I know what you are thinking. Flying with a kid sounds stressful and nightmare inducing. “What do I take on the plane with me? Will my baby scream the entire time? How will I fit my 400 lb. diaper bag under the seat in front of me?” I am here to tell you that it is easier than you think. Children under two can sit in your lap without having to pay for their own seat, so we plan on taking advantage of this while we can. My husband and I have now taken three trips via plane with our 12 month old daughter, and all three were fantastic.
Here are some of the things I have learned about flying with a baby:
Always Fly Out of Chattanooga
It is true that Atlanta is not that far away, and you can sometimes snag a pretty good deal flying out of a larger airport. But the price difference isn’t always worth it. Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta is pretty much a tiny metropolis. You will pay a million dollars to park your car a mile away and ride a packed bus to the airport where you will then stand in the line for security for an hour. The Chattanooga airport is so tiny that you can roll up, park, check your bag, and get through security in no time. The TSA agents in Chattanooga don’t seem to hate their jobs quite as much as the ones in other cities either, so they are very patient while you put all your baby gear on the conveyor belt. Plus, there are only a handful of gates, so you don’t have to stress about where to go.
Pick the Window and Aisle Seats
When making our seat selection, my husband and I always choose the window seat and aisle seat and leave a seat between us. No one wants to sit in the middle seat, especially toward the back of the plane, so those are the last to get booked. If you don’t have a full flight, you might luck out and end up with an empty seat between you! If the middle seat does get taken, simply ask the person sitting there to switch with one of you. No person in his or her right mind would turn down a window or aisle seat and willingly stay in a middle spot with a baby beside them.
Know What to Check
When we fly with our one year old, we check our luggage and bring the stroller, infant car seat, and diaper bag through security. Checking the stroller and car seat at the gate means you won’t have to tote your kiddo all over the airport, and it keeps your gear from getting as banged up as it might if you were to check it at the ticket counter. Even when we switch over to a convertible car seat, I still plan on checking it at the gate. Safety regulations say that even a minor accident can weaken a car seat and make it unsafe, so I plan on minimizing the number of times baggage handlers are throwing around my daughter’s car seat, if I can help it.
Don’t Let Other People Stress You Out
Your baby might cry, and you might get a few stares from people that have apparently never been around an infant before and don’t know that babies make noise. It’s ok! Don’t let this make you dread flying! It has been my experience that there are far more people that go out of their way to be incredibly understanding and polite than there are people who tsk at you and throw shade your direction. My advice is to take a deep breath, relax, smile at them, and know that those grumpy people’s opinions don’t matter anyway. (Besides, haven’t they heard of noise canceling headphones?)
Some Final Tips
- Nurse or bottle feed during takeoff and landing to help your baby’s ears pop.
- The plastic cups they have on planes are great for occupying your baby. Ask the flight attendant for a couple.
- If you have any toys attached to your stroller, remember to take them off before you gate check it.
- Airplane restrooms are tiny. Change your little one’s diaper before you board and hope they don’t need another change until you get to where you are going.
- If he/she does need a change, the little barf bags they put in the seat backs are great for containing stinky diaper smell in the trash bin.