What I Learned Flying With A Baby For The First Time
Last month we took our first flight with Sophie. She was three months old at the time and we were ready to get out of our newfound comfort zone and back to traveling even though that meant we had to face a daunting hurdle - flying with a baby. To be honest, this was a day I had been nervous about well before I was even pregnant. As a anxious flier at times, the thought of having to shift my focus from staying calm to taking care of a little one seemed overwhelming, but staying home for the rest of our lives was obviously not an option! Fortunately, for our first experience Greg and I were together and we had short flights. We packed well, got to the airport much earlier than we typically would and felt as prepared as possible, but as with anything new we learned a thing or two. Here are the things I learned flying with a baby for the first time and what I did differently on our flights this week to the Bahamas. I’m sure I will learn much more on future trips, but hope these tips help make the process a little easier for all you new mommas!
Don’t Forget Baby’s Identification! - Numerous moms told me to make sure I had a copy of Sophie’s birth certificate with us as it’s required for her to get on the plane. The reason is to prove the baby is under 2 years old and is in fact a lap baby (aka does not need a paid ticket). I rush ordered extra official copies from the vital records department to be safe, set a reminder on my phone and still forgot to pack it! After a little begging, and a few frantic moments, the gate agent accepted a photo of Sophie’s social security card but warned us we would be personal liable if the FAA looked into the flight and we could be fined $10,000. We won’t be making that mistake again!
Call Your Airline Ahead Of Time To Add Baby To Travel Documents - On a similar note, some airlines require a separate boarding document instead of simply listing a lap baby on your ticket. We often go straight through to TSA and bypass the airline counter when traveling with only carryons, but learned if we tried that now we would be turned away as Sophie wouldn’t be listed on our digital boarding pass. Call your airline before you fly to have your baby added and either print a ticket at home or stop by the ticket counter.
Consider Bringing The Carseat On Board - If you’re flying Southwest ask the gate agent if there are any open seats on the flight. If there are, you’re allowed to bring the baby’s carseat on the plane to place in the seat next to yours, which we did. It’s a great alternative to having to hold the baby the entire flight, but what I learned is I will only consider bringing it on board longer flights. With our flights being under 2 hours, Sophie slept the whole time, and since I feed her during takeoff I kept her in my arms to not wake her. The carseat ended up being just another thing we had to haul on and off the plane, but I can definitely see how having it would come in handy for lengthier flights! Other airlines may do this as well but probably not as likely since they don’t have the open seating system Southwest does.
Bring An Extra Blanket - I felt like I had the diaper bag packed pretty well but one thing I was missing was an extra blanket. Since I had Sophie’s blanket under her it was touching the arm rest and seat more than I would have liked and wished I would’ve had a blanket strictly designated for the plane to isolate germs as much as possible. On the same note, make sure to have lots of anti-bacterial wipes to sanitize your seat, tray, etc.
Gate Check Your Stroller - This may seem obvious but keep your stroller with you in the airport to help easily transport the baby and all your stuff until you get on the plane - it’s basically doubles as a small luggage rack! It’s somewhat of a hassle to bring the stroller through security but the pros far outweigh the cons. So far we’ve flown Southwest and Delta with Sophie and both airlines (and I’m assuming most others) allow you to gate check a stroller and carseat for free. Make sure to ask the gate agent for a luggage ticket in advance to keep the process as easy as possible, and we’ve also learned to fold up the stroller as soon as we get to the gate to avoid scrambling last minute.
The Travel Carriers For Our Stroller and Carseat Were A Great Purchase! - We had registered for travel bags for our stroller and carseat, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was an excessive purchase or not. After this first trip I can safely say it was a great investment! The bags ensure the equipment doesn’t get banged up when being put (most likely thrown) under the plane, and it has wheels for easy handling. And if you register your bag online, Uppababy’s TravelSafe program covers any damage incurred to your stroller during air travel. The price for the protection is much cheaper than buying a new stroller! I highly recommend our stroller and accompanying travel bag, but if you have a different brand look to see if they sell their own version.