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Monday, May 6, 2013

Tips for Flying with Infant or Toddler Twins

Tips for Traveling with Infants: (Scroll down for toddler tips)

I had been worried and dreading flying with two 5-month old boys for three hours, plus the additional time to and from the airports. The logistics seemed daunting and I had no idea what to expect. Here's our story and some tips for flying with twin infants.

First of all, whenever possible pay extra to have a direct flight and try to fly via a smaller airport. Unfortunately, we had to depart from Laguardia, but returned at the much smaller Westchester Airport though.We chose the first flight out at 6 a.m. since those planes are less likely to be delayed, the security lines are shorter and our babies are used to sleeping at that time anyway.

For our sons to fly free, we needed "lap child" tickets, which are indeed free, but obviously two adult seats were needed too. Thus, I couldn't fly alone with them both, unless I then paid for an additional seat and brought on a car seat. Also, only one infant is allowed per each row of three seats due to their not being enough oxygen masks in case of an emergency, so Raphael and I couldn't sit next to each other. Instead, we asked for aisle seats across from each other, so that we can pass the babies and diaper bag essentials back and forth to each other if needed.
Out of respect to the other passengers and in order to be nearer to the bathrooms, flight attendants and water if needed, we selected the second to the last row from the back (row 24 on JetBlue). Don't pick the very last row though, because those seats don't recline and you'll need all the space you can get. The only bad thing about being in the back though, is it's noisier, the loud flight attendants kept waking the boys up as they laughed and gossiped about the Broadway show Wicked (what, did we travel back to 10 years ago?).
We checked all our luggage, minus the diaper bag.  At least with JetBlue and Southwest bags fly free, or at least one bag per person, so we took advantage of that. To make things even easier, we checked our bags in at curbside check-in and paid the $2 per bag fee and tip. It was more than worth it.

For domestic flights only a copy of a child's birth certificate is needed, not the originals thank goodness as I'd be afraid to loose them. However, no one even asked for them though, but you should have them on you just in case.

Going through security was one of the most difficult part. We lost a pacifier and a burp cloth somewhere between check-in and the gate and that's with having pacifier clips. Not to worry though, I had extras in my overflowing Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag back-pack, which allowed my hands to be free for babies. If you are traveling with breast milk or liquid formula, you can have over 3 oz, however, you have to declare that up front and there's an uncomfortable few minutes as they open the bottles, sniff the milk and then put it in a separate inspection system before handing it back. We only did this one way. The other time we brought on empty bottles and had to-go formula sticks. We then purchased a water bottle at room temperature, not from the fridge once we were near the gate and mixed their bottles while in-flight. You can also ask the flight attendants for water, but I was afraid the fasten seat belt light would be on when we needed it, etc.

If you are traveling with a stroller you can either fold it up and put it on the belt or wait for TSA to come by and inspect the stroller. We thought the latter would be easier than folding up our large double stroller, however, it took FOREVER at LGA for someone to slowly walk over to us and take a look at the stroller. We had already went through the scanner as did all our bags and car seats before they even started to look at the stroller. So, if you can, fold-up your stroller and just put it on the belt. It might take more work and juggling, but you'll be on your way quicker.

I purchased two Jeep Car Seat Travel Bags to store our gate-checked car seats in, that way they wouldn't get ripped or dirty while being stowed underneath the plane. They can also be used for larger child safety seats later on in life too. Also, they have a long handle that allows you to swing them over your should so you can hold your baby easier while walking down the jet way. This was another obstacle. We made the mistake of waiting until they welcomed children under the age of 2 on board to zip up their car seats. We were then passing babies back and forth, struggling with the car seats and diaper bag. By the time we boarded they already called the next group of passengers and we were stuck in a line with two squirmy kids. I overheard one woman say "I think she's going to drop the orange one" meaning my son Logan. I didn't, but it wasn't easy and no one seemed inclined to help or move out of the way. So my advice would be to start this process as soon as you can.

After all that, we were finally on our way and the boys were perfect. They barely made a peep. They slept for 75% of it and the remainder we fed them or entertained them with a toy or by looking at the other passengers who came by on their way to the bathroom. It helped that I dressed them in layers, because the temperature kept changing. Their hoodies also came in handy, because when we put the hood over their heads and over their eyes, they fell asleep easier and it helped to block out both sound and light more.
It got complicated when drinks were served as we couldn't hold the boys and put down our seat trays. Luckily, Raphael was able to rest his water on the person's tray next to him, I was not. Also, we tried our best, but eventually we had to visit the restroom, so we were each left for a few minutes with two squirmy and annoyed kids in our arms. On the way back, the seat next to me was empty though so I was able to lie Logan down next to me so he could sleep easier. Also, we made sure to swap who had babies on the return flight, that way we both got quality lap child time.

Tips for Flying with Twin Toddlers: 

  • Do NOT board the plane during family boarding or pre-boarding, wait until the very very last minute. The key here is the less time they are on the plane the better. 
  • Let them run around the airport terminal beforehand to tire them out. Don't worry if people are looking at you, let them get all their energy out ahead of time. 
  • Pick seats in the very back of the plane so you are close to the bathrooms and flight attendants and it's more accepted to have kids in the back. 
  • Unveil a new toy for the very first time! 
  • Have lots and lots of snacks! I totally over fed them during their flight when they were 13 months, but it kept them from crying or running away. I even gave them chips and other snacks I normally wouldn't so they were mesmirized for a bit with just eating on my lap. 
  • Pack a change of clothes (mine always get pee through their diaper or pour juice on themselves etc) and disposable changer pads for the bathroom.
  • Avoid putting on baby shoes, they will just keep taking them off. We also almost lost one. Just do socks, more comfy and less likely to make an impact when kicking the seat in front of them with heavy sole shoes.
  • Play musical babies and keep switching which adult's lap they sit on. Variety is the spice of life
  • Worst case, if they are over 3 you can also try Zarbee's all-natural sleep aid with melatonin (not gonna lie, we've done this on a night flight at a smaller dosage for our under 3's).
  • If traveling internationally your stroller has to be under 25lbs or they will make you check it before you even get to the gate. When we went to Beaches Turks and Caicos the same double stroller that we flew with several times domestically, we now had to check before going through security. This was terrible because we now had two running toddlers on the lose plus our carry-on bags, diaper bags, etc. Thus, lesson learned take a simple double umbrella stroller when traveling internationally, otherwise as you know almost all double strollers are over 25lbs.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for all the tips. Keeping this in mind when we head over from LAC to Tampa & NYC w/ our 12 (!) month old next month. Also, glad to hear Wicked is still going strong :)


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