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Thread: Flying with Kids

  1. #1
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Flying with Kids

    We're making plans to fly to Denver in the 2nd week of July. This will be a family trip: me, my husband, and my two 3-year-old boys. We've never flown with the kids before, so I can use every scrap of advice you want to toss my way.

    We're in Lexington KY. I can fly from the Lexington airport and get to Denver with 1 stop, or I can drive 90 minutes to either Cincinnati and take a nonstop. Louisville (also a 90 minute drive) is a smaller airport and also offers a nonstop option. Is that worthwhile? Would you rather take a single flight with a modest drive, or two flights with kids? Obviously it depends on the kids, but I'm happy to have general recommendations.

    We plan on renting a car while we are there. Would you pack your own carseats, rent them from the car place (if that can even be done) or...and I'll confess that this is my favorite option so far...buy inexpensive ones from Amazon and have them shipped to one's destination? We're going to visit the Man's family so there's a safe place to have the carseats shipped.

    Also, I'm in the market for two Aeronauts. Now that I see how much it costs to fly with kids, my Aeronaut budget is like $5 for the pair. Wish me luck, LOL.

    Thanks!
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    To the best of my knowledge, car seats are free to check on most airlines. You can also use them in the cabin, since you are paying for a seat. If the kids are close to 4, or large for their age, you might consider buying booster seats instead of infant/toddler seats for a 3YO to be shipped to family. Then they will be available in Denver for future visits for quite a number of years.

    I, personally, would rather have the 1-stop flight than the 90 minute drive when I come home. However, I've never had to deal with 2 3YOs on a layover. And I certainly wouldn't want to have a missed connection / stay all night in an airport with a couple of kids. My recent experiences flying have dealt with quite a few delayed flights and missed connections. And the possible substitute flights are fuller. So non-stop is certainly worth considering.

    Be sure to have a change of clothes for everyone (including adults) in your carryon. Since you are "enlightened" (because you buy TB bags), maybe that is a no brainer and all your luggage is carryon! My niece had a small child throw up all over her once. While she had a change of clothes for the kids, she had nothing for her.

    Have fun!
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    I've traveled a lot with my kids, and can add my two cents. I am a car seat safety fanatic, and highly recommend bringing your own seats for both the plane and rental car. I know it's a pain to do so, but my rationale is this: checking a car seat puts your seat at risk for damage. A dropped seat can cause damage to the seat, rendering it unsafe for use in a car. Also, car seats in rental cars can be old/expired/unreliable. This article gives you some good things to consider with the car seat question: Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

    The idea to buy and ship car seats to your destination is a really good idea if you decide that you don't want to haul car seats onto the plane. Also, if you do bring the seats on the plane, make sure the sticker on the seat says that it's FAA approved. They used to sometimes verify before I boarded with them. I had a GoGo Babyz wheelie thing that helped me transport the seats, but a Smart Carte or other airport cart does the trick to save your back while you are walking through the airport.

    As for the direct flight versus layover question, I'd prefer to drive longer and have a direct flight if I had the choice. However, 90 minutes is long enough that it would give me pause. It really depends on the flight times, and how well your kids do in the car vs waiting in a layover. If you're leaving really early in the morning, you'd have to factor in hotel and/or traffic stress if you have a long drive. Also, if you get home late at night, it would stink to have a long drive home. If you wind up doing a flight with a layover, just be sure to built in plenty of layover time, as it always takes longer with the kiddos, especially if you are hauling car seats around. The airlines tend to be really nice about allowing preboarding with small kids, which is especially nice if you have car seats to install.

    I hauled car seats onto the plane until my kids were about 5 and 7. People thought I was crazy, but it gave the kids a safe, comfy place to nap, and the 5 point harness kept them corralled as needed. For me, it was always worth the trouble.

    Can you tell that I'm passionate about this topic? ;-)

    A change of clothes for everyone is indeed a luxury if you can carry it on. I've been puked on more than once. :-( Also, I tried to have a few novel items to keep the kids entertained on the flight. I'd visit my local thrift store, and load up on inexpensive toys, books, or whatever would help here.
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    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    I definitely second the bring-a-change-of-clothes-for-everyone advice for exactly the same reason. :P

    We also have gone to the library to check out books about airports and airplanes a few weeks ahead of time - it kind of built excitement for the trip, and for my kids (ages almost-six, four and eight months although the baby hasn't flown yet), excited means enthusiastic and interested and optimistic, which translates to better-behaved, especially when hassles hit.

    I have more suggestions, but time to put kids to bed. Back later.
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  5. #5
    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    Okay, some other thoughts...

    Let the kids "pack" their own carry-on stuff but go through EVERY SINGLE POCKET of their bag after they're in bed the night before the trip and double check that they didn't pack a toy gun. Then put the double-checked bag somewhere where they can't add anything else. Ask me how I know.

    Leave yourself way, way more time than you take when you're traveling without kids.

    Get the security check over with early and then wander up and down the concourse looking at the planes at the gates, and talk about where they're going.

    Consider suspending some of your usual rules. For example, when traveling our kids special snacks (Goldfish crackers, more-exotic-than-usual fruit, granola bars). It makes the day special and can also be used as bribery, and because travel is not super common for us, we can go back to the usual rules when we get home without much fuss.

    Also, our kids get to play games and watch movies on our phones/iPad, which is usually a no-no. There are about eleventy-billion apps available for kids. This is a novelty for them and can
    lead to up to an hour of quiet time. Or longer.

    Pack a few surprises, like new crayons and colouring books, to pull out at strategic times.

    Even if your kids are all over regular cups, consider bringing sippy cups or water bottles with the sealable straws or something that won't spill. Fill up with water or juice after security. Very useful during take-off.

    As for car seats, I wouldn't count on the car rental place. Even if they have them, and in the right size, you never know what they've been through.

  6. #6
    Registered User terayon's Avatar
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    Oh, also, my middle daughter is prone to motion sickness; after one unfortunate incident while landing we no longer let her fly without taking Gravol beforehand.
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    Fly+drive vs. two flights: Hmm, it depends on your kids, and on the timing of the flights. I like having more control over one leg of the trip - no worries about making the connection to the second flight. Also the kids might be excited to get out of the car and get on a plane, vs. get on a plane/get on another plane. But, as a previous poster said, if you're getting in late at night on the way back, you might not want to get off the plane and still have a drive ahead of you. (Though, 90 minutes is not too horrible, that's roughly what it is to one of our local airports. )

    Car seats: I am a car seat nut as well. We still bring seats (well, a booster for our oldest) when we fly, and our kids are 6 and 9. Turbulence is always a concern - I like knowing that the kids will not go flying if we hit an air pocket. (Alternately you could use the CARES harness while in-flight. But it seems spendy to buy a harness just for the plane, when you can bring your own seats.) If you want to bring your own seats: a little folding luggage cart, or the GogoKidz accessory, makes it easier to haul the seats along.

    Your idea of buying seats and having them sent to your destination is great, as long as someone can bring them to the airport for you. If that won't be possible, you might consider something like the Ride Safer harness, or, in a pinch (even though your little guys sound young to be in a booster), you might think about a couple of Bubble Bums as backup seats in case your seats aren't delivered on time. Or to go from airport to your destination, where your full-fledged seats will be waiting. Then you can just hang on to them for when your boys are older. (We have a BB and it's a great option for, say, carpooling, travel, or any situation where you want to have a seat available, but don't want to lug a big bulky contraption around.)

    (I would NOT advise checking the seats - I just saw a video of airport staff throwing gate-checked bags down onto the tarmac, rather than walking them down the stairs... if that was my child's car seat, it would be useless for preventing injury in a crash! I would also shy away from renting car seats - rental agencies often have dirty, unsafe, and/or expired seats.)

    Other thoughts... let's see... pack little fun surprises - e.g. new or new-to-you toys, games, snacks. you could even wrap some up like gifts. Also rehearse/prepare the kids for security lines, and having their toys, shoes etc. examined (I think someone on here mentioned they practiced lining up quietly, putting toys in a "magic box" for the security to inspect, and getting them back on the other side). I always hated it when staff would send my child thru the metal detector ahead of me - one of my kids was a runner. So, now we make sure to have one parent go thru the line first, and be waiting on the other side.

    As for the Aeronauts, I'd say keep an eye on eBay. Take your time, travel will still be fun even if you don't have a full Bihn wardrobe for this time out. Wishing you a smooth and safe trip!!
    Last edited by haraya; 05-19-2014 at 08:02 PM.

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    With two adults, I would vote for a driving + nonstop flight. You really don't want to get stuck in a connecting airport. My personal experience with the major airlines is that delays are more common than not. With two of you, at least one person should have the energy to drive home.

    Otherwise, it's good advice above. I don't have kids myself but I have friends that do. Keeping them amused and fed seems to be the key to happiness. I would be sure to have toys, some food and a change of clothes in your carry-ons.

    Security is usually pretty easy with kids, because they no longer make them take off their shoes. From what I've seen, families are usually sent through the metal detectors rather than the scanners, and perhaps you will get the TSA PRE line, which is even better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Your idea of buying seats and having them sent to your destination is great, as long as someone can bring them to the airport for you. If that won't be possible, you might consider something like the Ride Safer harness
    We have used Ride Safer travels vest for the last 3 years, and they revolutionized our travel experience. They are really great! Hubby and I each tuck a vest in our carry on bag, and we have an easy way of securing the kids, even if we are using a shuttle or taxi. The kids did miss having the comfort of car seats on the plane (the vests aren't for plane use), but the trade off of not having to haul car seats made it worth it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toblerhaus View Post
    We have used Ride Safer travels vest for the last 3 years, and they revolutionized our travel experience. They are really great! Hubby and I each tuck a vest in our carry on bag, and we have an easy way of securing the kids, even if we are using a shuttle or taxi. The kids did miss having the comfort of car seats on the plane (the vests aren't for plane use), but the trade off of not having to haul car seats made it worth it.
    Hijacking the thread slightly - Toblerhaus, might I ask how old your kids are? I am now considering the Ride Safer for our summer trip, as I just realized last night that one of the airlines we're flying doesn't allow car seats in the cabin for kids older than 2. (want one for the 6yo, as we'll have a 3hr drive for one leg of our trip)

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    Quote Originally Posted by haraya View Post
    Hijacking the thread slightly - Toblerhaus, might I ask how old your kids are? I am now considering the Ride Safer for our summer trip, as I just realized last night that one of the airlines we're flying doesn't allow car seats in the cabin for kids older than 2. (want one for the 6yo, as we'll have a 3hr drive for one leg of our trip)
    My kids are currently 8 and 10, and still use the vests when we travel. My daughter used the small vest at age 6. I was so surprised when I saw that car seat safety technicians approve of these vests, as they make travel (and carpooling) so easy!
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    Thanks, Amanda!! That makes me feel much better about the Ride Safer.

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    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for all the great advice!

    1. I hadn't thought of motion sickness. The kids have only barfed in the car once, and that was when the other parent drove them on a windy country road. I drove them on the same road and we were barf-free, so I'm blaming this one on Mr. Hot Rod and not the kids. But I will definitely talk to our pediatrician about motion sickness before we fly.

    2. I had no idea that there were products like the RideSafe! Wow.

    3. I hadn't considered using the car seats on the plane as a restraining device or a comfortable place for the kids to nap. I'll have to discuss with Mr. Hot Rod to see what he thinks.

    4. Our kids are generally quite good in the car. They talk and sing and play for a bit, then they fall asleep. One of our direct flight options has us driving at naptime, which I think will be a boon.

    5. THANK YOU for validating me regarding how much delay kids can introduce to travel! Mr. Hot Rod doesn't believe me when I tell him these things.

    6. So far, I haven't heard a single positive story about using rental car seats. I've pretty much ruled it out as a possibility.

    7. Toys and games and snacks and other tricks to entertain little people - I'm on that. I employ those techniques on a daily basis. Ask me what's in my S25, LOL!

    I LOVE YOU PEOPLES.
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    I hadn't considered using the car seats on the plane as a restraining device or a comfortable place for the kids to nap. I'll have to discuss with Mr. Hot Rod to see what he thinks.
    I like having the five-point harness especially for our 6yo - he's small for his age and I'm not entirely sure the lap belt would hold him if we hit a big air pocket. Also when he falls asleep the headrest gives him a nice place to lean his head. His seat (Radian RXT) is narrow enough to fit thru the aisles, and folds up to be more compact for travel. - Though, actually we just strap it to the luggage cart as is, then stack the carry-on bags on top and wheel everything together. (I think if you use the GoGoKidz attachment, the kids might even be able to sit in their seats as you roll them along.) If you have car seat-specific questions, car-seat.org is a great place to ask.

    Best of luck with your trip, I hope you come back and let us know what worked!

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    For airplane I also recommend the Kid Kares safety harness which is FAA approved. I forget the weight limits but it fits over the seat back and is a four point harness that connects to airplane lap belt. Folds up pretty small. Note it does NOT substitute for a car seat at your destination. It can be a struggle to keep a toddler sitting still till seat belt signs are off but this solution worked well for us.
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