It was so weird. For the first time in what felt like a lifetime- I got on an airplane. I know it’s on trend to be a frequent flyer and travel all the time but honestly I’ve never had the time to be that kind of person. I typically only fly if it’s to a family destination so when the pandemic happened it out a serious halt to all that.
This time around, things were different. You have the pandemic on one hand changing things and in the other, I’m traveling from the perspective of a mother now. Moms have this “coulda, woulda, nexttimeiwilla” attitude that comes in handy. Here is what you need to know:
1. Read your carriers rules they have all changed
So here is something new- you can’t get alcohol on some flights now. Honestly not a big deal for me, but there was one point on the 4 hour flight where my baby, husband and mom were all asleep and a Bloody Mary sounded excellent- even a shitty airplane one. That’s just one of many rule changes since the pandemic. (The alcohol one isn’t even pandemic related- y’all just throwing fists out there.)
2. Bring some wipes
While an individually wrapped wipe is given to you upon entering the aircraft (at least for American Airlines) it is not enough to really clean your area. This is something I did before the pandemic and now I feel even more compelled to do it.
On a side note: I always ALWAYS get sick when I air travel. I normally take the next day off of work and everything. This was my first time air traveling since the pandemic and between wearing a mask and be so weary, I escaped it!
3. Extra concerned about germs? Snag one of these for peace of mind
This is a bit extra but we use one anyway… personal air purifiers that you can wear around your neck. It might give you some peace of mind while in close quarters and the chance that it really is helping.
4. Carry on items separated into clear bags
The flights are consistently full. Overhead and seat storage is crowded. For quick access to the things you need and keeping organized in a literal jam, place your carry on bag contents into little clear bags that group the items together. Entertainment in one, hygiene in another, snacks, etc.
5. Bring your own snacks for on the plane
The pickens are slim. They came by for drinks once on my 4 and a half hour flight. The mean only one little bag of snackies. *sad face*
Bring your own bag of snacks! I know so many people already do but make sure you put some thought into it knowing you only get drinks once! I’d even purposely leave time that you can pick up a drink of some sort to take on the plane with you after security. It won’t be complimentary but it will be guartuneed.
6. Opt for the longer layover with current flight conditions
Nothing is running on time. Sure, it was always a thing with air travel but I really have not seen anything like this. Lines as long as you can see at customer service counters across the major airport hubs. This is now the norm. You could make a joke about SouthWest here.
If you need to make a connection and have the choice, take the slightly longer layover. Even boarding your plane on time doesn’t mean you’re leaving on time anymore. We spent 30 minutes sitting on our plane before we started out 15 minute taxi to our runway. That flight obviously landed at the connection late… which surprise… was delayed. Instead of telling everyone they could go eat for two hours before getting on a flight where they won’t offer food, they kept telling us 20 more minutes. Let it run down to the buzzer. Then tack 20 more on.
My point is prepare for the reality that you will have some sort of delay and allow for that extra time in your plans instead of getting stressed out about it later.
7. If your seats are assigned, board last.
I say this for many reasons. One, no need to hurry up just to stand in a line. Two, why are you trying to sit on the plane longer, sharing tight space with strangers at the tail end of a pandemic where flights are now a hub for physical altercations. Let’s use our brains here.
Hanging back if you have littles ones is practically necessary now. Passengers are being even less kind than normal and were not cautious of my baby’s head or legs when walking the aisles.
8. Pre download stuff to your phone. The “free” WiFi has gotten more stingy
Such a first world problem but this one really threw me for a loop! The airplane Wifi is SOOOO stingy now. You can’t access much of anything now without paying for access. Don’t rely on getting to use Apple Music or Spotify with the free wifi. Some airlines do and lots don’t. Go ahead and just pre-download a playlist or some movies so you’re covered. Or just accept that you’re going to drop $20 for 4 hours of wifi.
9. Be kind to your flight staff
Why does this have to be on this list? Ridiculous. Yet people think they are entitled to treat those assisting them on flying mass transit like crap. You are NOT the only person that asked them for something and all the rows look the same. Kindly remind them of a request. Thank them for the water or snack. Everyone likes to be thanked for their work. Don’t get angry when they have to ask you to follow the rules you agreed to when you purchased your ticket.
10. Traveling with baby? Disposable bottles and overnight diapers are the win.
Moms, this is the tip you were waiting on from me! What ACTUALLY helped me while flying with a 6 month old baby? Out of allllll he tips, here is what you need. First, a disposable bottle. You slide these condom-like sacks inside a bottomless-bottle and it keeps you from having to bring all sorts of bottles and carry around dirty ones! Just slide out the sack afterwards and toss. Normally I HATE disposable stuff because I’m a green freak but I figure, since I normally cloth diaper, this balances out since I don’t foresee myself frequently flying with him during bottle years. The other moms on my flight were carrying around baggies full of gross bottles and gave me looks like, “WHAT?!?”
Remember how I said I cloth diaper? WEll, I don’t when I fly. I know, points off for me. I’ve got a frequent potty-er and having that much in my diaper bag would have called for an additional carry on. So I got a hot tip that overnight diapers are the way to go. And it’s one of those things where you think, “DUH!” but you don’t think of it on your own and feel silly. Of course a diaper meant for long nights is going to be ideal for a long flight. Changing on a plane sucks so if you’re able to avoid it entirely you should at least try!
People have all sorts of toy recommendations for kids on planes or say to just give up and let them watch stuff on phones. I didn’t find that to be helpful. Shiloh wanted one or two toys the whole time. I picked ones that wouldn’t disassemble and that we could attach to an arm or stick onto the tray in some way. We did not give him screen time as I noticed the babies around me getting screen time were getting frustrated and easily distracted very quickly and seemed to not be able to keep their attention to one spot and if the phone was taken back- even if they weren’t watching it- I watched meltdowns almost every time. It might work for some but I’d say that was a great example of when it doesn’t work for your child. Without a phone, we entertained him with snacks, songs, describing what’s around us, practicing ASL, and his two favorite toys over a 4 hour flight followed by a 1 hour flight. Hope this can help some mamas out!
With more and more people choosing to travel again daily, take the extra time to prepare. Traveling can already be anxiety driven, no need to add to it with all this airport madness we are having.
I hope you are able to safely venture out again and see loved ones that have been far for so long now. Happiest of holidays to everyone no matter what you’re celebrating. Let’s show that compassion and love are not a weakness to finish off this year.