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An Actual Study On The Top 10 Toys To Take On A Plane

A friend of mine is in charge of cabin maintenance (yes she’s the one responsible for your broken seatback TV).  She recently sent me an article featuring ‘the top 10 toys take on a plane’.  Her first comment was would I promise never to take no. 2, playdoh, which is course causes a major headache for her department. 

The list intrigued me as it was developed following a British Airways study.  Professor Robert Winston (Mr Mega Mustache) ran the social experiment placing 30 youngsters on a flight with a selection of toys for two hours.  These kids aged 2-10 were observed by Robert and a team of educational psychologists.  Apparently these kids don’t need iPads or TVs.  Oh no.  What they need are the following:

  1. Loom Bands
  2. Playdoh
  3. Lego
  4. Top Trumps
  5. Uno
  6. Usborne Activity Cards
  7. Magnetic Travel Game
  8. Aquadoodle
  9. Finger Puppets
  10. Stickerbook

Now I can’t deny that all above aren’t great ideas, many of which I often cite in my own top 10.  I recently brought a pack of Loom Bands for my 5 year old to play with on a shorthaul flight and that went down a treat (perhaps not so much with the clean up crew scurrying around to pick up multi-coloured bands).  I love the idea of the suggestion of Lego but seems like it’s best saved if your beloved child is flying in business class, as per Professor Winston’s pic below (seriously, who has the room to lug around a box of lego in hand luggage?)

Sir Robert - Lego

So whilst I say a huge thanks to Professor Winston for providing us with some great ideas (minus the playdoh for my friend), I would say that these are IN ADDITION TO an iPad/iPhone/Seatback TV.  I don’t know who these kids are that they found to do this experiment but mine certainly wouldn’t be contented to play with Uno, Aquadoodle and Finger Puppets for two hours.  Or maybe I should test this theory out on my upcoming 12 hour flight to Hong Kong (solo with Mesdames Jetlag & Mayhem)?  Perhaps not. 

What these psychologists are failing to realise is that parents are doing their utmost for a quiet life on a plane.  When you see a noisy child on a plane, trust me the parents aren’t sitting back grinning in delight that the entire cabin is being disturbed. They are frantically shushing and pulling out all the stops in their arsenal of tricks which likely includes the iPad.  I love watching my kids play with stickerbooks on a plane and using their imagination but I also enjoy it when they’re glued to Frozen for 90 minutes and I can enjoy an episode of Modern Family and a glass of wine in peace.

My eldest playing with her Usborne Activity Cards

My eldest playing with her Usborne Activity Cards

What do you think about the list? Are there any toys that you’re surprised didn’t make it?  Would you prefer not to have your kids glued to the iPad/seatback TV and playing Uno?

8 comments

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  1. Mums do traveltravel

    These are all great toys but most of them seem to involve many different components which I can see getting dropped and being difficult to find in the restricted space on board a plane (I’m talking cattle class here). I think plane journeys are a time for unlimited (but age-appropriate) screen access for kids *ducks behind parapet*

    1. Nicola

      agree!

  2. Katja

    I am in complete agreement! We have done playdough, sticker books, crayons, stories etc..on long-haul flights but nothing keeps the kids quiet or content like the iPad and movies do. This is entirely selfish as well as when they’re occupied on the iPad, they do not require entertaining or help from me 🙂 And as for lego on those tiny tables in Economy…. forget about it!

  3. MummyTravels

    I can’t even begin to imagine the mess my daughter might make with playdoh on a plane (and the stress involved!) – in fact, although some of these are great to entertain, a lot of them just aren’t realistic for a small cramped space if you’re forever having to pick up bits and pieces off the floor.

    AquaDoodle, stickers and finger puppets (for younger kids) are great though – and travel/card games sound a good plan for older (though not one I’ve tested yet). But I’m with you. It’s that plus apps plus TV/movie plus books etc…

  4. Ideas4Dads

    Goodness Play Doh on a flight (and anywhere else for that matter) is a recipe for disaster! Hpwever I cant wait to introduce Top Trumps to my girls 🙂

    1. Nicola

      i love top trumps. Must remember to buy a pack for our upcoming longhaul flight although i imagine it will have to be a Princess version…

  5. Amy

    Nicola can you recommend some iPad games please? For 3 yo. I’m a bit out of the loop and only know Tozzle! Preparing 2 months ahead like a good habs girl! Thanks xxx

    1. Nicola

      Amy I am a total pleb when it comes to the iPad – i actually haven’t got a clue what the best games are! My girls play with this one called BBQ where you click buttons and basically do a BBQ and then there’s a similar one for cupcake making. Other than that – endless episodes of Peppa Pig!!

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