As I’ve mentioned, almost 3 weeks ago, we flew back to Minnesota for my brother-in-law’s high school graduation. It was Emma’s first plane ride!
Since Emma and I were there for 2 weeks – weeks during which she changed a lot – the flight out was a much different experience from the flight back.
Luggage and Check-In
Southwest allows 2 free checked bags so Travis and I both checked a duffel bag (Emma’s stuff was in mine). We also checked Emma’s Rock ‘N’ Play Sleeper in the box it came in and her carseat/base, since we weren’t going to use it in the airport or on the plane. I was concerned about the carseat getting thrown around and coming tumbling down the luggage chute but the airline treated it as an oversized luggage item and covered it in plastic, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.
We didn’t bring our stroller because it’s bulky and Emma prefers the Baby Bjorn anyway. The only thing we carried on the plane was the diaper bag.
Check-in went smoothly because I had researched what we needed for Emma ahead of time – Southwest just asks for a child’s birth certificate to verify their age. I would assume that most airlines are the same but I’m not sure. They stapled Emma’s “non-ticketed lap child” boarding pass to mine.
Flight Out to Minneapolis
Emma was 7 weeks old for the flight out there and did really well. We carried her through the airport and security in the Baby Bjorn (you can keep babies in a carrier for security – they have you go through the metal detector instead of the full body scanner and then wipe your hands for residue). She slept through pretty much all of that.
We got on the plane during family boarding and chose a window and middle seat. We flew Southwest so it was a full flight. I kept Emma in the carrier until we pulled away from the gate and then got set up to nurse her, which I did as soon as we started to take off. She nursed for about 20 minutes, we put her back in the carrier (on Travis that time) and she fell right back asleep.
Denver to Minneapolis is only a 2-hour flight so Emma was still sleeping when they announced that we were making our final descent. We quick woke her up and I started nursing her to help her ears pop with the change in altitude. I could tell that the way down bothered her a bit more than the way up had. Once we landed, I burped her and she started to cry. We put her back in the carrier and she settled down within about 5 minutes (though it seemed like longer).
I had to bounce and walk with Emma while we waited for our bags and she was kind of fussy for a few hours after that but she was just coming off her rough swallowing-lots-of-air weeks so that might’ve been the main cause.
Flight Back to Denver
Over the course of our vacation, Emma became a lot more alert. A few days before our flight back to Denver, when she was almost 9 weeks old, she started wanting to be entertained and getting bored easily. So I had a feeling the second flight wouldn’t be as smooth-sailing as the first. Fortunately, my mom flew back with me and Emma so I had help with our stuff and moral support for the flight. (Travis had flown back the previous Sunday because he had to work.)
I had planned to give Emma a bottle after discovering the challenge of nursing in a cramped airplane seat. We put her milk in a small cooler and I took the contents out for going through security, which worked fine (the 3 oz rule doesn’t apply to infant milk or formula). On takeoff, Emma took the bottle fine, but she wasn’t satisfied with it, her toys, pacifier, being bounced, rocked or even in the Baby Bjorn. So I ended up nursing her for about 15 minutes anyway. That took care of the first hour of the flight.
My mom and I hoped that nursing Emma would put her to sleep but she wasn’t interested in sleeping even though she was tired. We tried her toys some more – a couple of rattles that she really likes – while she lie on her back on my lap and that kept her entertained for another 15 minutes. Then about 30 minutes before our scheduled landing (when we had started descending anyway), I nursed her again. She didn’t really settle down until I could stand up with her in the Baby Bjorn as we were deplaning. But almost as soon as we started walking around the airport, she was out.
So flying wasn’t completely without incident but it went well overall I’d say – which is good because we’re headed back to Minnesota for the 4th of July! I have to take advantage of my maternity leave while I can.