I feel like this post is much anticipated for some of you
either because you’re about to do your first flights yourselves, OR, you know
our family personally and know that you’re about to be entertained.  I won’t delay … here’s what we have to report
back on the intimidating experience of braving the skies in 2015:

Plans, back up plans and back up back up plans are my
obsession.  I manage my anxiety about new
situations by creating as many plans for as many scenarios as I can
imagine.  It’s probably a side effect of
being the first born, but walking into the unknown becomes a routine of itself
after a while.  Flying was no
different.  For weeks I tried to envision
potential pitfalls by exhaustively polling my friends with babies about their
flying tips and recommendations.  Google
can give you all the information you need as far as what to bring, and I don’t
feel like packing was an issue for us other than complete LACK of space for
your own stuff because you have so much gear for baby.  Lugging the gear around was annoying but that
is what it is, you can’t get around having to have tons of gear because you
wind up needing each and every single item.
My expensive eye cream had to be moved to the Cut List, so you KNOW I
was travelling light because the old me carried that with me like my debit

So after an outbound and a return trip, each with a layover
I think our experience boiled down to luck.
On the way to Florida we encountered NASTY and I mean downright
unhelpful, attitude giving bitches for flight attendants.  That made a HUGE difference.  We had idiots sabotaging us from every angle
and that just destroyed us.  Meanwhile on
the way back everyone could not have been nicer, and that made a difference.  Had
we not had the nice return trip, I am not so sure I would’ve connected the dots
to figure out it was the flight attendants who could make or break the
trip.  That was an unpleasant finding
though because for me, the planner, I like to be able to plan around chaos and
you can’t exactly anticipate an encounter with a Grizzly Bitch or seven.  

We were given the advice to fly Southwest because of the non
assigned seating.  Our friends had all
told us that the move was, you buy two tickets and then talk to the flight
attendants about letting you board your car seat and put it in the third seat
of a row if the flight is not full.  Many
parents we spoke to said this was absolutely the move.  Well, lucky for all of you, this did NOT work
out so now you have a record of what happens when this doesn’t work.  First of all, this plan is contingent on
finding flight attendants who apply logic and reason to situations, not angry
overworked ones who just want to get going and not talk to you.  Second of all, this is also contingent on
gate attendants who apply logic and reason, not overworked LAX disgruntled
Grinches who WOULD NOT LET ME BOARD EARLY WITH A BABY.  So they seriously impeded our ability to get
situated.  While boarding with the
commoners and holding up literally the entire boarding process because I have
baby bags, stroller, diaper bags, my bags AND a car seat to navigate down an
aisle that requires me to walk sideways to fit my recently birthed hips, I slammed
into pretty much everyone.  This did not
ingratiate us to any passengers.  

So remember, we only had two tickets, banking on this third
seat being available.  What of course
happens?  This peasant wearing Beats by
Dre headphones, ASKS ME TO GET UP and move over so he can sit in the row.  I don’t think I painted the visual here, so
let me paint it: me, covered in sweat, holding The Handful who is crying
because she’s overtired; car seat is in the window seat, I’m standing in the
middle with The Handful while Baby Daddy is trying to gate-check the
stroller.  Because the seats are
unassigned, I have to engage in a conversation with this peasant and gesture to
my screaming child (I still don’t understand why he wanted his seat it’s the
most puzzling piece of the story to me) that I’m waiting for my husband (yes
Sherlocks, I lied and said we’re married, it’s quicker than explaining the
entire situation, I wasn’t lying to lie).
He peasants at me something about wanting to sit closer to the front and
gets the flight attendant who is all “oh she doesn’t have a ticket for the baby?
Then she has to move the car seat” keep in mind the flight’s not full yet so
like I really don’t understand the urgency about this seat, OR why he couldn’t
ask the other 10 people in front of us for theirs.  Rabble rabble the end result is Baby Daddy has
to purchase a seat for The Handful to ensure we can sit together.  Do I think this would’ve happened if we had
normal humans as flight attendants who would’ve let us board first as a family
and possibly given me a sympathetic “hang in there” face when she started
crying?  No.  But, it was the roll of the dice as far as
the not buying a third seat move.  $250
additional cost.  Two rows behind us was
another 4 month old on her first flight.
Her mom put her in those baby headbands that block sound, that seemed
like a GREAT move, her kid slep the entire time, I think I’m gonna use that
move for sure.  She had her baby in the
K’Tan carrier which also seemed to work for them – The Handful doesn’t like
being in the carrier unless she’s being walked around to look at stuff so it
wasn’t viable for us.

Everyone told us feed her at take-off and upon landing.  We did that and it “worked” though I’m not
sure because she didn’t seem to have ear pressure issues at all so while we did
what we were told, I think we might’ve been ok skipping it.  What we were not prepared for was
BOREDOM.  Our girl did not sleep on the
flight at all and wanted in-flight entertainment the whole time.  Problem was we crammed all the spare space
with gear and had no room for toys!  Baby
Daddy took The Handful for aisle strolls when he could, but the awful flight
attendants kept barking at him for standing (meanwhile I’m like ok so everyones
cool with her hollering and crying but not ok with him standing while the
seatbelt sign is “off” by the bathroom).
These people were killing me left and right.  Straight saboteurs.  

We finally land in Houston for our layover and my
brick-boobs were at capacity.  They felt
like two cinder blocks colliding in battle with every jolting step I took.  We had exactly 30 minutes before boarding so
I locked myself in the handicap stall and assembled my pumping kit.  20 mins of Instagram refreshing later, I had
9 oz of white gold and my cinder blocks felt like human skin again.  We got on the next plane and alerted Mema
that we were comin’ in hungry!  Mema and
Puma picked us up in Pensacola and we schlepped all the way to Destin before
The Handful finally decided to sleep.  Go

I’ll save the trip shenanigans for another post and cut
right to the return trip.  Thankfully my
mother is the original Mommy-MacGyver and she invented some great plane-toys to
occupy The Handful on our return trip.
Armed with some distractions, Baby Daddy and I were still dreading the
trip after all the headache from the first one.
This time we had luck on our side though and what a difference that
made!  The Pensacola flight team was very
friendly and accommodating.  They spoke
with Baby Daddy about our needs and approached us with a collaborative attitude
– everyone with the goal of keeping The Handful calm.  We were actually helped with the stroller by
one passenger, and another passenger held my coffee for me so I could get a
book out of our luggage.  They were all
telling us about their grandkids and how flying is so hard etc.  Everyone on this flight just seemed so much
more pragmatic than the earlier flights, like applying logic to a problem
instead of using the “idk so, no” auto reply.
What a difference.  Despite Mema’s
amazing toy hacks, The Handful slept most of this trip which was great.  When we got back to LAX it was a little
annoying trying to find someone to tell us how to get to where we parked, but
we survived that by using the ol’ set off your own car alarm trick.  The general attitude of the Southwest
Airlines crew in LA was just terrible.
From the second we arrived at LAX both on the outbound and return trip,
these people were disgruntled and annoyed any time we interacted with
them.  I should also mention, this was my
first Southwest flight as well, so I only have Delta and Virgin to really
compare it to, but I don’t see myself flying that airline again because I did
not like any of their personnel.

Great story, Cool Mom, so what do I need to know?

Have Dad carry the electronics (ALL electronics)
in his carry-on if you’re going to carry the baby stuff, it makes security go
much quicker

If you’re trying the car seat gamble with
Southwest, be prepared to buy the seat on the spot in the event the flight is
full, or put the kid in your lap but have that back up plan ready because you
clearly can NOT rely on the kindness or problem solving skills of these flight

Feed on take off and landing

There is no good place to breast pump, I’m sorry
to say that’s one I couldn’t figure out without exposing myself to a bunch of
men on the plane.  I advise pumping in
the bathroom before boarding (even if it’s a 10 min relief pump).

Car seat should go in the window seat so the
adults can pee

If you have a layover, don’t gate check the
stroller to the end destination, gate check it to the layover – we fumbled this
one and lucked out that the connecting flight was next to our gate, but that
would’ve been SO bad if it was further

Get sound reducing headphones for the baby, we found
the constant dinging from the seatbelt sign to the microphone happy flight attendants
to be very disruptive when trying to get her to sleep

–  Both of our flights had changing stations on the plane so changing was a non issue that I stressed about for no reason

Come at me with questions because in each of my baby classes
there are more than a few moms about to fly who could use any information you
guys have!

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Cool Mom Takes the Skies

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