1. Start out by making sure to read the fine print. Know what the policies are for liquids, baggage, carry on, and so on. All to often we assume or remember the last time we flew. Things change often as do policies from one airlines to another.
2. Plan ahead. Hopefully we are all familiar with the liquids policies. Less than 3 oz, in a ziplock bag, and has to come out of your bag for security check. Make sure you place things like this, your laptop, etc. at the top of your bag. I also always bring an empty water bottle. That way I can fill it up for free after I pass security.
3. Anytime someone asks me for advice on flying with kids I remind them about going through security. This sometimes stresses me out more than the actually flying part. You have to take off your shoes, belt, and jacket. All while holding a baby, taking down your stroller, pulling out liquids and your laptop, and trying to avoid the unfortunate pat down. Here are a few security tips:
A. Make sure that all loose things in your pockets or stroller are in a bag of some kind. This prevents forgotten things from prior adventures, or things falling out when folding up your stroller.
B. Make sure all baby food is in it's own separate ziplock bag, and that you take them out for security. If the baby food is less than 3.4 oz (like the half size plastic ones) than you should be OK. If you are taking the regular size baby food jars they are allowed in "reasonable quantities." They may require one parent to have a pat down as well if they can't or don't check all the baby food as a "threat."
C. I also make sure I empty my pockets into my bag before going through as well. Usually as I leave my house for the airport I put all the last minute things in my pockets.
D. Make sure to arrive early enough that you don't feel rushed through. Especially with kids or if all of a sudden you have a huge long security line.
4. Kids love new things. I highly recommend a trip to your local dollar store before any kind of travel. Kids are always entertained longer with things they have never seen before. New coloring books and cool crayons are great. I am sure browsing around you will find plenty of cheap cool things to get. You can even wrap them up to make it more intriguing for the kids. Especially for longer flights. They could open a present for every hour while traveling.
5.When we flew I was very apprehensive to fly the 6 hour red eye with a 7 month old. I wanted to buy enough ear plugs with some treats for everyone on the plane. I know some people have done this and I think it warms some people up to being more tolerant. I thought it was cute. Then my husband reminded me that our daughter was a passenger on the plane with a right to cry. As unfortunate as it may be, it's not the end of the world. Whether you want to take the compassionate road or the tolerance road, that's your choice. (As a side note, my baby did great! Hardly made a peep, and I saved all that money, and should have saved the stress as well).
Bonus- Don't forget to bring earphones, especially for longer plane rides. At first I thought I was being more smart by bringing smaller more compact ear buds. A 6 hour flight with complementary movies sounds really nice, till your ears hurt from ear buds being in them too long. Make sure you look at the length of your flight when deciding whether to bring headphones or earphones. Short flights you may not even need them at all.