A friend of mine was flying down to San Francisco to run the Nike Half Marathon. She asked me for some tips for flying with her almost one year old. After typing up my tips and sending them to her, I realized that these should be shared with everyone, because at some point in our life, we will find ourselves with an infant on our lap riding a silver tube through the air.
These tips are listed only in the order I thought them up, so my apologies if anything seems out of order to you.
A car seat won't be counted against you in the baggage department, so
it's good to bring it and check it with your luggage. You may plan to
take public transportation everywhere, but how will you be getting to
your final destination from the airport? If by something on wheels that
isn't a city bus, you'll need a car seat. Plus, you never know what kind
of plans will crop up and you may need one. Car seats are too expensive
to have to purchase once you're there.
2. Take a stroller with
you all the way to the gate, but don't put your kid in it. Put the kid
in a child carrier and throw your carry on bags on the stroller. It is
much easier and less painful to get through the airport that way. The
stroller can be gate checked and will be waiting for you when you
3. If you have assigned seats, wait until the last
possible moment to board the plane. This pre-boarding for families with small children is a joke. You don't want to spend any more time on the airplane
than you really need to. Also, when the plane lands, wait until everyone
else has deboarded before getting your stuff. It will be less
stressful, and all of your luggage will have already been pulled off the
baggage claim and waiting for you when you get there.
4. Buy a
ridiculous amount of snacks, and mostly food that you wouldn't normally
feed your child because it's too this or too that, but that you know
your kid will love and will probably go insane over. Do the same with
toys. In fact, hide some of his or her favorite toys right now so that
they are completely forgotten, and pack those. Do not let your child
know that you have them, or that they exist, even when you get on the
plane. Wait until the last possible second, when you are pretty sure
that if you don't do something right this moment, your kid will start
losing their mind and all the passengers on the airplane will hate you.
That's when you pull one thing out. ONE. THING. Let it entertain your
child until you get to the same nearly crazy point, and then pull out
another thing, but just one. The idea is that you will get through the
flight without going through your stash, because you have another flight
home, and if your kid knows what you have in your bag, you'll be up the proverbial creek.
5. Get an aisle seat. (This is especially advantageous on Southwest Flights that are not overbooked).
Practice changing a diaper on a thimble, because most airplanes don't
have changing tables, and if they do, they are the size of a lunch tray.
I did diaper changes on the toilet seat.
7. If you are still
nursing, nurse on take-off and landing. If people glare at you, stare them down. It's intimidating to maintain eye contact with a nursing mother. If they complain, tell them it's better than blood
curdling screams, and at least your bosoms are silky smooth. If your
kiddo takes a bottle and/or you're uncomfortable nursing with a
stranger's elbow in your ribs, give him or her a bottle at take-off and
landing. Once, I was lucky to sit next to a young man who had a Mormon
upbringing, with a mother who nursed all 7 of them, so when I told him I
was going to have to nurse my child, he told me that it not only was
OK, he asked if there was anything he could do to help. THAT was
unexpected. And then my son proceeded to kick him the entire time he
8. Ask for extra snacks when they come around, and for
your beverages to stay in their original containers, unopened. You may
end up wearing them otherwise.
9. I just remembered the whole TSA
craziness. You can bring anything you want as far as food goes. They
will try to tell you that your applesauce cup is above the 2oz limit,
but they can't stop you from bringing it. If it is food for your child,
you can bring it. Whatever it is. Plan extra time for the TSA because
you will have to claim everything when your time comes, and they will
have to swab everything and attempt to shame you for not simply purchasing the overpriced "food for purchase" on board, and cause you to worry
that you're going to miss your flight, but trust me on this one. Here is the information from the TSA website.
I brought 5 ziplock containers of bone broth through once because "my
child has terrible allergies and is on a special diet" and after three
minutes of shaming, they let me go. Also, you can't wear your baby
through the machine, nor can you push baby in the stroller. But you
likely won't have to do the body scan thing because you'll have him or
her in your arms.
What are some of your tricks to survive an airplane ride with small children?