Your Pre-Flight Check List
If the CIA really wanted to get their terrorist suspects to talk, they should force them to take a long flight with a baby on their lap. That kind of unconstitutional torture is exactly what Bex and I willingly submitted too last month. If I had any State Secrets to share, I would gladly have sung like a canary after those flights.
So if you’re thinking about going on a short, long, or (holy shit do you hate yourself?) trans-Atlantic flight with a baby, you may want to check in to the nearest mental health facility. Seriously, whatever you think you’re saving yourself by seating the baby on your lap, you’ll pay for in the TSA line, with a full diaper as they start boarding your flight, and an abundance of baby energy at 40,000 ft. Trust me, there
are lots of fun getaways closer to your house that doesn’t include your screaming baby holding a hundred other people hostage in a pressurized tin can.
But if you really want to hate yourself, frustrate your kiddo, and have every one of your fellow passengers avoiding you like the plague (that part isn’t so bad), then let me give you a few tips to help you and your family survive this in one piece. After all, one flight with the happiest baby in the world makes me an expert, right?
Boarding Verification Document
For months, I was stressing out because we bought tickets for Bex and I but there was nothing reserved for the baby, because he would be sitting on our laps. According to the Southwest Airlines Website, we were required to bring Boy Wonder’s birth certificate along as proof of i.d. An agent at the ticket counter would be able to print us out a Boarding Verification Document that would work as his ticket.
For the guy who loves the efficiency of checking in online and having a mobile ticket on my phone, I scoffed at the idea of waiting in a ticket line. What is this, the dark ages? Obviously, patience has never been my strong suit.
Despite my snobbery, it turned out to be a pretty easy experience. We checked in curbside with the SkyCap and they quickly printed out boarding passes for all three of us. They didn’t even ask to see Boy Wonder’s birth certificate.
Going through T.S.A. was not so easy.
Did you know that the 3 oz. of liquid in your carry-on rule does not apply to baby formula? Great news, right? Unless you’re the IncrediDad who thought he was being efficient by purchasing the pre-mixed formula packages. I learned the hard way that formula should already be poured into your clear baby bottle before you arrive at the airport.
Because if you don’t, some friendly T.S.A. Agent will sympathize with how expensive that stuff is while also informing that either you or your wife will have to get a pat-down if you want to keep it. I looked at Bex, standing next to the stroller, juggling a diaper bag, the baby, and I thought, “Well this should be fun to watch.”
It was actually me who volunteered.
To my surprise, the woman who told me I had to get a pat-down also informed me that she was due for a break in ten minutes so she didn’t want to do it. Neither did Darnel, another T.S.A. Agent who had just come back from his lunch. Being a gentleman, he only complained once after the lady
informed him he had no choice. Then He looked at me and said, “Well this is the easiest thing you’ll do all day.”
He didn’t know how right he was.
The key to being a successful traveler is to remain flexible. Guess who missed that memo? Boy Wonder.
After our adventure through security, we arrived at our gate with an hour or so before the flight. In our heads, that seemed like perfect timing to burn off a little energy, have a diaper change, and a enjoy a take-off bottle to prevent ear poppage.
Somewhere in that time, I checked in at our gate because I had a few questions about checking the stroller and family boarding. The Gate Agent let me know that our connecting flight had been canceled and the airline had already rebooked us. Dads are always the last to know.
Here’s a great place to mention that changing tables don’t exist in an airport. First, Bex changed him on the floor of the ladies room. Then was about to change him on the counter of the men’s room but a kind janitor showed me where the one holer “Family Restroom” was. Again, there was no changing table but at least we had privacy while I changed his diaper on the counter?
Our new flight was scheduled to leave two and a half hours later than the original one. That’s two and a half hours of entertaining a pre-toddler who has the energy of a lab puppy. I looked at Bex and said, “Hold my beer.”
We started by watching the airplanes from the big window in our terminal, that lasted long enough to get our Instagram photo. Then we pulled out his Hotwheels Batmobile and burned rubber on a small patch of the linoleum floor. This garnered mixed reactions. One grumpy old lady was having none of our nonsense and kept shooting dirty looks our
way. An airport employee was loving it and got into a serious debate with me over the best Batmobiles. After that, we stopped for lunch at a pizza place and then did laps until Boy Wonder fell asleep.
Did I mention this all happened pre-flight? Did I mention we picked a later flight because it lined up with nap time? Well spoiler alert, he woke up just in time for take-off. More on that in part two of this exciting saga in the sky.
Consider this your pre-flight checklist.