The first thing you should do when traveling by air with a baby is to panic. It’s important to get this panic over with early, because babies can sense your fear. If you are panicking while on the plane, the baby will know and start screeching and trying to pull your earrings off. He will also try to drink your hard-earned drink and will not let you eat your (very necessary) mixed nuts.
An important thing to remember is that babies have no sympathy with the fact that you forgot to set your alarm properly and it didn’t go off, even though you tried to set it for 5:30, you made a mistake. It was understandable. It could happen to anyone, but your baby doesn’t care. Neither does the woman who is checking-in your bags. She imagines (as you singlehandedly push 2 overstuffed suitcases, a briefcase, a tote, a diaper bag AND carry a baby up to the bag-check) that you intended to leave an hour later than you should have, and that you could have made up for lost time on the icy roads and that your husband is not practically running back from the “Shuttle Parking” because the “Long-Term Parking” was full. You spend the rest of the day feeling guilty about the less-than-authentic, slightly sarcastic, “Merry Christmas” that you gave her as you left to run up the stairs to go through security.
You will be glad to learn that TSA deigns to give babies a pass on taking off their shoes. However, they will look at the 3 bottles of prepared formula, throw you some shade, and ask if you only have made-up formula or if you could potentially make up some more after you go through security and throw away the formula that you brought with you. Clearly TSA has never forked out almost $30 for a box of powder, boiled the water to make the formula, and sterilized the bottle to put it in. They scanned our bottles in a special machine while I put my shoes back on and forced my laptop back into a bag that seemed to have shrunk since I took it out. It took 30 seconds.
We walked straight onto the plane. We did not pass go, we did not collect 200, we did not change a diaper first.
The next thing to remember when traveling on a plane with a baby is that people are generally nice, sympathetic, and feel sorry for parents whose babies could scream the whole way from Maine to Florida. In addition, I should note, however, that people are generally selfish and rude and will try to sit as far from your baby as possible, and will throw you dirty looks if your baby screeches in excitement when he notices that there is another baby near him. Also – people are generally strangers and it doesn’t matter what they think of you, or your baby, and you should just ignore them. After the 3-hour flight, you never have to see them again. (I should note, that I didn’t notice anyone throwing dirty looks, I just dreamed about them for the 3 weeks preceding our flight.)
Baby Jack slept. Mama sang to him, daddy patted his head, we snuggled and he went to sleep. Baby Jack slept from shortly after take-off until landing.
On the return flight, Baby Jack also slept. It was as though he said to himself, “I remember this place, this place is where I get the really nice snuggly nappy times with mama and daddy and no one tries to put me down into a nasty crib. I’m going to have the bestest nap.” He slept from before take-off until landing.
Mama and daddy slept too.