Surviving Toddler’s First Flight: We Made It…Kind Of…

Toddler's First Flight


Air travel can be stressful sometimes, and as we found out this weekend, it can be even more stressful with a toddler in tow.

This weekend we flew from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport to go visit Finnleigh’s Grandpa Allan and Grandma Deanne. I’d been dreading this trip for months. Finnleigh’s been a great kid so far: she sleeps like a log and is well-behaved in public places, but I know that airplanes can do crazy things to even the best kids.

Our departing trip went just okay. The trip started out great and we breezed through security with plenty of time to get situated at the gate. But despite intentionally booking the flight during her bedtime and trying to wear her out in the terminal before boarding, Finnleigh wanted nothing to do with sleeping on the plane. Unfortunately, there were too many new things to see and not enough space to explore them all. She quickly got frustrated that she had to sit on one of our laps the whole time. Thankfully, we had some very understanding “neighbors” and flight attendants who thought Finneligh did great (what flight were they on?!). After two sippy cups of milk, an entire school of Goldfish and re-reading Where’s Spot? a dozen times, she finally wore herself out and fell asleep with 45 minutes left on the four-hour flight.

Unfortunately, the return flight was one to forget. After repeating the same steps as the first flight, Finnleigh again wanted nothing to do with being confined to our laps. To make matters worse, we were getting death stares from the passengers around us. No empathy on this plane. I spent half the flight walking up and down the aisle trying to calm her down, until she eventually fell asleep, again with 45 minutes left on the flight. I thought we were finally in the clear until we pulled into the gate and Finnleigh woke up, madder than hell and entirely inconsolable. By then, everybody had already stood up to get their things and we were pinned to our seats. That was the longest deplaning ever.

To rub salt in the wound, the two people across the aisle made it very clear they were inconvenienced by us. One mumbled to the other (but still loud enough for us to overhear), “Nobody on this plane is more happy to be getting off than the two of us, huh?” At first, I was embarrassed and wanted to crawl under the uncomfortably undersized seat. But after a couple minutes, and as people continued to deplane, I started to get mad. Furious, actually. To those two whiny passengers: I understand that listening to a baby screaming on a small plane sucks. I get that. Guess what? We were all thinking the same thing. But did you really need to say it out loud and make the already guilty parents feel even worse for taking their daughter on a family vacation? No. You didn’t. Thanks for that, you jerks.

When it was finally our turn to get off the plane (we stayed in our seats a couple extra minutes to let some of the rows behind us off first), Finnleigh broke the tension (as she always does) when she started laughing as we walked down the aisle for the last time on that trip. Thank goodness we’ve got our toddler’s first plane trip under our belts.


2 thoughts on “Surviving Toddler’s First Flight: We Made It…Kind Of…

  1. We’ve had the death stares from the people in front of us, when the kids are old enough to sit on their own and push the seat in front of them when their trying to rearrange themselves on their own seat. Just something to look forward to.

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