Need Advice on Choosing Flight Times

Updated on July 25, 2011
T.R. asks from Altamonte Springs, FL
14 answers

Hi Moms :)
I am flying with my almost 4 year old, and need to decide on what is better; flying Non-stop with super early or super late times, OR flying regular times with 1 stop. Early would be leaving at 6 am, so at up at 4am, and late flight would be getting home around 1am. OR a 1 stop flight with an over-lay of probably 2 hours, but times would be normal day-time hours. I worry about a long lay over, but then worry about disrupting my daughter's "schedule". What do you think is better? TIA :)

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answers from Boca Raton on

I fly a TON with my two kids, 4 and 1. 6 am is THE BEST! I always fought against it..but one time the price difference was so substantial, we had to book it. Now we only book 6 am flights. It is PERFECT! The kids are asleep, so while you get ready and pack the car, they are sound asleep, not making messes, etc. I just wake them, throw on clothes, and put them in their car seats when it's time to go. They do great at the airport...and then even if they don't sleep on the flight, they are so chill that it is super easy. For us, late at night always backfires..they don't sleep, but are overtired and whiny. 6 am is kind of like flying with a kid on a tranquilizer...which sounds TERRIBLE, lol...but you get what I mean. They are just super relaxed.

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answers from Springfield on

I would do the one-stop. I'd take 2-2 hour flights over 1-4 hour flight with 4 year old any day. Sitting on a plane for 4 hours is a lot to ask of a 4 year old. If you break up the time with a walk through the airport, potty break in an airport restroom as opposed to the teeny, tiny ones on the planes, maybe a snack, etc, then the next flight won't be too bad.

A 2 hour layover is more than enough time to get to the next gate. It should be just enough time for a potty break and a quick snack (that's about it).

Someone mentioned making sure your bags make it to the next flight. That's not your responsibility, it's the airlines! If they don't make it to the connecting flight, the airline will still get it to you. That is not a factor. My husband didn't know that the first time he flew, and he almost missed his connecting flight because he was waiting for his bags at the carousel.

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answers from Beaumont on

I'm a flight attendant. With my experience, I'd say the 1 stop flight. You could use that time to explore the airport, get something to eat etc. The other times are sure to put her in a tailspin. Have fun!

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answers from Sacramento on

I'd do the regular hours with the stop. Will be good to get off the plane and move around. Things get very tricky when you start messing around with kids' normal routines and sleep schedules.

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answers from New York on

I would do the non-stop super early. Buy leaving early, you avoid lots of issues (weather/electronic problems) that might occur during the day. And if you have an issue, it's not compounded by several flights. Yours will be the first to go once the problem is solved.

She's 4 - she can handle a little disruption. Besides, if she is excited about the plane rie, she will be eager to get up and go.

Good luck!

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answers from Albuquerque on

I fly with my 4 year old twin girls all the time... I'd pick either the super early or the one stop, although if it was me, I'd go for the super early.

The super early would be good because you get up and get the one flight over with, then have the rest of the day to relax wherever you're going. She'll be tired and so will you, but you may get the pleasant surprise of her napping on the flight. This happened to me about a month ago. We had a 7am flight, which meant we had to get up at 4:30am to make it to the airport. Both of my girls fell asleep and slept for two hours on the flight. Lovely!

The one stop would be good because it's during your regular awake hours. Just be aware that two flights is two to three times as hard as one because you have to plan for three time periods - first flight, layover, and second flight. You'll need to find a meal, walk through extra airports, and have extra activities for the planes.

Just don't do the late night one! You'll have a very overtired four year old and may have to drag her through the airport. I know it sounds good to adults, but a late night flight is my worst nightmare.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I would pick the one-stop during normal times. I don't do well with a totally disrupted schedule and neither does a child. A layover is a good time for a snack or a meal.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Day time flight with 1 stop over. My son is a lot younger but he did great with connecting flights and layovers. Layovers are good for restroom breaks and grabbing something to eat. But when the flight times affected his sleep schedule , he got cranky and tired. He would sleep in the flight , but still it wasn't fun to have a screaming baby in the airport lounge waiting to board the flight.

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answers from Providence on

I have always attempted to fly nonstop morning flights with my son. He has flown since he was 6 months old. He always does better in the morning, then afternoon or evening flights. When you have a stopping in between flights it can get pretty hectic having to go on and off the plane. Especially if your flight was delayed, and you now have to race to your other flight with a young one. I have had that happen and it's not fun, especially when they have to use the bathroom at the worst times.

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answers from Washington DC on

Personally I would do the non-stop. Super late time.
- Don't have to worry about making a connecting flight
- Don't have to worry about your bags making the connecting flight.
- Don't have to worry about settling in twice.

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answers from Phoenix on

I'd do the early one. Everyone's in a better mood, and you get the trip over with quicker.

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answers from Tampa on

I would do the one stop, unless your daughter is a good napper. Our son stopped taking maps around his 3rd birthday, so he needs his nighttime sleep. If he still napped, I might opt for the early morning flight, knowing that he could nap when we got there. Definitely not the late flight, though!



answers from Sarasota on

I always liked a lay-over. I would take my daughter and run her around the airport to stretch her legs and get something to eat.



answers from Fort Myers on

Luckily my daughter always fell asleep on planes. It was nice for layovers to get up and have a change of pace and get soemthing to eat. I had that dilemna when booking our summer return flight. I ended up picking an evening flight that arrives home at 11 pm. We wotn get home until 12:30 am or so. But that beats a day of travel. Its down tiem anyway, i would rather fly and get it overwith.

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