We did it, we survived 5 flights just me and my 3 month old. I learned a lot along the way and wanted to record it so that I don't forget what worked and what didn't when we do it all again next month.
I took my baby with me to a friends wedding in Portland, OR and it was filled with lots of firsts beginning with her first plane ride. I decided to hold her on my lap as I didn't think the car seat would work well because it's so big, I'm cheap, and Caroline loves to be held. I bought a car seat bag and a stroller bag online before she was even born and I used both of those. I checked the car seat in the bag and also put her clothes in the bag packed in packing cubes (from Rick Steves). I also had one big suitcase that I checked with my clothes and toiletries and her Rock 'n' Play sleeper, I was so happy that it fit in the big suitcase (when I took it apart) because that meant I could leave the pack n play at home and she would have her familiar bed with us. I carried on a backpack with her diapers (we used disposable for the trip though we use cloth at home), wipes, extra clothes, blankets, burp rags, toys, water bottle, my wallet and ipad. I also had her stroller (a City Mini with bag since the airline won't cover damage to a stroller unless it was in a bag) and the Ergo carrier. Oh, and I had my baby!
We got through security and everyone was super helpful but then it was time to feed her, I wanted to wait until we were on the plane but she was ready so I started feeding her and of course they began boarding while I was in the middle of feeding which was a bit stressful. I had to close up the stroller and put it in the bag, load her into the Ergo and get us down the jetway which was ridiculous. On the plane I finished feeding her and she fell asleep. When we arrived I put her back in the Ergo and we collected our stroller bag. I liked having the stroller in the Dallas airport since we had quite a walk but I didn't like having to use the bag as it was cumbersome. If I had my husband with me it wouldn't have been a problem at all or if I had a cheap umbrella stroller I wouldn't worry about it getting destroyed without a bag. Unfortunately I was by myself and my baby is still too little for an umbrella stroller.
For our next flight I was better prepared for boarding and was able to pre board and the nice gate agent carried my stroller bag for me. I pulled out everything we would need during the flight and put it in the seat back pocket. I again nursed on takeoff which went well. As soon as we were in the air baby had a blow out diaper! Did you know that airplane bathrooms have changing tables? I didn't either but they do! After changing her diaper I needed to put a clean outfit on her and since the back row of the plane was empty I sat there and changed her, I was planning to go back to my seat but the flight attendants let me stay there and brought my stuff to me. We played, napped, and ate. It was a good flight.
We got to Seattle and had no trouble other than the stairs leading down to the plane for our last flight. I was carrying baby on my front, a backpack and then had to haul the stroller down the stairs and along a long corridor before finally dropping it at the plane side baggage check. Also, no preboarding and all of the business travelers crowded the boarding area and were a bit rude. Thankfully once on the plane we were fine.
For our return trip we checked the car seat and the stroller and just went with the ergo and back pack. This worked much better for us! The only problem we faced was the super early boarding that Alaska air does. We got through security and I had wanted to get some water and use the restroom and thought I'd have a few minutes as it was 9:45 and our flight was scheduled to depart at 10:15. However, we got to the gate and they were calling final boarding so no water or potty for me and I had to climb over people to get to my seat! I'll give myself a little more time in Portland next time.
Overall here is what I would do next time:
- check the stroller (unless Dad is with us)
- use ergo and a backpack
- make sure to give a little extra time through security
- pack several outfits in the backpack
- ask for preboarding rather than assume they will do it
- bring more snacks for myself or just plan to spend money on the inflight snacks
I'll be testing my skills again in November and will let you know how that goes!