These days, airline travel is difficult under the best circumstances. Add an infant into the mix and you've got a recipe for chaos -- unless you plan well, and plan well ahead.
Here, ten tips to make air travel with an infant easier:
1. Avoid busy day rush-hours
During non-holiday periods, the busiest travel days are Friday, Sunday, and Monday. If possible, schedule your flight on the other days of the week. You're more likely to get a better price on tickets and have more space once on board. As for time of day, this is trickier. Most experts recommend flying as early in the day as possible since you're less apt to have to deal with the snowball effect of delays. But the early morning and late-day flights are generally full of business travelers. If you fly mid-day, your flight will probably cover some napping hours so your baby might snooze for at least part of the trip.
2. Get seat assignments early
If you wait until the day you're traveling, odds are that you'll be stuck with the worst seats on the plane. If you're traveling with your infant on your lap, request an aisle or window (or one each if you're with your spouse) and tell the reservation agent you'll be traveling with an infant. They will sometimes try to leave an open seat on either side of yours. While you should never count on this option, if the flight isn't full, some boarding agents or flight attendants will allow you to carry on your car seat and buckle baby into the empty seat next to you.
3. Bring a front-pack or a sling
If baby is traveling on your lap, it may be easier for you to keep him contained in a front pack or sling for at least part of the trip.
4. Utilize the "gate check" option
Check your luggage, but bring your stroller and/or backpack to the gate with you. Ask the boarding agent to gate check your bulky items so they are waiting for you at the end of the jetway when you arrive at your destination. If your trip includes a plane change, this will make getting from one part of the airport to the next much easier.
5. Ask for an escort if you're alone
Since only ticketed passengers are allowed past security, you may find it difficult to transport baby and baggage to the gate if you're traveling solo. If you arrive well ahead of your scheduled flight, you may be able to get a pass for your spouse or a friend to help you to the gate. Check with your airport's security office for details since this policy varies.