Thursday, May 23, 2013

5 Tips for Flying Alone with a Baby

     Guess what?! Mason and I survived our cross country trip. And although I am jet-lagged and just plain run down, I did manage to keep my sanity intact. I am making a list of my tips for flying with a baby (specifically if you are flying alone with a baby). I looked up a lot of different tips about flying with infants, and while many offered some good pointers I think most of them were redundant and missed some key items to remember. These are the 5 things I found most helpful.

My precious cargo.
  1. Pack for the Poopocalypse. Of all my greatest fears about flying with the baby, only one of them actually happened and it was the poop. Mason happened to get a case of the runs on the day of our first flight. We went through three diapers at the airport, and then he had an epic blowout on the plane. Poop went up his back, it was all over his outfit, and somehow in the process of changing him some even ended up on his hand. Yuck. Luckily I was well prepared with 2 changes of clothes for him, one for myself (luckily, it wasn't that bad), and plenty of diapers and wipes to sustain us. I have to give major props to Virgin America for having a decent sized bathroom (for an airplane) and a surprisingly large changing table in said bathroom. Though Mason is only 4 months, he is off the charts for his length and in the 90th percentile for weight and he still fit quite nicely on the table. 
  2. Snag a late upgrade OR purchase a seat for baby. I know this is not a financially viable option for
    a lot of people and it probably wouldn't have been for me either if my parents hadn't bought my coach ticket (grandbabies are very persuasive). Many airlines offer late upgrades for a much cheaper price than you would ever get a first class or main cabin select ticket. I upgraded to first class for our first flight which definitely eased my anxiety. This was the first time I had ever flown first class and I thought it would be kind of cool for Mason to have his first plane ride in luxury. Not that he'll remember it or anything. But I have the ticket to put in his baby book! The big benefit for either scenario, especially for nursing moms, is extra arm room. I flew in coach for the return flight and I had to do some Cirque Du Soleil contortions to feed Mason.
  3. Make friends. Not just any friends. Find someone else on the flight flying with children, or even better with a baby. I happened to run into a couple on the same first flight with a baby. If anything I had someone to commiserate with. It made me feel less anxious. And had I been back in coach with them I absolutely would have traded seats with their seatmate. Also make friends with the flight attendants. They can hold your baby while you pee. This is important. This was easier in first class where the attendant only has 8 people to look after, but no matter what section you're in the attendants are always standing by the bathrooms. It would probably not be a bad idea to make friends with whoever you are sitting next to but some people would rather not be bothered even by conversation. On my first flight I was lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me (yes, in first class). So I had two first class seats to myself (Jackpot right?). The second flight was very full and I had a young woman next to me that immediately put on headphones, which was fine by me. 
    I wish I could sleep this well on a plane.
  4. Know the rules. My husband and I had no idea that he could go through security with me and take me all the way to the gate because I needed assistance with the baby. A very nice lady working the check in counter told us since I was travelling alone with a baby she could print a pass for him to assist me in getting to the gate. We met another woman travelling with an infant and she had no idea you could do this. She also didn't know you could gate check a stroller. So this poor petite lady was lugging her baby through the airport in an infant carseat, when she could have had someone go with her or at least had a stroller to push him in.
  5. Don't stress it. I certainly wouldn't say that travelling alone with an infant was easy. But it was not the nightmare that I built it up to be in my head. Even with the blowout, an hour and a half delay on my return flight, and testing my flexibility in coach, I would say that I had a pretty good travel experience.Mason was outstanding, but I really tried my best to make sure all of his needs were met and that he was as comfortable as possible. Yes, this meant that I didn't really get to take advantage of the free entertainment (or the free drinks for that matter) in first class. But the best feeling was standing up at the end of both flights and having everyone around me remark at what a great baby I had and that he didn't cry and slept most of the flight. A guy even stopped me walking out of the gate to tell me that I had "the best baby ever. Ever." You can't walk away from that and say your experience was a bad one!

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