When Olivia was 2 months old we were at Rite Aid trying to figure out how to get the white background behind Olivia for her passport photo. There was a moment that we considered one parent holding her up off camera while the picture was taken. After some debate we were allowed to remove the roll down white back drop and place it on a counter to take an aerial shot. This passport photo has taken Olivia with us to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal, in under two years. In those two years we have learned a lot but still have lots more to learn. These are our routines and tips for the best flight experience for you and your family.
Buying the Ticket – Infants under 2 years old fly free as a lap child. If having your child sit on your lap for 6 hrs does not sound like your idea of a vacation you could buy another full price ticket and use your car seat for your child to sit in. A lap seat ticket is free on most domestic flight but on international flights you should expect to pay about 10% of the adult ticket. Most airlines we have used do not have an option to add a lap infant ticket so you have to call to add the lap infant. *Beware* on some ultra budget airlines like Ryanair, it may be cheaper to buy your infant a seat as their standard infant fee can be higher than a regular seat. If you are flying with a lap baby ask every employee, until you receive, to have an empty seat next to you. Along every stage every worker does have the power to change your seat assignment.
Request a Baby Bassinet when booking – Baby bassinets are first come first serve request them while you are on the phone with the airline adding your lap child ticket. There are only a handful on each plane so if you wait until check in it will most likely be gone. The bassinets are great for babies to sleep in or to store your diapers and snacks so you don’t have to get up for the overhead bin every 10 minutes. Its also a way to get a bulkhead seat with extra leg room, a luxury that most airlines charge for now, for free.
Strollers/Carseats/Baby Carrier – Strollers and cars seats should be checked in at the ticketing counter as soon as you can. Why would you want to carry all of these things with you around the airport, and gate check them? The less things you need to carry the better and letting your child burn off as much energy as possible, walking around, before getting on a long flight is always a good idea. If Olivia needs to be carried we use the Lillie Complete Carrier. She can nap in it comfortably and I can usually keep her in through security checkpoints be prepared for a swipe test on your hands if your choose this method. The soft carrier also stores easily in what ever carry on bag we are using.
What to bring in your Carry On Diaper Bag – Pack enough Diapers/Wipes for the entirety of your flight plus some incase of delays. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport or on the plane without these necessities. Pack an outfit for the baby as well as the caretaker because well you know blow outs! You can bring as much liquid for the baby as you need, they don’t follow the 100ml rule most likely they will run a test on your liquids at security. Yet an other benefit of breast feeding is it allows you to bring all the food the baby will need no matter how long the flight. Now that she is older we bring water and snacks, while some flights do give you some food for your lap child its not a guarantee. Bring lots of snacks because no one wants a hungry toddler running around a plane. Now that Olivia is almost a toddler and requires more entertainment I try to pack a new item for each trip. This way we can maximize the time it will entertain her. It can be stickers, a new book, or a small toy. Reusable stickers are great for window seats and the back of try tables. On our trip to Portugal Olivia was almost 2 years old and we got a “mess free “ coloring book. It worked out great, the color only appears on the special treated pages of the book, even the removal and replacement of the caps on the markers was a game. The markers only work on special paper so her hands, clothes, and the plane will stay color free.
Take off/Landing – Babies don’t know how to equalize the air pressure in their ears, breastfeeding while takeoff and landing helps. You can also use a pacifier or a sucking candy as they get older. Planes have become a lot better about equalizing the cabin pressure so ear popping is not the pain it once was.
Family Boarding – Take advantage of family boarding. We like to board early so we have time to wipe down the seats, head rest, and tray tables especially when Olivia was only a few months old and her immune system was not as developed. Now, about to turn two years old we are experimenting with the idea to have one parent board for family boarding clean the area and have the other stay outside the plane. This would allow Olivia to burn off some more energy and minimizes the time she needs to sit on the plane unnecessarily.
Before boarding – Change into a fresh diaper, the bathroom on planes tend to be small and not the cleanest. This way your child can be as comfortable as possible for the flight. We also try to give her as much time to run around before the flight.
Seats – I try to avoid the back of the plane and where the bathrooms are. It can be smelly and noisy. People tend to stand around and stretch out at the back of the plane so it may be distracting for your baby if they are trying to sleep.
Have any great tips for flying with a child? Please let us know, your idea may be included in our next list.