We flew from Seattle to San Jose last July and it was Owen’s shortest flight at just 1 hour 30 minutes. We flew on Alaska Airlines and it was a pretty good experience. Because it was a short flight (and Owen was under 2), we had Owen on our lap. Without asking, a seasoned flight attendant gave us extra pretzels, a cup to put them in and extra napkins! This entertained Owen for quite a bit of time! We also were glad that we brought our Boba Carrier because he (and my husband) took a short nap on the flight down.
This short trip was a good trial run for our long flight to Rome the following month. This was a different story. Flights to Europe are usually red eyes, so we lugged our Chicco Nextfit car seat on board in hopes that he would sleep most of the flight. Hahaha! He slept for an hour and then did not want to be in the car seat for the rest of the trip. Which was okay because the car seat put him at the right angel to kick the seat in front of him. We were then left hauling the car seat all over Italy for the next 2 weeks in addition to all our luggage.
Anyway, we had lots of time to hang out during the flight (yay!) so I went through my bag of tricks. The window clings were fun for a bit, until Owen realized he could throw them at people. We tried watching several movies as part of the inflight entertainment but he didn’t want to wear the headphones, so he lost interest pretty quickly. We ended up doing many rounds of “Peanut Butter and Jelly” while we waited for food and beverage carts to come by.
The flights home went much smoother. We checked the car seat and used the seat belt extenders for take-off and landing and made a bed for him in his seat. He slept much, much better (and longer.) He spent his awake times eating, playing peek-a-boo with the kids behind us and hanging in the carrier.
A month later, Owen and I flew to Kauai, then Maui, and then back home again. This time I was on my own. I checked our bag and the car seat and just carried a backpack and Owen in our toddler Action Baby Carrier. The flight to Kauai was a bit rough and flying with a toddler solo is no walk in the park. Thanks to our Alaska Airlines companion fare, Owen had his own seat, which helped a lot. He enjoyed playing with the window clings (until a fellow passenger said they looked like gummy candy and then Owen wanted to taste them). We ate a lot of snacks and I brought out a new toy every hour or so. I actually listened to Mindy Kaling’s new book on my phone while playing with him. This helped me feel like I was getting a little break and Owen had fun.
The short 40 minute flight from Kauai to Maui was a long 40 minutes. Owen was my lap baby and by the time I checked the car seat and big back and packed Owen and my backpack around the airport, I just wanted to sleep. And then, I had to put Owen back in the carrier when we landed so I could lug the backpack, car seat, and suitcase onto the rental car shuttle and then back off to stand in line to get the rental car and then load everything up. I was so wiped, that I barely got us to the rental house before crashing for a few hours. In hindsight, I might have tried to just rent a cars eat there. But, we were going to do a lot of driving and we’ve had mixed experiences with rental car seats.
The flight from Maui to Seattle was my dream flight! Owen crashed literally 5 seconds after takeoff and I was able to finish Mindy Kaling’s book (which is hilarious) and even closed my eyes for awhile. Best experience flying with a toddler ever!
Most recently, we flew down to Orange County for a quick trip to Disneyland on Alaska Airlines. They provided him with his own Wings and a Disneyland-themed coloring book with crayons. Owen was happily entertained by these as well as Wikki Stix, Mickey Mouse stickers, and lots of snacks. On the way home, however, he was teething pretty hard and was fighting sickness and exhaustion and he ended up crying or sleeping the entire trip home. The flight attendants were wonderful and brought us milk, extra pretzels, and gave the passengers around us earplugs.
Flying with a toddler can be done. The lesson here is that one flight (good or bad) will not dictate the next flight! For additional ideas of ways to keep toddlers entertained while flying, click here.