Travelling with our littles is a big issue for moms of all stripes, but especially for Penelope Mamas. We want things to go juuuuuuust right.
Here are some tips from seasoned traveler (and mama of twin boys!!!), Jennifer Ahearn on how to make the right decisions regarding car seats when flying with your little ones.
by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Jennifer Ahearn
Flying with a baby or toddler? You might be excited to learn that children under 2 fly free. Yeah, baby!
But then you learn that’s for a “lap child.” That is, you don’t pay for a seat for your little one because the airline figures you’ll just hold your little bundle. The whole time…. And you may want to do just that a lot of the time. Baby and toddler ears suffer from the pressure changes and nursing or giving a bottle or sippy cup will help–and, even when not nursing or drinking, your baby will also want to be held.
You might decide to pay for a seat on the plane for your child. Don’t be shy about asking the airline if they offer discounts for kids under two–you can get lucky. You might gamble and hope there’s an empty seat you can use. But there are no special seat belts for babies or small children. It’s like 1968 on airplanes–they just have a simple lap belt. Even if your baby can sit up, you can’t really strap her in. A sleepy baby can be a little Houdini in that scenario.
You might think you’ll hold her on your lap in her baby Bjorn–that will feel safe, especially on take-off and landing, right? Nope, can’t do it. The airline has to ask you to take her out.
What are your options?
There’s only one FAA-approved harness you can get. It’s super small and easy to travel with. That’s an option. Here’s what that looks like:
Or, especially if you will need a car seat at the other end, you can bring your car seat on the plane. Yes, you can get a car seat from the car rental agency, or maybe your sister will pick you up and let you use her son’s old seat, but think about it–if you bring your own seat, your baby (or toddler) has their familiar home base throughout. It’s really comforting. Also, you know how it works. That’s comforting for you.
If you bought a seat on the plane for your bambino–easy. Most airlines will seat you early so you can wrestle that suddenly jumbo-looking seat onto the plane. (Beware, if you do have an extra large seat, it might be too large for the seats on the plane and you won’t be allowed to use it! Best to check first to be sure. Also, you can’t use just a booster seat bottom.)
If you didn’t buy a seat on the plane, plan to bring your car seat right to the gate anyway and explain your situation to the airline attendant at the check-in. You might get a seat reassignment which will give you that seat. If you don’t get lucky, then you’ll just gate check the seat before you actually step through the doorway of the plane. You can bring a giant plastic bag if you want–or just figure that you’ll wipe the heck out of it with the wipes you are packing in your carry-on anyway.
How do you lug that sucker around the airport? If you are still using a stroller that lets you click it in, you’re in luck, of course. You’ll just check the stroller base at the gate, usually at no charge. If not, you can improvise with a wheelie luggage carrier and some bungee cords, or even better, get this gizmo made just for that purpose.
PS. Flying with twin babies? Guess what? If you want them to be lap children, you and your partner can’t get seats next to each other or the window and aisle of the same set of seats. Why? There’s only one extra oxygen mask per row. Even if you are somehow able to book your seats that way, once you get on the plane, you will have to move seats and inconvenience other passengers who will have to move. Not a good way to start your flight, when you will be needing their good will. Best bet: get two seats across the aisle from each other.