God never wanted man to fly.
But the Wright Brothers had to go ahead and spit in his face at Kitty Hawk so that we can experience the privilege of being sorted into boarding groups and forced onto an air subway filled with pressurized farts. Fine. But now you have a kid. And someone somewhere far away wants to see them. So you have to be the asshole with the baby on the airplane.
Fear not! Dude Turned Dad recently returned from one of these nightmare sojourns and I managed to smuggle off a black box filled with flying tips for new parents. Will you ever have a perfect flight with your kid? (PAUSES TO SEND EXTENDED LAUGHTER UP TO THE HEAVENS.) No. But with these tips, the flight can be at least a little bit more manageable.
Budget in TSA Time
The security line is always a nightmare. But now you have to check in a stroller and breast milk, formula, and a car seat, and any number of baby-related ephemera. Give yourself time. The question is not if the TSA will pull you aside to check your bags, it’s when. Why? Baby formula looks like cocaine. You’re going to get searched. Make sure you have the time.
Don’t Get on the Plane
When you travel with kids, the airline pretends to be helpful. You get to your gate and they call you up. “People with children can board first!” Don’t do it! Stay off the plane and on the ground for as long as possible. Why would you bring your kid into a confined place sooner than you need to? Tire out your toddler in the terminal. Board last.
Plan an Entertainment Schedule
Parenting is a bit like playing basketball before the invention of the shot clock – sometimes you can win just by running out the clock. There are always unexpected time sucks when it comes to travel. Plan entertainment ahead of time. You’re a cruise director for a ten-month-old. First, we’re doing bottles, then snack, then we’re chewing on Sophie giraffe, then heading to the back of the plane.
And remember some backup entertainment for getting stuck on the tarmac and other delays. Break out the Elmo in an emergency.
Utilize Airplane Toys
What’s an airplane toy? Great question. You know how your kid loves the remote more than the Baby Einstein learning ball you spent $100 dollars on? Same thing on the plane. You can pack all the toys, but there is a good chance your kid will be more into the wrapper of your complimentary peanuts. The seat back is filled with airplane toys. Grab some extra snacks from the stewardesses. We created a snake charmer with a snack box and a straw and killed fifteen minutes. Get creative.
Pack a Bag of Snacks for Fellow Passengers
This is a classic. Pack some treats and snacks for your fellow passengers. George Clooney just did this. No… you know what?
Fuck George Clooney. This is bullshit. I’m not going to pack a goodie bag to give to some snoring dude sitting in the window seat to apologize for my kid. Guess what? Everyone on the plane was at one time a baby. They’ve all cried on a flight and shit their pants. Remind them of that if they give you attitude. Plus, everyone has headphones now anyway.
The best way to make your flight a success? Stay zen and have a good attitude. Your patience will impact your babies mood and your fellow passengers. Some people never get to travel with their kids at all. And you never know, maybe your baby will be a road warrior?
Good luck, godspeed, and have a safe flight.