Air Travel with Infants
The transportation security administration's website, www.tsa.gov is a great resource for learning more about air travel with infants. If you are anxious about flying with your little one, don't be. My best advice is to be get information about the rules and policies of the airline and airport. Here are some tips that I learned for streamlining the process.
1. Typically, you can be allowed to hold your infant in your lap on flights until he or she reached the age of 2. Then you will have to buy a ticket for your baby to have his/her own seat.
2. You will likely be told that you must sit in an aisle seat (NOT a window seat) if you are holding your baby in your lap. Holding your baby up to your shoulder in the burp position is also recommended as the way to hold your baby for take off and landing of the airplane.
3. While holding your baby in your lap will save you some money, pediatricians and air travel safety experts do most recommend that your baby have his/her own seat. An approved car seat that you bring can be placed on the airplane seat to hold the baby.
4. Remember to have proper ID for your baby if it is requested of you. For international flights, a baby must have a passport with a photo id. For domestic flights (within the United States), you might be asked to show a copy of his or her birth certificate.
5. For the flight, you can carry food for your baby in the form of breastmilk or formula however current regulations (as of the writing of this hub in 2010) state that all liquids must be kept in no more than 3 oz containers. You can not put 3 oz of liquid in a 5 oz bottle. It must be a 3 oz bottle.
6. If you think that traveling with your stroller might be cumbersome, think again. Having your stroller with you is advised to make walking through the airport easy. I recommend on of the Graco strollers that you can put the car seat right into for an infant. The TSA recommends umbrella strollers most but those are only adequate for babies that can already sit up independently without support.
7. At the security checkpoint, remove your baby from the car seat and stroller. Just like you must take off anything metal such as your watch and also take off your coat and shoes, you must do the same for your baby.
Collapse the stroller and hand both stroller and car seat over to be x-rayed. Place coats, jackets, metal objects, bags/hand luggage and shoes in the trays provided to be x-rayed.
8. Some airports already have the body scanners in use but others are still using the metal detectors of previously. If you don't want your baby to go through either of these devices, then you must agree to a pat down of both you and your baby.
9. Once you have gotten through security, you will be allowed to continue using your stroller until you reach the gate. This is so helpful especially if you are walking through a very larger airport. Follow the signs to head straight to the elevators which the majority of travelers are not using nearly as much as the escalators. If you're lucky, you might have an elevator all to yourself to push your baby's stroller into.
10. While you might find that it can not be avoided in many instances, I would recommend that you avoid flying alone with your baby. Have a companion with you to help with the stroller and the hand luggage and just to be helpful in general. For example, Mom and Dad can travel to Grandma's house as a couple with the baby instead of just Mom making the trip alone with the baby.
11. For those who do travel alone with a baby, you will find that airport and airline personnel are very helpful.
12. For local flights, planes are often small and you must walk up the stairs of the plane instead of through a tunnel and directly into it. You might have to walk down stairs, out of the terminal, and then walk outside to the plane itself before climbing aboard. You can carry the baby in your arms while your companion collapses the stroller and carries it down to the baggage handlers. It might be the most challenging part of the whole journey. Make sure your baby is bundled up warmly for that walk to and onto the plane which is often in gusty winds.
13. Be sure to have a pacifier for your baby. The sucking and swallowing action when using a pacifier can help to soothe your baby's ears which may bother him or her just like it bothers us when our ears have that popping sensation when on an airplane.
(For you - chew some gum and remember to make the swallowing action often)
Generally, the pacifier can also calm the baby and help the baby to stay quiet for the flight. Other passengers will appreciate this.
14. Remember that temperature conditions vary on an airplane especially as altitude increases. If you are comfortable, your baby should be comfortable with the temperature. If you begin to feel chilly and like you need a blanket, be sure to have your baby's blanket ready for use.