How to Scare Away Fellow Passengers and Have an Empty Seat Next to You

Ryan has been on a lot of flights the past four weeks: two with Chris and me and then three with just me. I would rather travel by plane than by car with Ryan because he isn't strapped to his enemy - the car seat. He is much better on planes where he is free, and he barely fusses. The flights with Chris are great because we can sit next to each other (duh) and play musical laps if Ryan is awake. The ones when I am flying solo (pun intended) are more of a challenge now that Ryan is a restless terror especially when the flight is full, and I don't have the extra knee-way in the form of my husband. Even flights not to capacity aren't as fun. On our flight to Phoenix on the way to San Diego, pretty much no one was in a middle seat, and the two rows behind us only had one passenger on each side. A kind man had the window seat in our row, and then I was in the aisle seat with Ryan alternating between my lap and the middle seat. There was turbulence the whole flight so the  pilot never turned the seat belt sign off, and, despite my best efforts to keep him awake, Ryan had napped for a full hour before we boarded the plane. Oh, and I was out of snacks (even though I thought I had packed more than enough for a train ride to Chicago and the flights??) Recipe for having the same amount of hair as my close-to-bald son at the end of the flight on account of pulling it all out in the three and half session of trying to keep him in one spot, not throw things and not invade the personal space of the kind man he thinks is his jungle gym. However, on our last flight, I think I have finally mastered the method for getting a good nap in ON the plane and securing at least one empty seat in your row when traveling by yourself.

Here is what worked best for us:

Step # 1

After you pass through security and set up camp at your gate, you let your baby/toddler RUN. And toddle. And trip. And fall. And get back up again. Repeat. Get all of the energy out of that little dynamite. Try not to let him or her impede the travelers that are themselves running to make their flights.

You only want to seem like a mom with no control over the crazy baby and no concern for others, but you don't actually want to be one

He seriously did this for ten seconds...maybe he knows that yoga is good for sports? 

Step # 2

Try to hold off nursing or what sleeping potion comforts the baby. Ryan still nurses to sleep probably 90% of the time so that is what I avoid. Try to give the baby other drinks if they are thirsty even if when they whine or fuss. Whining is encouraged because, thanks to the fuss, everyone around you at your gate will see your baby as the last person they want to sit next to on the plane. Just remember, keep that worn out baby awake! 

Step #3

Put your baby in a baby carrier right before the plane boards. This will free up your hands to carry your other stuff down the skinny aisle. Beware, this might put some babies to sleep so take caution to time it correctly. In Ryan's case, he has gotten to the point where he protests the carrier at first since he wants to walk so that just adds to the dramatic I'm-a-baby-hear-me-roar factor we are playing up. When you are all set, line up with the other parents and kids for family boarding and listen to all the not so quiet whispers of, "Ugh, look at how many there are...this will be horrible" (two things to that: do smug yuppies really think I can't hear them? And yes! Success! Let them tremble in their boots!)

Step #4

Obtain a window seat and don't nurse/give a bottle yet. You want to wait for take off anyway to help the ears to pop. And I say this because if I nursed Ryan right when we sat down, he would fall asleep, people would see him slumbering sweetly in my arms and forget about the energetic terror they witnessed in the airport. Let them see a squirming that would squirm right into the middle seat. 

Step #5

Glory! The cabin doors have been closed, there are only two empty seats on the whole airplane, and winner, winner, chicken dinner, one of them is next to you! Nurse that tired, sweet baby during take off and enjoy a nice, long nap:

Step #6

If your baby wakes up before the flight is over, never fear! Just move on over to the middle seat, and you have a little play area for your munchkin. You don't have to feel bad about your baby getting up close and personal with the wall of the plane like you would about a person's legs. So sit, back, relax and eat your peanuts (or Nabisco products if you are flying Southwest).

1. Those guys just didn't know that I would be a well-behaved kid on the plane 2. Gotcha!


Do you have any travel tips?