flying solo with a toddler - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 07-29-2003, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm thinking about taking my dd (15 months) on a short flight for a weekend visit without dh. I have flown alone with her before when she small enough to fit into an infant carrier with no problems. But of course now she's a "big girl".

My dh thinks we should buy dd her own seat rather than sit on my lap because she will be safer that way. Maybe this is true. I'm not really sure. It seems like every toddler I've ever seen on a plane was in a lap. And my thinking is that if anything happens those lap belts aren't going to be much help anyway...

I am trying to imagine getting dd down to the gate in a stroller with me also carrying her car seat and diaper bag. How have other momma's handled this? I called the airline and they were no help!

A friend of mine told me that they tried to bring their baby's car seat onto a plane and it didn't fit in the seat. So even though they had paid for their daughter to have a seat, she ended up in a lap.

Thoughts? Ideas? Experiences?
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#2 of 7 Old 07-29-2003, 03:46 PM
 
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Hi there, I just flew with my son a few weeks ago. He did have a seat and rode in his carseat. While it was not the easiest thing to do I felt it was the safest choice. I put him in his stroller and used the tether strap to secure his car seat on top of the basket portion of the stroller. I gate checked the stroller and asked someone to assist me onto and off of each flight. Here is a page on the FAA website relating to travelling with a child under 2 in a restraint:

http://www2.faa.gov/index.cfm/apa/1329

I strongly enourage you to get a seat for your child.
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#3 of 7 Old 07-29-2003, 05:35 PM
 
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Hi! I recently flew alone with my then 17 mo. old. I bought him his own seat and brought along his carseat, cause he's just too big and we need the room, not to mention he's safer that way. Sometimes there's unexpected turbulance or a rough landing and it's good to have them strapped in. What I did was bring my own little luggage carrier (those little kinds that the flight attendants use). I strapped the carseat and luggage to that and wore my son in a sling. It definitely was a hassle, in retrospect I might have done a few things differently. There are those little shopping cart luggage carriers you can rent at the airport, and your child can sit in the front of it while it holds your luggage and carseat . The perfect thing is one of those convertable stroller / carseats. I borrowed one from a friend for a plane ride and it was awesome. It's like a carseat with a handle and wheels that pop out when you need it to be a stroller. So when you land somewhere and have to ride in a car, you have your carseat with you. Hope that helped. Good luck and have fun!
Courtney

Mom to two boys, 7 and 10.  Expecting 3rd boy any day now with DH (his first).

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#4 of 7 Old 07-29-2003, 05:46 PM
 
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I flew alone with my toddle ronce but without a carseat. still though here are some things that helped us. Bring lots of cash, in small bills for tips and quarters for vending machines.. I flew into st. louis and tey had these guys in little carts who would take you to your gate for a tip. I htink I tiped $3 which wasn't much but it was all i had on me. it was awsome. On my way back I just rented a cart ($3 - $1 back when you return it the stands are all over the airport but took only quarters) it had a child seat by you (like a grocery cart) and enough room for tons of luggage. easily enough for a couple of carry ons and a car seat. this was best by far because you don't even have to return it if you don't care about your dollar. Also ask to baord first and get off last. we found a sling very helpful also. Liit your carry ons to what you can easily carry. I took a back pack (for a 6 hour flight and that was plenty.) If you use cloth I recommend using disposabl;e for the flight. it just makes for a lot less baggage. Also if your child is old enough get them thier own back pack for snacks and few small toys. carry a change of clothes a few small toys and blanket, snacks. dress your child as lightly as possible in clothing that packs small. that takes up less room in your carry on. Pee before you get on the plane. ask before you baord if htere is place you can sit with an empty seat. They actually offered us this. actually I guess if your baby will be in a carseat then it is a non issue. might still be nice for privicy though.

last time we flew the lady in front of us was flying alone with two small toddlers. I felt really bad for her.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#5 of 7 Old 07-30-2003, 02:27 PM
 
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I've flown once or twice a month with my DS since he was about 4 months old (he's now 19 months old). He travels with me on business. We have always flown with just an infant pass (on the lap), although in many cases the airline has done everything possible to provide an empty seat for us. I think that is as much for the other passengers' benefit as for ours, but whatever works . He has always been a great flyer, but once he hit about 14 months, I am always VERY busy during the flight. I recommend that if you have the extra cash to burn that you purchase the extra seat. Most car seats will fit, but even if you don't use the car seat, the extra room is vital, especially if your dd is very active. If nothing else, she will have the space in front of the seats to stretch her legs. When making your reservations, try to get the biggest plane you can with the lightest load, i.e. fewest seats taken. If you decide to not purchase dd a ticket, ask for an empty row, or a window seat in a three seat row that has an empty center seat. (The window seats are key for discreet nursing and interesting window viewing). The airlines sell the center seats last, so you have the best chance of an empty seat. It doesn't hurt to ask for any of that stuff. If you don't get it when you puchase the tickets, then ask at the gate counter as soon as they open. Be sweet as pie to the reservation agent...chances are he/she will take pity on you and go the extra mile for you. The airlines recommend the bulkhead seats, but I find them annoying because we need the underseat space too much. I also try to time the flights for when DS will be most ready for a nap. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't because he's just too excited about the "big plane", but it's worth a shot. I've even been known to keep him awake a little longer than usual so that it might help the cause. Of course, this has some chance for backfiring as well. You just never know.

My experience has been that there is always someone willing to help you with bags, getting settled, whatever. Most travelers, contrary to popular belief, can empathize with your situation and will offer to help. But I do agree that sky caps and bellmen are key and you should have tips in your pocket just in case. That being said, travel light light LIGHT! I check everything I can and take the minimum on the plane. Being a very frequent traveler before DS came along, checking baggage was the hardest thing to come to terms with. But it is absolutely necessary. I travel with a laptop, in addition to the baby stuff, so I a rolling laptop/overnight case for all of it. Get some toys that she's never seen before (that won't hurt others when they are thrown : ) to surprise her with on the plane. And, if it's a long flight, be prepared to get up and walk around. Larger planes are good for that, too, because they usually have large galleys (with lots of interested flight attendants ) to hang out in.

And speaking of light - I never travel with the stroller. I always carry DS in his Baby Bjorn, sling, or a light backpack. It's great at the airport and handy at the destination. I figure if the stroller becomes necessary, I can buy the cheapie ones at Target when I get to the destination. It hasn't yet, and for me, it just adds unnecesary bulk.

Well, this is longer than I intended, but just thought I would share my experiences. I've had some flights that went so smoothly you would have thought that I had drugged DS. Then, there have been one or two flights from hell. In the end, it's the luck of the draw. Whatever happens, just know that all flights will eventually end and you'll have a great time once you get to where you're going!

Have fun!
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#6 of 7 Old 07-30-2003, 06:46 PM
 
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Some tips that my SIL shared with me. She is one of those who goes cross country with small children!
Get an extra seat, and make sure that your car seat is FAA approved.
See if you can strap your car seat to your stroller. I was able to get my Alpha-Omega (without the base) secured on my umbrella stroller!! I practiced and was able to do it quickly and with one tie-down!!
Bring a small empty bag. I had everything crammed into the diaper bag, and it was hard to get it packed back up when we landed, so I pulled out an empty plastic grocery bag to stash the remaining stuff in.
Many airplanes do not have diaper changing areas. Bring a pad, some disposable gloves, and some plastic bags for messy diapers. Try to fly with a fresh diaper, and change in the airport.

Good luck,
Kirsten
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#7 of 7 Old 07-30-2003, 09:30 PM
 
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I flew with my then-15-month-old from India to Phoenix and it was HARD. She was on my lap and didn't want to stay there. She stood up on the floor best she could (we had bulkhead seats), tore up the menus and magazines, and got into the carryons of the people on either side of me. I would def. recommend getting two seats if you can afford it. Most kids are used to sitting in their carseat and staying put, but are too excited to do that on your lap on a plane. Some infant carseats may be too wide for the airplane but the toddler booster seats and the convertible seats should fit okay.

Bring lots of snacks, board books, and a magnadoodle. And be prepared to not have much down time to read a book or anything. I used to love flying because I could read novels but not anymore!!

Darshani

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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