Goodies are great but how about a heads-up?

Why don't airlines let you know in advance if they're going to give the kids an in-flight goody bag, and what's in it?

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Why don't airlines let you know in advance if they're going to give the kids an in-flight goody bag, and what's in it? They could inform us when they email or post the ticket, just like they do about the baggage allowance. That way, I wouldn't have landed at the airport in Aruba, a small island in the Carribean, with six pieces of hand luggage for the three kids - three I stayed up all night before departure filling, and three they were handed on the plane.

We flew here with First Choice (www.firstchoice.co.uk), and I must admit the bag the kids were given by the flight attendant were superior to most, containing not only the predictable packet of pencils but a travel set of Connect4 that's been used over and over again since we've arrived. The quiz book was also substantial, rather than a few flimsy pages which only last half way across the ocean. This one has a good 5,000 miles of entertainment in it.

Airlines are beginning to branch out in their kids' in-flight back provision. Qatar Airways includes two extremely handy items others miss - a pair of sunglasses and a water bottle. But if only I'd known that before our flight to Doha, I wouldn't have packed three of both of them in the suitcase. Cleverly, the game they provide is magnetic, so I don't have to spend half the flight under the seat in front of me, searching for pieces. Qatar also pop in a toothbrush - the only kids' bag I've come across to do that. Normally it's adult passengers that get something to brush and clean with, when it should surely be the other way around.

Sadly, Virgin Atlantic doesn't provide a toothbrush, although they should do given that their kids bags contain a packet of Love Hearts sweets. And although there are no sunglasses, there is a red baseball cap to protect the kids from the sun. But their bright red rucksack is very hardwearing; my kids are still using them almost two years later. British Airway's kids containers on long haul are also quite superior - a copy of Paddington Bear's famous suitcase, although filled with the standard in-flight items of short crayons and thin quiz books. But you can also design your own goody bag, by printing off colouring sheets and luggage labels in advance at home from www.ba.com.

That's a start. We should be able to pre-order kids' goody bags just like we do kids meals. And just like with kids' meals, we should get a sample menu, so I wouldn't have been up 'til one in the morning searching for mini packets of pencils and spare small drawing pads, hoping to amuse them on the following day's flight. And I'd have known, when flying Qatar Airways, not to have to pack their sunglasses.

Do you have tips and experiences of family travel to share? Then email dbirkett@thenational.ae