Today’s Hint: A Kid-Friendly Airplane Cocktail

When you travel by air with a small child, you need to have a bag of tricks ready to keep your little one entertained.

I’ve already shared how my plane activity repertoire includes stickers, toasted bagels, empty water bottles and travel brochures (think the pamphlets you find in the pockets on plane seatbacks).

And now, I have an additional trick that is today’s hint: Ask the flight attendant for a kid-friendly airplane cocktail.

What’s that, you may be wondering? Don’t worry, it’s a non-alcoholic drink. It’s apple juice, or another such liquid, and ice, in an airplane cup covered with a lid and sipped with a cocktail straw.

My daughter enjoying her kid-friendly cocktail.

My daughter enjoying her kid-friendly cocktail.

I first learned about this cocktail from a United flight attendant passing out drinks who asked me if I’d like the apple juice I asked for in a covered cup with a straw for my daughter. “Of course,” I responded. My 19-month-old daughter seemed to love her adult-like treat, and drinking it kept her occupied for a good 15 to 20 minutes, forever in toddler-airplane time.

Since then, on every flight we’ve taken, I’ve asked the flight attendant passing out drinks if my tot can have the covered-cup apple-juice drink. So far, we’ve lucked out and there always have been cup covers and cocktail straws readily available to create kid-friendly cocktail entertainment.

It turns out I’m not the first parent to discover this trick. On her great list of “10 ways to entertain a toddler on a plane,” Joanna Goddard, who blogs at A Cup of Joe, includes this tip: “Ask the flight attendants for a plastic cup with ice and straws. The combo is weirdly entertaining.” Elsewhere, over at The Points Guy, guest blogger Danielle writes about how when she asked a Southwest flight attendant for apple juice, “the flight attendant presented me with a plastic cup with a lid and straw – perfect for Conor.”

What about when my daughter finishes the drink? What do we do then? We simply pour water into the cup to keep the liquid entertainment flowing.

In addition, the cup and straws can serve as toys in themselves once the liquid runs out. For instance, in her Scary Mommy post on “how to survive an airplane ride with kids,” Joelle Wisler advises to skip bringing “a million toys” and instead to “ask your flight attendant for a couple of plastic cups and some straws.” Parents commenting over at, meanwhile, share similar experiences.

There also are games you can play with your tot and the cocktail-drink components. As Debbie writes over at Delicious Baby, “there are endless games” you and your little one can play with a cup, a couple of ice cubs and a straw. For instance, she notes, “you can teach them to swirl [the ice] on the bottom of the cup, or catch it on the straw (airplane ice usually has a hole in the middle).”

Though, of course, you’ll want to keep close tabs on your little one while he or she is playing with ice, a choking hazard. Meanwhile, as Loren writes at Toddle Joy, the straw can also be used to point out items in the in-flight magazine.

What are your tips for keeping little ones entertained in-flight? What about on road trips?

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  1. says

    Great tip! When my sister was little and we were living in Bangladesh, Biman Airlines always handed out hard candy at takeoff. We once took a short hop of a flight and my sister, very loudly, asked where her candy was. One of the airline staff members very sweetly found a piece of candy for her.


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