Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Thoughts on Plane Travel

Cy and I flew home from Denver today, and I can't help feeling just a little proud of myself for having completed a round-trip flight with him by myself. Aside from the occasional rude passenger on the way there, and an unexplained 10 minute screaming fit as we boarded the plane on the way home, I actually feel that the whole experience went pretty well. I can admit now, I was kind of terrified that I would explode with anxiety over the whole thing. I had visions of 2.5 hours of a screaming child, a seat-mate who overflowed into my seat, rude comments about breastfeeding, unsympathetic airline workers, etc. I think a few things helped:

1. I used a carrier with Cy and just checked our carseat and stroller at the ticket counter. I know that you can gate-check those items, but our stroller situation is really just a snap-in frame for our carseat. I realized pretty quickly that at security I would have to remove Cy, take the carseat off of the frame, fold up the frame and put both through the x-ray machine, and then do the whole thing in reverse, all while holding Cyrus. This just didn't seem practical to me. By using the carrier, I was hands free and the security part was essentially seamless. Also, the carrier worked great when Cy fell asleep during the flight and I wanted my hands for drinking, or eating, or doing a Su Doku puzzle.

2. Breastfeeding. I toyed with just bringing expressed breast milk in bottles for the flight, thinking it would be easier, but I'm glad I didn't. Cyrus doesn't just nurse for food, he nurses for comfort. I was able to to nurse him when he got cranky, and basically just put him to sleep. I think this made the whole thing more enjoyable for both of us. Plus, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be to nurse him on the plane. He is still small enough, I supposed, that he doesn't really encroach on the seat next to ours.

3. I took advantage of pre-boarding. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I saw a woman with a baby get on with the rest of the cattle today, and all I could think was, Why? Having a few moments to get the necessities out of my carry on luggage and get ourselves all settled without having to worry about hoards of people coming down the aisle really helped.

4. I had an aisle seat. On both flights, I was able to easily stand up and rock Cy when he got cranky or restless. I think this made a big difference for both of us. I would have felt really trapped had I been in the middle or on the aisle.

5. Cy is only 3 months old. Yep, I think this definitely helped. He will sleep in my arms, and he has no problem just chilling in my lap. I have a feeling that things may not go so easily in a few months.

A self-portrait as we wait for our flight to Denver

And now, a few thoughts about pre-boarding:

When I pre-boarded on the flight to Denver, the couple sitting next to me also pre-boarded. Now, as Jason pointed out to me when I complained about this, I realize that they don't ask you if you plan to pre-board when you choose your seat, but I really think they should. Isn't it the point of pre-boarding that you have a few minutes to get yourself settled without feeling pressured by those around you? When that other couple showed up right after I got to my seat, I felt like I lost my opportunity to relax and get organized for a minute, because I became instantly anxious about letting them get through. Granted, they were extremely gracious, but still. I think this should be taken into consideration. Just a thought.

Today, after they called for pre-boarding, I made my way to the gate and happened to be the first one there. The woman taking boarding passes put her hand on my arm and said "Wait a minute, this woman needs extra time" and then gestured to an older woman with a cane who was standing behind me. She took her boarding pass and then took mine. Now, I have no problem with this woman going first, but I have to admit I was confused. Weren't we both there because we needed extra time? Why was her need for extra time greater than mine? Sure, she took longer to get down the gateway than I did, but I'm pretty sure it took me longer to get situated in my seat. Was she in a special pre-pre-boarding category? I just didn't get it. I don't know that I've ever seen pre-boarders be prioritized, but maybe that's just me. Can anyone offer any insight for this one?

So, there you have it. Chalk it up to another milestone, if not for Cy, than at least for me.


  1. Re: #1, I totally agree. But did they let you keep him in the carrier when you walked through security? I've had mixed results with that and it is such a pain when they make you take the baby out.

    Re: #3, I've found as the kids have gotten older and we've taken longer flights that it's not always a good idea to pre-board. Sometimes (on certain airlines, NOT SW) it's good to be the last ones on the plane so the kids get as much run-around time as possible.

    I'm glad your flight went well!

  2. i am so proud of you and all your flying-solo-ness. you handled it so well! i was a nervous wreck when i flew with brody alone, but you are right- i think it is easier when they are young. i am SUPER worried about flying at christmas with an almost 1 yr. old. we booked the red eye though so hopefully that works.


  3. Flying with Andy was a breeze(almost) when he was young. Our last flight he was about six months old. I also used the carrier, and I did not bring a stroller or carseat. ( Both my family and Patrick's family have had extra carseats, so far.) We are taking him to Cailifornia at the end of November, I must say I am nervous, he is so active. I will let you know how it goes! I am glad your trip went smoothly!

  4. I'm so glad it went well. I'm with Bridget on #3. I used to pre-board when Ellen was little. Now I try to be the last person on the plane so we can get out as many wiggles as possible.

    And I'm so glad you figured out the aisle seat thing. On my first flight with Ellen, I got myself a window seat. I was thinking of privacy while nursing, etc when I did that. It was only after I sat down that I realized how inconvenient it was going to be to get up. Thankfully she slept the whole time I didn't need to, but I sure learned my lesson. I've always been so worried I'd end up next to a large business man or teenage boy. Talk about awkward when it is time to nurse (which, when you're flying, can sometimes be the whole flight!)

  5. I agree that age has a lot to do with your positive experience. When I took Madelyn across the country at 11 months old, I was unable to bring the carseat on board (didn't want to pay for her seat and the flight turned out to be full) and it was difficult because she had to sleep in my arms and was kind of heavy for that long of a flight. Please check out this story about Gary trying to board with Madelyn last fall. Sad and hilarious.

    I actually hate preboarding because I prefer to spend as little time on the airplane as possible, especially before it starts moving and is very stuffy. With Southwest, as Bridget pointed out, I might consider it if with a child in order to select appropriate seats.

    I'm so glad your experience was so good. I think flying with kids is usually a lot less painful than we anticipate.

  6. Wow, good point about pre-boarding. I guess I didn't really think about time on the plane being an issue, but now that everyone has pointed it out, it definitely makes sense. I was just thinking about the time I would have to get organized.

    Bridget, to answer your question, they did let me keep him in the carrier through security. I was worried that they might not, but it still seemed less annoying than dealing with the stroller/carseat.


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