If you're flying with your infant, you can be worried about the logistics of getting through security checkpoints, boarding, and finding taxis and other transportation to get where you need to go. There are some things you can do to make your fight and subsequent travel easier on you and your baby.
The Airport & Plane
To make your airport experience less stressful, preparation is your greatest defense. When you are flying with a baby, you are permitted your standard carry-on items, but you are also allowed to check a stroller and carseat at the gate. You can carry a diaper bag in addition to other approved carry-ons. However, just because you CAN bring all these items does not mean that you should. If you are flying alone (without another adult), less is more. Remember, you will need to bring everything with you to the bathroom, to get food, and load everything on and off the plane yourself. Instead, try these tips:
- Pack essentials, like passports and boarding passes, in an easy-to-reach pocket of the diaper bag. You will need these at many checkpoints throughout the airport, and you don't want to accidentally leave them in the stroller or in the depths of your bag.
- Forgo rolling or messenger style bags and opt for a backpack to carry just the things you need to survive the flight. Usually, this means diapers, wipes, a few toys, and a change of clothes for both you and baby. Reading materials should be small and slim, and your backpack should have a sleeve for your laptop or tablet to prevent the need for a separate laptop bag. You need both hands free for changing diapers and carrying the baby onto the plane, so juggling extra bags can be a struggle without a backpack.
- Make moving with your baby easy. If you don't have a stroller or don't want to bring one through security, use a soft-structure carrier (metal-free) to carry baby through security checkpoints. TSA officers may pat you down to make sure the carrier holding the baby is safe to admit further into the airport.
- Check the carseat with regular baggage if you feel comfortable doing so. This helps make moving though the airport less awkward. However, some parents worry about the carseat being treated roughly as it is processed with heavy baggage, so you can opt for a gate check if you are not taking the carseat on board. If you did bring a separate seat for your baby (instead of riding on your lap), tell the gate officials you need extra boarding time to install the carseat on the plane before take-off.
- To prevent ear pain with pressure changes, nurse or bottle feed your baby during take-off and landing.
If you have arranged for a friend or family member to pick you up from the airport, be sure to collect your carseat from the baggage claim. Carseats are usually in the oversized or unusual baggage area—they don't get thrown onto the conveyor belt with your luggage.
If you are taking a taxi, remind the driver you will need to install your seat; taxis are exempt in some states to carseat laws just because of the time they take properly install for such a short car ride. If you are concerned that there might be a problem with getting a driver who is not used to installing carseats because the law does not require them, call a cab company like White Top Cab Company beforehand to make sure the taxi you hire is willing to allow for extra time to install and uninstall the carseat, even though it is not strictly required.Share