October 24, 2013

Travel Idiot to Travel Expert - Tips for Flying with an Infant

Several weeks ago I flew to Ohio for my Grandmother's surprise 80th birthday. I took the baby with me and I flew with him by myself because my husband had work obligations.

That was the second time I'd flown solo with the little man and each time I've walked away with a greater appreciation for single mothers. After my experience navigating the Atlanta airport I realized how much comfort I find having my husband with me to navigate situations like trekking through one of the busiest airports in the world. Sure, I can take the baby to the grocery store by myself but the airport is a completely different story. It's chaos - and adding a baby to the mix puts me on edge. My anxiety was off the charts the entire trip.

Since then my husband, son and I have flown together as a family a couple times and after each take off and landing I feel more and more like an expert baby traveler. Since it wasn't always like that, I wanted to share a few travel tips for you mama's and your little fliers so you don't have to learn the hard way like I did. And when I say I learned the hard way I mean I was almost kicked off the plane for not having a birth certificate for my infant. 

Do not use the curbside check in. 
I love curbside check in, especially when it's beautiful outside or when I have a lot of bags that I don't want to drag along behind me, but when I'm traveling with a little one I prefer the comfort of speaking directly to an airline representative. This is the time you need to alert the airline that you have an infant in arms. Make sure that your ticket notes that you're little one is traveling with you.

If you're traveling with an "infant in arms," bring their shot records or birth certificate.

Children can fly in their parent's lap if they're younger than two. Some airlines may ask you to prove that your child is young enough to fly as an infant and in those rare cases you'll need their birth certificate to prove it.    

Use a baby sling to go through security.
I tried taking the baby through security with just an umbrella stroller - BIG mistake. I couldn't collapse the stroller with one hand and hold the baby with the other. Since I wasn't about to hand my child off to a stranger so I could use both hands and put the stroller on the security belt, I looked like a complete fool. Most people just stared at me with that look that said it all, "I hope that crazy women isn't on my flight." I did get a couple sympathetic glances but no one offered to help. The security officer noticed I had a baby sling and he told me that I can wear it and strap the baby in to go through the security line. When you opt to wear a sling TSA will take you aside for a moment and test your hands for residue. The test only takes a couple seconds and you don't have to put down the baby. 

Bring at least two bottles, one for take off and one for landing.
The change in altitude can bother your little one's ears. Have a couple bottles prepared for your baby so that their ears can equalize as you take off and land. This should save them a lot of tears and the passengers around you will be incredibly grateful. I suggest having at least one of the bottles prepped before you even get on the flight.

Take advantage of early boarding.
Airlines always offer an option for pre-boarding for anyone that needs assistance. Take advantage of this time and get yourself and your baby situated before the plane fills up. Introduce yourself to the steward or stewardess and ask them if there are any empty seats available. They'll likely work with you and move other passengers to those empty seats and give you some more space if it's an option.

Be Blessed,
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  1. Such great tips! I'm not a mommy yet, but these are some great 'lessons learned'! :) Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Brianna - I hope you never have to sit on the runway with a baby as they hold the plane to verify that your little one is under the age of two!

  2. I have never traveled alone yet. It was so inspiring to read your blog. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Your experience will really help us a lot.