This post is looonggg over due. Not only because its been over a month since my last post, but also because I’ve been flying pretty frequently with a baby since 2014. To be honest, I only had been on maybe 3 flights in my life prior to becoming a mom. So while I’m no expert, most of my time is the air is shared with a little one. So, I’m here to share some of what I have learned.
Flying with a child is hard. It’s never going to be easy, especially if you are alone (like I usually am). But there are some things that can make it manageable.
The Stroller Thing:
The first thing I want to say here is know your “rights”. Apparently, there has been a recent change in the stroller policy on some airlines, and its not in favor of parents. I have had two recent run-ins with American Airlines where they attempted to check my stroller at the baggage counter. The newly enforced policy is that the stroller is not suppose to weigh more than 20 pounds. This is a hard no for me, dawg. I prefer to stick to my guns and stroll this stroller right on through TSA and gate check my stroller. I also prefer to use my heavy ass everyday stroller, not some cheap umbrella stroller, because my shit can be pushed with one hand–so it’s lot more useful.
Master Mommy Tip: if you do gate check your stroller, you will want to stop at the gate counter and tell them. What they will then do is print off claim stickers to attach to your stroller. You then will be allowed to stroll your baby right to the door of the plane, there you will be required to take off removable pieces and set the stroller to the side (by the wheel chairs).
My stroller preferences: When I was a mother of 1 I used my Britax B-Agile and never had a problem. I was able to click my infant stroller into the top (which comes in handy and I will discuss why later). Note: I have heard of people taking their bob stroller etc to the airport and this doesn’t sound like good practice. You need something that is easy to fold. Preferably one-handed if you need to, the Britax B-Agile does just that. I received so many compliments on how I was a “pro” when I would hold Frost and whip that things shut!!
Now that I am a mother of 2 I have switched to the Britax B-Ready. While it doesn’t close with one hand and has gotten some snide remarks from American Airlines I LOVE about the Britax B-Ready. It can be 3 separate pieces, the infant car seat, the toddler seat, and a stroller caddy, meaning it shouldn’t be two heavy when in three different pieces. This makes for good defense for the weight case.
Master Mommy Tip: Save time and stress—Don’t buy a stroller bag and attempt to stuff your stroller and/or car seat into this bag at the door of the airplane. It’s hot, those bags rarely ever fit over the stroller, where is your kid? And if you are prone to anxiety as I am, you will feel rushed. Yes, your precious stroller may get wet if its raining, but I promise its usually no more than it would if you are going in or out of the mall in the rain.
Reasons why gate checking the stroller is better than baggage claim: (1) No one wants to chase a child around the airport or carry a child through an airport. Strap them in and keep it moving. Yea, little tommy may be the sweetest child in the world, but when you’re rushing to get from TSA to your gate, tommy will not be moving fast enough and he’s too heavy to hold the entire run. (2) If you have a layover and gate check your stroller, you will have it during the layover!! This is probably the biggest lifesaver EVER! You hop off of the plane and your stroller is waiting for you to lock that baby down again. (3) When you have to use the restroom you don’t have to worry about a roaming toddler or holding a baby in your lap while you handle your business. (4) It allows you to transport your infant car seat—which is allowed on some planes if there is extra space, just ask at the gate counter prior to boarding. YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR INFANT CAR SEAT ON BOARD IF POSSIBLE! This means you won’t have to hold your baby for the duration of the flight. (5) You have extra space to carry items. Sometimes Frost likes to walk in the airport, I let him if we have time and if we are having a good day. Thus, I then can put my diaper bag or carry on in the stroller rather than hold it. BUT, that’s not all! Having the stroller allows me also use my hooks and I have cup holders for whatever drink my kids decide not to drink that day. I have also invested (been gifted) four hooks:
two mommy hooks and two oxo tot stroller hooks. Four may sound excessive but we have used all of them. I like the mommy hooks for their size and the fact that the close and I don’t have to worry about my bag straps sliding out. Then, I love the OXO hooks because of the Velcro—meaning the hook stays in place and do not slide around like the mommy hooks do. (6) Strollers that are checked with baggage often are checked as oversize luggage and tend to be the last thing out or in a separate pick up location, meaning you will be attempting to juggle your child and get your luggage until you stroller is available —not easy!
Pro Tip: Children under the age of 2 are free to fly on most major airlines. You do however need to let the airline know you will be travelling with a lap child. I usually call prior. They will need to verify date of birth (even if the child is visibly under 2 years old). You can use a birth certificate or shot records to do so.
The Car Seat Thing
I tend to be a car seat freak, like I’m the lady that always wants my children in correctly, with the correct weight requirements etc. But I realize things get a little tricky when travelling. First and foremost, your child will need a car seat when you get to your destination and they also need one on the way to the airport, so what now?
Infant car seat: When your child is still small enough to be in the infant carrier, things are a tad easier. While I prefer to use my carrier with the click in base in the car, they can be used with just a seat belt in a car. This is perfect for securing them in a taxi, uber, or friend’s car on the way and when you land. Remember, they also can click into the top of your travel system (at least with the britax versions I use), so its easy to move from car to plane. Without lugging it through the airport.
Toddler carseat (convertible or booster): This is where things get a little more tricky, in my opinion. Toddler car seats are bulky and heavy, and they really are never easy to hold. Personally, I don’t travel with mine often (probably only twice). So how do I get safely to the airport? What about the recommendation to have children in a car seat on the plane? What about when I land? Those answers reveled in the next few lines! Okay so this section is really a personal section, this is what I do but it may not work for everyone. First and foremost, if you are renting a car at your destination, you can ask for a convertible car seat to be put inside your real vehicle– free of charge. That is usually how I handle the situation on the back end. My husband works in a different state so when I was visiting him often, we noticed that him having his own convertible car seat was very beneficial. As for getting to the airport, I normally had a friend or my mom drive me in my vehicle (so that Frost could have his car seat) and that same friend would keep my car and pick me up in my vehicle. This was really the best way I could figure out, so that I wouldn’t have to take the car seat with me. On the plane, it is recommended for children to be in a car seat. Not because of crash safety, but because of turbulence and the risk of your child slipping out of the plane seat belts and into the seat in front of them. This has never happened to us, but I’ve had to do the mom arm a few times to keep him in his seat. Anywho, to avoid the mom arm, and taking a full blown carseat on board, I have invested in a snazzy item called the CARES SAFETY HARNESS. The harness allows me to create a seat belt that simulates a five-point harness on the airplane, meaning he wont slide around. The only downside is that this works REALLY well and my son loves looking out of the window but is too short on his bottom. I stopped using it when he got a little better at sitting in the seatbelt on board. I tried using a bubble bum, which is an inflatable booster seat that we could deflate and stick in a carry on bag to help him see outside. My son didn’t sit well on it for the duration of the flight, I actually ended up moving it but it was good for take off and landing. Neither bubble bum nor the CARES Safety harness are recommended for car use, so it is not a safe alternative to a convertible car seat in the car. So please do not use them as such.
Additionally, I fully understand that sometimes one MUST travel with a convertible car seat there are car seat travel bags that you can use. They have straps to make it a backpack and they keep everything intact and away from the elements. I have also seen car seat “carts” that allow you to roll the car seat and straps to secure a car seat to your large roller bag. I normally see people securing their children to the car seat and pulling them through the airport. I personally think pushing a stroller and checking the convertible car seat at baggage claim is the easier option.
Master Mommy Tip: Note to new moms, if you have more than one vehicle or if you have a grandmother, friend, or anyone that will be transporting baby in car its less hassle if you just buy a second car seat (this one doesn’t have to be deluxe especially if not used often Wal-Mart has some for around $40).
Master Mommy: The window seat is really the best seat for the kiddo. I know we all want it, but the window keeps them distracted and you don’t have mom fear that someone will snatch or bother little one if you doze off. I usually am stuck in the middle seat until the tot is asleep, then I pick him up and hold him while I slide to the window and we both nap.
The luggage thing
Carry on and Diaper Bags: I typically don’t travel with a traditional carry on bag if I am traveling alone with kids. Most airlines allow one carry on item, and one personal item. And a diaper bag isn’t supposed to count towards your bag allowance. But traveling with three bags and a child or two is excessive, this over packer thinks the less bags the better. Normally, I opt for my large purse and a backpack as the items I travel with they both can either hang from my hooks, and leave my hands free. I did get a super cute designer carry on bag that I will sometimes take, but I opt to leave my purse if I do so. The most important thing to remember here is that if you are traveling with a lap child, they do not get an under seat option (they do not have a seat). Therefore, when packing for these bags you will need to decide which bag will go under the seat and which will be in the overhead bin. In the under seat bag make sure you have your tablet/entertainment, child’s tablet if applicable, a few snacks, water if you are going to mix formula, two clean bottles, diapers, wipes, clothes, and a blanket. ß This is likely the bare minimum of what you will need. Older children likely can carry their own backpacks on board if they have a seat you can stuff that under. We had the adorable Trunki when Frost was little, but in all honesty, he outgrew it pretty quick, didn’t like to sit on it, and most of the time I was the one responsible for it. I prefer a backpack—Frost now has the Alnaue Spiked Backpack it is his size, has enough space for snacks, drinks, and a small tablet. It is also not cumbersome when he decides he wants me to hold it.
Master Mommy Tip: Make sure you have half a days worth of formula or breastmilk available for your child. Sometimes planes are delayed on the run way for HOURS without the option to get off, or they may be forced into a holding pattern in the air. The last thing you want is a hungry baby that you can not console.
Luggage fees: All luggage is subject to airline fees, but there are a few items you wont have to pay for. Checking a stroller or a car seat at the gate or baggage counter is complimentary for most major airlines. As stated above, a diaper bag also may be complimentary—but depending on the agent you may not want to push it. Lastly, if your child is a lap infant, they are not given a bag allotment, anything you take will be attributed to you.
The TSA Thing
TSA is probably the most stressful part of flying with kids to me. But as I’ve already stated, I’m anxiety prone so this kind of thing stresses me out.
Master Mommy Tip: If you will be traveling fairly often in the next 5 years (hell even if its only 5 times in the next 5 years), I’d look into getting TSA Precheck. You don’t have to take electrics out, take off your shoes, or belt. And I personally think the agents are nicer to me in precheck.
Baby wearing: First things first, so you have successfully gotten your kids, self, and luggage out of the car and checked in. You reminded the airline agent that your have a lap child, and sternly told them that you will be gate checking your stroller. *smiles aggressively* Just to have to stroll on over to the security check point to take your child out of the stroller like you are trying to avoid. If you have an infant, I would slip the baby into a baby carrier, like the Ergo baby, because TSA has to check your stroller.
After baby is safe and secure, detach the infant carrier, put it on the belt upside down then fold your stroller down if its small enough to go through the x-ray machine. This is where that one-handed stroller fold starts to look super impressive with the Britax B-Agile. In the case of a bigger stroller like the B-Ready, TSA will likely have to hand check it. Not long at all, especially since you and baby (and anyone else in your party) will go through the walk through family metal detector. After, you may need to have your hands swabbed this takes about 5 seconds. Then you’re done (unless you have food or liquids)!!
Master Mommy Tip: Children do not have to take their shoes off do not let them! They will take forever!
Food/Liquids: Besides having to break everything down while attempting not to hold up the entire line (which you will do, so just get that in your head now), you are probably worried about food for your kids. Airport food and drinks are EXPENSIVE, but these are things you NEED!! Most TSA agents understand that and actually while its an unspoken rule, you are able to bring outside things through an airport (I once brought beef ribs from Austin to Charlotte via my Carry On just saying). You just have to know your “rights”. On a good day, you simply need to take liquid out of your bag and notify the TSA agent that you have milk, water, or juice for baby. Then, they will walk your things around the x-ray machine and will be waiting on you. On a bad day (which TSA agents seem to have often) they will pull your things and ask for additional testing. You DO NOT HAVE TO OPEN YOUR MILK. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO THROW IT AWAY. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ADHERE TO THE 3.4 OZ RULE. If you are instructed to do so and you are uncomfortable, ask for a supervisor.
Master Mommy Tip: Sometimes wet wipes will set off an alarm in TSA, I usually pull these out of my bag as well
Master Mommy Tip: Bring your own water on board, it can take a really long time for the drink tray to get to you and this can be even longer if there is turbulence. Also, measure out any formula and breast milk and have them in bottles before getting on the plane. Pouring into a bottle while holding a crying baby is HARD!
On The Plane
Your Horrible Child: Your child should not be crying, screaming, kicking, or standing during this flight, if you’re the perfect parent—BUT YOU AREN’T none of us are. Kids are hard, and in my experience they only get even harder as they grow older. I personally prefer to go back to the time where I flew with one infant and he slept most of the way. I laugh at how terrified I was taking that small three month old on a plane all by myself. That was work, but a 3 year old and an infant IS WEERRKKK ! If your kid is being terrible on the plane, do your best to do what you can. But ignore the stares of those judgmental bitches. Your child is likely being age appropriate in a confined space that is BORING AS FUCK! You are bored, the people around you are bored, your kid is BORED!! Take it on the nose and know you are a good mom. Airplanes are literally expensive public transportation. No one wants to be here, they want to be where they are going or where they are coming from. So when your child scream “AHHH WE’RE GOING TO CRASH” at the top of their lungs during landing then laughs, you can laugh too. But explain to them why that’s not appropriate. Because we literally have been there with you.
I know this was super long, its probably why I have dreaded writing it, there are so many things I left out and I’m surely no expert. But let me know if the comments if you’ve learned something, have any other questions, or have another hack to traveling with kids!
Jazzy by Nature, Whitty by Choice
Note: This is not a sponsored post, all products and ideas are my own. I was not paid to review anything that we use. I ain’t a sell out ya dig—at least not yet.
3 thoughts on “Staying “Fly”: Master Mommy Tips for Flying with Kids”
This. Is. Amazing. I’m flying for the first time with my 10 month old in a month and was super nervous about it, but you were literally answering questions as they popped up in my head! Absolutely LOVE how thorough you were. There are SO MANY THINGS I didn’t know. I thought I had to check my stroller and car seat even though it’s the convertible kind (I’ll be gate checking!), didn’t know about hooks or that I could use my car seat without the base! So so glad I read this! Thanks for sharing. I love the way you write too — had me rollin haha! I feel so much more confident about the flight and knowing my rights. I’ll call now and confirm things with my airline. Thank you and keep the posts coming!
Thanks for this! Visiting via Melanin Mamas on fb. I have a four month old and we are traveling for the holidays!
Of course! Let me know if you have any other questions! Or after you fly, if you have any tips…comment back for others to see!