Flying Solo + Baby

Flying Solo With Baby: One Mom’s Travel Adventure

I’ve always considered it a pain to travel. And yet, flying by myself exemplifies simplicity, when I consider how much more complicated it is to fly as a lone adult . . . with a baby in tow.

Last winter, 8-month-old Lila and I decided to visit our many relatives in New York, while Darling Husband was busy with work. It was an experiment.

There’s no shorter trip we’d ever take than flying between Washington, DC, and New York. If it felt easy, it would be good practice for potentially longer trips; if it felt hard, we could limp to the finish line with family help. We were absolutely at the mercy of strangers, some of whom were incredibly kind, and some of whom deserve to be booed.

The Cab. Not wanting to brave the Metro with our enormous suitcase (filled with our clothes and Lila’s toys), Lila’s stroller-with-carseat-on-top, a carry-on bag (teething toys for the flight), and Lila’s diaper bag, I called a cab. I even called extra early, because Google Maps doesn’t factor in Baby Time.

Once our cabbie managed to stop driving past our building – exasperating even his dispatcher – he sat waiting inside his cab, while I tried to load all of our items and Lila into his cab. Did I mention it was Boston-frigid in DC that day? It was. I told the cabbie he had to help me; thankfully, he remembered he works for tips, and so our journey began.

Checking In. Lila and I entered the airport, accompanied only by our mountain of bags, which were pushed, pulled, or carried by Yours Truly, a feat that fully engaged all five feet of me. Thankfully, a Delta Airlines employee saw me and asked if she could help check us in at the self-serve machines. I happily handed her my credit card. Another Delta employee told me to bring our 27” suitcase to TSA screening, then thought better of it. Rarely have I been so grateful for a person’s wheeling something for me.

Restrooms. At this point, a visit to the ladies’ room was in order. I found the wheelchair-accessible stall, but Lila, her stroller, and I couldn’t fit inside. Luckily, another mother saw me and directed me to the nearby family restroom. Happily, this family restroom was roomier, but quizzically, it had no changing table. The space was clearly not designed by someone who used it.

At New York’s Kennedy Airport for our return trip, the situation was worse. There was no stall large enough for us in the ladies’ room, and there was no family restroom. I asked the Delta employees at our gate if the Delta lounge had a larger bathroom we could use, so they reluctantly inquired. Answer: no. Luckily, Lila didn’t mind waiting to have her dirty diaper changed.

Security. Putting shoes in the metal detector is beginner stuff. Unstrapping your baby and breaking down her stroller, while you hold her and your carry-on bags is ambitious. Thankfully, we met TSA’s best employee who asked how he could help, informing me, “It’s my job to help you.” Thrilled, I put him to work. Everything was dandy until he was called away. As I slowly collected our things on the other side of the metal detector, I blanched when another TSA employee approached me about “the knife in my bag.” The knife belonged to the tall man standing next to me. Goodness gracious.

The TSA staff at JFK was not quite as helpful. Even though the terminal was overwhelmingly empty, I had to insist that the man overseeing the metal detector help me. Some female TSA employees did, even engaging Lila, who was captivated by the new sights.

Flights. Our flights weren’t full. So, while I’d planned to fly with Lila on my lap, she sat beside me in her car seat both ways. A bag full of teething toys and plastic spoons kept spirits soaring, as did a solicitous steward on the return flight. He lifted Lila’s car seat from the jet way to the plane, and ensured that Lila had her own bag of peanuts to shake and crinkle, in addition to a plastic cup. Delta staff also helped us back into the airport when we landed in DC.

Overall, the trip was challenging, but manageable. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers, good eggs at TSA, and some dedicated Delta employees.

This article appeared on the Isis Parenting blog, Parenting Starts Here.

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Comments
One Response to “Flying Solo + Baby”
  1. Amazing collection of post you have. Will come back later and read all thoroughly 🙂

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