Monkeys on a Plane

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Last week we took the twins on their first airplane flight, for a week’s trip to California. Everything was completely worth it–the babies definitely enjoyed themselves, it was great to see family and to get to go to a really beautiful wedding. But I won’t say the trip wasn’t a challenge. This post is just about the airplanes, so if you’re curious about the experience of flying with twin 14-month-olds, read on.

Our flight from Pittsburgh departed at 12:30 pm, scheduled to arrive in San Francisco around 5 pm (8 pm Pittsburgh time) after a short layover in LA. We checked our four bags and two car seats, which came to $120. That’s $25 for the first bag and $35 for the next, car seats free. We gate checked our double umbrella stroller and carried on two diaper bags and the Ergo carriers.

In the security line, as we began to unclip the babies from their stroller, an agent helpfully informed us that they didn’t have to take off their booties. We put sippy cups full of water through the scanner. On the way there they were waved through without any problem. On the way back, when we had milk plus water sippy cups, we nearly missed our flight as they held up the whole line to wave test-strips over them, put them in a special machine, wait for them to scan, then put them back through the whole scanner again.

On the flight out I had asked for milk from the beverage cart and was informed that milk was only for first class. The flight attendant later snuck me a little carton. We entertained the babies with a wide array of snacks until M started to get over-tired. She refused to sit in my lap, crying, slipping off  to crawl up the aisle. I put her in the Ergo carrier and started walking with her up and down the aisle in the hopes of lulling her to sleep. After we’d walked a cumulative five miles or so, with M kicking peoples’ shoulders as we went by she finally fell asleep.

I sat down very carefully so as not to wake her. D was standing next to me with E in the Ergo, bouncing up and down trying to get her to fall asleep. The person next to me (D and I couldn’t sit next to each other, as two babies aren’t allowed in the same row because of the number of oxygen masks), was just sipping the last of a ginger ale, underlining passages in a book. “I can’t remember the last time I underlined passages in a book,” D said.

While in San Francisco, we ended up buying a big suitcase on sale, figuring we could fit three suitcases-worth inside it and save ourselves $75. On the flight back they charged us an extra $100 for the big suitcase being overweight, so the charge came to $150, $30 more than on the way there plus the cost of buying the suitcase. The flight attendant on our final leg also informed us that Ergo carriers were against FAA regulation. Sometime that night we finally made it home.



28 thoughts on “Monkeys on a Plane

  1. What an adventure!! We flew with our girls for the first time at 14 months, and on the way home they broke my iPad and got super restless and overtired. I swore on the drive home from the airport I wouldn’t fly with them again until they were three! We have taken three more trips since then and done fine. :). That was the worst by far. Love the thought of pacing the plane with the little one in the Ergo–you are a trooper! Glad you’re home!!!

    • Thanks Melissa! It was an adventure, and we definitely learned a lot. Hopefully all we learned will make the next time easier–here’s hoping! In any case, I guess not leaving the house for five years wouldn’t make us happier 🙂

  2. I have never heard of the Ergo problem. Gosh in Australia they would have to dump most of the mothers, everybody uses them or something like them. Lucky you were allowed to the gate with the stroller. Australian airlines will not take double strollers of any kind and it is hard work having to carry them. Last time they were that little we rented two single ones with wheels that didn’t work. You have achieved something that many twin mums would shudder to think about, a seven hour flight. Well done!

    • We took another trip for a wedding, not flying but driving, where we took two single strollers, and we decided a double was much preferable since then at least one person could have hands free to carry things, open doors, etc (as I’m sure you already know). We got a double umbrella stroller especially for this.

      And no one said anything about the Ergo on the first three flights we were on, it was only on the last leg that one flight attendant had a problem. He actually brought over the FAA rulebook to show us. It said only special FAA approved carriers were allowed. Whatever. I’d still take the Ergo next time, as it seems safer than nothing and was indispensable for nap aid (I’m sure other passengers on the flight would agree).

  3. Wow. I guess the good news is you got all your exercise in for the whole trip just getting yourselves through the airport and plane ride, huh? Glad you had a good trip anyway. 🙂

      • Hah. Welcome to motherhood…..”relaxed vacation glow” now means red-faced from exertion from carrying babies, all their equipment, and maintaining cool despite all odds!

  4. I briefly, very briefly, thought about flying to the beach last month. A three hour flight over 12 in the car? Yes! But by the time you add in all the airport hassle and security and wait time, it just wasn’t worth it. The drive actually went pretty well thankfully. Glad to know that flying can be done if needed though!

    • I know, the problem with flying is there are other people to be disturbed and you can’t stop the plane and get off. On pretty much all the flights M or E kept kicking the person sitting next to me–or just invading their space. You have to make friends I guess. But a 12 hour drive is long–good for you!!

  5. Sounds like the airlines have finally reached the bottom of their ability to accommodate people with anything except cokes and dry pretzels. And security is imbecilic. I HATE flying now and do it only if there is no other option. I’ve been thinking of coming east in the fall to see my PIttsburgh families, but the flying part is awful to contemplate.

  6. We just took a flight with our twins. I think it helped that we bought a whole row (3 seats) so we had all that space to ourselves. We flew once before when they were smaller in row seats adjacent to each other, but this was definitely better, especially now that they’re nearly 16 months.

    We’ve never really had any problems with our Ergos. We’ve just been told that we can’t use them during take off and landing, which was a little bit of a bummer when one of them was sleeping, but ok otherwise.

    So happy that our airline didn’t charge us to check bags!

    • Which airline were you on? I thought they all charged to check bags. I should definitely look into that. Having a whole row does sound really nice, especially because you wouldn’t have to worry about them kicking the person next to you. Did you carry on a car seat?

  7. Oh sparrow and the space monkeys, I feel as if I am reading a story from my own memories haha. First of all, you are amazing and brave to voyage with twins at this age! My son was 2 when we finally took him to California on his first flight! We waited until the whole nursing phase was long gone, as I was not brave enough to deal with the pumping and travel/ milk storage and supply thing. The airlines were still very skeptical in even letting breast milk on the airlines at the time. I’m so so sorry for your troubles with the luggage… And the costs! It’s really annoying how they have things organized for fees now. Gone are the days of all inclusive flights. I’m proud of that flight attendant for slipping you some milk though. Thankfully there is always kindness in this world. The cool part is, even with all the hassle and juggling, you enjoyed your time there! It shows that you can handle anything and still make the best of a chaotic situation. Go super mom!

    • Thank you Alisa for your kind words! Good to know I’m not alone. Luckily I’m only nursing in the morning and at night now, so I didn’t have to pump or anything. It was actually cow’s milk in the sippy cups. And I like how you focus on the positive, the flight attendant who snuck us some milk 🙂 There were others who were incredibly helpful and kind, too. I should have mentioned them. Especially the woman who sat next to me on one leg, when I had a middle seat. She asked immediately if I wanted to put up the arm rest to give M more room. When I apologized for M’s foot invading her space she said, “Oh I have three kids. I don’t even feel people touching me anymore.” Ha. Anyway I am not at all super mom, but maybe these babies are super babies–they were pretty patient considering.

    • It was exhausting. Hard when family is so far away (though we’re about an hour closer than we were when we were in New York 🙂 I know, I had just assumed there’d be milk on the beverage cart. Guess I shouldn’t assume anything about service on airplanes…

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