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Long overseas flight with three kids: many questions!

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
We will be taking a 10 hour flight in March. This will be our kids' first experiences on an airplane, and it is going to be LONG! We will have one layover at LAX, but then straight over the US and Atlantic.

My youngest (of three) will be 15 months. I am planning to take his TruFit on board, but I am wondering about the airport termminal situation. I believe we will be stopping at LAX for a couple of hours. Then we're off for the remaining flying time. It sounds like a 777, so three rows across of three seats each.

Any ideas??

We are going to have DVD players and books/writing/drawing/magnetic games for DS (will be 8) and DD (will be 6). I would love suggestions about what to bring my headstrong littlest! (I already know about the piece of tape trick...)

TIA!
post #2 of 35
You will have the haul the TF around at LAX, just an fyi.

At that age lots of snacks, stickers, color wonder pens/paper, little books have all worked.
post #3 of 35
I usually buy a bag of cheap treats/toys (dollar store is good for this if you are so inclined). Get a new one out every few minutes. If the flight is at nighttime my kids usually sleep pretty well. A change of clothes for anyone who is inclined to be messy is also helpful-- a diaper blowout at 30,000 feet with no spare clothes is not good (ask me how I know!).

If things go badly just remember it's a limited amount of time, everyone on the plane was a kid themselves at some point, and you never have to see them again Most people are surprisingly good humored about fussy kids and those who aren't are jerks.
post #4 of 35

please share

what is the piece of tape trick?!
post #5 of 35
Honestly, I'd spend $40 on a Scenera to avoid dragging a True Fit around an airport. I have a TF and hate lugging it from the house to the car, I can't imagine dragging it around LAX.
post #6 of 35
What CEG said about clothes is key. Bring a full outfit for yourself too. You want something if that diaper blowout (or puking kid) happens to get their "body excretions" all over you!
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Amy~ View Post
Honestly, I'd spend $40 on a Scenera to avoid dragging a True Fit around an airport. I have a TF and hate lugging it from the house to the car, I can't imagine dragging it around LAX.
Get one of those carts with wheels on, $15 from walmart. the TF straps onto those nicely and you can haul the kid in there too.

OR, another idea is to bring a smaller wheely bag as a carry on, you can put the kids smaller carryon backpacks in there so they dont have to lug them in the airport, and then strap the TF to that.

It is not hard to carry, its heavy but if you strap it to something its just as easy to cary as any other seat.

See:
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u...9/DSC02746.jpg
http://i169.photobucket.com/albums/u...9/DSC02745.jpg

I never check in anything, I carry it all onboard, and thats traveling alone with ds.


I traveled overseas a lot (I grew up in HK and went to california at least 2-4times a year plus multiple other trips to europe and all over asia), my mom would always keep us up really late the night before, and then we would fall asleep on the plane at least for a while!

Ds is very entertained by stickers, and playdoh on the plane. And messing with the headphones/music.
post #8 of 35
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the ideas...all good stuff.

The tape trick is really just like stickers, I think. If you give a very young child something that will stick to them, their clothes, etc, they will (in theory) be freakishly entertained for a good amount of time. I'm not sure if DS2 will fall for it at 15 months, but I am sure as hell gonna give it a go!

I am definitely taking the TruFit and I am buying a $15 T-shaped strap for our rolling carry-on. From all the reviews, it sounds like the way to go, and there is no extra cart to deal with (as there would be with the attach-the cart-to-the-carseat thing-a-majig).

We were able to secure a fairly short flight (a mere 10 hours rather than the 13 we originally checked out). We will only have a small layover in LAX, so not much in and out of seats.

Thanks again!!
post #9 of 35
I had one of those Tshape straps, save yourself the money and use bungy cords. It ended up being more of a hassle when I used it. On the way back DFIL showed me a way to do it with just bungy cords and it was ALOT faster.
Other than that Ive done 2 24 hour flights two kids alone, they were 15 months and 3 years at the time. It looks like I will be doing another one with three when the baby Im expecting is about 9 months and the girls will be 2 and 4. Its doable but I warn you its TIRING. I dont' drink caffinee usually but I found myself getting a regular Dr. Pepper for the last leg becuase I was so wiped out.
As for different things to do: coloring, stickers, playdough, bubbles for the layover (just make sure its less than 3 ozs, I got a lot of thanks from other parents and people that worked there for distracting the kids while the flight was delayed), toy cars, small puzzles (Melissa and Doug has a good set you can get for traveling), snacks (especially ones they dont' normally get- avoid sugar though! Dont' want a hyped up kid), if you can find larger sized magnets my girls love sticking them together and trying to take them apart from about 12 months on, a few books they haven't seen yet.. Theres probably more but I can't think of them right now.
Don't bring to much though because you have to cart it all over the place. Last trip I brought a small toddler size backpack (DD1 carried), a full size backpack, a laptop and the carseats (on a luggage cart). Only hard part was getting it on and off the plane! But luckily the luggage cart fit right right the aisles with the seats on it so I didn't have to worry.
Try to get seats near the bathrooms so your older two can go without you escorting them or they can watch the baby for a minute while you run over there.
post #10 of 35
Don't take the DVD player! Trans-oceanic flights all have personal in-flight entertainment in the seat backs in front of you. I'd just let all the kids veg out to videos the whole time. That's what we did when dd was younger. We just got back this weekend from a trip abroad, and at 8, she was more interested in her books and doing missed homework than watching the videos, but they sure kept her occupied for the 13 hour flights when she was younger.

PACK LIGHT! I can't stress that enough. Don't take the kitchen sink in your carry-ons. A change of clothes for the littlest and maybe an extra shirt and underwear for the others. But if you let them watch the in-flight entertainment, you need to pack very, very little. The meals alone will take over an hour each time (assuming 2 meals with that kind of flight time) and just exploring will take some time, too.

Enjoy your trip and just remember to keep a positive attitude. Traveling long distances like that is hell.
post #11 of 35
One more thing. Secure your confirmed seating NOW, if you can. As it gets closer to the trip, they'll start charging premiums for good seats... may do so even now.
post #12 of 35
Oh another thing that saved me! Pack a "special" snack for customs. I packed little packages of banana chips, it was great for waiting in line. Luckily on the way back to the states the customs official noticed me standing there alone with two young children and pulled me out to wait in a different line (that had no one else in it!) but that won't necessarily happen. On the way back into Japan I ended up at the end of a VERY long line, I was glad to have a special snack to distract the girls while we waited.
post #13 of 35
We fly between Europe and California about twice a year, plus various other shorter flights. Ours' are 11 1/2 and 10 1/2 hours each way, plus a connection. I'm almost always alone with my three kids. I was also a Flight Attendant working long-haul international flights for 13 years.

I got a DVD player when my youngest was 3 and it's a g-dsend on flights. You can't depend on what they're playing on board. It might not entertain the kids, it's not always playing and they might not even have one! It might just be a general film on the big screen.

We have so many problems on my airline with the individual screens that they were scrapped for future aircraft.

There are other devices that play movies so portable DVD players are not your only option. That's too big a subject to cover here and not my area of expertise! The jury is out on whether it's worth it for the youngest. Mine would never sit still or wear the headphones under age 3 but some toddlers will. But the older two will appreciate having something to watch on the long flight, especially on the way back to the U.S. (all daytime). It's also useful for hotels where they might not understand the T.V.

About the car seat, be sure that you're flying a U.S. airline. It might not be allowed on board a foreign company, depending on which one. You have the right to use a FAA approved car seat on a U.S. aircraft but that's not true for foreign companies. Be sure to check your airlines' car seat policies.

I bring a full set of clothes for each child and have used them too many times on transatlantic flights. It's NOT overpacking. If there's a spill, you'll regret not having them. Wrap them in plastic bags with rubber bands and that will save space in your luggage. I bring some sort of either a sippy cup or a more acceptable spout type bottle for older children. Have the F/A's fill those instead of having multiple open glasses sitting on your tray tables ready to create havoc.

Be sure to have new, never seen toys for all of them. I suggest giving the youngest (if not all) one just before pushback so that she might be distracted enough to sit nicely in her seat until you're in the air. Remember, not electronic. You might want to have a new DVD for the older two.

Check everything you don't need for the flight itself. For a journey like this, you don't want to start off on the wrong foot with the crew seeing you drag extra stuff on board. You want them on your side when flying with children! Baggage expenses are something you'll just have to cough up when the children are young. Usually, international lets you check a free bag per person so you should have plenty of leeway with that. Make sure all bags are well under the weight limit. Don't give yourself grief by packing fewer, bigger bags that are often nabbed for overweight fines.

I also don't recommend messing with kids' schedules before flying. You need your children alert and cooperative for the whole palavah of checking in, getting through security and boarding. One small delay and you could find yourself with one big meltdown! I saw this too often at the airport.

Don't last minute pack or do chores before leaving. Try to have everything organized in advance and get plenty of sleep the night before. When the seat belt sign is on, be ready to pace the aisles with the youngest.

You're lucky you'll have your dh along. Some parents who have the luxury of flying together will take turns being in charge of the toddler. This sounds like a good idea so that both of you aren't jumping up for every diaper change and fussy spell.

Here are my newly-edited, non-commercial flying tips;
http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

Have a great trip!
post #14 of 35
I agree w/ Velochic - pack LIGHT.

* Crackers or snacks that are acceptable to the kids. They might not like the plane food.

*Books or paper and pens for drawing because it's often at least 20 or 30 minutes after take-off that the inflight entertainment begins.

* Nappies and cleaning stuff for the BB. A clean shirt for you and set of clean clothes for the BB.

* A book of nursery rhymes or songs for you to sing and entertain the baby

Also, it's good to prepare the kids for what will happen.
"First we will have to stand in line nicely while going through security and immigration."

"Then we will go to the Terminal and wait to get on the plane. You can run around a bit there. But, once we get on the plane, there will be LOTS of sitting. We'll have to remember to use our indoor voices".

Other things - the older kids may need help to deal w/ the toilet doors. When mine were much younger I said "Just go and I'll hold the door a little open for you" because dealing w/ the lock and light was kind of complex for under 7s.

If you change the baby in the toilet and use it yourself, cover baby's ears when you flush - the noise can be startling for them.

If possible, see if the flight attendant can bring your food at a different time from your partner. Then you can take turns dealing w/ the BB while the other one eats.


Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Don't take the DVD player! Trans-oceanic flights all have personal in-flight entertainment in the seat backs in front of you. I'd just let all the kids veg out to videos the whole time. That's what we did when dd was younger. We just got back this weekend from a trip abroad, and at 8, she was more interested in her books and doing missed homework than watching the videos, but they sure kept her occupied for the 13 hour flights when she was younger.

PACK LIGHT! I can't stress that enough. Don't take the kitchen sink in your carry-ons. A change of clothes for the littlest and maybe an extra shirt and underwear for the others. But if you let them watch the in-flight entertainment, you need to pack very, very little. The meals alone will take over an hour each time (assuming 2 meals with that kind of flight time) and just exploring will take some time, too.
post #15 of 35
We are fresh back from the States, which is a 14 hour flight from Oz. I have a 2 year old boy and he is a screamer and a handful. My daughter is 8 and just watched the videos or read and tried to sleep unsuccessfully.

I found the most useful thing I had was the iphone. In it, we put all his favourite music videos and the whole thing played well over an hour. He fell asleep with the headphones on. I also needed better ear phones, the airline ones are hopeless on small heads (including mine) and impossible on toddler heads. We had the iphone ear pieces but they were a tad too big and kept falling out. So although it was a total God send, it was a pain for me because I had to keep putting them back in.

On the flight home, I had blue tac, and tacked the phone to the back of the chair in front of him so I didn't have to try to balance it on pillows or hold it.

We had to use the iphone because although virgin has 300 videos, three of them music videos, he wasn't as interested in them. He is a music junkie, so perhaps it is just my son's thing, but I'd suggest finding out in the next few months what his music tastes are and get a VIDEO player loaded with it (forget music players, it must be video). My son has absolutely no interest in drawing, plastic toys or anything, never has, so I was uniquely challenged in this area.

My other advice is: get a night flight!!

It will suck for you, you won't sleep, but he probably will, and that is a huge weight off your shoulders. I put a small rolling suitcase in front of his seat, on its side so it is level with the seat cushion, I then put a pillow on top, this makes a wide "bed". I drape his seat belt over him while he sleeps. While awake, he has that whole areas to move around in, I don't keep him belted, it would have been impossible to do.

We also had 5 hour flights to and from detroit. These were actually worse than the long hauls. One was a red eye but due to our jet lag and his need to release stress from the whole thing, he decided to start a screaming fit. I took him to the toilet and held him and encouraged him to cry and flail it all out (we do Aware Parenting) so none of the passengers were disturbed much by it and after that, he was very settled. Until he got that out though, his behaviour was close to unmanageable. If this happens, just go to the loo and encourage a good cry and then he'll be great.

Get an infant seat belt, because on take off and landing or anytime the seatbelt sign is on, he will probably want to be held. Flight attendants can make your life hell at this point (I know, I was one) by making you keep your son strapped in/to his own seat. I asked them for an infant seat belt, this allows me to hold him while the belt sign is on.
post #16 of 35
Oh, I just saw Eclipse's post! Geez, I wish I had read your blog before we went.

As a former flight attendant, I should add ... ask a flight attendant if you run out of food, they have lots of it tucked away. Plus, many kids get upset on take off and descent, and of course this is probably the ears. Have a drink at the ready in case his ears don't equalise effectively, the swallowing will help. Not that you asked about that kind of thing but just in case.
post #17 of 35
"Infant" seat belts are banned by U.S. and Canadian companies because they're dangerous for the child and only allowed on foreign companies with not-as-strict safety standards.

For take-off and landing, the child should be in the car seat. This is not the F/A's making your life "hell", it's that they're watching out for your child's safety. Also, if the car seat is not being used, it's considered a carry-on item and is not allowed to be strapped into a seat.

Please don't tell the F/A that you don't want to put a baby in the seat "because he'll cry". It's more important that they're safe than if they cry.

Take-off and landing are the most likely points that an accident could happen.

Unfortunatly, those of us who fly transatlantically have little choice in schedule, especially if we're not on the East Coast. Going over is faster and overnight so not really a problem. The way to the U.S. is a day flight, about an hour more, and it can be looooooong with children!
post #18 of 35
I didn't say "because he'll cry", as though it was just a preventative, I meant if he is crying.

Yes, the seat belts are banned, but it is still legal to hold the babies on your lap. I find that ridiculous... unrestrained babies are at risk.

I think Virgin will disagree with that summation of their safety standards. The child is at risk if unrestrained... at least they give an option. The US just decided to ban and now infants are on laps unrestrained. That doesn't sound exactly like stricter safety standards to me.

I understand the dynamics of it, how they can fall into a C at fast deceleration ... however, it is a 1 in 50 or 60 million chance of something happening in a plane and there was only ever one incident from 20 years ago (Sioux City) ever used, over and over again, to make the point that infants are at all this horrendous risk on their parent's lap.

The emotional well being of my child is worth that "risk", I take a greater risk standing under a tree in the rain. 14 hours is a long time for a child to be separated from his mother's body, esp one that has been exclusively AP'd, and this is MDC, I assume this mother will want to connect with her child quite a bit during the flight.

Are you suggesting to keep the baby strapped to the car seat for 14 hours, regardless of needs... or ... perhaps take a boat or car? Chances are greater the baby will die on the road 10 times before they are even hurt in a plane.

I can fulfill my baby's needs, breastfeed without doing advanced yoga positions, hold, cuddle, comfort, and he even slept on me... yet during one emotional flight when I insisted he sit on his seat with his seat belt on, I ended up in the toilet with a screaming baby for almost 2 hours - not very safe at all - because two passengers abused me, one saying I was inconsiderate for subjecting them to unrelenting screaming, and another started threatening my husband. I mean, it was very intense, my son was screaming and kicking and freaking out, we are very attached and it was like trauma to him to be forced in this way. The flight attendant's advice was for me to drug my child, "responsible parents give their children Benadryl" apparently, because "19 hours of constant travel is so hard on them."

I appreciate your point of view, but Darcy is a real life mama, and the reality is not as tidy as you are making it out to be. At some point, over 10 hours, she will need to hold her son, and I am suggesting she use a restraint, at those times, because turbulence is 90% more likely to be an issue, if something is to be an issue.

Airline Safety dot com is an interesting read.

This site has a great option: baby b'air

Personally, if I could have foreseen what happened to us, I'd have him in a sling, front, facing me, while he was trying to fall asleep and during times of stress. That same site has a comment on this option, too.
post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 
Yes, our tickets are already purchased, and we got the very best price available (opted for a Monday to Monday), good seats and shortest layover options. We are still about 4 1/2 months out, and we had lots of great choices.

About the strap: I am going to try out bungees to see how they'll work with DS. He is already 25 pounds, so I imagine he may stretch things a bit, but if I can get away with it, bungees I'll do!

We have several options for having movies available. I will likely bring my small laptop (totally packable and a nice-sized screen so DD and DS1 can watch together). Portable DVD players are not very expensive, and could be useful later on in the car to Oregon or LA. I am thinking aloud here...

I'll have my Ergo for both DH and I to quickly throw on DS2 as needed, so I am likely to do that in the air if necessary (I know, it may be awkward, but it's doable).
post #20 of 35
I've been away from forums for too long, Darcy... I was looking for the "like" button on your post.

But... what is a bungee?
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