A Noob Traveler's Guide to Flying with a Baby8/28/2015
Yes, I did a Google search or two prior to my trip. I read some articles from seasoned travelers. I made notes. I had a plan. Then we went on our trip, and I realized there's no way you can be 100% prepared for something like this. It wasn't completely terrible, but it could have been better. Our next trip will be better due to what I have learned, and I'm hoping I can save another mommy the headaches I experienced. Considering our return flight home went much better than our initial flight, I feel I've earned my soapbox for the next few minutes.... even if I am still a noob.
Here are my tips for a smoother flight with a baby aged 12 months or younger.1) Pack ahead of time. Like, days ahead of time.
Also, don't overpack. This is a trap we mommies fall into often, especially when our child is smaller and requires more items for existence. You know the saying, "Work smarter; not harder?" Pack smarter; not harder. Unless you're planning on checking bags, and have another adult to assist you in bag management, you'll need to keep everything carry-on-sized. Consider your destination accommodations, and pack accordingly, and remember... baby will do just fine without their agglomeration of clothes and toys.
(If you'd like to see a detailed packing-specific post, please let me know in the comments!)
Arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your boarding time. You will need this time to get through security, to your gate, and have enough time for bathroom break(s) and meals as needed. While you should factor in traffic getting to the airport, this two hour window will also allow a buffer in case of unexpected travel delays. We encountered unexpected traffic backups for much of the trip to the airport, and I had just enough time to get through security (especially considering my aforementioned security situation), find my gate, grab a quick meal for myself and the kids, and squeeze in a bathroom break before boarding began. By the time I made it to our seats, I was already exhausted, and I still had a three hour flight ahead of me with a lap baby, which leads me to my next tip....
While you're checking on seating, be sure to notify the airline that you'll have a lap baby with your ticket. Since lap babies don't have tickets of their own, the airline will need to make note of an infant on your ticket. Be sure to bring a copy of baby's birth certificate and shot record, because the airline will verify baby's age, and some are choosy as to which record they'll accept.
To gate check your items, you will visit the counter at your assigned gate, and tell them you want to gate check your car seat and stroller. They'll ask you for your name and flight information for confirmation, then they'll ask to see your boarding pass. Once all that checks out, and it will, they'll tag your items and you'll be on your way.
I should reiterate that said pacifier should be an extra. As in, not the only pacifier you brought for your trip, or the only pacifier you can access quickly and easily. Bring many pacifiers... if for no other reason than planes are germy places, and you'll probably want to throw that one out asap!
Have you flown with a baby before? Do you have any helpful tips that really made a difference for you and/or your baby? Please share them below!