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Surviving O'Hare with Baby on Board

By Elizabeth Shapiro in Miscellaneous on Sep 12, 2007 3:00PM

Before we had kids, we thought that Babies on a Plane! was a more apt horror movie title. Now that we’re on this side of the aisle, we have a little more perspective and a lot more sympathy for parents trying to get their little ones through a flight.

Any parent who has traveled with their child has a bag of tricks to get them through the actual flight: bringing along favorite toys, finally relinquishing Dad’s cellphone or Mom’s keys, or a wee dram of infant Benadryl. Flying with a toddler is much like eating at a restaurant with one; in both situations, parents usually are attempting to get their kid and those around them through the process as unscathed as possible.

2007_09_Plane.jpgLuckily, the Chicago Children’s Museum has teamed up with O’Hare Airport to give you peace of mind before your flight. As an alternative to chasing your kid around snarling businesspeople and hands-y travelers, head over to Terminal Two, swing a left by the security screeners and behold a kid-friendly oasis in a busy airport.

The “Kids on the Fly” exhibit allows your crawler or walker to fiddle with actual cockpit equipment, climb around a mock-up airplane cabin and slide down a make-shift luggage conveyor belt. You can climb up to an air traffic control tower and imagine you’re in charge of landing planes. There’s even a faux ice cream stand where kids can stack plastic balls to create ice cream cones (or, in our kid’s case, throw them). We appreciated the exhibit’s attention to detail, like incorporating actual O’Hare runway lights into the walls and posting information about the international symbols for Lost and Found and First Aid. Our intrepid traveler enjoyed the activities for the better part of an hour, then promptly passed out for the duration of our flight.

“Kids on the Fly” is an enclosed space so you won’t have to worry about your more adventuresome toddler deciding the nearby screeners are more exciting. The award-winning exhibit is free and open all day.

Image via their website.