I wanted to share our experience flying with kids for the first time, and a general overview of our trip to Philly. It’s way too much for just one post, so here’s the first one!
First up, Flying With Kids.
In the months leading up to our trip, I asked for several recommendations from other parents, researched blogs/Pinterest/etc. for all the tips on flying with kids. The idea of it was giving me anxiety (you hear horror stories of babies on planes and people giving you that look when they see little kids on the flight), so it helped me a lot to go into it prepared (or at least FEELING prepared) to be THAT family.
Car Seats or No Car Seats?
The first thing we had to decide was if we were flying with or without car seats, if we were checking them or bringing them on the plane, and if we were going to get Ivor Baby his own seat (or have him as a “lap child”). I follow a facebook group on car seat safety pretty closely and the recommendations are always to have babies secured in a restraint system while on the plane. You might think “will it really make a difference if the plane crashes?” Well, maybe not. But it’s not just for a worst case scenario, sometimes really bad turbulence or a rough landing can cause lap babies to become projectiles. Maybe it’s rare, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. And the thought of holding a squirmy baby (even my adorable cuddly baby boy) for almost 6 hours in an uncomfortable plane seat, isn’t super appealing. So, we decided he’d get his own seat on the plane, in his car seat, even if it did cost us extra money. Someone also recommended it to me (especially for their very first trip) so that they’d be in something familiar and feel more secure. I liked the sound of that. And so, that’s what we did. We brought both car seats on the plane with us. We got them through the airport by attaching them to each of our carry-on suitcases with these straps (that someone recommended to me). Note: we didn’t use them as strollers. I pushed Gwen in a single umbrella stroller (that we gate checked), and I wore Ivor Baby in my Ergo. Ivor carried all the luggage.
A quick review of the straps (this comes from my husband, who’s the one who had to deal with it): “Great idea, horrible execution”. They worked (we made them work). But they could’ve been designed so much better.
Things we brought on the plane to occupy/pacify the kids:
*Pacifier and blanky for both of them
*Tablet with a few movies downloaded and some episodes of Gwen’s favorite show, Daniel Tiger (she didn’t watch any of the movies, but repeated the same DT episodes over and over…)
*Headphones for Gwen to wear while using the tablet
*New books (that we waited to show her until we got on the plane- “new and exciting things! yay!”)
*WaterWow color books
*Snacks, snacks, snacks
*Food pouches for Ivor Baby
*Sippy cups and water
Note: You can bring “reasonable” amounts of liquids on the plane for babies (milk, formula, baby food, etc.) Just make sure you let the TSA agents know you have it when you get to security and show it to them. They say to only bring what you would reasonably need for the whole flight. So, don’t go crazy or anything.
The Worst Parts
Overall, I can’t complain that much. The kids were troopers. Both travel days were loooong. So there were inevitably a few rough spots here and there. But God sent me another toddler in the Philly airport screaming and thrashing like a maniac being carried sideways by her dad, to make me feel a little better about my situation 😛 Isn’t that horrible? Ivor and I looked at each other like “see…it could’ve been a lot worse”. Don’t judge…you know you do it too. For the record, I didn’t judge them….I thought “Dude, I’m sorry…been there” right alongside my other thought of “glad I’m not there right now”.
So, the rough spots that I can recall: they had to take Gwen’s blanky and water bottle away to go through the scanner at security (she had been holding them). I read about that and forgot. Oops. She melted down a little and yelled at them “hey that’s Gwen’s!!!” But that whole process was faster than I thought it would be (yay for the expedited family line!) The TSA workers were really helpful, understanding, and of course, wanted us to move along as quickly as possible.
Boarding the plane. Ugh. By far the most stressful part of both flights (there and back). We discovered that our car seats are too wide to fit down the aisle of the plane. So Ivor had to take them off of the suitcase and carry each one of them to our row (the flight attendants helped him with this on the way TO Philly, but on the way back they just stared at him like “sucks to be you”). Then he had to figure out how to install them in the seats. Meanwhile, Ivor Baby was tired of being in the Ergo so he was freaking out, and Gwen just wanted to run to the back of the plane and explore. So both times the kids had zero patience and loudly expressed their frustrations. It only lasted a few minutes probably, but it felt like 30, at least. I thought that was setting the tone for the rest of the flight, but thankfully the flight itself was pretty smooth.
On the way there (to Philly), both kids were really great during the flight. Ivor Baby slept for the first hour or so. Gwen watched lots of DT. The only major fussing was by Gwen at the end of the flight. She had JUST fallen asleep right before we started to descend. So she was just cranky in general. I was prepared with pacifiers, snacks and water for the descent (things to chew/suck on to help with their ears popping) and that seemed to work.
On the way back (to CA), Gwen was really scared of the take-off part. I’m not sure how she missed it during the first flight, but she was pretty terrified this time :-/ Ivor Baby was also super cranky in the beginning of this flight. I gave him lots of food, then he took a nice long nap. Gwen also napped mid-way through the flight. It was glorious. It was really exhausting having to constantly hand her things, fix the tablet (because she loves touching the touch screen and turns off her show as a result), etc. Ivor and I tag-teamed a bit. Especially when she started kicking the seat in front of her (!)
Perhaps there were people annoyed by the fact that we brought 2 very small children on a plane, but no one was rude enough to say it out loud. In fact, we experienced quite the opposite. People offered to help carry stuff. Some commented with admiration saying how brave we were, etc. The couple that Ivor sat next to on the way to Philly actually stayed and waited with us until the whole plane de-boarded to help us with the car seats. Faith in humanity, restored. And overall, I can’t believe how well the kids did with all of the traveling, especially on the way TO Philly. The President went and caused a ruckus at the airport the day we arrived (he was in Camden that day or something), so we sat for AN HOUR on the plane, after it landed. Just sitting there. Then once we got into the airport, there was a sea of people in the terminals. A SEA. Moving at a snail’s pace. It was hot. And there were people. Not moving. And I had been up since 4am. Then we had to go to the rental car place to pick up our car. I won’t mention names, but you certainly get what you pay for. We went with a cheaper company, and they were extremely incompetent. We reserved (in advance) a certain size vehicle and when we got there, it wasn’t available. So they “upgraded” us to a smaller vehicle. Gee, thanks. And it took them forever. And the girl working there told us we had a Prius waiting for us, “it’s right over there” she says. No, there was no Prius. It was a Ford something or other. “Oh yeah, that one” -_-
Anyway….The kids held it together way better than I did. They are my heroes.
Stay tuned for Part 2: A Summary of “Flying with Kids” and a recap of the trip (the part that happened between the flights) 🙂