Our upcoming flight will not be our first flight with Alice but it will be our longest flight so far with her. Although a two hour flight doesn’t seem like a lot for us it will probably feel like eternity. So we wanted to share some tips and tricks to make flying with a toddler easier. We are going to break this into sections: What to do when you arrive at the airport, Getting through security, picking where you want to sit, and what to bring on flight.
Airport Arrival: We are crazy and arrive upwards of 2 to 3 hours before our flight with Alice. This is because we fly with Southwest and since we don’t purchase her a ticket we have to get her “Boarding pass” day of. This is something you have to do before you go through security. Always have a proof of age with you, we carry a copy of Alice’s shot records as our proof. The last time we flew with her we were in line waiting to get her ticket for 45 minutes, we still had to go through security so always make sure to get there early and check with your flight company before to find out what their rules are for lap flying infants and toddlers are. Also make sure to check any bags, get your boarding passes loaded up on your phone or have the paper copy in hand, and have out your ID.
Getting through Security: We decided to spend the extra money and went ahead and got TSA precheck certified. We can honestly say that if you can afford it, DO IT. Your kids up until 13 go through with you at no extra charge and it is good for 5 years. This also allows for you to not waste time pulling out all of your 3-1-1’s and electronics from the bags. If you don’t have this option or it is too late to get it before your next flight here are some helpful tips to get through security.
- Make sure to have all your electronics ready to come out of the bag when you get up there. We put all of ours (with the exception of the laptop) in a ziplock bag to make it easy to pull out and put in a bin. Most airports are requiring kindles and other small electronics to be pulled out now so ziplock bags are a huge time saver.
- Take your shoes off right before you even get up there, it saves you so much time and less struggling with a toddler while you try to get your shoes off. If your toddler isn’t walking put their shoes in a bag ahead of time and let them go in their socks.
- You can bring a full sippy cup of milk or water with you (at least BWI has allowed us to as well as Rochester International Airport). They check it quickly and give it right back. If you want to bring closed packaged containers of milk, some airports require someone to be patted down others just put them through a scanner really quick and send you on your way.
- Some airports make you fold up your stroller if it is small enough to fit through the x-ray machine. They made us with our umbrella stroller, so be prepared to do that and to hold your child through the x-ray machine.
- Our biggest tip is if you are flying alone and going through security alone don’t be afraid to ask for help! When Sammie flew the first time it was by herself and so many people were willing to help hold Alice or fold her stroller up for her. TSA even offered to help her pack her bag back up.
- Remember to be kind to the TSA, they have a stressful job and LOTS of people making it difficult for them. The nicer you are the smoother it goes we promise
Picking where you want to sit on the flight. For us we have to check in 24 hours before and seating is open. There are no assigned seats on Southwest, not all airlines do this so if you do have to pick a seat we recommend window and aisle if you child is lap sitting. It is less likely someone is going to take that middle seat. Now if it is a full flight and someone took that middle or you are by yourself you have to choose where the best spot is for baby/toddler. Window has more privacy for breastfeeding moms, we though think that the aisle is the best spot. Alice had to be bopped a few times and changed once and aisle gives you that access. Now with Southwest it is no assigned seats you pick a seat based on you check in number, but with toddlers and infants you can board after the A’s board so if you are in the B or C boarding group this is a great thing to take advantage of.
What to Bring on Flight: We made the mistake the first time and over packed. This time we have it a little more under control on what to bring.
- Milk/bottles/sippy cups: They don’t give you a lot of milk on flights and that last time I was at BWI none of the little shops had any milk besides starbucks and a couple of the restaurants. Horizon sells milk in the prepackaged containers at the grocery stores, that haven’t been refrigerated and those are a great option for flights. Also make sure to have enough bottles for the length of your flight. The water on the plane is highly treated with chemicals so rinsing the bottle and reusing it on a flight is a big no no. So bring enough bottles/ sippy cups to get you through.
- Extra clothes: We have been lucky enough to not have Alice poop through clothing (KNOCK ON WOOD) on flights but I have heard horror stories about long flights. Always pack extra clothes especially if you have the carryon luggage to do so. In our bag for Disney we have two extra outfits for her. Look for our what’s in our flight diaper bag to learn more about that.
- Snacks: We have some of Alice’s favorite snacks packed and ready to go. Now check with your airport and airline on the rules of pouches. Our pouches technically exceed the 3.4 oz rule by .1 ounces. We called and were told that depending on the person they may be okay with it. It is baby food and a lot of time I have seen TSA be more lenient on that but don’t go CRAZY. We packed 2 for the flight and that was it. The extras we needed went in a suitcase and will meet us at Disney.
- Toys: We used the rule of toys as keep them exciting, something new, and not messy. We love the WaterWorks coloring boards, you fill the pen with water, or in Alice’s case just sticks it in her mouth and paint on the board. The color magically appears and when it dries they can do it again. We also picked up some cute Disney themed toys I will show them in the What’s in our Flight diaper bag blog. That is it for toys, we have a 2 hour flight and honestly you don’t want to pack too many toys.
- Kindle Fire: For us when all else fails pull out the kindle fire. We have downloaded a number of movies onto it for her to watch as a last resort. Now not everyone on the flight wants to listen to Moana or another movie. We recommend the toddler headphones for older kids and honestly we keep the volume low for Alice since she won’t wear the headphones. We also let people around us know that if the movie is bothering them let us know and we can turn the volume off. Most people have said no worries and it is fine.
- DIAPERS AND WIPES: Make sure you have enough diapers and wipes. We also throw in dog poop bags incase Alice makes a stinky. You want to make sure you pack enough of these in your carry on and travel bag because you don’t know how long you are going to be waiting for luggage. So be prepared, no one likes a diaper rash. You also don’t want to be stuck paying airline prices for a small thing of diapers and wipes.
Honestly as long as you’re trying your hardest and putting in effort if things go wrong, most people will forgive you.
One last piece of Key advice: Suck on the way up and at landing. It is most important at landing for kids to help with ear pressure. Bottle, Pacifier, chewing food, breastfeeding, all great options!
That is it for today! We hope this gives you some helpful information on flying with infants and toddlers.
Until next time remember: The best if yet to come!