Saturday, April 21, 2012

on flying alone with a baby...

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. 
It has only been a few months since I've flown, but I didn't even think about the process of taking the baby through security. I had him in the stroller, and I was politely asked to take him out so they could put his car seat and the stroller base through the X-ray. I felt so silly, but everyone was very patient with me as I held up the line. Thank goodness it was only Tallahassee, and the two people following me easily went into the other "lane." I rushed to take Shepherd out, put him in the Moby (which I was already wearing), collapse the stroller and hoist it and the car seat onto the conveyor belt, but really, it wasn't too big of a deal. 
Once we were at the gate, I walked around, pushing the stroller with my carry-ons inside of it to keep Shepherd's fussing minimal. He had a few random shrieks in the hour we waited at the gate, and I was wary of some of the side-eyes I was getting. I hate to be that person, and what I'm learning about being a mom is that you are sometimes completely helpless in being so. We boarded first, but in Tallahassee's small airport, we ended up being the last on the plane.

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. 
Though I was booked with Shepherd as a lap child, my seat was a single-seat in a 1/2 configuration. The flight attendant had to move me because the single seats have only one oxygen mask, while the two-seaters have three. A wonderful gentleman across the aisle offered to switch seats with me, so Shepherd and I sat at the back of the plane with an extra seat beside us. This was a godsend. Shep fell asleep even before the plane was moving, and warily, I did not wake him up to nurse him on takeoff. He slept through it and didn't make a peep for an hour. When he awoke, he screamed for about twenty seconds going on two years when I took him to the lavatory to change him, and he ended up not even having a dirty diaper. Landing was uneventful, as I nursed him and he was fine. The only thing I really needed on the flight was a swaddle blanket, which I used for nursing, and my phone. I didn't open any of the magazines I brought, and when Shepherd was awake, he was content to look at me and around the plane. When he is older, I am sure having a bag-o-tricks will be much more useful, but, as a nearly two-month-old, he needed very little.
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 :)).

1 comment:

Chelsea Anne said...

wow, I'm so happy to read that all this went so well!! I've often wondering what might be going through the heads of these brave fly-alone-with-baby moms and now I know! Pretty amazing how you learn to adapt so quick, especially when certain events or experiences seem so alien at first. Congrats on your successful first flight with Shep :)