foods and drinks.
If possible a portable dvd player or computer with child protected ear phones and his favorite movies or music.
Work your way up to the better toys throughout your trip so when he is really fussy he’ll be more inclined to settle down. For example if you bring a dvd player it should be your last resort not your first…
Good Luck :)