Thank you for all of your input about flying alone with an infant! Our two-hour flight from Florida to Texas was very successful, and aside from a few small things, the whole process went as well as can be expected. Here is some of the advice I received from Facebook, this blog, and from friends:
I read that it is best to bring only one carry-on bag, preferably a backpack, to keep my hands free. I did bring a backpack, which I used as a diaper bag, my bag and purse all-in-one. I really wanted to bring our Canon, though, so I also brought that as a carry-on. It would have been much easier without the camera, but I didn't want to pack it in my checked luggage, and I didn't want to forgo bringing it, so I dealt with lugging it around as a second carry-on. One bag on the plane is preferable, though. On our first flight, I decided I didn't want to check Shepherd's stroller and car seat at the ticket counter with my checked baggage. Our stroller has an attachment that allows the car seat to pop in where the bassinet goes, which has been $30 very well spent. I thought it might be nice to stow away the camera case and my backpack in the stroller's basket as we walked around the airport, which is what I did.
We valet checked our stroller and car seat bag, and at the end of the jet bridge, I collapsed the stroller and put the car seat in the car seat bag (I bought this one from Babies R Us). It was a trifle bit difficult to do so while wearing Shepherd. Five-or-so passengers asked if they could help me, but honestly, it was easier to do it myself than try to talk strangers through how to work our stroller or the correct way to put the car seat in the bag. I hate that.
Again, dealing with the stroller/car seat assembly was a bit of a task. The same kind folks asked to help me, but I didn't take them up on their offers. Thankfully, the hardest parts were unlatching the stroller and pulling the car seat out of the bag with one hand. We happily strolled to meet Poppy and Birdie, and called our first flight together a success! A few sweet women made my day by calling me super woman! :)
On the way home, I decided to check the car seat and stroller at the ticket desk with my luggage. I wore Shepherd through the airport, where I did miss having the stroller basket to put my bags in. It was so much easier, though, to get on and off the plane without the stroller!
All in all, I am proud of how well Shepherd did and glad to have our first plane trip under our belts. Since I flew with the baby alone, I feel much more confident that having Aaron along with us would be even easier. I am also appreciative of the generous allowances for car seats and strollers on American Airlines. Everyone, including our fellow passengers, were just wonderful toward us. I greatly appreciated their kindness, and I think they appreciated that I apologized in advance for any crying Shepherd might do. They all admired him, and I got a free bag of snacks out of it ($6 value :)).