Motherhood Travel

Air Travel Under 2 (It’s really not that bad!)

 air travel under 2

Would you believe me if I told you that Kennedy, a mere 20 months old, has been on 7 roundtrip flights (and one more one-way) since she was two months old? That’s fifteen times at the airport. We also have two more roundtrips scheduled this fall (possibly three!). I think it’s safe to say that we have really got it down when traveling with her. She has had the pleasure of flying Southwest (which we fly most of the time), Delta, Air Tran, JetBlue, and Spirit.

Air Travel Under 2

While it may sound a tad ridiculous about how much we fly with her, we actually love it. If there’s an option for us to fly, we will usually do it, provided that the fares are affordable. We also told ourselves that we weren’t going to let our love for travel be compromised because we have a baby (this will probably change once there is more than one child…ha). Plus, infants can fly free until they’re two, unless you purchase an infant fare where you bring their car seat to sit in on the plane. We have never done that. Kennedy is a great flyer. We haven’t contracted any deadly diseases from the stale airplane air and we have never had any problems.

I will say that I am absolutely no expert and I do not know all the rules for every airline, but we have found a couple of things that may be helpful for parents traveling with children under two. Okay, so maybe it’s more than a couple of things as this post is long, but you get my drift. All of these are based on our domestic travels around the U.S. (sorry, no international experiences for this young girl yet). I hope that my checklist and tips will help ease the fear of flying with a baby! Some of these are kind of no-brainers, but I like to be thorough. So humor me.

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BEFORE YOU LEAVE FOR THE AIRPORT, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE:

  • Checked your airline’s website for policies and any information you can find about flying with an infant. If you can’t find anything, be sure to give them a call.
  • If you want your baby/toddler to ride in his/her car seat, make sure you call the airline and purchase the infant fare to make sure a seat is reserved. These fares are not usually available online.
  • Birth Certificate (or copy, if the airline will accept that)
  • Any liquids he/she will need in a separate ziploc bag (you can bring over 4 ounces of liquids for babies) so you can take it out to go through the scanner at security. Make sure you include hand sanitizer.
  • Car seat. If your baby will not be riding in it on the plane, you will need to check it. Most airlines will do that for free.
  • Stroller. Yep, we have forgotten that before. That was fun carrying a 15-month-old toddler to Long Island. Not.
  • Luggage Strap for Carseat. This has been an absolute lifesaver when trying to get the carseat just from the car to the check-in counter. It’s hard enough for two people to push/pull bags of luggage and a stroller, and when you add a car seat into the mix, it’s torture. This cheap strap we got on amazon may not look fancy, but it attaches the car seat to a piece of luggage. Our car seat is incredibly heavy (it’s the Graco Smart Seat All-in-One) and the strap works great. Problem solved.
  • Boppy or some kind of pillow for the baby to lay on. We stopped using this after Kennedy turned 1.

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WHEN YOU’RE AT THE AIRPORT:

  • Do a full service check in. You may need to present his/her birth certificate and they will print you a boarding pass.
  • Look for the family/medical security line. That line is shorter! See, there are perks to traveling with a baby!
  • Always ask to go through the metal detector, not body scanner, while holding your baby.
  • When you get to the gate, go up to the desk and ask to “gate check” the stroller. That means you will leave the stroller on the jet bridge to the door of the airplane and it will be waiting for you there when you get off the plane.
  • While you’re there, ask the gate agent how full the flight is (if you are on a Southwest flight). If they are completely booked, the baby is sitting on your lap. If they are anything less, claim a seat for that baby! The flight attendants are usually really nice about letting you do that.
  • Many airports we’ve been to also have kid play areas. These are fun, even for small babies, because they like to watch kids play. If you have extra time or waiting for a connection, let your baby/toddler out of the stroller and run around (if mobile). Stimulate him/her as much as possible in hopes to tire him/her out for the next flight.
  • If possible, do not feed your baby/toddler until you are on the plane. It’s a good way to keep them quiet, happy ,and help their ears.

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SURVIVING THE FLIGHT:

  • Feed the baby on the way up or down (breast or bottle, whatever you fancy), or use a pacifier. This helps with ear pressure. If you have a toddler, offer a sippy cup.
  • Always have snacks on hand for the antsy toddler. And lots of them. It’s amazing how still my kid will sit when she has a good snack in front of her.
  • Try everything you can to get them to sleep and pray they do.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendant for anything. Even if it’s for extra juice, snacks, or even to go walk back to the galley to check out where they make the drinks.
  • Make sure to download episodes of your baby’s favorite shows or games onto your phone or iPad, so you can access them above 10,000 feet. We always have a couple episodes of Mickey  Mouse Clubhouse or Bubble Guppies on hand. Board books and small toys have worked well for us, too.

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Most of all? Have fun! Flying is fun with your baby (at least we think so)! The biggest thing for us is teamwork and having our system down! Any of you travel pros have any additional tips and suggestions you’d like to add? Leave them in the comments!

16 Comments

  • Reply
    Hannah
    August 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I totally just pinned this for future reference. Great tips!!

  • Reply
    Pamela
    August 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

    My husband and I have been talking about this a lot (baby due in Nov.) and we can’t agree on when is the earliest we can travel with a little babe. How old was K when you first started flying with her? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    August 12, 2013 at 11:17 am

    And as I discovered last weekend, some planes only have a changing table at the bathroom at the front of the plane!

  • Reply
    Alexis
    August 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Great post! We just got back from our second cross country trip with our 19 month old – you pretty much hit the nail on the head with all of your tips! A few to add – we brought a roll of painters tape…it kept my son occupied for such a long time, unrolling and ripping into pieces. It doesnt stick forever of course, so we would just peel it off of the tray table, or ourselves:) At first the flight attendant looked at us like we were crazy, but by the end she thought we were pretty much geniuses;) Super cheap and small to pack! We also bought some cheapie new toys and I wrapped them like presents.

  • Reply
    Jodi
    August 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Wow K sure has traveled a lot. Lucky girl!! These sound like good tips! Hope they work just as well when you are traveling w/ 2 kids.

  • Reply
    Kelly // The Pretty Bee
    August 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Meg! This is a lifesaver! We are going to be flying for the first time with my 18 month old and 5 year old and I was really nervous, but I love these tips! Pinning right now.

  • Reply
    Claire Kiefer
    August 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    The family I babysit for gives their guys Melatonin (suggested by their doctor) for long flights, and it works like a dream! 😉

  • Reply
    Meghan
    August 12, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Personally, I think it’s awesome that you guys do so much traveling with Kennedy. I really admire parents who still continue to live their lives normally with kiddos in tow:) These are awesome tips I hope to take advantage of soon enough!

  • Reply
    Georgina
    August 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I love this post (and how it looks like she’s making a peace sign in one of the photos!) She is so stinking cute and I will file this away for when I one day have little ones. I will definitely not compromise my love for travel either xo

  • Reply
    Heather
    August 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I’m not feeling that brave yet, but I’ll be sure to check this post out again once the time comes.

    And seriously- K’s pig tails- I die!

  • Reply
    read more
    December 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Hello there, I jumped over to your web-site via Pinterest. Not an item I typically read through, however I really enjoy your thoughts nonetheless. Many thanks for putting together something worthy of reading through!

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Three 31
    July 6, 2014 at 4:26 am

    I’m so glad I found this post (via Pinterest) because my son (six months) and I are travelling via airplane next month. I’m super-duper excited to get ‘home’ and see family and introduce our new little big guy, and I’m actually looking forward to the plane ride. Kamden is a very mellow, content, and happy child. I have no doubt he will love flying too! Thank you for sharing your tips, tricks, and techniques …. we’re flying Southwest too and I really appreciate their attentiveness towards parents with small children in regards to luggage needs. It will be nice to gate check the stroller because, though he might be young, Kamden is a Chunky Monkey and there’s no “weigh” I can carry him through the entire airport!!!!!!!! That stroller strap is another item on my list to get before the departure date. THANKS AGAIN for sharing your wisdom, it’s much appreciated. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    February 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! Our 2 year old son has flown at least 6 times round-trip with us and does great! Next week will be our first time with TWO kids – our 2 y.o. and our 2 month old. I needed this as a refresher! I loved your tips and agreed with them all!

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