Special Post: Flying Alone with a Baby

Special Post! Usually I just do my posts as updates for our family's life, but I took a trip where I flew alone with Zoe and I observed many interesting things.

Nate's family wanted to see Zoe, so they were gracious enough to fly Zoe and I out to Connecticut for a visit. This trip from Connecticut to McAllen consisted of an hour flight between McAllen and Houston, and then a three and a half hour flight between Houston and Hartford.

Some observations:

  1. The check-in counter: When you travel with a baby, you have more stuff than you could ever imagine. You start traveling with car seats, strollers, Pack N Plays, etc... Getting from the car to the check-in counter is a feat in itself.

  1. Security: If you're lucky, they will send you down the handicapped line and you can take your own sweet time because not many people are behind you. Did you know that they have you fold up the stroller and put it on the conveyor belt? I have flown for years. No idea. So I have to empty my pockets, take off my shoes, hope I put my ID back in my wallet, take out the vast amounts of baby liquids that I carry on, take off my jacket, put the carry on bag up, keep pushing all of this forward as I am doing it to keep the line moving, lift the stroller on to the conveyor belt, I feel like I should then do the hokey pokey and turn myself around because I look like a crazy person anyway. This is one of the places in the airport where everyone is worried about their shoes and belts, so they don't help the lady that is alone with a baby. I don't mind, I let people go around me. When I get to the other side, the best part is watching the male TSA agents try to unfold the stroller. The guy in Hartford had it down. Other times, I smile and try to explain while the female TSA agents laugh and make fun of the guys. Poor guys. Those strollers are not easy and they make about 700 different kinds.

  1. People that can't believe I am alone with the baby: So many people would tell me that they couldn't believe that I flew alone with the baby. For a seasoned traveler who has flown with a baby before, but not alone, it wasn't a huge deal. There was a point during the three and a half hour flight on the plane with broken air conditioning where I almost cried because we were both so hot, but that was the worst it got. These are acting like I should be knighted by the Queen of England because of my accomplishment. It is a fascinating experience, but not impossible.

  1. Baby Makes Friends: The baby immediately makes it so that it is easy to make friends on the plane and in the airport. Well, Zoe does, she smiles at everyone. If I, God-willing, have another one someday, I'm sure it will be a terror. EVERYONE talks to me. I don't mind this because I am an extrovert, but some people may not like it. I get, "Oh, I have two at home." and "I have a six-month old granddaughter. The food service people went crazy. I had a lady who was working in the back of the Whataburger in the airport walk all the way out to me while I was waiting to see Zoe better. The people at the McDonald’s were just mesmerized by her and then the lady sitting at the tables eating her breakfast chimes in with something like, “She is just the sweetest. The best and funniest side of people comes out when they see a baby.

  1. The Tram: In large airports, they have trams that move people from terminal to terminal. People are very helpful on the plane, but not here. On the tram, it is every man for himself. I saw a man that saw the doors were closing and almost lost his luggage because it got caught in the door. This happened three times and every time it delayed the tram. People would run in, get stuck and then the doors at to stay open longer. The next tram comes in two minutes. Chill people. When getting off the tram they act like they are running from Zombies. It is like the Wild West getting on and off of these things.

  1. Damsel in Distress: People transform at the gate and in the airplane to the most helpful people in the world, men women, flight attendants. Everyone is so helpful. It is so refreshing. One flight attendant crawled under the seats to get Zoe's pacifier and then sanitized it. Men constantly offer to carry my carry-on bag into the plane and lift it into the overhead bin. After the flight, everyone reassures me that she did great and that she is such a good baby. On two different flights I had people stop me after to tell me how good she did. If you need to restore your faith in humanity, travel alone with an infant on a plane. People are actually kind and generous.

  1. The Airport: The airport is crazy place where normal rules don’t apply. People are eager to help strangers, people are willing to have a conference call in the middle of a busy Gate waiting area, but my favorite thing that I think is absolutely ridiculous is that it is acceptable to drink at ANY time in the airport. I got off the plane in Houston at 10:00 AM and there were people polishing off a beer. WHAT? I am not against a good glass of wine, but 10:00 am? All I could think of was this passage from Acts 2:15, “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning!” WRONG! They are toasted! I guess everyone has their own way of dealing with the fear of flying, some people listen to music or watch movies on the flight, some people take Dramamine, and some take the edge off with a little liquid courage. I prefer distracting myself by talking to my neighbor. I don’t fear flying, but landing makes me nervous.

Here are a few tips that I have found helpful:
  1. BUY A CAR SEAT BAG! On every airline, the car seat checks for free. Buy a bag to put it in, they sell them at Babies R Us. It leaves plenty of room to stuff extra items in there and you don’t have to pay for it.
  2. Take the stroller, if for nothing else, to help you carry all of your stuff through the airport.
  3. Wear your baby when getting on and off the plane. This frees up your arms to carry all of the other mounds of stuff your baby requires.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  5. Breathe. You will get through it. It is actually a lot of fun. People will love your baby and they will help you.

All in all it was a very fun trip. I love airports. I love flying. I am so grateful to all the people who helped me out on this trip.

Here are a few pics:

Our first flight alone!

No More Pictures Mom!

Traveling is hard work.

That's all for now. God is good.

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