Tips For Flying With An Infant…33 Flights Later And We’re Still Learning The Ropes.

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Rafi may be just 13 months old, but he’s one well-traveled infant with 33 flight segments and some 40,000 flown miles in his trip log since he was 2.5 months old when we took him on his first airplane trip to Miami.  Gotta take advantage while he still flies free! (Don’t forget to bring a birth certificate or a passport to prove they’re under 2).

I thought we had it down to a science at this point. We fly with his Chicco Keyfit 30 rear-facing carseat, the Uppa Baby Vista stroller frame, and the Chicco car seat adapter.  (I’ve posted good sales for all of those items in the past).  Each piece is under 20 pounds and falls within the guidelines of every airline to be able to be gate-checked. We started off when he was born with a Bugaboo and a Graco Snugride, but ditched  those long ago as they were so inferior to our current combination that it was laughable.

Rafi is an excellent traveler and falls asleep very well in his carseat.

We used to bring the car seat latch base along in checked luggage but of late we stopped doing that as it just adds bulk to the plethora of items you need to travel with a baby and isn’t any safer than just buckling in the car seat.  Granted that it is slightly more convenient to just snap the car seat into the latch base in your rental car, but not convenient to make it worth shlepping along the base.

We check the actual Uppa Baby stroller seat into a floppy luggage bag as it serves no use in the airport.  We do bring it along as these days Rafi prefers to take walks or to eat off his snack tray in the stroller seat rather than in the car seat.  Remember that you can check such a bag for free as an infant exception item.

The one nice thing about going through airport security with a baby? You and your whole family are allowed to use the metal detector lane rather then be subject to the virtual strip search that are being deployed at more and more checkpoints.

In coach on planes with a 3-3 configuration I’ll book us a window and aisle seat with an empty middle.  Nobody has ever taken the middle seat yet, and if they did I’m sure they’d be happy to trade for one of our seats.  At the gate I just ask the agent if the middle seat is still open for us to put the carseat in and have always been able to do that.

On a regional jet, aka Barbie’s dream jet, with a 1-2 configuration, I’ll typically book the 2 seats and then ask the gate agent if there is another seat open for me so that there can be a seat for the carseat next to my wife.  Never had a problem with this strategy either, though I have learned that on United’s Embraer jets only rows 3, 7, 11, 16, and 19 are equipped with an extra oxygen mask and parents with lap children must sit in those rows.

We flew with Rafi in BusinessFirst on a United 767 to Hawaii when he was 4 months old in the bulkhead.  There were no extra seats but he played on the floor and didn’t cry even once. We did have bassinet seats but he did want to be in the tiny bassinet for more than a few minutes.

We flew to Argentina in First class on an AA 777 and after some reluctance they did give him use of an empty seat and he proceeded to sleep in his car seat for the whole way down.  On the return there were no extra seats, but the AA first class suite actually has a big seat and a little seat and that suited our purposes.  For that international trip we used BA Avios to pay only 15,000 miles for Rafi’s ticket instead of 10% of the full fare or $1,000 when using AA miles or when paying at the airport.

Last week we flew on Cathay Pacific in first class from JFK to Vancouver and in business class on the return.   We had flown on Cathay Pacific last year on our round-the-world adventure in first class and they became my favorite airline, so I figured this would be a great way to try them out again on a flight that doesn’t require flying across the world.

I had always assumed that every airline would accept our FAA approved carseat, but boy was I wrong on that.

For this trip we actually used Avios to purchase 3 seats (thanks BMI for the free trip ;)) so that Rafi would be guaranteed his own seat.  On the Cathay 777 in First class there is basically a 4 person section and a 2 person section.  There was 1 person in the other section and there were just the 3 of us in the 4 person section.  Much to our chagrin though the flight attendants informed us that Cathay Pacific does not abide by FAA regulations and does not allow rear-facing car seats to be used in any class.  They actually tried to convince us to set up the carseat to be forward facing, but it’s simply not designed to do that and would have been downright dangerous, though technically would have been fine by their rulebook.  Well, there went any chance of having a nice peaceful flight.  The lead flight attendant consulted with the captain and the only compromise they would agree to was to hold Rafi during takeoff/landing, allow him to be in the carseat during the flight, but we would have to wake him up and hold him every time the seatbelt light came on.  Apparently they feel that holding a child during turbulence is safer than being buckled in a 5 point harness. 🙄

But everything with Asian carriers are strictly by the book and nobody is willing to do anything to bend any rules, so the only acceptable option was to hold Rafi during takeoff/landing and then try to secure him in a regular plane seat.  We had our own personal flight attendant in First and she really did try her hardest to accommodate us.  She made an elaborate bed with pillows on all sides to try to secure Rafi from rolling off the bed. At home of course we don’t use pillows or a blanket in Rafi’s crib, but here they were needed to secure him from falling down. Unfortunately the buckle did practically nothing as it could not be made tight enough for him, but Cathay is fine with that in turbulence and wouldn’t make us wake him up even though he would be totally unsecured, so long as wasn’t in that 5 point harness during turbulence…

At any rate I just stayed up for the 5 hour flight and checked on Rafi every few minutes to make sure he was OK and indeed he slept on the flat bed for the entire flight.

Had we had a forward facing carseat we would’ve been able to secure him in that in First Class.  I was about to go out and buy one for the return trip but I started doing some research on their website and it turns out that in business class you can’t even have a forward facing carseat.  On some planes you can’t even have a forward facing carseat in coach.

On the return trip we went through the same rigmarole, except that now it was 10:50pm PDT/1:50am EDT and Rafi was not happy about being held.  He cried before takeoff but fell asleep as the wheels went up.  In business the service isn’t nearly as personal as in first and the seat though still lie-flat is much smaller and less secure.  I used our pillows to try to secure the bed for Rafi but it was far from ideal and we had to constantly check on him.

I started researching the subject even more.  I learned that despite the fact that the FAA requires US based airlines to accept FAA approved carseats, you actually can’t have any carseats in Delta’s new lie-flat BusinessElite seating on their 777 aircraft.  Lots of other foreign carries also will not allow carseats and parents of small children should definitely try to avoid them.

Lesson learned from this trip: Always check those carseat policies before buying a ticket!  Had we done that I would have gladly given up flying on a world class airline and stuck with a US carrier like American or United that allows carseats without any issues.  The Cathay trip may have been 7th heaven when we were pre-child but now it was anything but.

I’ll talk more about Cathay business class vs. first class and all about Vancouver in an upcoming trip notes post.

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Pretty soon we’ll be shopping for a convertible carseat. Have any recommendations? Are there any that are better for travel or are they all monstrosities?

Have any other travel tips or lessons learned from your travels? Post ’em in the comments! Learn anything useful in this post? I’d love to hear that as well.

As for me, all I can say is Gd bless my awesome wife for putting up with my travel addiction!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathay Pacific First Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cathay Pacific Business Class

Rafi’s flight paths since birth.

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51 Comments On "Tips For Flying With An Infant…33 Flights Later And We’re Still Learning The Ropes."

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Yaks

We recently flew southwest with a 1 1/2 year old aside from the usual issues that crop up on most southwest flights the flights were pretty much uneventful. The one awesome thing about southwest is; if there is even a single empty seat on the flight and you board in the a group (or even with family boarding) you can grab a row of 3 seats and end up getting 3 seats for the price of 2! This worked for us on 3 out of 4 flights, even though they told us at the gate that they were totally full! The last one they were actually full.

MarkS

I absolutely hate when flight attendants stick to ridiculous rules and policies (regarding kids) even when they don’t make any sense.

For car seats, I have the Maxi Cosi Priori and I’m very happy with it!

BR

Do other passengers ever get mad at you for a bringing a baby in first/business class. I know if I paid thousands of dollars for a ticket (not that I would) I wouldn’t want to hear a baby crying.

I know that this issue has been discussed a lot in the past, but just wanted to get your thoughts.

Ari

My son will be 13 months when we’ll fly elal direct lax–>tlv for sukkos. He’s already in a child forward facing car seat (as opposed to an infant seat). We are have the uppa baby stroller as well. Have no clue what I’m going to do when bouncing around from taxi to taxi.
Let’s say we go on a trip, tour – shlep the car seat around everywhere?
Thx

leeboy

We have the bugaboo and its not very convenient at all. Was wondering why you feel the uppa babby better for travel?
Took my kids on lots of domestic flights and the one lesson I can share is, buy them a seat or leave em’ at home!

funny

Dan your funny flying with one kids it so easy we need advice with 3 and more etc….

Dan

@Yaks:
True, though you don’t get to board until after group A and by then you’ll be sitting all the way in the back.

For short nonstops it’s fine, but I won’t connect to fly Southwest.

@BR:
My opinion?
You pay extra for a nicer seat and better service.

You are not paying for solitude from crabby adults or crabby babies, if you want that then fly private. Anyway babies are often put in the bulkhead that is just a row away from business class.

Until the airlines make a rule against it I don’t see why a family should be treated as a 2nd class citizen or looked down upon for flying in a premium class. And I’ve never run into any issues.

@Ari:
Might be worth investing in a 30/35 pound rear facing seat…they are just so convenient for traveling.

@leeboy:
The bugaboo is just not a convenient stroller, period. I have had both and there’s no comparison. The Uppa Baby kicks it in every possible way.
Try it for yourself from a store with a good return policy (Amazon, BB&B) and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

@funny:
When I’m at that stage in life I’ll be happy to advise.

joe

We bought the Britax roundabout classic when Target had it for $99!! you stIll have the safety of a BrItax at half the prIce and half the sIze! Just remember that the bulovourd is huge as it is made for a max weight if 70 lbs. Show me a 10 yr old sitting in one of those still!

procrastinator

my wife is the stayhometype 🙁

Marshall

@procrastinator: And her husband is the procrastinator type!

C!

If ur kid is over 1 they should be sitting in a convertiable car seat, Infant car seats are ment for up to age 1 OR the weight limit.

@ ari rent a car, or take a bus. If your in a taxi u need a car seat but a bus is actually a lot safer and u don’t need one

C!

Also curios to know why u switched the graco for the Chicco? Which graco Didu have?

Dan

@C!:
Baloney.
The Chicco Keyfit 30 is designed to be used for up to 30 pounds/30 inches tall. In factit can even be used longer as long as theire is an inch of plastic above the child’s head and they fit into it comfortably.
The longer they stay rear-facing, the safer.

@C!:
The Chicco is just much more user friendly. The straps are way easier to adjust, the latch is much easier to use, all around it’s just a better carseat.
But don’t take my word for it, take consumer reports:
http://www.dansdeals.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cr3.png

yk

I am taking a 13 month old from JFK to Tel Aviv I have the Uppababy with a greco rear facing car seat, will ELAL let me use that on the flight?

MarkS

@Dan: You wrote: Anyway babies are often put in the bulkhead that is just a row away from business class.

How true! I once had a bulkhead and my son was screaming for a long time, prompting the lady sitting in front of us in first class to repeatedly complain/ tell the stewardess to silence the noise etc. Just goes to show that there could be noise in the first class cabin too!

EP

check out the diono carseat for your next carseat. it is small and easy to travel with.

Dini

I second the Diono. Aside from being one of the safest carseats on the market, it is very narrow, comes with a carry strap & the seat part will fold up to make it easier to carry. You can check it out here: http://us.diono.com/en/car-seats/radian-r120

Ari

@dan
This is the best purchase we ever made
http://kidsflysafe.com/

We always bought seats for our son since he was born. He is 2 now. We used to bring our brutal marathon car seat on the plane which just got annoying carrying it around the airport on my back. Now we just pop this in our carry on and gate check our stroller. Done.

Adamchik

One family’s approach: http://imgur.com/zwwPo

creditor

beautiful TR, and congrats to Rafi!
dan, I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to right up something now, about how to add infant on a reward ticket
I’m sure I’m not the only one waiting for such
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=.0

rots5

hi dan, just flew delta and even though they were such nasty ppl, it was a gr8 flight and tyhose first cvlass cabins look amazing! 🙂 (i sat economy comfort so yes, i see what your saying that the infants bassinet is the back wall of first class, what are the regulations in terms of delta and carseats, bec gd willing i will be flying back witha third

Jeffrey

I agree – adding an infant (in lap or not) to a reward ticket would be very useful! I’d also like to hear more about how you helped Rafi adjust to the actual traveling part… time change, maybe food differences, etc. Our 10-month old is slowly getting more traveled, and does very well on planes, but we’re nervous about the leap to a real long-distance transcon – or, even moreso, overseas! – flight.

Oren

What happens to the car seat when there is no extra seat available, do all brands fit overhead?

Dan

@Dini:
Looks interesting, but at 23 pounds it’s 8 pounds heavier than the 50 pound Britax, 6 pounds heavier than the 65 pound Britax, and 4 pounds heavier than the 70 pound Britax.
Is it worth the extra weight?

@Ari:
From what I understand not all airlines will accept CARES, but I’ve done no research into it.

@Adamchik:
Lol…

@creditor:
http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/20391

@Jeffrey:
He actually adjusted very easily to both time changes. I’ll cover more info on that in the vancouver trip notes.

@Oren:
They’ll gate check it if it won’t fit overhead. On jumbo jets there is plenty of space though.

Dini

I think that it is worth the extra weight. The other carseat that I have is the Britax Advocate (which I also highly recommend), which is 2 lbs lighter but much bulkier. It also helps that my husband does the carseat shlepping 😉

Michael W Travels

Nice post. We just got back from a three country Southeast Asia trip with our 7.5 month old. So far we have taken him on 3 trips and he has flown a little over 30,000 miles already!
We’ve only flown with him in our lap to save us some money/ miles.
In terms of car seats, the lightest one that we found is the Cybex Aton. We brought it on our first two trips, not our most recent. The best feature asides from it’s light weight is that no base is needed to install it. We really like it and would definitely recommend it as a first car seat.

Easy

Great article Dan. This is a favorite of ours, its a bit pricey but works for our needs: http://www.gogobabyz.com/product-i14550-c26-g6-b0-p0-gogo_Kidz_Travelmate_.aspx

Dan

@Dini:
I’m actually considering this one for $200 after 20% off:
http://www.buybuybaby.com/product.asp?SKU=40428567&

That one is 6 pounds lighter. Plus it has none of that sweaty felt material that is so prevalent on convertible car seats.

Am I making a mistake?

@Michael W Travels:
Brave to do that all on a lap. But you must’ve gotten slammed with 10% infant fees?

The Keyfit 30 weighs just 9 pounds, just a pound more than the Aton. And you never need a base to install an infant car seat, they’re just for convenience.

@Easy:
What makes that any better than this?
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JHN3AS/?tag=cl03f-20

Easy

That looks pretty good too. The only advantage would be how sturdy it is with just a belt but if it works then great!

Dan

@Easy:
The reviews seem pretty good.

aj

how many bmi accounts did you open up??? You would have had to have done 375 for those flights. I hope you had the system automated

azhoopsfan

just got back using from a cross country trip using the Cosco Scenera. It was great. Very light and fit easily rear facing in AA economy.

Dan, will you start booking seats for infants when kid no. 2 comes? That’s what did it for us. We were fine with a lap child with one kid, but travelling with 2 is harder. I don’t know how people can travel with 3 or more kids.

ARJ

We just went with a cheap, lightweight seat for travel and a nicer one for our car.
I can’t remember which one we had, but the Cosco Scenera is supposed to be a good seat, can use front or rear facing (to 40 lbs), and weighs less than 10 lbs.
We liked this one as well when he was a little older http://www.safetrafficsystem.com/ and would choose either the seat or the vest depending on what kind of travel we were planning.
It is good to look at your kid’s genetics when looking at the size limit on seats. You would have to raise a monster to need a 120 lb seat. Mine always grew out of them height wise way before the so called height “limits” on the seats and at a small fraction of the weight limit.

Ray

Dan,
What you recommend in a 3-3-3 seating configuration, for Me my wife and 1 yr old?

IZZY

@Dan: Dan I think this:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004MDZVD2/?tag=cl03f-20
http://www.gogobabyz.com/product-i14550-c26-g6-b0-p0-gogo_Kidz_Travelmate_.aspx
looks so much more durable than this
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JHN3AS/?tag=cl03f-20
the second one looks like its about to tip the suitcase over any minute. No?

Lanny

Dan, thanks for this post. I never would have been interested previously but now that we’re expecting and we have no intention to stop traveling… I need to learn this stuff. As someone else mentioned, I too really appreciated your previous post about attaching a child to an award. If you have any updates on that, it would be great. I’m hoping to use Ultimate Rewards to transfer into United and book a ticket on ANA flying SEA-NRT on the Dreamliner or Singapore LAX-NRT on the A380 in Business. Do you know what the rules are for infants? Is it the operating carrier or the ticketing carrier? Thanks so much again.

Miriam

Dan, Whats the best way to make sure that I’ll be able to bring the carseat on to the plane? Last time they told us there were no extra seats but when we got on the plane (of course after we already gave in our carseat) there were a few extras… We usually travel for yomtov to parents so the flights are generally pretty full.

Jodi

We bought the Combi Coccoro for our son. It is very light weight at 11 lbs so when I fly alone with him it isn’t hard to carry my toddler in one arm and the car seat on the other down the aisle of the plane. It’s also very easy to install in cars or taxis quickly using the seat belt. We live in NYC so we dont have a car. We need needed one that was light and easy to travel with espeically when my husband isn’t with me. This seat has been great. Check out thecarseatlady.com. Fully of great car seat info. I was able to get the COmbi flash stroller (similar to a snap n go) that has been great for use in airports. The Coccoro fit into it just like a infant seat and snap n go. I dont believe they make the flash anymore but it’s possible to find them on craigslist, etc.

Doug

Unlike in cars, the increased safety of a child in a car seat is negligible (less than 1 life saved per year in the U.S.), since the few deaths that do occur in airplane accidents are not usually impact-related. That said, keeping a small child restrained in a seat may potentially limit their ability to pick up the flu by touching surfaces, etc.

Doug

@Doug: clarification: the increased safety of a child using a child safety seat vs. not using a child safety seat in an airplane is negligible.

Jodi

You are not just using the seat to protect them from death. It also protects them from injury in the event of turbulence.

azhoopsfan

The seat also protects your mental well being if your kid won’t behave on your lap.

Michael W Travels

Dan- we did need to pay the 10% fee which came to $575. Not so bad for biz class!
I did not know that all car seats didn’t need the base. Maybe the thing was that the Aton is the easiest to install.
(I’m not to up on the car seat info, this is our first one!)

artcraftcrocs

hey dan, im flying with my newborn on deltas 747 in business, what tips do you have for me? i booked a bassinet. what seats have a bassinet? and from what i understand they will not allow a carseat in the lieflat seats? thanks

dasi

Another one for the Diono. We have one and it’s a really great car seat, a friend of mine joined myself and my 2 kids with her sons car seat (also a Diono) and we were able to fit it between my graco snugride and my Diono (which I don’t think would have been possible with the Britax). I find the Britax to be very bulky, even though it is a lighter seat then the Diono. I did a lot of research before buying our car seats and Diono was highly rated. It also folds making it easier to carry. Good luck making your choice.

Danny375

You put your child in Business Class? I would be livid if I’m trying to sleep for my business meeting coming up or getting work done and then there goes the wailing of a child. They do not and never should need to be up front.

Part of being a parent. Don’t like it, don’t travel with the kids.

artcraftcrocs

whens the kids older ill leave him in coach for the meanwhile hes gotta be up front with me. terrible about that business meeting though.

azhoopsfan

With noise cancelling earphones and earplugs, a wailing child shouldn’t be a problem. A business traveler with an important meeting should be prepared.

John

Dan, my son is 15 months and has 26 segments, not sure how many miles. So far his only bad trip has been MCI-SAN. We are taking our 2nd trip with him to LIH, he did great the first time, hoping he does great this time. If you have to sit coach on a long trip,we find it easier to spend the night or 2 on the west coast then go onto Hawaii from there instead of one long trip from the midwest.

Chani

I have a Diono R100. With a $20 luggage cart from target and two bungee cords, I checked my stroller in with my luggage and used the car seat as my stroller. On the bigger planes I was able to literally wheel right it right up to my seat! Then there’s no waiting for a (possibly damaged) stroller to be brought up and things move faster through security as well!!

bb

dont they say not to bring the birth cert? that way yo ucan get away with free tickets till they really look over 2? i thought domestically you can do that. not internationally, obviously

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