Flying with a Baby?

Folks, there’s a lot going on in Casa Enfante Now What.  But, first I need your advice:

We’re flying on a multi-leg trip cross-country in a couple of weeks.  Seats are picked (prop planes and regular jets) and now it’s down to the packing and travelling.  I’m terrified of TSA and their antics.  Lame, I know, but I am.  They have a helpful site, but I want first-hand thoughts.  Please help –

Does a stroller go through to check at the gate?  Should I take one?
How does said gate-going stroller go through security?  Do I want to do that?
How does 5 month old go through security?  On the belt? In arms?  Pass through?
Carrier or no carrier?
Will formula powder get me arrested?  Keep it in original container?
Does she get a ticket?  Or is she a non-entity?
What else do I need to know?

12 Responses

  1. Oh, yes, first flights are terrifying. So are second and third and… Well, here are my $0.02:

    Yes, strollers go through screening, and are checked at the gate. I just handed it over to the TSA folks (sans baby), and they worked their screening magic on it, giving it back to me once I was cleared. No big hassle. I’ve flown both with and without a stroller, and had equal success both ways. When Henry was little, we wore him constantly, and didn’t bother with the stroller. Now, we always take one, since it means I can strap him down instead of sprint after him when he gets ornery. I’ve heard frequent stories of strollers getting broken by the baggage handlers while being tossed under the plane, but ours have always emerged intact.

    An infant goes through security in your arms. Believe it or not, her shoes will have to be removed. When I’ve worn Henry in the carrier (Ergo), it also had to get patted down, pockets searched, etc., but I was never asked to remove it.

    I’d keep the formula in the original container, if it’s not too much of a pain. It won’t get you arrested. I took liquid formula in bottles, and was asked to open and taste one of them.

    She only gets a ticket if you want her to have her own seat. Otherwise, she rides for free (on your lap).

    Have hard liquor waiting for you at your destination, and remember that it’ll all be over soon.

    • Megan, this is wonderful. But tasting formula? Too far! And what does it say about us that our little darling has never worn an actual shoe or shoe-like object?

  2. I don’t know if domestic flights are different, but I’m flying internationally soon and had to buy an “infant fare” for my 3 month old, even though he isn’t going to be in a seat of his own. It was approximately $60. I would call the airline to check whether you need to buy a separate fare for her. They also informed me that they would give me a seat with more leg room and a bassinet that could go at my feet (it’s a red-eye though so I’m not sure if that makes a difference). Good luck!

  3. We’re not flying till March, but I’m so glad you asked all this. I also looked up that some car rental companies will rent you a car seat for $8-10 a day – that way we don’t have to take a stroller and a car seat.

  4. I don’t actually have answers to most of these, although I’m going to read other people’s answers for ideas. Thanks!

    I’m especially unsure how to deal with the security screening what with the new procedures and all. (The TSA freaks me out a little, too.) Are they going to strip search all the kids, to make sure there aren’t explosives in their diapers? I don’t know. I’m also a little apprehensive that we’ll be finding out in detail fairly soon, as my in-laws want us to come to their time share approximately two weeks after our due date.

    As far as the carriers, go, though, I would think that unless it’s terribly bulky, it’s probably a bit better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. But I do tend to over-pack. If you’re worried about taking a stroller and having it get damaged, you could always just get a cheap umbrella stroller to take. I think we’ll probably end up doing that for traveling, anyway.

  5. Thank you for posting this! We are traveling for Christmas and I have no idea what to do! And I too am terrified of TSA. And I don’t really want them “patting down my baby.” But I guess they probably will have to because she’s NOT going through the new machines. It’s basically an x-ray and it’s safety hasnt been thoroughly studied (long-term). But I digress. Good luck! Let us all know how it goes.

  6. We went to NYC back in September with our then 10 month old and everything went very smoothly. We took a backpack type carrier and Ash carried Emma all through the airport with it. It did need to come off and go through the x-ray. I carried Emma through the scanner. We also carried along our carseat knowing that if there was an empty seat on the plane we would be able to strap her in which there was on each of our flights. We didn’t end up having to pay a fare for her because she was considered a lap child. If there hadn’t been a seat available we were told they would check her carseat at the gate.

    The TSA website has awesome information regarding taking formula/breast milk along with you. We took powdered formula (the enfamil single packs were awesome) and the flight attendant gave us heated up bottled water.

    Just FYI if your baby still takes infant cereal (rice, oatmeal etc.) make sure it’s in it’s own leakproof bag of some sort if you check it. Somehow due to the pressure change i had a box of oatmeal explode and get all over everything in that suitcase.

  7. We just took our first flight with n this past weekend. We were grateful we didn’t have to make the choice about the new scanners – our security gates on our outbound flight only had metal detectors, and returning, there was one of each. We got in the line for the metal detector (unintentionally – where the lines formed, you couldn’t see which was which) and they were pulling folks out of that line at random, but a toddler in front of us threw a fit about going through the full body scanner, so they just let us stay in the metal detector line. XD

    We got a lap fare for her, though if we’d had the extra money, a seat for her would’ve been nice. We bought a cheap jack umbrella stroller to use, and were GRATEFUL for it. Fold it, it goes through the conveyor belt x-ray machine. We had juice (for her sippy to get her to drink on take-off and landing) sealed in a bottle, liquid formula sealed in a bottle, and a bottle made up. They didn’t open the formula or juice, but tested the bottle with a pH strip. (I didn’t have to taste it, thank goodness.) We don’t heat n’s bottles, so that wasn’t an issue. (we also had a short flight, so didn’t have to investigate the changing tables on the airplane.) Bring lots of things that will distract RR, and see if you can get her used to headphones. (n wouldn’t have any of it, but I wish she would’ve; they had free tv, including cartoons.)

    I brought my ergo, and wore her during take-off and landing. Take-off it probably wasn’t a big deal, but I was glad for it during landing, because she’s squirmy, and with the forward forces, I probably would’ve let go of her. She went through security in our arms, but not in the carrier. I wasn’t required to take the carrier off, though.

    We didn’t want to bring our super nice car seat with us, so we ordered a cheap one from w.almart and had it sent to J’s aunt, and installed it when we got there. Gate checked it on the way back, and now we’ve got an extra car seat. But hey, it was cheaper than renting a car, and it was insurance against something happening to our nicer (and MUCH more expensive to replace) car seat.

  8. Everyone has given you some great information. I just want to add one thing: babies generally cry the most while the plane takes off and while it lands. I’ve found that this is because they can’t pop their ears, and the pressure changes bother them. So that’s when we eat snacks (or do a bottle or nurse, depending on the age). Since she’s chewing and swallowing, her ears stay clear, and she’s that much happier during the flight.
    Every time I’ve flown domestically, I don’t buy my baby a ticket, but I have to bring a birth certificate or immunization record to prove she’s under 2 years old. Then when you’re checking your luggage, you just tell them you have a lap child, and they write that on your boarding pass. Most airlines (and possibly all are required to) check a carseat in addition to your allotted baggage, free of charge. Wahoo!
    Good luck! I’m sure things will go well for you. 🙂

  9. I saw this ( ) last night, and couldn’t help but think of you, or at least this discussion.

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