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Survival Tips for Air Travel with an Infant - At the Airport

At the Airport

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Airports are not the most people-friendly places already. Add travel with an infant to the mix and you may wonder how you can get through the experience both sane and safe. Tips for air travel with an infant may not be 100% foolproof, but it is always important to have a plan ready when you are traveling with your baby. Then you are ready to embark on the airport portion of your journey.

Check-in
Check-in online if possible to secure the best seats possible. Although the bulkhead seat can have more space, I find for longer trips if there are going to be a few empty seats on the flight then the back of the airplane is best. Airplanes tend to fill front to back so you are more likely to have vacant seats. Plus, lavatories are often in the back of the plane so access is easier. Also, toting your items on and off is easier when you are in the back - more space in general!

Check in as much of your luggage as possible especially for longer flights, you'll feel less bogged down.

Airport Security Screening
You will likely have to take baby through the screening machine out of a stroller and possibly out of a carrier, so you may as well have baby ready to go in your arms. If you use a sling or a baby carrier, you may or may not ask to remove baby from the carrier so it is a good alternative to a stroller for moving around the airport. You can always ask the security screeners about this as you wait in line.

It is easiest to keep bottled breastmilk or formula in a plastic bag/cooler bag separate from your other carry on for quicker inspection.

Gate Area
If you still aren't satisfied with the seating, approach the gate agent and ask them what seats are available. Ask about seats with an extra oxygen mask if you have not purchased a seat for your baby. As a gate agent, and having traveled with a baby, I find that on most flights the back fills up last plus you have the added bonus of being closer to the toilets for changing the baby. I book aisle seats when I can so that walking up and down the aisle is possible.

Be prepared for possible delays by having extra diapers and wipes at hand. Plan for an onboard kit - diapers, wipes, blanket, plastic bag for trash and dirty diapers, fresh change of clothes. The extras can easily be packed in here in case of airport delays. As you head to the gate area mark your nearest restroom should you need to take care of a baby 'emergency'.

Get to the gate area early to take advantage of preboarding so that you and baby can get settled before the throngs of passengers get on board.

Arrival
Be aware that some checked items such as car seats may arrive at an oversize or special luggage section, separate from regular luggage. If you are missing any of your luggage check there first.

If you brought a stroller and checked it at the gate you may as well take your time getting off the aircraft as it needs to be retrieved by a baggage handler and brought up to the door of the aircraft. This takes time so rather than disturb baby even more, wait until the crowd is off the plane and your stroller may already be waiting for you.
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