Monday, March 25, 2013

Hawaii Trip Review (part 2 of more than 1)

Hawaii Trip Part 1
Hawaii Trip Part 3

Jumping back in

In the previous post, we talked about the night before, getting to the Airport, and getting through Security.  Now lets move on!

At the Gate

Honestly, it was our time at the Gate that was the worst.  That being said, it wasn't BAD, but it was the time that B wanted to move around the most.  We tried to let him do as much walking as possible.  We carried him to other windows so he could watch outside.  I even found a deserted gate and let him climb around on the chairs and played hide-and-seek around signs and desks.
We did have our Tablets with us, but even though he requested Baby Signing Time or Sesame Street, he never actually watch them.  So that was a little frustrating.
We recommend that you time your diaper changes so that you change a diaper JUST BEFORE boarding starts. This put B in a good mood since he liked the "Elmo-Cookie" diapers SO much, and it also makes sure he is comfortable for the first part of the flight when you can't get up.
Next thing to note is, it never hurts to ask for things from the gate agent.  You won't always get them, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

United Airlines Policy

I wanted to highlight this specifically.  United Airlines no longer does pre-boarding for families with small children.  They claim it makes the process faster.  I completely disagree with this policy, as families traveling with Car Seats they intend to use will and can slow down boarding when you don't let them get on first.  No matter the policy, if you CAN send one Parent first, and let the other wait with the toddler until everyone else is boarded, you'll have a happier toddler!

Gate Agent and Boarding

So, again, ask the Gate Agent for things, and here is what we asked for:
  • Priority Boarding for us
  • (if no) Priority Boarding or Early Boarding for ONE of us with the car seat
  • IF your traveling with a lap child, ask if there are empty seats you could have
  • Ask for gate check tags if you need them for a stroller or seat
The Gate Agent in Chicago reiterated United's policy, but recognized the situation and allowed one of us to board early to get the seat installed since one of us was waiting with B.  This works out pretty well.  We recommend trying this, and taking both the car seat, and ANY bags you want to go in the overhead.  You'll have plenty of room for those carry ones, and you'll find it much easier to get the car seat IN the plane and installed.  Since one of us waiting with B, this also gave us a chance to  run around a little more, and wave to mommy or daddy.  We waited until almost everyone else was on the plane before getting on.
This plan worked for us on every flight EXCEPT one.  After our layover in LA, the gate agent was quite unwilling to be flexible, and did not allow one of us to board early.   One of us did wait with B, but N had to install the car seat after about half the plane had boarded, and it didn't fit down the isle.  She was lucky that another passenger helped her carrying above heads.  She also struggled with the seat belt (PRACTICE PEOPLE), so when B and I got there, she was frazzled and the seat was still not installed.  I got there and helped and we got settled.
Our Island Hoppers on Hawaiian Airlines, B was a lap child, but we still waited to board, and even sent one person early with the big carry on to get that settled.  We really tried to limit the time B was on the plane and in his seat.

The Flights

I wanted to take a second to talk about how we kept B happy and content ON the plane.  We prepared ourselves with a bunch of things for him:
  • Wrapped toys
  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Suckers (dumdums)
  • Cheerios
  • iPad/Touchpad
  • Flash Cards (Baby Signing Time)
  • Books
  • Elmo/Bud (lovies)
  • Blanket
  • Headphones (more on this later)
I will say, you need to be prepared to entertain your Toddler for the first part of the flight. Really the only thing we found that would keep him happy was to actively talk/tickle/point with him.  B had no problems with ear pressure on this flight, but we did have suckers with us to help with that.  He RARELY gets suckers, so this was a GREAT treat.
AS well, I HIGHLY recommend the wrapped toy idea.  We got about a dozen dollar store toys and wrapped them in bright paper.  If he got fussy, he got to "Open Pesent!" and that worked great.  He also was very content to watch shows or movies on our tablets.  We did get him headphones, but he ditched those early and was content just to watch.  I'd test this out before hand with your child.
Other than our overnight flight home, he fell asleep before landing and slept through landing.  This was a BLESSING.
And once on the ground, we took our time.  We were the last off the plane on one leg.  Don't be in a rush, you're going to slow others down and have them irritated with you!

Now, I haven't talked about it yet, but here is where my favorite travel accessory was the BEST.
Specifically, we had a Britax Car Seat Travel Cart for our Britax Marathon Carseat.
This basically turns your car seat into a stroller.  Its VERY easy to get the seat in and out of.  And B ALWAYS wanted to ride after a flight.  He was still sleepy, and we needed to contain him a bit while we located luggage.  HIGHLY recommend this kind of cart!

Final thought for this post (I'll break this here):
Here is our luggage/carry on situation, just for reference:
  1. 2 LARGE Suitcases (checked)
  2. Car Seat (Gate Checked or Used)
  3. Car Seat Cart (Gate Checked with Car Seat, or in Overhead Bin carry on)
  4. 1 Rolling Carryon
  5. 1 Adult Backpack Carryon
  6. 1 Toddler Backpack ("Elmo PakPak") Carryon
  7. 1 LARGE purse/diaper bag Carryon
Make sure to check with your airline on what  you can and can no carry on, it does change!

That's it for now, we will get into Car Rental and Car Travel in the next post!!

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