What We Learned on Our First 7 Flights with Our Twins
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Flying with infant twins (up to 12 months old) is, at best, a logistical nightmare. Trying to carry, and care for, two helpless little people while also navigating security, boarding, public restrooms, etc. is not going to be your favorite thing. But, it is totally feasible. And once you reach your destination, it’ll be well worth the trouble. After our first year of travel, we put together a few successes and failures to pass on to the next traveling twin family!
If your twins are older than 12 months, check out our post on flying with twin toddlers.
Choosing the Right Flights and Seats: What Worked for Us
Every baby is different, of course, but our twins have never been the greatest sleepers. They are easily distracted, and not super flexible when it comes to sleeping situations. We learned, through trial and error, that the best times to fly were during the day. They could shift naps around as they needed, but they couldn’t go to sleep for the night on the plane or at the airport. The result of late flights was always overtired, overstimulated babies.
When choosing your seating arrangement on the flight, there are a few things to consider. First, will your babies have their own seats or will they be lap babies? You can only have one lap baby per row, so you will not be able to sit together if you do both as lap babies. Some planes/airlines allow only one lap baby per entire row, so you’ll end up back to front with your spouse or traveling partner and the other twin. If you are traveling alone with your twins, you are a ROCKSTAR, and you’ll only be able to have one as a lap baby, and the other will require his/her own seat. In that case, you’ll definitely want to bring a car seat for the baby’s seat.
Our Favorite Seating Arrangement for Twin Babies
The seating arrangement that worked for us was to buy three seats for the four of us so that we took the entire row on one side (see below).
We loved it because we had that small space all to ourselves. It was (somewhat) easy to pass the babies around as needed, and we had control of the coveted window seat. Well- not so much the window seat, but the pull-down shade that both kids loved to play with. We also didn’t have to ask a stranger to move for diaper changes or walking the babies around the plane.
Managing the Airport
Before you enter the airport, make sure you have a plan to make your way through the airport. I’m not gonna lie, it can be TOUGH. Between luggage, strollers, car seats, and two babies, you have your hands full, literally.
But, with a solid plan, you got this!
First things first, how to manage the babies.
For small babies, or any babies (and their parents) who can handle it, we ABSOLTELY recommend baby wearing. I typically always travel with my husband, so we each take a baby. It frees our hands, and makes security much easier because they don’t need to get out – you can just keep them strapped to you as you make your way through. Plus, we can avoid the whole stroller shuffle while boarding the plane.
As they got older and heavier and stopped tolerating the carrier for longer periods, we switched to a lightweight double stroller. If you decide to bring a stroller though, remember, you’ll have to fold it up and gate check it before boarding the plane. So you’ll want a stroller that is extremely easy to fold up. Likely one parent will have to fold up a stroller while holding one baby.
We reviewed a bunch of lightweight double strollers, including many under 20 lbs, and fold up one-handed and found some really awesome picks- read about it here!
Side Note: if you are flying on American Airlines, they have a very strict stroller policy and allow only strollers under 20lbs to be gate checked. Bigger strollers will need to be checked at the ticket counter.
Doesn’t matter how much you have. Even if you managed to fit EVERYTHING in a carry on sized bag, check it! Absolutely check it!
Yes it costs extra, and that’s annoying, BUT you are going to regret having anything more than you have to carry through the airport. You will have PLENTY without carrying a week’s worth of clothing.
In fact, it’s going to be tough to get all your stuff from the car to the ticket counter. You’ll need one of those luggage carts you’ve probably noticed but never used (since you never had two babies) before. They are overpriced, but if they allow you to get a massive amount of luggage to a place where some one will take some of it with out sweating it’s worth it.
The car seats
Since we generally bought three seats, we only needed to bring one car seat through the airport. We like to bring a car seat bag to check the second car seat. This one is really great because it has a bit of extra padding to minimize damage during luggage transport and backpack straps for those times when we don’t have a luggage cart. We found that we can generally get away with throwing a few light-weight items, like a blanket or a stuffed animal to provide a little extra padding for the car seat, and extra storage for bulky items.
For transporting the car seats in the airport (to use on the plane), we chose a simple foldable luggage cart. We wanted something that would work with any car seat, knowing that we wouldn’t be in the bucket car seats forever. We didn’t need one that the kids could ride in, and we really didn’t want to pay for one of the branded car seat carriers. This luggage cart has worked great for us!
What to Pack:
For our travel day, each parent brings a backpack with all the baby gear required for one baby (and maybe a little something for ourselves JUST in case we get a mini-break ). We prefer backpacks because they are more comfortable, keep our hands free, and are small enough to fit under the seat. We find that it’s best for us to each be responsible for one baby than switch off. It helps us balance the workload. Also, we can, for example, each take a baby to the bathroom to change diapers at the same time when we are in a rush. Our in-flight backpacks are lifesavers in a million ways. You’ll really want to think through what to pack, and have it well organized.
My Carry-on Packing List
- If giving bottles, more formula than you think you’ll need, and extra, extra snacks and water if you are nursing. Delays happen- I can’t imagine anything worse than being stuck on a plane with two hungry babies and no way to feed them.
- Extra pacifiers and clips
- Burp cloths
- Extra outfits. We pack one complete outfit per waterproof reusable bag (we use Grovia wetbags), or a large Ziploc. That way, if you have a … mess (you know what I mean), you can just pull out a complete clean outfit, and put the dirty items in the bag to contain the mess. Choose outfits with layers that are easy to remove or add. Temperatures can vary widely on the plane and once you land. And you won’t have a lot of time to change everyone to keep them comfortable. If spit up or blowouts are common, make sure you pack enough clean clothing for the duration of your flight, plus an hour or so. If might takes awhile after landing before you can dig through your suitcase, if necessary.
- Diapers in a diaper pod so that you can only bring what you need into the tiny airplane bathroom. This is my favorite diaper pod.
- A lightweight blanket for blocking light, keeping baby warm, whatever.
- Infant Tylenol, Motrin, whatever works for teething for you.
- Toys. Babies aren’t usually HUGE on toys, but they might keep them entertained for a few minutes, and you’ll be thankful for those minutes We brought Sophie the Giraffe, a teether, a Jellycat elephant stuffy, a little mirror toy, and a little rattle toy on our first few flights
- If your babies have started solids, bring anything they can have. Fun, not super messy snacks are ideal. We did Puffs, Yogis, Happy Baby squeezes, cheerios, apple slices, apple sauce, sippy cup for water or juice on the plane
- Tablet. We are SUPER lax with tablet time in this situation. With that said, as infants, our kids had very little interest in tablets or shows. But we might be able to distract them for 10 minutes with Little Baby Bum. Every minute counts. 😂 We did not use headphones. We just turned the volume up a bit so they could hear. Perhaps we were annoying our neighbors on the flight, but it’s better than the sound of a crying baby. And honestly, the plane is so noisy, I don’t think anyone else could hear it.
The getting-on-the-plane part of the process can be tricky and a little intimidating when you have two tiny helpless people and a WHOLE lot of stuff.
To make that process a little less scary, you’ll want to be PREPARED. Hopefully you will follow our advice above and check your luggage so you are ONLY bringing yourself, your babies, backpacks, and potentially a car seat or two, and/or a stroller.
When it comes time to board, the flight crew will call for families with young children to board early. Sounds like you, right?
Depending on what you are bringing on the plane, it may make sense to not board early just to minimize the total time you spend on the plane. If your babies are happily wiggling around in the airport, that extra few minutes MIGHT make a difference. I like to put my backpack carry on under the seat so I everything I need RIGHT there just in case, so there is no need to fight for overhead bin space.
But, if you are bringing a stroller, and are nervous about the whole getting the babies out and lugging the stroller down the jetway, maybe boarding early will ease the stress.
Surviving the Flight
My Twins’ Disastrous First Flight
Fun little story: We took our boys on their first flight when they were about 5 months old. It was a 6-hour flight in the afternoon/evening. EVERYONE told us it would be no problem, babies their age always sleep the whole time. Guess what? They didn’t. They basically didn’t sleep at all. Probably their ears were hurting, and they were crying quite a lot. I was so stressed out worrying about everyone else on the flight hating us that I couldn’t really calm down, and the babies were big-time picking up on my stress, and the cycle continued. It was awful! SO awful, in fact, that I got shingles from the stress.
Ok- so maybe I’m a little bit crazy. But here is what works for me: After that flight, we still had to make it home a few days later. So I played the first flight over in my head a lot, and thought about what else could go wrong, and imagined everyone staring and glaring at me. But who cares about them. I decided to just do my best and if that wasn’t good enough for the other passengers, screw them! That flight was 6 hours long, and I didn’t think my boys could scream for 6 hours straight, but that would be the absolute worse case.
So that’s what I did: I didn’t pay attention to anyone but my little family, which helped me stay calm, and of course my boys picked up on that, and they were totally fine.
We were mentally prepared for them to cry. For everyone on the flight to glare at me for the entire 6-hour flight. So anything better than that felt great. The babies did cry probably 30-45 minutes combined, which felt like a lot, but honestly- it was no big deal. We found most people on our flights to be supportive and recognize that we were working hard.
So as far as keeping your babies happy and entertained on the flight- in our experience, there are no easy solutions. Babies just can’t hold their attention to any particular thing for an extended time. They will likely be a little overwhelmed and distracted in this new place (the airplane). So the biggest thing is just to be understanding of your little guys. My list of things I need to BE before flying with infant twins would include:
- Very well-rested, or very well-caffeinated. The roar of the engines wears me out but twin moms don’t have time to be tired. I breastfed so I obviously couldn’t ACTUALLY get a lot of sleep OR drink a lot of coffee, but .. for pretend
- VERY relaxed. My kids can’t nap on the plane. It drives me KIND of crazy, but I just have to let it ok. They are usually fine/happy, but I get caught up in how tired I think they are. Don’t do that 🙂
- Ready to sing .. a lot. Singing makes babies happy, and you are going to want to make them HAPPY. Maybe bring a playlist you can sing along to, or a book of nursery rhymes to remind yourself.
- Totally disinterested, even OBLIVIOUS to what others on the plane are thinking. See the story above. Who cares if people are mad because your babies are crying! Sometimes babies cry. That’s just the way it is.
- Confident. Try this mantra: I am a good mom. I can handle this even if it’s hard.
- Open-minded. They may want to listen to you sing and talk to them or they may want to rattle a toy. They may not be able to nap regularly, and that’s totally ok. Flight attendants are typically pretty understanding. They will often allow you to walk up and down the aisles if you need to.
So, yes our first flight with infants twins was hard. And maybe yours will be too, but TONS of infants are great flyers. And, no matter what, it’s just a few hours. As a twin parent, you can CERTAINLY handle a few hours of difficult travel. And, at the end of your flight, you’ll get to start your wonderful vacation!