First flight with twins
Family Life, Travel

First Flight With Twins! 5 Lessons I Learned (That Might Help You Too)

Readers of this blog well know that travel is among the greatest passions shared between David and me, so we knew we’d want to introduce the experience to our twin babies early on.

In our relationship, I’m more the one who’s like, “Cool, let’s totally fly to Australia tomorrow with newborn twins! I mean you never know unless you try, amiright?!” type of deal. David is more of the realist/pragmatist. I’m sure it’s very good to have this internal family system of checks and balances, but it is also the reason it took us 15 months to get on a plane with the babes.

At last, we did it! And in the end, the trip was both chaotic (duh) and absolutely doable — especially with nuanced preparation — some of which I’d done, and some of which I’ll know for next time.

Despite the fact that I already published the absolute, comprehensive best advice for flying with babies available on the Internet, turns out I had a few more things to figure out. Here’s what I wish I knew ahead of time (that might help you too!):

5 Things I Learned After Our First Flight With Twins

1. Airport transportation is complex.

After learning it costs $30 a day to park at the terminal of Los Angeles International Airport, I found an off-site lot at half the fee instead.

It was a point of contention between David (the realist, remember?) and me, because he was more inclined to spend extra money to keep things as simple as possible. And, it turned out that $15-a-day deal I picked didn’t even have an elevator, so we ended up walking perilously down a non-pedestrian ramp with stroller, luggage and two carseats.

The shuttle to the airport from there wasn’t a problem; we took the babies right on in their stroller. (On the way back, the shuttle annoyingly added about a half an hour to the end of our trip.)

The lesson learned here? David would say: “Simplifying is a worthy splurge.” In reality, I’m glad we saved the money; I just wish I’d done more fine-tuned research to find a closer and fully accessible lot. Even better, I wish I’d known how simple it is to strap car seats in without their bases — I’d have simply called an Uber!

Let's do this thang! Note the size of the suitcase, which appears ridiculous until you consider that everything for our whole family is in there, including three Halloween costumes and gifts for cousins. That would be another tip: Reduce the number of bags by checking fewer, larger ones.

Let’s do this thang! Note the size of the suitcase, which appears ridiculous for a weekend until you consider that everything for our whole family is in there, including three Halloween costumes and gifts for cousins. That would be another tip: Reduce the number of bags by checking fewer, larger ones.

2. You can never leave enough time.

Fortunately, this one was something we had adequately planned for, but I realized just how important it was once we started moving. When traveling with babies, it’s not about just leaving enough time to get through security and make it to the gate on time; it’s about leaving a sufficiently wide buffer so there’s also time to enjoy the experience as part of the adventure.

The stress of worrying about time can kill the joy before the trip even starts. Count backward from how much time you think you’ll need to complete each step (parking, check-in, security, food)… then add an hour.

First flight with twins

Like letting dogs run in the yard to tire them out, we let these babes explore the massive open space in the airport to chill them out for the flight. I think it kinda worked on the return leg? [N.B.: SAC is a really lovely, modern airport.]

3. You have to count the oxygen masks.

Our first flight with the babies was on Southwest Airlines, which has an unusual boarding system organized in groups: A, B, and C in order. I checked in early online, and was able to board in the first group, thus pretty much giving us our pick of seats. We chose a window and aisle, hoping that no one would sit between us — thinking I’d just slide over to the middle seat if someone joined our row.

We soon found out our plan was a no-go: Two lap children can’t fly in the same row if the seats are full, because then the row wouldn’t have an adequate number of oxygen masks for everyone. When a flight attendant alerted me to that fact as the plane began to fill up, it gave me a last-minute jolt of nerves that we’d have to be separated. Had I known, I would have selected two side-by-side aisles for David and me.

As luck would have it, our plane had two empty seats, and one of them ended up being in our row — I wonder why?! — so we were fine as originally seated. On the return flight, I researched in advance and learned the flight wasn’t full, or even close to it, so we selected the same arrangement except right behind the bulkhead, in the first row. It worked out perfectly with all that legroom and fewer neighbors to disturb!

Twin babies first flight

Baby girl’s favorite thing is waving and saying “Hi!” which made us a hit on the plane, actually. I told her to wave to all of the people on the ground!

Twin babies first flight

4. BYO trash bag.

We were prepared with stockpiles of food and snacks and drinks for the babes, not just as bribes and distractions — although certainly that — but also as tools to help encourage the babies to swallow on takeoff and landing in case their ears bothered them. (Babies don’t know yet how to equalize like we do.)

But within minutes into the flight, the empty seat we were fortunate to have between us was filled with an insane pile of wrappers, crumbs, and other pre-packaged food detritus. Of course, the flight attendants dispatch to pick this stuff up eventually, but coming prepared with our own bag would have been both a courtesy to the flight crew (people you want as allies!) as well as a way to facilitate a feeling of organization amid what can be an otherwise chaotic experience.

First flight with twins

Although David captured one of my favorite snaps of all time in this quiet moment, it in no way represents the actual level of serenity experienced on the flight.

5. You’re probably won’t have time to care what other people think.

I assumed — as I think most parents flying with young children for the first time do — that nasty neighbors would be one of our biggest challenges. People around us rolling eyes, sighing loudly — or even worse, causing some kind of confrontation — could be mortifying, and ruin the whole experience.

It turned out, though, that I was much too consumed with my own children to even really notice if anyone around us behaved that way. I had my hands plenty full. I was as polite and accommodating as possible to flight crew and other fliers. But beyond that? I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to make other people’s intolerances my problem.

Twin babies first flight

Yes, they still let you do this! Although I’m pretty sure aviation-enthusiast daddy was the one who got the biggest thrill.

A version of this story originally appeared on Today.com.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Stephanie November 12, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    I enjoyed this, as I just booked on Southwest our first flights from Chicago to Florida (4 months away, in March!!) with our twins who will be just under 2yrs at the time so on our laps …I’m already dreading what this means. I’ve already learned a few things from you so thanks! I know I need to look into what stroller they will allow me to check (we have the same as you, the City Mini) and I hear airlines just started a new rule on stroller weight limitations. Also don’t want to bring our big car seats…have so much to figure out!

    Thanks for your tips and I’m going to continue to read your blog.

    • Reply Alice November 13, 2015 at 12:14 am

      Awesome! I hadn’t heard anything about stroller weight… but our City Mini feels like a thimble compared to our BOB. 🙂 Thanks for reading, and best of luck! Let me know how it goes!

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