Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Flying With a Toddler: Part 2

You might remember from my Traveling Cross Country with a Toddler post that I was a little apprehensive about spending 8 hours crammed into a tiny airplane seat with Ez on my lap. I even called Southwest to see how much it would cost to get Ez his own infant-priced seat, which is supposedly discounted, but was actually going to be $200 more than my ticket. WTF?? So obviously that was a no-go. It turns out I didn't need to worry at all. Ez did great AND he had his own seat on all four flights (for free)! It was basically best case scenarios the whole way. One thing that could have been a real hassle but wound up working to our favor was the crazy cold, snowy weather in Denver, where we had a layover. A lot of people on our flight wouldn't have been able to make their connecting flights and wound up waiting till the next day to fly, which means more empty seats for us! And then the flight from Denver to Boston had a ton of empty seats, probably for the same reason. 

As you can see from the picture below, it was cold in Denver. Like -10 degrees cold. A friend who lives in Denver says that only happens a few times a year, so I guess we're just lucky like that ;)

For the past few weeks, Ez has been all about airplanes. Whenever he hears one he stops what he's doing and points up at the sky and then waves. It's the cutest thing. I wasn't really sure if he would understand that we were actually flying on a plane, but I think he did. We sat near the wing and he loved watching out the window during takeoff and landing. 

I know moms seem to be split 50/50 on whether it's better to go for the aisle or the window seat with a lap child. On our first flight I went for aisle, because I figured we'd have a little more space if someone sat next to us, and maybe Ez could stand or walk around in the aisle if he got too antsy. Well, no one sat in the middle seat and all he wanted to do was look out the window. He was practically climbing over our patient neighbor to watch during takeoff. So the next three flights we sat by the window and that kept Ez occupied for the first 20 minutes or so before we actually took off. 

Another tip I had read was to not pre-board. I ignored that. We flew Southwest and it's first come first serve seating, so I actually paid extra so we could be in Boarding Class A. A little something I've learned from previous flights is no one wants to sit next to the toddler. That way anyone who sat next to us was choosing to sit next to a kid, and therefore hopefully liked kids and didn't mind random screaming. (Ez didn't do any tantrum screaming, but he does sometimes randomly scream out of excitement. I find it kinda cute, but I know I'm a little biased.) I also just plopped Ez in his own seat and I figured that if anyone was wandering up and down the aisle seatless right before takeoff I'd move him to my lap, but thankfully that never happened. 

During all of our layovers I had Ez running laps in the terminals. Gotta wear that boy out! It's funny because Ez actually made some friends in the airport, a girl a little older and her sister who was about 1, and their mom kept asking them to stop running while I'm there being the bad influence encouraging Ez to run as much as he could. 

Clearly my strategy paid off:

Ez slept almost the whole way from Burbank to Denver. And then from Denver to Burbank he stood in front of his seat and played with his puzzle and cars for about an hour and a half. At that point we had to use the airplane changing table - a turbulent, cramped experience that I hope none of you ever has to experience. Also, Ez happened to get diaper rash that day, which he almost never gets, so that made the experience even more fun, with him screaming and squirming on the 1.5 foot flimsy folding "table". That diaper rash was probably the worst part of the whole travel experience, but thankfully it went away in about a day and a half. After the diaper changing fiasco we read the one book I brought a few times, watched about half an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and then Ez entertained himself reading the emergency flight instructions. Then the flight was over! I'm not gonna say it flew by, but there were no meltdowns, Ez didn't throw anything at other passengers, and all the flight attendants commented on how well-behaved he was. That's my boy :)

One more tip I learned about Southwest: they don't carry milk, so bring your own! Thankfully I had time during all the layovers to pick up a bottle. 

Another tip I read a lot from other mommy travelers was to fly in the morning, while kids are typically on their best behavior. I didn't really have too much of a choice in our flight times, because I'm all about getting the best deal. That meant flying out at 2:00 pm and arriving in Boston at 1:00 am on the way there. That worked out fine since Ez took his afternoon nap on the plane. If he hadn't napped, I'm sure the flight would have been much less pleasant. On the way home we left Boston at 8:00 am, but in order to beat traffic and get there on time we were up by 4:30 am. That could have been awful, but it wound up working out great because Ez slept on both flights. He slept almost the whole way from Boston to Denver, the longest flight, and he took a shorter nap from Denver to Boston. AND we got three seats to ourselves on the last flight. See? Best case scenarios the whole way. I wish I had tips on how you could pull that off every time you travel with kids, but I'm pretty sure we just got really lucky and our next flight will probably be completely different. I mean, I always fly Southwest and I've never been on a flight with empty seats in the past 5 years. Normally we're all packed in like sardines.

While Ez was sleeping I started the first Game of Thrones book and enjoyed the view:

Gorgeous, right??

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