Flying And Traveling With A Baby

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Will has a chair at home that rocks when he kicks his leg, so on this trip he was constantly trying to rock every place he sat.

As you may have figured out if you checked the September Pictures of the Day in the last post, we went to Colorado at the beginning of last month. It was the first time that our baby had been out of the country…well, not counting the countries he visited while in the womb (which would be five, which is a pretty good showing for a fetus). As such, we weren’t sure how things would go, but we were pleasantly surprised. A few people asked questions about the logistics before, during, and after the trip, so I thought I’d write about them here. So it’s not the most fascinating blog entry ever, but at least I can use it like a journal in case I wonder how things went when I’m old and doddering (i.e., in about 5 years).

The flights, which had been our biggest worry beforehand, turned out to be no problem. At the time he was only about five and half months old, and I’ve heard that they’re actually easier at that age, since once they start crawling, walking, and moving around, they have no inclination to stop, not even if they’re on a plane…and not even if they’re on a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows, and it looks like a big Tylenol.

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But I guess we’ll find out about that in our future trips, since he was really good on this one. He mainly just sat in our laps, ate when Angela fed him, and slept. He was also really good on the layover in Houston in both directions, and that actually seemed a bit better than a direct flight, since it gave us a chance to get out, stretch our legs, and see new things. Otherwise it would have meant 6 hours in a plane, and that would be a bit much for him perhaps. But he was charming as usual and wasn’t one of the crying babies–thank God! On the flight from Denver to Houston the flight attendant even gave him some wings, which was a nice touch!

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One thing we had no idea about was “lap babies.” That’s what he was, technically, since he was sitting in our laps. If it’s a domestic flight, they fly free, but for international flights you have to pay a fee that’s 10% of the cost of a normal ticket (basically, 10% of the ticket cost for the adult holding the baby). We didn’t know if we should get a seat for him or take him as a lap baby, since we’d heard very strong arguments in favor of both sides, but in the end it worked out very well. We reserved the window and aisle seat of a row, and three times out of four, when the person in the middle got to the row, I offered to change seats with him or her (on the fourth time it was just us in our row). That way, Angela and I got to sit together with Will by the window, and the person who thought they’d get stuck with a middle seat also came out on top, since they wouldn’t have to be sandwiched between the two of us.

Another cool thing about a lap baby or any traveling infant is that they give you more free luggage. We were able to check a stroller for free, as well as a whole suitcase for Will, and on the way back the agent didn’t actually charge us for any of the three bags we checked. I’m still not sure why he did that, but it may have had something to do with the fact that he was a jerk when he first came to assist us, so maybe he was repentant. But probably not. He may have just forgotten.

The issue there was actually about passports, since we only had Will’s American passport at that point (his Costa Rican one arrived to our house while we were gone, so we couldn’t travel with it). In any case, when traveling back to Costa Rica, the airlines ask you for proof of a return or onward ticket (or residency), but of course we didn’t have one since we live here. So I had to explain that to the dickh… to the man at the check-in counter. We had an entry and exit paper for Will, but no Costa Rican passport or other evidence that he’d not stay here as an illegal alien, I guess. But in the end I guess he just accepted it, since Angela and I also had Costa Rican passports, and it was obviously our baby. Who knows.

Once we were in Colorado, we had a great trip, although it wasn’t like we were tourists or anything. We were mainly visiting family and friends, but he was good for basically everything we did. We also liked going for walks with him, which isn’t really possible where we live because:

  • The roads here are narrow and terrible and people drive like maniacs (someone actually got hit by a bicycle here in Berlin and was nearly killed)
  • The only road/s in Berlin is/are steep, like runaway-truck-ramp steep
  • It’s been raining a lot lately
  • There’s nowhere to go even if you did want to walk

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But we had a great time walking around in my parents’ neighborhood, and Angela said she felt like she was “playing house.” And of course my family was very happy to see Will!

So that’s the story of how we set up the trip. Like I said, I only decided to write this because a lot of people asked questions about passports and stuff. But now that I’ve written it, I realized that I’ve apparently not written a post about the trip, including pictures, so maybe I’ll have to do that in a day or two. Maybe keep your eyes open for that one!

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Is he watching baseball?? I guess that would explain how he went to sleep so quickly!

Thanks for reading!

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4 thoughts on “Flying And Traveling With A Baby

  1. Thanks for the post. I will be in nearly the same boat (umm…plane) next summer. Did you look into getting one of the seats at the wall between economy and business? I hear that you can rent a baby bed that can hang from the wall. Also, why didn’t you just reserve two seats next to each other? Was it because you had a better chance being alone in the row by booking the ends?

    • Hey Eric,

      Thanks for the comment! And congratulations on the baby, assuming that you’re talking about a baby and not flying with a cat or something!

      I did sort of think of the bulkhead (the front of economy), but I think it was in the Economy Plus section or something like that, and you had to pay extra anyhow, and it was a significant amount. In the end, we just crossed our fingers that a seat near the middle or back would work.

      And I had thought of reserving two seats together, like the middle and window, which is what we always ended up having anyhow. But with the aisle and window reserved, that kinda discouraged anyone from joining us on the flight where it was just us in the row (since I assumed no one would change seats from somewhere else to sit in a middle seat right in the middle of a couple with a baby). If we had had the middle and window, it might (but still probably not) have tempted someone to move on in if they were in a middle seat before or something.

      I also thought of it from the perspective of the person coming down the aisle, only to find that their shitty reserved middle seat was in between a couple with a baby. When I offered to take their middle seat and gave them the aisle (as I did), I’m pretty sure that seemed like a bad situation going to a mildly tolerable situation, instead of reverse, so they almost seemed grateful.

      Finally, I also did a bit of research and found these articles helpful:
      (Note: They mention award travel, but even if you don’t use frequent flyer miles–we didn’t on this trip–the information’s still interesting)

      http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/23893

      http://thepointsguy.com/2012/09/award-travel-with-an-infant-or-lap-child/

      http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/2014/03/10/guide-to-booking-award-travel-with-lap-infants/#sthash.JAP4r8EY.tCKDTyJA.dpbs

      That last one, Mommy Points, is maybe the best link, and the blog is pretty useful for parents who travel with kids, but a lot of the frequent flyer stuff is mostly for the US. You can still get miles in Germany, though, but it’s not quite as easy.

      Good luck, and congrats again!

      • Travelling with a cat may be easier. Thanks for the info and good wishes. Those links you sent were good. I have another friend who is also flying to the states with a baby next year, so I sent her a link to this post.

        • Hey Eric,

          It’s probably a toss-up. You can put a cat in a carrier and sedate it, but a child doesn’t need all those rabies shots and tags.

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