There are several good ways to prepare your child for his first airplane flight, or even subsequent flights. There's the good ol' fashioned "talk to him about the trip" method. There are also many books telling kids what to expect when they fly, such as Richard Scarry's A Day at the Airport, Airport, Going on a Plane (First Experiences), and the aptly named We're Going on an Airplane! All good stuff, as your travels will go more smoothly the more your child understands where you're going, what's going to happen, and what's expected of him.
But, there's one gift TJ received for Christmas that has quickly become our favorite travel prep prop: The Little People Lil' Movers Airplane. Almost immediately, TJ started chartering pretend flights to destinations he'd been before. Then we'd discuss what the passengers would do when they got to a specific destination, who they might see there, even what food they might eat ("Pizza" for New York, "Chuy's" for Texas. I'd say he's got the basic idea.). So, then we extended the game to include upcoming trips.
He now knows he's going on a plane to "Ara-zo-na-na" in a few weeks, where, according to TJ, he'll see "cacti", "dip chips" in salsa, and hopefully, "swim- pool." He hasn't mentioned Daddy racing to the bottom of a fishbowl-sized margarita, but that's really not essential trip prep info.
So, if you're looking for a fun toy that will also help prepare your child for an upcoming trip, give the plane a try. Although I will warn you, it's not all fun and games with the Lil' Movers Plane. Due to freshly cleaned floors, yesterday's pretend trip ended in an ugly incident where the plane skidded off the runway and collided with a full LeapFrog Phonics Bus, flipping it over. Fortunately, the plane passengers and all three frogs on the bus survived. But, I don't think poor Lilly will ever play the guitar again.