I just took my 7 month old baby on his first flight and it was a success!
One of my childhood friends was getting married and I was the bridesmaid in her wedding. And since my baby doesn’t take the bottle, wherever I go, he goes!
I live in Northern California and my friend lives in Seattle, Washington so it’s not a terribly long flight, but nevertheless, it’s flying with a BABY…a cute little, unpredictable, ticking time bomb….
For some reason, I totally forgot how I traveled with my daughters when they were babies, so I went through the same questions in my head….how do I get their boarding pass? What should I check in? What do I need to bring?
If flying with an infant wasn’t challenging enough, I had an additional challenge….flying with my big baby – my husband! He doesn’t like the unknown and the hassle when it comes to traveling. Add in a baby and my husband’s anxiety is a gazillion times worse. However, I’m happy to say that our trip was really successful, and it made my husband think of traveling more with the kids on the plane.
So, I wanted to share my experience and some tips who may have small cute babies and big adult babies to deal with on the plane as well.
BOARDING PASS AND BIRTH CERTIFICATE
I decided not to purchase my 7 month old a ticket. Children under 2 are not required to purchase a boarding pass in the US but it’s usually recommended. My son doesn’t really like the car seat though so I thought holding him on the plane would be best. So, you have a choice to purchase a seat or not for your baby; do whatever is best for your family.
We flew Southwest Airlines. I didn’t need to get my son a boarding pass when I was booking my plane tickets, but we had to check in for my son when we got to the airport and we needed to bring a copy of his birth certificate.
Don’t forget to bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate if they are under 2 and not purchasing a plane ticket.
If you do decide to purchase a ticket for your baby, and you want to bring a car seat, make sure that the car seat is FAA approved for aircrafts.
Learn more about Flying with Children here.
FLIGHT TIME – LATE NIGHT VERSUS DURING THE DAY
I booked our flight at night going to Seattle because I wanted to go after work and to hang out with our two girls (ages 3 and 5) after they came home from school that evening and honestly I didn’t know what time would be best for my baby. My parents came to help watch my girls and take them to school while my husband and I were gone.
We got to the airport at 9p and our flight was 11p-1a. To my surprise, baby slept the whole entire time, from the moment we got to the airport and all the way until we landed. So I was even able to take a nap too while holding him. However, I was told that I am not allowed to hold him in my carrier with the buckle in the back. So, I just loosely used the carrier while he was on me.
When we came home from Seattle, it was in the evening around 5p and my son was up most of the time. I did nurse him when he was getting a little fussy but was good overall.
If I had to do it over again, I would prefer to book flights at night when my son is usually sleeping. He did wake up a little when we got to the hotel but then went back to sleep again soon after. Most importantly, he was sleeping on the plane.
When you are planning your flights, think about your schedule as well as your baby’s. If you have a longer flight, I would recommend trying your best to find a direct flight or if you had a stop, make the stop long enough so that you’re not rushing to your next one.
I hear some parents don’t like the late night flights because it could disrupt your baby’s sleep but for us, it worked out. It definitely depends on you and your baby, but just be very mindful of scheduling the flight time since it could affect your experience on the plane.
We definitely took advantage of the nursing room at the San Jose airport, and the family preboarding.
After the first group of people went on the plane, there was an opportunity for families flying with young children under six to board before the rest of the passengers boarded.
Check with your airline to see what the boarding process is like. Southwest did not have pre-selected seats, but they still make it easy for my family to sit together. If your airline has pre-selected seats, make sure to try to plan as early as possible. Usually airlines will do their best to keep families together.
GATE CHECK BABY GEAR
When I took my firstborn to Hawaii when she was a baby, I checked in the stroller and car seat at the airline counter when I first got to the airport. However, this time I brought my baby’s car seat and stroller with me around the airport along with my KYREEN backpack and checked everything else in.
It was AWESOME!!! I just pushed my stroller around, and it was so easy. All I had were my essentials in the diaper backpack and that’s it. All of my luggage was checked in and I didn’t have to lug anything around.
Right before you board, you can gate check your stroller and car seat if you’d like and they’re there for you right when you land and get off the plane. SO. EASY.
MUST HAVE ESSENTIALS: WHAT TO PACK
Of course, I brought my KYREEN backpack during the trip!
No matter where I go, I always bring my laptop for work with me and then of course I had my baby essentials with me. I packed the normal diapers, wipes, nursing pads, burp clothes, extra clothes, etc. I also made sure to bring an empty water bottle that I could use and some healthy snacks with me so I didn’t get HANGRY on my trip.
You want to pack light with just the essentials, but make sure to bring a few extra diapers and food for baby (whether that be formula or snacks) just in case there are any delays with your flight.
Before I had my son and was traveling for work, I used the luggage sleeve on my KYREEN backpack on a spinner luggage and that was the easiest way for me to navigate around the airport. This time, since I had my baby with me and a stroller, I just used the stroller straps and hung the backpack on my stroller and going through the airport was a breeze.
To summarize some of the biggest takeaways from my experience with my son’s first flight, here are my top 5 tips:
- Decide if you want to purchase a boarding pass for your baby (under 2) and don’t forget to bring a copy of a birth certificate if you choose not to buy a ticket. If you do buy a ticket and bring a car seat, make sure it is FAA approved for an aircraft.
- Figure out when it is best to fly with your baby. Be mindful of your baby’s schedule and try to plan around it.
- Gate Check Baby Gear
- Check in everything else, and bring essentials in your KYREEN backpack
- Use a checklist when packing
Now that I have one flight under my belt with this little one, I know more on how he is on the plane and what I’d do next time. I thought it was a success because even my husband was willing to go on a plane again with our son.
Remember no matter how much you plan though, there could always be the unexpected and your baby may fuss on the plane. And if that happens, just do the best you can and don’t mind what others are thinking. Focus on you and your baby, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride…