Images (c) Mama Beth G.
1. Be in the Know Before You Go.
Understand airline polices before traveling. All major U.S airlines allow lap infants to travel for free with the purchase of the legal guardian’s ticket. You can purchase an additional ticket for a child of any age should you want extra space. You can put a car seat in this seat if needed or use a child safety restraint.
Most airlines allow one car seat and one stroller to be checked per child and will not go against your baggage allowance (place in gate check bag). Keep in mind lap children don’t get additional baggage allowance so any other bags will be lumped into the accompanying adult’s allowance.
You can also check the car seat and stroller at the gate if you prefer. Just keep in mind you need to proceed to the ticket counter at the gate to get the items tagged. *As of June 2017, American Airlines has a weight limit for gate checked strollers at 20lbs, limiting most double strollers as being overweight for "gate checked" only.
Note if using car seat during takeoff, taxi, landing: Any child restraint system manufactured since February 26, 1985, must have both of the following labels: "This child restraint device conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards" and "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft."
If you are traveling solo with infants, you can try to request an airport gate pass for a family member to accompany you through security. This is subject to the airlines discretion, the "cause" for the assistance and agent you are working with so call ahead to confirm and play the "multiples card."
2. Take Your Entire Trip into Consideration
While a 5-hour flight can seem daunting, it is best to fly directly there and avoid a layover.
Don’t forget to take into consideration any travel time to and from the airport as there is nothing worse than a long road trip with cranky babies after being on an airplane. You can consider an overnight stay at a hotel to allow everyone some rest.
3. Babies’ Schedules
It might seem backwards, but I highly recommend selecting a flight that has a departure time as close to nap time as possible. More often than not the noise and movement of the jet will put them right to sleep. Sleeping baby = happy mama.
Don’t forget to map out any feedings. You might want to arrive to the airport earlier than anticipated if it means getting a feeding in before the plane ride. Often times I held off feeding until during takeoff as it helped with their ears and also put them right to sleep. Also note, that if you are pumping or formula feeding, you are allowed to bring pre-made formula, breast milk and even water in bottles for the kids through security, just be prepared for some extra screening at security.
If your kiddo is no longer on the bottle or nursing, you can still do mealtime on the plane. Invest in a bento style lunch box for a pre-packed lunch and build your own snack boxes using bead boxes. This is another thing that buys loads of time!
4. Seating Arrangements
If you are flying an airline that allows you to select your seat during the reservation process make sure you do it! There is a trick to seats when it comes to flying with little ones. If seat selection is not available, make sure you know when family boarding is as that typically guarantees you good seat options.
TIP: Per FAA guidelines there cannot be more than one lap child per row, unless the third seat is empty because of the number of oxygen masks available.
If flying with someone, you should both select aisle seats in rows across from each other. This makes it easy to get up and down, access overhead compartments and the restrooms as well as pass children (or things) back and forth to each other. This also gives more elbow room!
We typically choose a seat towards the back of the plane – as it is close to the bathroom and a flight attendant should you need one. And let’s face it, if you checked bags or gate checked items you won’t be in a huge hurry to deplane.
5. Make that List, Check it Twice
It is easy to think you need everything under the sun when traveling with kids, but I am happy to report you don’t. Having too much stuff can actually be overwhelming! It might be hard, but only pack the necessities. Not to mention each bag only has a 50lb limit and all those diapers, wipes and toys add up quickly.
6. Keeping the Littles Occupied
Depending on age and length of flight, keep the ipad and electronic options for when you desperately need them. Download their favorite show/movies plus a few interactive apps such as
Wrapping small gifts from the dollar store, dollar section from target that the kiddos can open every 30min-1hr is bound for endless entertainment.
Ideas: New books, crinkle toys for infants, soft blocks, finger puppets, enclosed shape sorter, buckle toy or bag of buckles, play-dough, small cars, figurines, mini animals, trains, mini etch a sketch or mini white board, window gel clings from $1 section, circle stickers, any sticker book in general, reusable sticker books, magnetic blocks, pipe cleaners & whiffle balls or wikki stix, colored pom poms, water wow books, aquadoodle, foam puzzles, crayons/markers/pencils with coloring books, felt books, lacing shapes/animals, mini lego box, mini magnet box, animal/shape/letter card games. Pack in binder with school supply pouches or labeled ziplocks. Peruse our Amazon list.
7. Prepare, then Plan for the Worst
We all know that it is when we have the perfectly mapped out plan that all hell breaks loose! When the twins were about 6 months old our flight got delayed and it turned into an 8 hour stay at the airport…and that happened a few times. The first time, I wasn’t prepared…the most important thing is diapers and food.
Make sure you plan out the logistics as well. This includes drop-off, parking, check-in, security and boarding the plane. Make sure you have your transportation mapped out both to the airport and once you arrive at your destination.
Enjoy the ride and take lots of photographs to remember the crazy memorable times!
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