Wednesday, April 29, 2009
First Trip Down (Up)
This past weekend we took our first airplane trip with the boy. It was to introduce him to our friends in Portland and celebrate their son's (our god son) 2nd birthday. At just under three months old, I was pretty nervous at how our son would react to all the stimuli of flying. As it turns out, I was the only one with frayed nerves.
Packing for a weekend trip was usually a chore in figuring out what to wear, how many shoes to bring and hoping the suitcase was under 50 pounds (it has not been a couple times). But adding another human into the fold posed logistical situations previously un-dealt with. We had to really pare down what we might normally bring and create room in bags for diapers, breast pump and pacifiers. That meant only bringing what was needed, not what might be needed, like exercise gear, or a separate pair of shoes for each outfit (we are both guilty of that). We used a big suitcase for our stuff, but left room for some of his stuff and the pump. We also brought a carry-on bag for more of the baby's needs, and the airline lets you bring on a diaper bag in addition to the carry-on when traveling with a child (very helpful). Magically, it all fit and we didn't forget anything!
We left on Saturday morning, which helped reduce traffic. This also allowed us to have the entire three-seat row to ourselves, so we could bring on the car seat instead of holding the boy the whole 1.5-hour trip (same coming back, too!). We brought the Snap & Go for a stroller and I wanted to bring the car seat base instead of using the seat alone in the rental car, and that was a wise decision (in my opinion). Going through security was interesting since we had to take the boy out of the seat, break down the stroller, then put it and the car seat through the X-ray, along with our shoes, of course (groan). Going out it was a smooth-ish process because the terminal was fairly quiet; coming back at PDX was a bit more worrisome for me since we had people breathing down our necks behind us, but everyone stayed human and didn't complain. The formula had to be set aside and checked, which the wife thought was pretty cool, as the TSA guy tested the vapors from the formula to make sure it was legit. Oddly/scarily enough, this check did not happen at the Portland airport...
I really like that we can board the plane earlier because we're traveling with a child. I don't necessarily enjoy sitting around on a plane longer, but it's nice to have a couple extra minutes to get situated (not to mention some actual overhead space). I guess there is a flip-flopping rule about the placement of the car seat in the row because we originally put it in between us so we both could hang out with the boy, in plain sight of a flight attendant. A different attendant came and told us he had to be by the window because my wife wouldn't be able to get out of the row in case of emergency. It made sense to us, but it would have been nice not to have to go through the (admittedly not difficult) strap-in process again.
We knew to either feed him or use a pacifier to help ear popping, but our son got hungry before take-off and ate most of his formula before we even got to the runway. The by-product of this was him falling asleep and that made it all the more easier. He didn't wake up during the ascent and wasn't bothered when he did wake during flight. He was in/out of sleep again for the long descent or did a lot of yawning on his own, again with not complaints. (I forgot to mention that we were a bit worried about all this because earlier in the week he was diagnosed (early) with his first ear infection.) On the way home he fed on the ascent and sucked on his pacifier on the way down, with success both ways. He was a little fussy on the way home due to the flight being near his bedtime, but overall it would have been difficult to know that he was the youngest person on the plane (and the only baby on the plane for the ride home).
In June/July we have a bigger test for him since we will be flying coast to coast. To insure comfort we had to buy a seat for him, but that should let us have our own row again, depending on the plane. I can only hope the staff of this airline will be as helpful and accommodating as the one we used to go North. After seeing their fee schedule and the red tape we had to cut through to use our "free" vouchers earned from being unceremoniously bumped (again) from a flight last year, I am not so confident. But if this short trip was any indication of our son's capacity for travel, he will be the least of my worries!