by Elizabeth Pantley
Question: We're about to take our first airplane trip with our one-year-old. We flew quite a bit before she was born, but now we're not sure what to pack or how to make this trip successful.
Even if you racked up your share of frequent flyer miles before your baby was born, forget what you know of travel so far. Flying with a little one is a whole different story.
If you fear turning into one of those families we've all met aboard planes -- those with squalling, unruly, squirming children who tend to bring out the same traits in their fellow passengers -- take heart. My oldest child, Angela was just 14 days old when she took her first flight, and since then, I've taken many more trips with my four children. I know that you can travel with your little ones and enjoy the process. Forethought and preparation are the keys.
The details of your trip often can mean the difference between success and disaster. Keep these ideas in mind as you plan:
Examine all aspects of the journey when you book your flights. Aim for direct flights so that you can avoid changing planes. If you have to make a change, avoid short layovers that give you too little time to get from gate to gate, and conversely avoid long layovers that require lots of idle time in airports.
When you make your reservations, give the agent the ages of all passengers. You may learn some important rules such as:
If your child falls asleep easily and stays asleep, try scheduling travel for during your child's nap or sleep times. If you have a finicky sleeper, on the other hand, avoid traveling during usual sleep times, as your baby may just stay fussy and awake.
Ask what special features your airline offers for families. Some companies offer children's meals, bassinets, gate check for strollers, or early boarding privileges.