Thursday, May 10, 2007

Solo Air Travel with a 3 Month Old

I just got back from our first trip back east and thought I would post about how it went travelling with an almost 3 month old baby.

Based on advice online, I booked the flight when baby was usually sleeping (for us that was overnight), and also a non-stop flight. JetBlue has a non-stop red-eye to NYC from Seattle that I've taken before and so I decided to stick with the known quantity. Since we left on a Wednesday and returned on a Monday our tickets each way were only $99 a piece. JetBlue has infant changing tables in all their aircraft restrooms which is a huge plus.

I opted to buy a seat for us each as I didn't want to have to hold the baby for 5 hours straight and I was also concerned about his safety during take-off/landing and if there was turbulence. Since the ticket was so inexpensive with the days of the week we travelled it was even easier to make this decision. I am glad I had his seat as he was able to sleep in his seat comfortably and when there was turbulence over the Dakotas, he was in the safest spot (when I had him out on the way back, which was not a red-eye, I popped him back in right away when we hit that rough air -- in my arms he did not feel safe to me).

Knowing that he would have his own seat, I saw from the boards that the car seat would have to be in a window seat. The Graco SnugRide (we did not bring the base) has a level on one side only -- if you want to use this on the plane you want to be on the left side of the plane in seat A.

I studied the car seat manual prior to my departure to make sure I was comfortable with how to use it without the base. Be sure to bring along the metal clip to use with a shoulder seat belt if you need it -- my father told me that their cars had lap belts in the center in the back and no they didn't so we had to go pick one up at a baby products store while I was there ($3)

I gate checked our stroller without any issues and I didn't have to wait to get it either, I was able to deplane with the rest of the passengers. According to the JetBlue site, even with a lap infant, you are allowed to bring a stroller, car seat and carry on for the baby.

In case you are interested, here was our routine at security in the airport...

  • wheel up and get in line with baby in car seat in stroller

  • put back pack and diaper bags into bins as they become available

  • remove purse, coat and shoes

  • remove car seat from stroller with baby in it and put on floor
  • push your bins onto the conveyer belt

  • fold up stroller and put on conveyer

  • remove baby from car seat and put on conveyer

go through metal detector with baby in arms -- remember to keep your ticket on your person

  • wait for car seat to come through and put baby in it on floor (out of the way of other passengers)

  • put on coat, shoes and purse

  • unfold stroller and snap in car seat with baby

  • put on backpack

  • stash diaper bag under stroller

and you are off to the gate!

On the flight to New York I had to pee badly and baby was asleep so I figured that I would just take him with and do a little change as it had been a while. I grabbed my purse, a diaper, the wipes, and some disposable changing liners and went to the toilet. First I peed with him on my lap then I hiked up my pants with one hand and pulled down the infant changing table, laying down disposable liners and then the baby (and then I fastened my pants).

I was in the middle of putting the new dipe on him and he had an explosive poo across his pj leg and the table that went dribbling down the side and hit the toilet paper roll beneath. The new dipe was still clean so I removed his pjs (thankful that I put an undershirt underneath), diapered him, and then proceeded to clean up the changing table and lavatory while I held him in my arms and tried not to bump his head on the wall.

I carried him back to the seat and he had peed again on the way there (darn it all, if we were at home he could have gone in the potty) and I changed him a second time in my lap in the seat -- we had the row to ourselves.

TIP -- do make sure you bring the diaper bag with you to the lavatory as you might need all of what it contains in the matter of minutes. Also, really do bring two changes of clothes for the baby, even if you keep one in your carry on for space considerations.

I was pretty wrecked from being behind on sleep even before the red-eye sleep deficit -- I only slept 2 hours, but baby slept pretty much the entire time -- so I was not feeling 100% but I did my best not to be grouchy. I took a nap every afternoon which was a big help.