I’m sure we’ll learn a lot of about flying with a toddler during our upcoming around-the-world trip.  Before we leave, I want to share what I have already learned from the nearly 20 flights I have already taken with our son, Jude, as both a baby and a toddler.

BOOKING YOUR TICKETS

– If you’re flying internationally, call the airline to reserve a bassinet for your baby and pay taxes for your baby’s air ticket.

If you fly internationally, you must have a ticket for your child – even if they are under two and therefore do not require a seat.  If you do not buy your child a seat, you will be required to pay the taxes on the cost of a ticket on international flights.  (You must buy a seat for children over two years old, both domestically and internationally.)

During this call, request a bassinet for your baby.  The airline bassinet clips into the bulkhead wall and holds babies up to approximately 20-24 pounds (weight limit varies by airline) on large airplanes (hence on international flights).  In my experience, the bassinet is better than a seat because the baby can lay flat.  However, they are better for smaller babies who are not as mobile and will not try to get out on their own.

– When selecting a flight, consider the airline as well as the time schedule.

From our experience — which has also been confirmed by some of our friends who have traveled with small children — if you take an overnight flight on an airline of a country where people typically eat dinner at 10 or 11 pm, the lights usually go out very late, i.e., after the late dinner.  Conversely, if you take an overnight flight on an airline based in a country where people typically eat dinner at 6pm, chances are the lights will go out a lot sooner.  For us, considering Jude’s relatively early schedule, flying on airlines with early lights out time has generally led to much easier (read: restful) flights.  Considering that young babies on overnight flights typically sleep in a bassinet looking up at the ceiling, if the bright airline lights stay on late, baby stays awake and both baby and parents are unhappy.

MAKING IT THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY

Discuss your plan of attack before you go through security. 

Who is going to take your bag(s) of liquids out of the carry-on bags and load everything on the conveyor belt, take the kid off the stroller, take off the kid’s shoes, hold or walk the kid through security, collapse the stroller and tell security that you have liquids in your bag?  Talk about it beforehand.  This will save time, and you’ll usually have plenty of time to talk about it while waiting in long airport security lines.

Most baby car seats only fit on the conveyor belt upside down. 

Throw up the handle and flip it over for the highest chance of it fitting through on the first try.  Now we travel with this collapsible car seat.  It’s heavy but you can carry it over your shoulder or get the bag for optimum portability.

Communicate with security.

Before you start loading up the conveyor belt, let security know you have liquids for your baby and identify which bag(s) they are in.  It’s better to let them know what’s coming, and they’ll be able to take the bag right off the conveyor belt and do the necessary tests.

If you have unopened baby food which will not last long if opened, let security know your concern.  In my experience, security has agreed to open only one jar or just inspect them.  On a recent trip, security did some tests of the food in water.  All food was returned to us wet on the outside, but unopened.  Only at Heathrow Airport did security insist on opening all jars and making me try one.

Smile!  Don’t be afraid to accept help.

The nicer and more relaxed you are, the more people want to help you.  If the person behind you in the security line offers to collapse your stroller or hold and/or entertain your kid for a second while you gather yourself, accept the help!

Once you make it through the security line, make a b-line for the nearest bench.

Gather all your belongings, re-open your stroller and re-sort yourself away from the area where everyone is picking up their bags.  If you’re out of other people’s way, it takes the pressure off.

ON THE PLANE

– Make sure your car seat is approved for use on airplanes.

Car seats approved for use on airplanes have a (FAA) sticker showing this approval on them.  In my experience, the airline checks for this about half the time.  If your car seat doesn’t have this sticker, it might not fit on the seat!

– The car seat can only go on a window seat.

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  4 Responses to “Pre-Around-the-World Trip Air Travel Advice”

  1. Great start to your blog!!! Can’t wait to follow you around the world! Loved hanging with you all today. have fun and safe travels!!!!! xxxlinds

  2. Great blog! I was referred to here by your friend Elle. I met her at a friend’s bbq in Denver last weekend and mentioned I’m going to Taiwan in January with my 2 1/2 year old (also born June 2009) and my then 1-yr. old. There are some great tips that I didn’t even think of, thanks! Best of luck on your journey, what an adventure!

  3. […] the authors of Around the World with a Two Year Old, also write about really helpful things like tips for air travel with a baby or toddler, sugesstions for hiking with a toddler, and offer the always useful packing […]

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