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My husband and I have flown to over 20 countries together, and though we never had a child with us (pre-pregnancy), we know the ins and outs of travel. Especially as Delta Airlines Sky Miles members, we know the entire airport procedure like the back of our hand – having been on plenty of flights with families and now our own. I can help prepare YOU for any trip you will be destined to with your infant or young child.
It might be stressful to think about flying with an infant/ young child simply because they’re not aware of the mechanics of aeroplanes or the effects of being 30,000 feet in the air.
So I am here to bring you expert tips on how and what to do before, during and after your flight.
BEFORE THE TRIP:
Remain calm! Our first mistake was packing TOO much for our trip, anticipating every possible scenario that did not occur! It’ll only have you carrying more through the airport, and checking bags in becomes a hefty price after a few bags (depending on the airline)
- – Do a checklist of essential items your child will need; bottles, pacifiers, diapers, wipes, clothes etc. Then once you have the initial things, think of some extras you may need to bring (if you use a specific diaper brand, for instance, formula, etc.) You never want to have 2 extra bags of baby items and pay for it – to realise you didn’t need them at all. (Note* that many of these items don’t need to be removed when going through TSA but always check on their site because procedures change often)
- – Try to pack light and tight for yourself. When my husband and I are packing for a trip 1 carryon is enough for the both of us (we’ve learned how to be condensed and fold with the burrito method). That eliminates all hands being used on other things rather than enjoying the journey for the trip which can make the whole family including baby stress before take-off has even begun. When you pack light, it also gives you the chance to add baby’s items to your suitcase so that the diaper bag has main essentials and isn’t heavy (especially for us who brings a purse onboard the diaper bag can easily double as a purse and you can have a mini bag in your suitcase) Either way light is right!
- – Make sure all critical documents are in one bag! No one wants to be ruffling through tons of bags and diapers looking for the baby’s passport or hubby’s I.D. Keep all documents in one bag or get a passport holder like this so that everyone’s items are individually packed and together in one bag.
- – Don’t stress! The airport is already a stressful location, with millions of people passing through each and every day. You are coming across other families entering the chaos, too, so don’t worry if you feel like a headless chicken, but remain calm and remember you got it under control!
- – If you can always check a bag in so that the only items you have are the car seat/stroller, diaper bag and personal bag (if you have one), It lessens your load and makes going through TSA heavenly (if you can believe that) If you have Clear or TSA precheck then you’re set! But when carrying a stroller, you go through the accessibility line, which is often quicker/shorter than the standard TSA line.
- – Carry your baby, and if they’re still small, your young child. We do a traditional Caribbean/African wrap style for our daughter, making travelling through the airport much more manageable and lighter. You do not have to worry about having to remove them for the TSA screening process. Plus, they’re generally calmer when they feel the warmth of their parent against their body. Our daughter on our flight to JFK airport has carried both ways, and she fell asleep before we even made it through the TSA line.
- – Gate check your car seat/stroller! Knowing how airports work and the damage checking in baggage endures your stroller/car seat is not ready for that kind of hit. Now let’s be honest – for my parents that spent a months rent on their stroller, do you want to receive it without its wheels or dent, bent or scratched up? I don’t think so – and for many airlines, Delta Airlines included that damage is entirely your responsibility. There’s no amount of tears or threats to the corporate that can or will change what occurred (they will not pay you for the damaged property). We ended up purchasing a beautiful J.l Childless gate check stroller and car seat bag that you could have your duo in after TSA screening (they might just have you remove it to be safe and no annoying simple push it until you’re through). The J.L. Childless bag also comes with straps so you (Dad) can carry the stroller/car seat like a backpack.
BOARDING THE FLIGHT
Now that you’ve made it through the easy part! Here is where things can begin to get a little tricky. Rest assured your attitude and calmness sets the mood and tone for the rest of your family! So remember that!
- -People in wheelchairs and with strollers board first! Always! So you will have the privilege to get all your items together before other people are rushing to sit down.
- * Now, if you have a TSA approved car seat, you can bring that on board if you paid for a hub for your child; other than that, they will be on your lap until (2) years of age. After that, they will need to be in a seat (not really), but you will be paying for a seat whether they sit in it or not.
- Once again, Gate Checking your stroller/car seat is the best thing to do because most travel sets are too big to fit in overhead storage. Since your stroller/car seat will be gate checked, YES, it will be underneath the plane with all the other items. However, it’ll be the last item to be loaded on because it’s the first item to be removed and will be waiting for you once you leave the plane, so no need to worry about damage.
- – For an infant, you’ll want to either breastfeed or bottle-feed them while the plane is taking off to relieve any ear pain/popping. It’s best to make sure they’re not sleeping (Especially infants), so they aren’t awakened by the painful feeling of air pressure and the plane taking off. This also gives you the chance to distract them or prepare them for the ride.
- – Bring noise-cancelling handphones for your little ones. Make sure you introduce it to them before the plane ride, or you will regret it! These noise-cancelling headphones help reduce the engine sounds and all other mechanical plane noises we are so used to at this point. It can be startling for a young child, plus it’s a cute look.
*Remember, many people on the plane are parents and have experienced this before or are frequent flyers. Many people are used to and have dealt with children in some way or form, and if they haven’t, let your child be their first experience. DO NOT WORRY WHAT THEY THINK!
From my personal experience with Delta Airlines, we had a wonderful experience. I had a flight attendant hold my daughter for me while I went to the restroom. I had people help me with my bags and carry or bring me items to make the trip easier. Our daughter was absolutely amazing on the flight. Still, I was also highly calm (I had wine on the flight, so that was probably it), but I spoke to her about each process, and she was fast asleep for most of the flight.
*With post-C-19 being in action nowadays, many people are wary of how or what is acceptable. Don’t take it personally if no one assists you – you can always ask a flight attendant for help (they’re more than willing to help, especially Delta Airlines flight attendants)
I hope these tips answer any questions you may have. If you have any more, head to my Instagram post where I share our flight experience or comment on this post. I’ll answer any specific questions you may have!
Have a safe and enjoyable flight!