Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Flying With a Lap Child? Here Are A Few Tips

This year, we went cross-country from NY to SFO with our then 11-month old. It was a test flight to see how Mikey would be like in an airplane for 6 straight hours because next year, we plan to finally make that big (18-hour!) trip to the Philippines so Mikey can meet his 2 great grandmothers.

I can barely keep him moving for 5 minutes. How can we survive 6 hours... Let alone 18 hours?

Well, we did. In fact, we took 3 plan rides and numerous car rides as we went across California (SFO-Napa-Monterey/Carmel-Santa Barbara-Long Beach and back to SFO-NY.

And we survived to tell the tale. 

To be perfectly candid, it was not easy (surprise!) While Mikey is a relatively happy, easygoing kid, the fact of the matter is that he's a toddler and with the amount of energy that these little people can pack in their tiny frame, sitting down was never going to happen. So here are a few tips that I picked up along the way.

Oh the places you will go... If mommy does not swear off traveling with you until you're 30.

1. Generally, most people do not mind (really) 

Coming into the aircraft, you're already on the defense. You know people are looking at you and praying they don't sit next to you and your firecracker. George and Amal didn't do the rest of us middle class any favors by providing noise-cancelling headphones to the entire cabin. Us adults have a choice to fly a public aircraft, babies don't so there's really nothing to be apologetic for.

While it may sound impossible, people do not mind babies. Think about it, when was the last time you complained about having to sit next to a baby in an aircraft? In fact, people are more sympathetic than you think and are ready to help when they can. On one of our flights, we sat across this wonderful woman who entertained Mikey every so often – mostly when she sees me and my husband struggling to keep Mikey entertained. I will forever be thankful for this lady.

Mikey being entertained by a friendly passenger who mommy (and obviously, daddy) will forever be thankful for.

2. Ask for an open seat

Speaking of sympathetic good samaritans, cabin crews are well-trained when it comes to flying with infants. These are people who have seen toddler meltdowns 10,000 feet up in the air and know exactly what to do. After takeoff, feel free to ask any of the friendly crew members if there's an open seat in the aircraft that you and your little one can take advantage of  – believe me, having more space than just your lap HELPS.

Boss baby in his own seat - Thank you, Alaskan Airlines!

3. Bring your stroller up to the boarding gate

Most airlines will allow you to bring your stroller/car seat up until the boarding gate – for no extra fee and they won't count these items as carry-ons. Once ready to get in the plane, they will stow away your baby gear for you and they will bring them out once ready to deplane. If you're all for running around a ball of energy in a packed airport, feel free to ignore this!

4. Diaper changes

Never, ever change a baby on your seat. Show courtesy to your fellow passengers and always change in the lavatory, no matter how small. While most airplanes have changing tables, if you're riding one that does not provide one, the best thing to do is to sit on the toilet and change baby on your lap.

As quickly as you can.

5. Be mindful of liquid restrictions

TSA is very, very strict with liquids, even when it comes to baby food. So, if you're formula feeding, pre-mix right before heading to the airport. Prior to any security screening, inform an agent in advance that you are carrying breast milk/formula in excess of 3.4 ounces so these can be tested separately.

TSA agents might request to X-ray the liquid but, if you don't wish to have this done, you can let them know and they will ask for a sample of the liquid to be tested instead.

Note: Ice packs, freezer packs or anything that is used to keep formula/breast milk fresh is allowed in carry-on. 

6. Dealing with crying

Keep calm. Babies cry as a way of communicating and people know that (or forget that fact). Ignore rude people and think of my first tip: most (good) people don't mind! The best way to deal with a crying baby is to pacify him/her the way you would in the comfort of your own home. Don't be pressured by the general public and always remember, the crying WILL stop – and, the likelihood that you will see that jerk from aisle 9A again is low.

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