Flying with your ASD child. Part 2 – Packing. Getting to the Airport.


Check your airline’s baggage policies. Make sure that you understand both weight and size restrictions. Also, view our previous post: 10 Tips on Airline Baggage Fees.

Checked bags are obvious. For items that you carry on, you need to distinguish between larger items, which generally go in the overhead bins, and “personal items”, which generally can be stowed under the seat in front of you.

During taxiing, take-off and landing, you will not be permitted to stand up to access the overhead bins. (This also coincides with the time that you will not be allowed to use electronic devices.) Be sure to have things that you need to access during this period in the bag that you stow under the seat.

Items that you may need include:

  • iPad or similar
  • iPod or similar for music, if not using the above
  • Other electronic games that your child likes
  • Headphones for all of the above. Probably the noise cancelling sort.
  • Non-electronic games and activities – for those periods when electronic devices are not allowed. This can be anything that you know you child will like and that is portable enough.
  • Extra sweater and/or blanket if your child is sensitive to cold. Don’t count on getting a blanket from the airline. They frequently don’t have enough for everybody.
  • Cold pack, if sensitive to heat.
  • Tissues or handkerchief with acceptable perfume/odor, if your child is sensitive to strange smells. Strongly flavored snacks may also work for this.
  • Wipes, if your child likes to touch everything in order to investigate.
  • Gum, hard candy, straws and/or juice boxes, EarPlanesTM (See “During the Flight” for details).
  • Medications.  Always in carry-on, never in checked bags. Have an extra supply in case something is dropped.
  • Snacks. Have a good supply of your child’s favorite snacks. Something familiar and well –liked will be superior to strange and untried. This is especially important if your child has special dietary needs (e.g. gluten-free). You need these for when you are in the terminal and for when you are on the plane.
  • If your child needs an EpiPen® for allergic reactions, it should be in an unopened package and you will need a doctor’s note stating that it is medically necessary.


Make sure you’ve packed the things that you’ll need quick access to, at any time, into your “personal item”. The others can go into the carry-on, in the overhead bin.

Going to the airport/checking in.


Where possible, arrange transportation that takes you straight to the terminal. If you drive yourself to the airport, you may introduce an unnecessary transition from the parking lot to the terminal, if that requires a shuttle bus.

If a friend or relative will take you and pick you up, that is obviously cheaper than car service. If not, look at the cost of parking, when driving yourself, versus the cost of car service. Airport parking can, sometimes, be very expensive and, if this is the case, car service may be cost effective as well as more convenient.

Most airlines offer online check-in 24 hours in advance. Where this applies, it will help you to do so. It will eliminate one extra line at the airport.

If, for any reason, you believe that online check-in will not work for you, try this. Where available, and where the flight is in a 2-cabin aircraft, call the airline to seek permission for you to use the business class check-in rather than coach class even when you are ticketed in coach.

Check in as early as you can. In any event, do not be late for check-in. Most flights are full, or close to full, and the airline may reallocate your seats, if you are late.

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