Let me just say that it wasn't bad, I would do it again and I apologize to anyone on our flight who witnessed our final meltdown. Before we went on our trip I read a great deal of travel mommy info on flying with kids. And there is a lot of good advice out there. I relentlessly asked my friends about what they did to get their kids to behave. I also debated the car sear, harness or seat belt question. I finally ended up buying a carrier for the car seat and checking it. I loved that. The carrier had wheels on the bottom and when I checked it I simply wheeled it like a piece of luggage, definitely one of my better baby gear purchases. I also gate checked my stroller. Great. Before we departed Addie wandered the airport holding hands but when we got to Orlando she rode in the stroller while we got the car and loaded luggage.
Onto the trip... We flew out of Hartford, CT. It was fine. My only complaint was the "family" line at the screening area. I get that families travel with a lot of gear and that we take longer to screen but it also irritated me that I was forced into an extremely slow line while I watched others move quickly through numerous other checkpoints. ONE Family checkpoint is not sufficient the week before Christmas- Good job TSA. Anyway, somewhere before my trip I read a blog entry (I should have bookmarked it) about a grandmother taking her granddaughter on a plane trip and how the airport was fascinating for the little girl. This waas true. Addie loved the escalators, planes and people everywhere. When she pooped out from wandering around I pulled out window clings and she played with the window clings on the big airport windows for quite awhile.
I had packed a Mary Poppins bag of games, new toys, special treats and movies for her. The flight down was about 3 hours and I thought I was pretty prepared. What happened? Once we got on the plane and she was buckled in she put her head in my lap and slept. The entire trip. Really. I got that lucky.
But at some point we had to come home. Now, when I booked the flight for the trip home I know I booked a nonstop flight. But the flight made a stop in Nashville and it was delayed. I made two mistakes here: I booked the last flight of the day and I apparently booked a flight that made a stop, but no de-planing. By the time we boarded the plane it was well after 6:30 pm. Addie goes to bed at 7:30. She did really well for awhile. She colored, played with window clings, watched a movie and ate a bunch of Mickey snacks. The problems started when she had to get buckled back in for the second half of the trip. She did not want to be buckled in. She's not really a temper tantrum kid. But we teetered really close to a meltdown when she had to be buckled in for the take-off from Nashville. I turned on Little Einsteins and she pulled herself together. Another mistake here, no one checked the DVD player to see if it was charged and halfway through the first episode of Little Einsteins it shut off. I think if we had been able to keep it on she would have been fine through the rest of the flight. It was almost 9:30 or 10:00 pm by this time and well past Addie's bedtime. She was tired, fighting sleep and pulling apart window clings. We had almost an hour left in the flight and she really just went from one thing to another driving me slightly crazy because she was being naughty in her little corner and I was out of ideas.
The finale: The flight attendant came through and told us all we had to be buckled up. Addie had a complete meltdown. Screaming, crying, fighting. It made me wish I had not checked the car seat. And honestly, one of the reasons I didn't check it was because I thought she would kick the seat in front of her in the seat. But maybe they would have preferred that to the meltdown we got later. I let her scream. I didn't know what else to do. Other people were looking at me, and I kept thinking I used to be normal and wish for childfree flights too. Really it seemed like an eternity but it was maybe a two/three minute incident. And as soon as she finished she slept. Didn't wake up when I picked her up to carry her off, or be put in the car. Totally exhausted.
You're probably wondering why I would do it again? She loved the plane, she talks about it today. And every time we have to drive my husband to the airport for business she wants on the plane too. She'll be older next time and better able to understand the expectations for her behavior. I'll have a better grasp of what worked and what didn't. Next time, I will make sure I'm on an early flight and make sure it's non-stop.
Things that worked best for us:
- Bag of treats- I bought a bunch of new sticker books, coloring books, crayons and markers before the trip and pulled them out when needed to keep her busy
- Snacks- I had plenty. Plus, I bought these bottle toppers from Buy,Buy Baby that fit on the top of water bottles or juice without toting sippy cups. These worked great for the plane.
- DVD Player- Flight would have been much better if this had lasted. Will always bring it and will make sure it's charged from now on, lesson learned.
- #1 Tip: Window clings. I read about these on another blog. I bought "jelly" clings and Addie had a blast at the airport and on the plane (until the very end but that was my fault). We had princess ones too. She literally spent several hours playing with these.