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.
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!)