Our First Flights with a Toddler (Yikes!)

August 1, 2015

The scariest part(s) of taking Blaire to California with us, for me at least, was knowing we’d have a total of 9 hours of flights with her. On Instagram I asked for tips on flying with a toddler, and I got lots of good responses. (My followers are the best! You can follow me here!) Are you ready for this? It’s a long one. You better get your glasses. And a drink. Seriously.

Well, I spent lots of time packing, and making sure I knew where everything was and had anything important easily accessible. Our flights out there went perfectly! Our first flight took off around 5:30 and was only about 35 minutes. Blaire played for a little bit and then fell asleep. Woo hoo! Then after we pulled into the gate, she woke up and was definitely ready for dinner. We found the food court closest to our next gate and ate some dinner. From there we headed to a family bathroom to get Blaire changed into a nighttime diaper and her pjs. Then we got her some milk and had her nighttime sippy cup all ready for take off. Our second flight wasn’t taking off until about 7:15, which meant we’d be landing there around 9:30PM. Wellllll… as it goes, our flight was delayed for over an hour. So Jason let Blaire push her stroller around the airport (her favorite thing!) while I sat with our bags.

Finally, we took off around 8:45PM. The airport we were flying in to closes at 11PM and doesn’t let any flights in after that time. So they made everyone board the plane like maniacs. At first they were letting everyone take their assigned seats, but about halfway through boarding they just started putting people in random seats because the flight wasn’t going to be full anyways. Annoying, because we actually would’ve had an empty seat in our row which would’ve come in handy while Blaire was sleeping/sweating on my for the 4 hour flight. I thought that was rough! Boy, was I wrong. Blaire actually did sleep about 80% of this flight. The plane was dark and she had her pjs, milk, binky, and trusty blanket. While this flight probably went the best it could. I did leave my iPad… luckily we (and by we, I mean Jason) realized before we left the airport.

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Flying home was just ridiculous. I didn’t take nearly as much time to pack up for home as I did to pack for our travel out to California. I realized as soon as we got to the airport things weren’t exactly where I thought I had packed them. Some of this was because our checked bag was overweight, and we had to move things around all crazily at check in. Our first flight was two hours and left around 3:30 CA time. Blaire took a nap for about 25 minutes in the car. HUGE MISTAKE! I definitely should not have let her get in a tiny nap. It just meant she was able to power through the entire next flight instead of taking a nap. Blaire was entertained for about the first 45 minutes of this flight. Then she needed a diaper change. Once she realized there was in fact some type of freedom available on the plane (i.e. she could get up out of her seat and walk down the aisle to the bathroom) there was no getting her back into the seat. (I also pinched her finger in the changing table in the bathroom. That made her SUPER happy! Best mom every award.) The flight attendants on this flight were amazing. They kept playing with Blaire and entertaining her in their seating areas. They gave her milk, water and even some a little wing pin, and gave mama and daddy free wine! They also offered those seated around us wine, since she was grumpy when I tried to make her sit down after her diaper change. I probably would’ve lost my mind on this flight if it weren’t for those flight attendants. They really were the best! They said most kids will fall asleep on the descent because of the air pressure change. And it was true! Blaire fell asleep on Jason during the descent.

Our flight from Denver back to Iowa was only about an hour and a half. Super easy, I thought. We had a 40 minutes layover in Denver. Our gate was only across from the gate we were pulling in to from California. The plan was for Jason to grab some milk, and I’d get Blaire changed in to her pjs and overnight diaper. We were ready to rock this last flight and get home. HAHAHAHAHA. We were so naive. Well we sat on the runway for about 25 minutes, meaning we had 10 minutes between flights. Fine. Still kind of doable. Then we got off the plane and realized they had moved our next gate 40 GATES AWAY. I am not kidding. We had 10 minutes to run 40 gates down. With a 26 lb toddler, a stroller, and 4 bags. I had already put Blaire into her baby carrier while we were waiting to get off of the plane. So please, picture me, running 40 gates, with Blaire strapped to my chest. (Now you can laugh.)

We made it to our second flight. Well Jason made it. And said we’d be there in a minute. At this point we had no milk and Blaire wasn’t in her pjs. Whatever. We got on the tiny plane and realized Blaire wasn’t the only baby on the plane. She made friends with the 8-month-old boy behind her. They were making faces between the seats and it was so cute! This entertained Blaire for about 4 minutes. We were able to entertain her with her toys until they turned off the seatbelt sign. At which point we were letting her sit on the floor in front of us (we had the extra leg room row) to play and lay with her blanket. At this point we were about 45 minutes in. She was SO tired. We were praying they’d turn off the lights at any minute and she’d pass out. Well, they never did. It was 8PM when we boarded this flight, people. They brought around drinks and knew that with one cup of milk, she’d be out! They just happened to not have any milk on this flight. Or juice (except orange juice). Sooo to make a long story short, Blaire was the angriest I have ever seen her. Her feelings were hurt. She just didn’t understand why mom and dad wouldn’t just give her some milk and shut off the damn the lights. She screamed for the last 30 minutes of the flight. She wouldn’t take her binky, so I am sure her ears were bothering her. The second our plane touched down she stopped crying. Luckily everyone on the plane was really nice to us. They waved at her and talked to her while we were waiting to get the luggage that had to be checked at the gate. I changed her into her pjs at the airport, before we got our baggage, with the hope that she’d sleep in the car on the way home. The second we got her into her carseat, she was asleep. She did not make a peep the rest of the night. Not when we got home. Not when we carried her in to the house. And she slept until 9AM the next day.

One thing different about these flights from any other flight I’ve ever been on is that people with children weren’t given any type of priority boarding. Some people like to get their kids on the plane last and some like to get them on first. I definitely wanted to try getting her on first, with the thinking we’d be able to get everything situated and organized before takeoff. After the woman woman boarding our second flight (we flew United) called for those with disabilites, we were already standing up in the front of the boarding area, so I asked if we’d if we’d be called soon. She said, “Those with children aren’t seen as a priority”. Gee. Thanks, Obama United.

So, what did we learn? Don’t mess with a cranky, jetlagged toddler. AND don’t count on the airline to do anything that may help you out. There might be milk. There might not. They might be nice to you because you’re traveling with a kid, they might not. Show up early for your first flight and stock your bags full of milk, juice, whatever liquids you couldn’t carry through airport security.

Okay. What stories do you have from flying with your kiddos? What tips do you have? You can read my tips for traveling with your toddler here. xo

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