Tuesday, June 11, 2013

what we've learned:: flying with baby

Silas flew on an airplane for the first time at just 4 months old and he's boarded a plane over 8 times since then. Many of those flights were just me and Si, and at first, I didn't think we'd come out unscathed. But, we lived, and so did the other passengers on our planes. We're far from experts on the subject, but we've learned a lot about flying with a baby. Below are just a few pointers--some ridiculously simple things that we learned over the past six months!





Leave yourself plenty of time

 Perhaps an obvious tip, but something we've had to change a bit since Silas arrived. When it was just Chris and me, we didn't mind rushing through the airport, only to barely make it to our seats before take-off. But now, we leave more time to check our bags, go through security and get to our gate. In my opinion, it's worth it to go calmly through the insanely long security line, even if that means more down time at the gate. I actually like to have a little bit of downtime to situate our bags, get a fresh diaper on Silas before we board and get myself fed so I don't have to worry about that on the flight. If you know your airport is a busy one, leaving yourself a good chunk of time can cut down on frantic 'Home Alone' runs through the airport. 

Bring the carseat

 Babies under two years old fly for free, but they must be seated in your lap. This is fine if you have a calm, squishy newborn, but at 10 months old, I can barely get Silas to sit still for 2 minutes, let alone 2 hours. Some forward thinking and divinely empty flights have saved us that hassle for the last few flights. 

The loophole to the 'lap baby' rule is that if the flight has enough open seats, most airlines will allow you to bring your carseat aboard for the baby- no charge! I usually call the airline the night before to see if I can expect a few empty seats, and unless the flight is guaranteed to be packed out, I bring our carseat to the gate, just in case. We've had about 4 flights where Silas was able to crash in his carseat during the flight, and I got to chill with a Coke and a magazine. 

Wear them 

After learning the hard way and juggling laptop bags, the stroller, carseat, carry-ons and baby all at once, I now wear Silas in our Ergo carrier through the airport. If you have baby in a stroller, you'll have to take him out and fold the stroller up as you go through security, but if you have him in a carrier (Moby, Ergo, etc.), 9 times out of 10, they won't make you take the baby out. That leaves you with two free hands to fold your stroller up, yank your shoes off, and jam all your stuff through the scanner. 

We usually use the stroller as a baggage cart and pile the carseat and carry-ons on top. I walk with Silas in the Ergo and Chris pushes the stroller (slash baggage cart). When I get on the airplane, I take Silas out of the carrier and store it under my seat. 

Just do your best

 I think the thing most people worry about when flying with their baby is keeping him calm and happy and not disrupting other passengers. My advice is to just do your thing and try not to worry about what others are thinking. (Easier said than done, believe me, I know.) You will not find me handing out bags of goodies or earplugs to fellow passengers. I don't think I've ever encountered the stereotypical disgruntled baby-hating passenger and for that I'm thankful. We've had plenty of pleasant interactions with other passengers, and when Silas is fussy, we've been grateful for gracious people. Most people will just turn up their music and tune out a fussy baby, and the other people can just deal. If you're gonna freak out, freak out because it's stressful and tiring, but don't let a few stares and imagined (or real!) grumbles get you down, mama. 

Got any other flying tips? Share in the comments below! 


Click here to read the things we've learned about roadtripping with a baby! (Lots of great tips in the comments of that post too!) 

20 comments:

  1. These are great and I'd agree with ALL of them! Two years ago I posted about tips for flying with a toddler (10 hour flight is exhausting lemme tell you) In case anyone has toddlers here is my post about it http://nowoodenspoons.blogspot.de/2011/07/tips-for-traveling-with-toddler.html

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    1. Great post, Cat! I remember reading that when you first wrote it. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I think the best part of flying with your babes is when you first get on the flight and see the stares/eyerolls and "oh god" looks on peoples faces (especially a long flight)---and then at the end, when you can walk out victorious because your kid didn't make a peep. I always expect some fist bumps, but yea. Don't get that. BUT STILL. I fist bump in my mind ;)

    I had (at the time) a 5.5 straight flight to CA with both my kids and seriously, angels. I always expect it to be worse.

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    1. Haha, I would definitely fist bump you. Love it.

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  3. Great post for me to keep for the future!

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  4. Lindsay, what can fellow passengers do to help out someone with a fussy baby. Other than not staring of course.

    I always want to help, but don't want to be creepy.

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    1. I'm not sure you can really do anything if the issue is a fussy baby. I would personally just rather people ignore us and let me do my thing. If the parent looks like they could use a hand carrying a bag, or needs paper towels for a cleanup or something, you could definitely ask them if there's a way to help. Thanks for asking, Erin!

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    2. On a recent flight I took with my 13 month old, the people behind us would make faces and generally make my son happy instead of frustrated he couldn't turn around during take off and landing. I think he enjoyed the new faces to look at and the people also said it was good entertainment for them too!

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  5. Random: in your picture, if it's turned sideways, I see a heart, Cinderella's castle and a manatee.

    :)

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  6. Great tips girl! We actually did encounter a rude passenger, but I basically said if he had any ideas to calm my baby down I was totally open to hearing them. Obviously he had nothing, and left us alone the rest of the flight.

    Someone once said that if you're checking a carseat (because I guess airlines are required to check those for free) to get a carseat bag and load tons of extra stuff in there! We haven't done that yet, but have some trips coming up where we'll utilize it!

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    1. Oh man, good reply. I can't imagine ever saying something to someone with a screaming baby. As if you are purposefully pinching them or something...?

      I like that tip-- I'll have to keep that in mind!

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  7. Great tips!! I wholeheartedly agree to wear your baby/toddler! It's so much better, especially when you're traveling solo. -- Kendra

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  8. This is a really great list and I'm definitely going to remember to call ahead about empty flights! We've also had a lot of luck with empty beverage glasses to entertain our toddler. And, it can be a little wet, but a cup with ice is also easy entertainment. Most flight attendants are more than happy to provide either and it's bought us an extra 30-60 minutes of entertainment. Happy flying!

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    1. Great idea! We've done the ice trick too. Funny the things you resort to just to occupy a few minutes!

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  9. A packing tip for those of you who would rather travel lighter than have to cart around a bunch of baby gear: check to see what equipment will be available for your use at your destination. For instance, when I go visit my parents, I know that they have a stroller and a car seat, so I don't need to bring along any of those bulky items. Or an alternative is to purchase a cheap umbrella stroller at your destination for your time there. It saves a lot of juggling and hassle at security.

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  10. We adopted 2 of our kids from Korea and that meant traveling for over 24 hours that included a 14 hour flight another 5 hour flight and lots of waiting in customs with a 8 month old that you have never met before to bring them home! It is quite the bonding experience for the family! Once people found out about our situation they were very nice and helpful! both times the flight attendants were very helpful!

    My biggest tips are:
    Bring a bottle to have them drink when you take-off and land, it helps with the air pressure in their ears

    Bring lots of snacks.

    Bring a DVD player. we played Baby Einstein vidos when our babies got cranky

    Walk up and down the aisle (if you can) our babies liked the movement of the plane.

    If you have a super long flight try to do it at night so the baby will be more likely to sleep.

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  11. As a child lover, my only problems with kids on airplanes are when the parents OBVIOUSLY aren't doing anything. I've had kids poke me in the sides, kids screaming (with parents sleeping beside them!), etc. But a fussy baby/toddler/etc? I guarantee you that the parents of the fussy baby want the poor thing to feel better more than the rest of us do! As long as parents are being as courteous as possible and attending to their kids' needs (which are most of them, and certainly seems like you are) we can all deal with it for a little bit.

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  12. It may seem counter intuitive but pack lightly is what I've learned. I've taken my daughters across the Pacific to NZ via Australia (one leg of the flight was 13 hours) at only 3 months old and it is a pain having to cart around so many BULKY bags. Not just the number of bags but the size of some carry ons end up frustrating you (and hurting your shoulder/neck) so I learned to pack lightly and it was less stressful having to try and carry all those bags (or pick them up when they fell off the baggage carrier/stroller) and rearranging liquids etc it's just better to go bare bones with carry ons.

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  13. GREAT tips!!! In your post and the comments section! Our little miss will be 11 weeks by the time we take our trip, so I am hoping for lots of sleep. Our flights are fairly short but we do have a long layover in the middle so that should be interesting... haha. Thanks for sharing this with me on twitter! I've pinned it as a reference for later as well!

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  14. Love this. I'll be flying with my then-8-month-old in July and I'm already FREAKING OUT about it! Thankfully I'll have my mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law as my allies so between all of us, I'm hoping we'll be able to keep her calm!!
    Thanks for the tips!

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