1. Put your babies in wraps!
It kept the babies close to us and far away from strangers who wanted a closer look. You could bounce to calm them when they got fussy. We could strap down our wubanub pacifier within the strap when we weren't using it. Babies easily fall asleep in the wrap but if they're awake they can be perfectly entertained by looking around. It's really easy to bottle-feed babies in the wraps with just one hand holding the bottle (it's easier to bottle-feed them in a wrap than a normal day at home I'd say!
2. Bring on as few amount of carryons as possible.
We each had a backpack and then the diaper bag beyond that. I wish we could have fit it all in just the 2 backpacks but it just didn't workout since we are too worried about packing our lap tops and DSLR camera in a checked bags. I'll discuss what to pack for the carryon at the end
3. Baby bottles
I breastfeed and bottle feed the twins. The flight there worked out way better for formula. I packed 5 bottles I think (I do have twice as many babies you see). One was a 9 oz bottle full to the brim with water- we give the boys room temperature bottles so filling them up after security wasn't what I wanted to do because the drinking fountains are cold. The security people will just take the bottle to the side and test it with something. I filled the other bottles up with various amounts of pre-measured formula of what we'd be needing so I merely had to add water on the airplane and such. On the way back home I put pre-measured water in each bottle and was going to add the formula on the plane, BAD IDEA. It took so much longer waiting on security for them to test all the bottles.
4. Don't hassle printing out your boarding passes ahead of time.
If you have a lap child they have to re-print you another ticket anyways, Just have the confirmation code ready as a screenshot picture on your phone. Also have your ID and kids birth certificates in an easily accessible spot.
5. Getting through security
Wear slip on shoes of possible. Take everything out of your pockets and put them in your bags before you get to security to lessen the time. Unbuckle your toddler from the stroller last. You can keep babies wrapped on you when going through security. Don't try folding up your stroller to put it through the scanner check. Just tell the security people it hasn't fit before and they can hand check it instead, such a pain to fold and unfold your stroller (and it usually doesn't fit anyways!!!).
6. After security before boarding
Both parents go to the bathroom. Fill up water bottles. Get the tag for your stroller for a gate check. Ask if it's a full flight so you can plan accordingly emotionally. Change any diapers now if necessary.
7. Getting on the plane
while walking down the ramp to the plane start unloading the stroller and toddler so when you get to the end all you have to do is fold up the stroller
8. Where to sit on the plane
We sat in the VERY back rows both times and it was the smartest move (We always fly Southwest therefor we always get to pick our seats and board after the first 60 people) . Flight attendants are right there ready to help you. If you stand up to calm a baby in the aisle no one is behind you staring at your bum. It's less likely people will come all the way to the back for that last open seat. AS SOON AS YOU SIT DOWN get a clorox wipe out (I put a small ziploc bag in my husband's pocket with 2 wipes) and wipe down your whole seat area: trays, arm rests, head areas, anywhere your hand may potentially touch. The seat your toddler is seating in, make sure to get the head rest, if they turn around to look at the people behind them their mouth will most likely touch area, gross. AVOID THE GERMS
9. Take off and landing
You've heard this before but have your kids drink and/or eat on going both up and down. For the babies I'd nurse one and Casey would bottle feed the other and then we'd switch babies when I was done nursing the first. Once they were done eating it was binkie time. For Max (our 2 year old) as soon as I got on the plane, I gave the flight attendant his sippie cup and asked them to fill it 1/3 juice and 2/3 water, remember my toddlers obsession with juice? He drank it along with snacks and I've never had a problem with his ears on flights.
10. During the flight
My 2 year old stayed watching a movie on the iPad the whole flight home. The first flight we tried to bring out a few bonus activities to entertain him but in reality, just keep it as simple as possible- stick with a movie (we didn't give him headphones for the movie and the airplane noise drowned out the sound just fine for the other passengers). If they'll use an electronic device the whole time then DO IT, don't get all complicated and fancy with wrapped toys (1 year old? Yes, fancy new/old wrapped toys is a must but I'm not writing abut 1 year olds now am I?). No matter the age (except tiny infants) I do take the child on a walk up and down the aisle to get some wiggles out and it's a great form of entertainment to see all the passengers. Do whatever it takes to keep your child happy as awful as that sounds. Be courteous to fellow passengers. No one appreciates a crying baby/toddler, if you can appease their needs then do so. Your toddler wants another cookie and won't eat the fruit chips you packed him? Fine cookies it is. The baby is fussy and it's only been an hour since they ate? Feed him! You get the point.
But on the flip side- don't freak out if you're child is crying or being difficult. Roll with the punches, don't stress out, the flight will end and you will all survive, yes even cranky passengers beside you will survive. I've actually yet to sit by anyone who hasn't been super duper kind and patient and eager to lend in a helping hand with our situation and kids- normal people get that kids can be unpredictable at times.
Don't order a complimentary drink.
Do slightly unscrew any bottle you have that has liquid in it from take off to mid flight or else it will leak all over!
Don't drink very much water before or during the flight to avoid having to use the bathroom during the flight.
What to bring in carryons:
-Diapers-always overpack diapers
-Extra clothes for everyone (just shirts for parents just in case)
-a trash bag (in case the worse comes to worst with someone's clothing)
-A ton of variety of snacks (the fruit loop necklaces were a hit. We also never buy fruit snacks so the "nemo" fruit snacks were the best form of bribery ever. Max called them "meemos) Snacks for parents and kids!
-Additional toy entertainment as needed
-2 small swaddling blankets (one for each baby)
-Kids birth certificates
-water bottles for parents (with carabiners on to easily attach to backpacks)
-Kids sippie cups or bottles for baby.
-a small bag of various medicines (for us- kids and adult tylenol, tums, nasal spray) anything you often turn to
A note on kids carseats.
We were lucky enough to just use various family member's car seats once we got to Arizona so we didn't have to bring any of ours. I have seen people strap carseats to strollers or baggage with bungee chords for easier transportation from the car to whichever point you're needing it to go.
Checking in (notice Maxson's photo bomb? Toddler typical…)
The best terminal we could have ever asked for at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. A whole wall of glass windows to watch the planes take off. It entertained Max the entire time it was so heavenly he actually stayed put and just played all around the glass area pointing out planes for a solid 45 minutes.
Our stroller turned into our pack mule while waiting. My beloved diaper bag strapped to the back!
Bryson mid flight
SO HAPPY TO HAVE CONQUERED THE PLANE RIDE AND BE DONE!
EXTRA EXTRA BINUS TIP
I really do think Southwest is super awesome and accommodating to families: 2 free bags per person, easy going flight attendants, family boarding, complimentary snacks and drinks. We have the southwest credit card and at the beginning of the year they send you free drink coupons for alcohol and special beverages on the flight. We don't drink alcohol but we do bring the coupons to give to the passengers who so kindly choose to sit by us an endure the "kid zone" on the airplane. Just a kind gesture. I wish I was getting paid for this advertising…
Well wishes to your future flights with kids!!!!!!!