Flying with Autism

What’s it like to fly with a child who has autism? While there is a wide spectrum of the effects of Autism, my friend, Kim C., a 24 year flight attendant has some experience. Her 13 year old son is on the Autism Spectrum and also has inattentive ADHD and Sensory Processing Issues. In spite of the challenges, they fly very frequently—every chance they get! Please read on for some helpful tips to make your flying experience a breeze!

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We were so lucky to have the author of this post, Kim C., as our flight attendant on John’s very first flight! He was only 10 weeks old and colicky. Click here for tips on flying with a colicky baby. It was so nice to have a friend working the flight!

Tips for Flying With Autism—From a Flight Attendant Mom with Experience


I know with my son any outing goes more smoothly IF he has an idea of what to expect. This is especially true if your child has never been to an airport! Airports are busy places filled with lots of sounds and lots of people. The experience can be overwhelming.

I recommend buying or renting or watching on YouTube a few of the several kid’s DVDs that relate to airplanes and flying. If your child is like mine, (s)he will watch them over again and rewind to their favorite scenes! There are also several books, one of our favorites is: The Noisy Airplane Ride by Mike Downs.

Travel Tip: There are several airports that have programs where your child with Autism can take a “practice flight” before they travel. You can find a list of these and more details here. LAX Airport is the most recent airport to implement such a program. Details can be found here. 


I’ve broken the whole experience down into STEPS. Our son does better when he has steps to follow:



I highly recommend you have a friend or relative drive you to the airport. By the time you drive, park, and tow your luggage, your child could already be approaching meltdown mode. Another great alternative is an airport park and fly. They usually pick you up right at your car and drop you off there upon your return.

TIP: Talk with your child about airplanes taking off and landing and the loud noises the engines make, as you will encounter these noises before you even get to the airport.



Most major airlines offer self-service check-in machines. You can usually check in online at home before you leave for the airport but if you are checking bags, you will need to stop at the check-in machines. Alternatively, if someone has dropped you off, it’s much easier and quicker to use curbside check-in. That way your bags are checked on the flight right away and you can give your full attention to your child. You can also get your seat assignments if you haven’t already printed them at home.

TIP: Find out which type of airplane you will be flying on. I suggest that you try to get seats away from the engines since they can be very loud and disturbing to a child with sensory issues.



I highly recommend getting a TSA pre-check or Global Entry card before you travel (the process might take a few months). Either one will allow you to to to a special pre-check line. You can find details of how to apply HERE.

There is usually little to no wait at these special lanes. I have found that waiting in a long security line agitates my son and this sets the tone for the rest of the travel day. These cards are well worth the money and are valid for several years. The Global Entry card also allows you to clear U.S. customs and immigration much faster if you plan to travel outside the United States.

TIP: Show your child this fun video made by the TSA to help prepare him/her for the screening process:

There is also more helpful information on this TSA Kids webpage.

Editor’s note: Recommendation directly from the Parents page:  “Please inform the Transportation Security Officer if the child has a disability, medical condition or medical devices, and if you think the child may become upset during the screening process. We welcome your suggestions on how to best accomplish the screening process to minimize any confusion for the child.”



Many airlines have stopped allowing families with children to pre-board. You might try explaining to the gate agent that your child has Autism and might need a few extra minutes to get situated.



Be sure to pack snacks, small toys, and books for the flight. Airlines now allow electronics to be used during all phases of flight. They must be in airplane mode for takeoff and landing. Check to see if WiFi will be available on your flight. It’s easier to sign up for a pass while at home than sign up in flight. Although streaming videos is not available, YouTube will usually work!

TIP: Pack headphones that fit over your child’s ears. They will help drown out the engines noises. This is especially helpful if your child has sensory issues.


I think it’s important for you to study and share the safety briefing card with your child. Let him/her know that if there is an emergency you will all slide down a giant slide to quickly get off the airplane. Please let him/her know that the flight attendants and pilots are there to help them. Let him/her hold the briefing card and look at the pictures. My son is often very afraid when he doesn’t know what to expect. Tell your child that the pilots and the flight attendants will make announcements over the speaker often. Sometimes they can sound very loud.


From the editor: I hope these tips help as you prepare for flying with your child! If you found it useful, share with a friend! Please comment below to show your appreciation for Kim C. for sharing her advice. Do you have other tips from your own experience? Share with us in the comments below!

Categories: Autism, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Program for Autism Families at LAX

I was at LAX airport yesterday and was so excited to discover they are launching a new program for families with autism! On Sunday, April 18, 2015 they launched their Flight Experience Program, where families with autism can have a trial-run of travel of the flight experience so they can be better prepared for the real thing! Participating airlines also have a voluntary self-identification program where a person with autism and their families wear a specially-designed sticker to make others aware they have autism or are traveling with someone with autism. The hope is that this will make others more helpful and understanding should a meltdown or outburst occur. I believe this makes the 16th U.S. airport to offer trial flights for those with autism. Here is a list of other participating airports.

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The following is the press release of the new program:

Los Angeles World Airports Launches “Flight Experience Program” For Families with Autism


(Los Angeles, California—April 18, 2015) Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), participating airlines and partner agencies today launched its Flight Experience Program, offering a practice airport experience at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) from check-in to boarding for families with autism to help prepare for future travel, and help reduce anxieties and fears associated with flying. American Airlines hosted today’s program.

“There are many families that do not fly simply because they fear not knowing how their loved one with autism will act or how others will react to possible behavioral situations that may arise,” said Larry Rolon, LAWA’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator. The program gives families with autism an opportunity to experience the airport environment, including the inside of an airplane, increase the comfort level, and reduce anxiety through familiarization with the travel process.”

Students from the LeRoy Haynes School, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with special needs, participated in this first run of the program. They started by registering for the flight experience by visiting and clicking on the ADA symbol. Upon arrival at LAX, the participants checked in as if they were actually taking a flight, received their boarding passes, and proceeded through Transportation Security Administration  (TSA) screening, and on to their gates. When the flight was called, families boarded the aircraft, took their seats, and followed the usual airline procedures, giving participants an educational and realistic travel experience.

LAWA has been working with its partners including airlines, airport tenants, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), wheelchair service providers, and the LeRoy Haynes School to address the needs of families with autism when traveling by air and to create public awareness about autism and possible behavioral issues that may arise at the airport or in-flight.

Recently, LAWA  also initiated an autism self-identification program that allows persons with autism to share that they have an intellectual disability by wearing a specially-designed sticker created by a team of 13 students from LeRoy Haynes School.

It is hoped that the sticker will help minimize misunderstandings. When a police officer or airline employee responds to a situation and sees the autism sticker, it alerts them that the individual has autism. They may, in turn, handle the situation in a different manner by offering assistance in a quiet area or other options.

Rolon added that the self-identification program is the result of input from families with autism who express a fear of flying with family members with autism.

“Family members worry that loved ones with autism may become confused in an airport environment, creating an outburst that could result in a negative response, when actually, the person may only be trying to communicate or is reacting to stress caused by being in an unfamiliar environment,” he said.

Both the “Flight Experience Program” and the self-identification program are free and voluntary. The programs are sponsored by LAWA and its airline partners. Families wishing to self-identify can ask for stickers at the ticket counters of participating airlines.


About Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

LAX is the fifth busiest airport in the world and second in the United States. LAX served nearly 70.7 million passengers in 2014. LAX offers 692 daily nonstop flights to *% cities in the U.S. and 928 weekly nonstop flights to 67 cities in 34 countries on 59 commercial air carriers. LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the U.S. in air cargo tonnage processed, with over two million tons of air cargo valued at over $91.6 billion. An economic study 2011 reported that operations at LAX generated 294,400 jobs in Los Angeles County with labor income of $13.6 billion economic output of more that $39.7 billion. This activity added $2.5 billion to local and state revenues. LAX is part of a system of three Southern California airports—along with LA/Ontario International and Van Nuys general aviation—that are owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, a proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles that receives no funding from the City’s general fund.

For more information about LAX, please visit or follow on Twitter @flyLAXAirport, on Facebook at, and on YouTube at Information about LAX’s ongoing multi-billion-dollar LAX Modernization Program, as well as tips and shortcuts to help navigate LAX during construction, are available at

As a covered entity under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of Los Angeles does not discriminate on the basis of disability and, upon request, will provide reasonable accommodation to ensure equal access to its programs, services, and activities. Alternative formats in large print, braille, audio, and other forms (if possible) will be provided upon request.

Categories: Autism, Blog (Cloud Surfing Adventures) | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

#1 Travel Item for Flying with Toddlers

UPDATE: I wrote this post 5 years ago, before I had a blog, just to share with my friends. Ella was just two then, the age John is now. After seven years of using GoGoBabyz TravelMate wheels, I still think it’s my #1 MUST HAVE for travel with babies and toddlers. I have traveled without it only twice and I swore never again! You can find GogoBabyz travel products at

My current way of using the gogobabyz wheels: as a bag hauler! (You see the C.A.R.E.S. harness in the blue bag attached to my backpack.)

My current way of using the GoGoBabyz TravelMate wheels: as a bag hauler! (You see the C.A.R.E.S. harness in the blue bag attached to my backpack.)

If you travel more than 2 times a year and have a child who still uses a car seat, the GogoBabyz wheels are a MUST HAVE, in my opinion. I never used a car seat carrier–Ella was in the huge Britax convertible car seat from day one, so I have been using these wheels for 2.5 years.

GogoBabyz TravelMate is a faceplate with wheels and handle that attach to your car seat and turn the car seat into a stroller! When Ella was an infant it was so great! She would sometimes even nap while I strolled her around the airport between flights, and Ella isn’t good at napping away from home.

Now that Ella is bigger I use the car seat to hold my carry-on bags (lunch box and backpack-see photo) since Ella prefers to walk through the airport. I check the seat, wheels still attached, at the gate as a stroller and they bring it back up to me at the gate at my destination. (I now use the C.A.R.E.S harness for Ella’s secure seating on the aircraft.)

Another view of the bags being toted by the car seat with gogobabyz wheels attached.Another view of the bags being toted by the car seat with GoGoBabyz wheels attached.

Here's my the whole setup on the plane: C.A.R.E.S. Harness, Panda Headphones, DVD player. One happy two year old in flight!Here’s my the whole setup on the plane: C.A.R.E.S. Harness, Panda Headphones, DVD player= One happy two year old in flight!

Categories: Flying with Toddlers, Travel Products | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SkootCase Giveaway Winner

Announcing the winner of the SkootCase Giveaway! Thank you all for participating! We had fun testing and talking about the SkootCase. If you didn’t win, you can still get a SkootCase in time for Christmas. The best price I see on it right now is the blue one on Amazon for just $40.84. That’s 42% off the retail price of $69.99. If you are an Amazon Prime member, then 2-day shipping is free! (Affiliate Link)

Okay, drum roll please….

The winner of the Diggin SkootCase Ride-On Luggage is…

Cindy G.!

Congratulations, Cindy! Cindy won this for her 5 year old grandson who will be coming to visit her in the Spring!

Thanks again to everyone who participated. I appreciate your support.

CSK greeting

Categories: Giveaway, Travel Products | 2 Comments

DIY Fine Motor Activity Using Airplane Galley Supplies

Have you ever been on a flight where nothing you have is keeping your child entertained? Maybe they are overtired or not feeling well, or maybe you had a long delay and already through all the things you brought to keep them occupied. Here’s something you can make with just two items from the galley. My nearly-two-year-old, John, played with this 3 times in one flight, for 15 minutes each time. That’s 45 minutes I was able to keep a two year old happily entertained with just one item! WIN!


-One or Two Foam Cups

-Coffee Stir-Sticks


Set Up:

Poke some holes in the bottom of the foam cup using the stir-stick. If your child is younger, you can circle the stick to widen the holes. If your child is older and has more advanced fine motor skills, then keep the holes just the size of the stick.


I tore the bottom of another foam cup off to create a cup to catch the sticks as they are pushed through. You could do this or use a plastic cup or just let the sticks drop onto the seat or into your hand.



Hand the cup to your child and give him the stir-sticks, one at a time, as he discovers the joy of poking the stir-stick through the hole in the cups. Trust me, kids love this. It is great practice for their fine-motor skills, and it is so simple.


For Older Kids:

Maybe your kid isn’t a toddler and this is just too simple. I had a four year old passenger on of my flights from Los Angeles to New York recently. He and his parents had traveled already from Australia to Los Angeles, so as you can imagine he was exhausted and bored. I gave him the coffee cup and a few stir-sticks, suggesting he might have fun poking the holes in the base. I encouraged him to try to think of other ways to use the materials as well.


He played around for a while poking holes in the cup with the straws. That kept him occupied for a while. He poked holes around the sides of the cups too, creating kind of a luminary.


(You’ll need to monitor your child. Jabbing the cup might make a loud noise that would be irritating to the other passengers, but making the holes with gentle force isn’t noisy.)


Then he got really creative and began tearing the cup into unique shapes. He had a specific design in mind and asked for a few more cups. I love to see creative minds at work!  All I did was supply the cups and sticks and he must have spent at least an hour with his project.


It might look like trash to you, but these foam pieces are actually very important supplies for a creative mosaic designed by one clever little artist Cloud Surfer. He asked for a bag so he could take home his carefully shaped foam pieces. He planned to paste them to a paper when he got the chance. Don’t you just love the creativity?!

As a flight attendant I have made this little “toy” for about 10 young kids now. Every one of them has enjoyed playing with this simple set up. When you’re on the plane with kids, even a small diversion of their attention can help pass the time. This simple cup is now my go-to toy for my son, John, when he gets bored. I now ask for a couple of cups and a few stir-sticks when the flight attendants come by for the first beverage service. I put them in my bag at my feet and just keep them ready for the time when none of his toys are interesting.

What do you think? Would this activity entertain your child? Let us know if you try it and if it’s fun to them!

Categories: Fine Motor Activities, Flying with Toddlers, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

SkootCase Ride-On-Scooter Review and Giveaway

*Update 12/16/2014. This giveaway has ended. The winner was announced here.


Ella found a new way to get to the TSA check point:

Riding along on my SkootCase. “WHEE! Whoa!”


Looks fun, right? From the first time I saw this ride-on luggage, made to look like a scooter, I knew it was something Ella would really enjoy.  Diggin’ Toys agreed to let Ella test one for this review AND one lucky reader will WIN their own SkootCase after entering the giveaway at the end of this post! This would make a great Christmas present for the Cloud-Surfing kid in your life!

SkootCase and GoGoBabyz in Airline Club

Before Ella got a chance to test the SkootCase in the airport, we brought it along on our vacation to Newport, RI (we traveled by car and ferry for this trip). We were lucky enough to get the basement apartment suite at The Jailhouse Inn. I was happy that we brought the SkootCase because Ella was able to scoot along the hallway of the apartment while her baby brother napped. It was a great alternative to just playing on the iPod touch through his entire nap.

I flew several trips alone with the kids and didn’t bring the SkootCase since it would be adding to instead of replacing the bags I was already using. But finally we took a flight with the whole family, Daddy included, and Ella got to test the SkootCase in the airport.

SkootCase and GoGoBabyz

At nearly 4 feet tall, Ella looks too big for the SkootCase. but she was actually quite comfortable on the scooter and was able to keep good control of it. I tried John on the SkootCase this month, and at nearly two years old, he is still too young for it. It is recommended for ages 3+. You need the child to be able to steer the SkootCase and unless your toddler is very cooperative, they will be sliding off or turning the handles at inconvenient times and it will take ages for you to get around. The SkootCase was very sturdy with Ella riding it. There is a tow strap that you could use with smaller children, and this also becomes a carrying strap so it’s easy to carry if your child doesn’t want to ride after all.


  • Cute
  • Fun
  • Lightweight
  • Strap for towing or easy carrying
  • Good for ages 3+
  • Fits easily under most airplane seats and all overhead bins
  • Fun for travel or just playing around the house or outside


  • Small packing area
  • Takes 3 steps to open

The SkootCase fit easily under our seat on the 737. Each aircraft is different, but I think this would fit under most seats and it would definitely fit in all overhead bins I have seen.

SkootCase on Airplane

The biggest problem we had with the SkootCase was that in order to open it, you have to go through three steps: lift the seat, slide the latch, lift the “license plate”. Although not really difficult, Ella wasn’t interested in figuring it out for herself and just left it to me to open it. On the airplane it would need to be opened across your lap and it extends across two seats. This made it a little bit cumbersome. We solved the accessibility problem by packing a mini backpack full of her toys so that when we were settling into our seats we could quickly remove the backpack and then place the mini backpack and SkootCase together under the seat. Both items easily fit together under the seat on the planes we tested, but the SkootCase also fits easily in overhead bins. Using a backpack alone might be more convenient, but then you don’t have a cool ride as you travel. LOL.

SkootCase interior

Overall we really liked the SkootCase and Ella has enjoyed riding it at home, at Grandma’s house, in hotels, and at airports. We think it would be really fun for your kids too!

 Adding fun to your travel with kids, the SkootCase draws lots of admiring attention in the airport and helps emphasize the fun in travel.

SkootCase and GoGoBabyz 3

The SkootCase by Diggin retails at $69.99 and is available in Red, Blue, and Pink.

The giveaway is open to U.S. Residents, ages 18 and up. It ends Monday, December 15, 2014, at midnight. The winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond. The prize will be shipped directly from Diggin Toys. Email addresses will not be used for any purpose other than to notify a winner.

To win yours, click on the Rafflecopter link here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Giveaway, Reviews, Travel Products | Tags: , , | 22 Comments

Winner of Cozywoggle Giveaway

A big thanks to all of you who entered  the Cozywoggle Coat Giveaway! Read on to find out who the winner was…



Our winner, randomly selected by Rafflecopter, was  Irene O. Congratulations, Irene!

If you weren’t the winner, you can still get a Cozywoggle Coat at a great price: $49.99 at They are already running out of some sizes and colors, so hurry! And stick around, because we have a couple more fun giveaways planned before Christmas!

Remember, to keep your child safe in the car seat, do not buckle over bulky clothing. If you’re not using a Cozywoggle Coat, you should remove your child’s coat and then put it on backwards over the seatbelt harness or use a blanket over the secured harness. Don’t risk your child’s safety for the few seconds of convenience of leaving the coat on!

Thanks to all the new visitors and fans to our website and Facebook and Twitter pages! We are also on Instagram. Happy Cloud Surfing!

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Cozywoggle Jacket Review and Giveaway

Keeping your kids safe when traveling is a priority for every parent. As the cold weather approaches, we face the challenge of keeping our children warm in the car, while at the same time keeping them safe in their car seats. We have learned that putting our children in car seats with bulky winter clothing is unsafe in an accident. The impact of a crash will simply compress the bulky/fluffy clothing and the child can fly right out of the car seat! See this CarSeatLady video for a demonstration:

Dangers of Fluff in a Car Seat


In the past, I have just put a sweater on the kids and then covered them with a blanket in the car. That meant they were pretty cold going to and from car. Traveling by air was a challenge as we didn’t always have a blanket for the car at our destination, which left us carrying both sweaters and coats, and swapping in and out of them for the car.

Enter the CJ’sKids Cozywoggle coat: a coat that doesn’t interfere with the harness in a car seat and easily converts to a regular coat outside the car!

To use, place the child in the car seat, lift the child’s arms and unzip the coat from the side to the wrist. Take the child’s hands from the jacket and lift the back of the jacket over the back of the car seat.


After securing the buckles, the front of the jacket is placed down while the back stays up, keeping the bulky material out of the harness. Re-zip the sleeves if desired. We just left the sides unzipped and put John’s wrists back through the arm cuffs, which stay secured with a velcro strap.


The hood is attached with a zipper, so it can be removed if desired (John didn’t like the extra bulk of the hood behind him, so I will remove this and just put a knit hat on him this winter.) The clever design of the Cozywoggle allows us to pack less when flying since we can use the same coat for outdoor activities and for car rides. 

Cozywoggle Cloud Surfer

Straight from their website, here are the fine features of the Cozywoggle:

The Cozywoggle:
  • Is the ONLY product that looks and acts as a coat, but is safe to be worn in a car seat.
  • Is made from heavy-duty wind/water resistant polyester, and is lined with cozy fleece.
  • Can be used with any 5-point harness car seat – either forward or rear-facing.
  • Comes in sizes 12 months, 18 months, 2T, 3T, 4, 5 and 6.
  • Is stylish (and looks like a “regular” coat), warm and washable.
  • Has been crash tested in a lab and proven to be safe in a car seat.
  • Can be worn in a car seat and all around town.
  • Is easy-to-use and is a convenient, all-in-one solution for busy parents.

I’m pretty impressed that they actually went through the trouble and cost of having the jacket tested in crash test!

Cozywoggle Cutie

We received a size 2T Cozywoggle jacket for my son John to test for this review. He is 90% in height for his age, so the 2T was a little small for him even though he fits in most 2T clothing. The body fit great (John is only 50% in weight), but the sleeves were a little short and the hood won’t snap around John’s big head. If your child is of average height and weight, however, I would recommend staying with their normal size. In reading other reviews for Cozywoggle, I see that everyone else found these jackets to be true to size. My guy is just bigger than average! As for this 2T jacket, we will probably pass it to John’s cousin who is the same age but a little smaller. Then we’ll buy a 3T for John to wear this year.

CozyWoggle Toddler

John is not one to stand still. He didn’t like for me to unzip the sides of the coat and was even less cooperative with the zipping up. I found he would cooperate better if I sang a song. Whether a “raise your arms” song, or just any random song, singing helped distract him and calm me while I got the jacket set. Even though you see him trying to get away from me here, I was able to zip the side with one pull, taking only a second.


There is a bit of a learning curve as you get the rhythm down and the cooperation from your child. But even if there is a bit of a struggle at first, I think it is worth it because your end result is keeping your child safe in the car. I would think that an older child would be much more cooperative. The two to three year old is probably the most difficult to get cooperation from with this jacket. But other reviews indicate that the children cooperate more with regular use.

Cozywoggle jackets have been so popular this year that they are already running out of stock! Right now they are out of Navy Blue 2T, 18mo, 12mo, and Purple 12mo. But that still leaves some nice options: Pink and Red are currently in stock in all sizes, 12 months to size 6. Navy Blue is available in size 3T-6, and Purple is available in 18mo-6.

Cozywoggle is giving away a jacket to one of our lucky readers! With the exception of the above listed out of stock items, our lucky winner can choose their size and color Cozywoggle jacket. To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below.

CozyWoggle Review

(I received a Cozywoggle Jacket for the purpose of review. My opinions, as always, are my own.)

To enter the Giveaway, click on the image below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Categories: Giveaway, Reviews, Travel Products | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Mom and Two Kids Fly Standby

One of our most recent Cloud Surfing Adventure was full of challenges. Many times I was on the verge of tears and many times I thought “I must be crazy to be doing this!”

Read on and at the end, tell me: am I crazy? Was it worth it? Would you go through this?

Although I am used to flying alone with the kids (Ella and John, ages 6 and 16 months at the time of this trip), the events of this particular trip nearly did me in! Although it could have been worse (things can always be worse), the events of the day kept me on my toes. As a flight attendant, I’ve learned to become flexible when traveling. It’s a good thing I know how to go with the flow or I might have had a meltdown. Here’s what happened:

I needed to get to Texas for some additional training for work as a flight attendant. The company would give me a confirmed seat to get there and back, but since my husband was also away for work I needed to bring the kids.  My parents live in Texas so it was a great time to bring the kids down for a visit. Since I work for the airline, my family and I can fly standby for free. This is known in the airline industry as “non-rev” (for non-revenue seats). That is a great benefit, but these days it is really difficult to find a flight with empty seats! When I looked up the flights to Texas I discovered that the direct flights were oversold for 3 days solid! With a little creative thinking I found that it looked like we could fly through Nashville. My sister lives in Nashville and we have been wanting to visit, so I planned to leave 3 days early, stop in Nashville overnight, then fly to Texas for my training.

Easier said then done…

Original Plan:

My in-laws drive us to the airport which takes about 90 minutes. Curbside service…Couldn’t be any easier.

The Problem:

Just before we left the house I checked the flight loads once more. The flights had changed from “good chance of getting on” to “good luck: maybe you can get ONE seat”. Not a good way to start out when you have two little ones in tow.

I panicked, started looking for other options, and tried to get in touch with my “non-rev gut feelings”. I called my older sister, who has really good standby-flying-intuition. She was also stumped on this one.

The Options:

Should we:

-Drive to JFK, where it looks like we can get on the flight, but if not, there is no back-up and we would have to take a cab to LGA to hope to get out on oversold flights?

-Go ahead to LGA and cross our fingers that we don’t have to wait all afternoon through 3 oversold flights. Then if we can’t get on a flight have someone come pick us up?

-Try to find another city to fly to from NY just to get closer to Texas in hope of getting there within 3 days so I can make it to my training class?

There was no easy solution.

I finally decided to go ahead for the oversold flight to Nashville out of La Guardia in hopes that if we couldn’t get on that one, maybe one of the next two flights that evening would miraculously have seats. I decided to drive instead of having my in-laws take us so that if we couldn’t get on a flight that day we would have a car to return home.

Flying with kids

On our way, crossing our fingers and toes for seats on the flight.

When I travel with the kids I check bags. I pack for all three of us in a 26-inch rolling duffel bag and I also check the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib for John. To avoid the hassle of getting from the car to the airport with the bags, I drove up to curbside check-in and checked the bags before parking the car. That saved a lot of hassle. Now for parking.

Parking Plan:

Since I was headed to company training, I was allowed to park in the employee lot. Sounds easy, right?

The Problem:

Although I was allowed to park in the Employee Lot,  I was not allowed to bring the kids on the shuttle to the terminal. For insurance reasons, only employees are permitted on the shuttle.

The Solution:

After I parked my car in the lot, the kids and I walked about 3/4 mile to the public airport terminal shuttle where we could get a ride to the terminal. Thank goodness for GoGoBabyz TravelMate, which straps onto the car seat to transform it into a stroller!  I strapped the food cooler onto the TravelMate, put my backpack on my back, and pushed John in his car seat/stroller. Ella pulled her rolling backpack alongside me and we made the trek to the shuttle. It took us about 15 minutes.

Bus Stop

Ella was tired after the walk.

Flying with kids

Ella entertaining herself while waiting for the bus.

We waited about 15 minutes for the shuttle.

Travel with kids

Luckily the bus had a low entry point. I was able to lift John in his wheeled car seat over the small step and into the bus.


Ella was nervous about having no seatbelt on the bus.


Ella yelled to the driver to slow down. She isn’t used to being in a vehicle without safety restraints!

Next Step: The Airport


Once we finally made it to the terminal and through security, they were already boarding the aircraft.  We ran up to the gate to let the agent know we were there, then we waited. Standby seats are usually given out at the last minute, once the agents are sure all ticketed passengers have arrived. Minutes before departure, miracle of miracles, we were given seats on the flight!

The problem:

Two seats were together but one was several rows away. Even though Ella is six and theoretically would be fine sitting alone, she has some sensory issues that at times set her off. There have been a few times when she completely freaked out because the seat she was in made her slide forward. When she gets upset like this she cannot even verbalize what is wrong until she calms down. Because of incidents like this I really do need to be sitting by her.

The Solution:

The flight attendant was kind enough to ask the lady across from me if she would be willing to swap with Ella. This lady was sitting with her husband and did not want to move. Luckily the two behind them were willing to swap so we did a 3 way seat swap and Ella was able to sit across the aisle from me. Whew! Time for departure…

In the Air

John had been battling a cold and allergies all week and was still congested. (Read here for my tips on what to pack for kids flying with colds.) He was also tired and really wanted to take a nap. Unfortunately he is just like Ella and will not sleep unless he is in his bed. This made for a rough flight for him. He was pretty good, just a little fussy and whiney. I held him for most of the flight and he watched videos on my iPhone. I did have to resort to feeding him M&Ms at one point, even though we do not give him candy yet. Exceptions have to be made sometimes to keep a baby happy in flight! (Really it was more about keeping me from having a complete meltdown in this very stressful day.)

Kids Flying

Ella was great on this flight. Her seatmate was very kind and engaged her in conversation for a while. Then Ella pulled out her backpack filled with toys and activities. I had bought her a new Lalaloopsy doll with a comb and she played with that for much of the flight. She also worked on a sticker mural. She brought out the iPod touch just 20 minutes before landing. This was the first time she didn’t go through 5 toys an hour during the flight. I always pack a lot of toys and activities but keep them small in size. Some kids are happy with just a couple of toys, but Ella often moves quickly from one activity to another.

Kids Travel

Travel Tip:

Even if your kids are fine with just one or two toys to play with, it’s a good idea to pack extra in case of delays or cancellations that cause you to be on the airplane or in the airport for an extended amount of time.

Nashville Airport:

One cool thing that happened was that as we walked away from our inbound gate, I spotted my younger sister walking up the hallway! She had just been visiting our other sister in Nashville and was flying out just as we were flying in! It was great to have her help walk John around the terminal a little bit. I even got to go to the restroom by myself!

Toddler running

Original Plan:

When we got to Nashville, it was our plan to meet my brother-in-law, who was to flying in on another airline and scheduled to arrive shortly after us. We planned to connect with him and he and he would drive us to their house. He would have a booster seat in the car for Ella since we didn’t bring hers. Simple.

The Problem:

His flight was delayed.

The Solution:

No problem, the flight would be here in about 40 minutes. We’ll just take our time, use the restroom, and by the time we get our bags he should be here.

Another Problem:

New message from my brother-in-law, Pete: flight is delayed 2 hours. At this point we had been traveling about 8 hours. John was exhausted and hyper, I was hungry, and Ella was bored.

The Options:

-I  could rent a car and drive ourselves, Since I didn’t bring a car seat for Ella I would need to rent one.


- I could wait the two hours, with two exhausted kids.

The Solution:

I felt overwhelmed at the idea of renting the car and driving to my sister’s house on my own. Plus I was hungry.  So I decided wait to enjoy some good food and music at Tootsie’s while we waited for Pete to arrive.

Airport Food

family selfieTootsies nachos

These nachos at Tootsie’s were so delicious and a nice indulgence in this stressful day.


Next Problem:

As we sat eating, Ella, in an urgent voice, stated she had to use the bathroom. All of our stuff was spread out around the dining table, John was in the high chair, it would be a huge hassle to gather everything up. What to do? Although at six years old Ella is certainly capable to going to the restroom alone, I am not really comfortable with her out of my sight in an airport full of strangers. 

The Solution:

The restrooms were right across the hall so I let Ella go by herself, watching her from the restaurant entrance to make sure she made it into the right door.

Luckily my brother-in-law showed up just moments after Ella left and I was able to leave John and our bags with him while I went to check on Ella. Good thing I did because she couldn’t get the bathroom stall door open! A custodian was trying to help her but without success. As soon as I arrived, though, Ella managed to get it unlocked. She told me, “I thought I was going to be in there forever!”

After finishing my delicious nachos from Tootsies and paying the bill, we headed out toward baggage claim with my brother-in-law, Pete.

Are you ready for this? ANOTHER PROBLEM! 

Pete dug in his bag for his car keys and suddenly realized that he left them in Texas!  Oh boy! Now we would need to rent a car after all. So we head to the car rental desk and inquire on a price. It’s $40 more than the online price I had found on Priceline just over an hour ago. The agent couldn’t get me that earlier price but said I could try to obtain it again online…BUT, it wouldn’t go through right away—we would have to wait for it to show up in their computer.

The Solution:

I decided it couldn’t hurt to book it and see if it showed up in their system sooner than the one hour time frame expected. So I made the reservation and it did show up on their end within minutes (whew!).

New Problem:

I dug into my purse to get my license and credit card for the rental and my license was nowhere to be found!(I later discovered that it had dropped out of my purse into my car in New York. At least it wasn’t lost, but now I was without a license for a week and was unable to drive.)

The Solution:

I rebooked the reservation in Pete’s name so he could be the driver.

Since we didn’t have a car seat for Ella I decide to ask the baggage claim service center and asked if they had one I could borrow for a day. They did!!! So at least I saved having to pay for one with the car rental.

During this time obtaining a rental car, Pete, my brother-in-law, got bad news that a longtime friend had passed away. So in the middle of renting the car and arranging for a car seat he had to make calls to friends to share the bad news. Now the challenges of the day were put into perspective. Everything was difficult, but we were together, we were safe, we were alive. Everything was going to be okay.

Airport art

Hanging in there! Waiting for the car: Ella was tired, but not too tired to “fly” with this moth mosaic.

So we made it through the day, in bed before midnight, and ready for a relaxed morning and another standby flight the next evening. Hoping and praying that the next day flying to Texas would be easier.

Was it worth it all? Well, the kids got to play with their cousin who they hadn’t seen in almost a year and we were one step closer to getting me to training and the kids to Grandma and Granddad’s house. Yeah, it was worth it. I’d definitely do it again. What do you think? Am I crazy?

Family play



Cousins Red heart

Categories: Blog (Cloud Surfing Adventures), Flying with Toddlers, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Ways to Survive Flight Delays With Kids

Dealing with flight delays is challenging for everyone. But delays when you’re flying with young children can be a disaster. Adding even another hour to the travel day can really wreak havoc on a young child’s schedule, especially if your child is just waiting for the airplane seat in order to take a nap. In the last four weeks we have flown two round trip flights, New York to Texas. The first flight was from New York was delayed an hour and the second time we flew from New York, it was a 3 hour delay.

Here are some of the things that helped keep us sane during the delays:

Buy a Day Pass to the Airline Lounge

Flight Delay

Since my husband travels so frequently for his work, he pays for a yearly membership to the Airline Lounge. That means when we are traveling with him we have access. A few weeks ago we traveled with my husband, but last week I was on my own with the kids. The airline posted a three hour delay on the flight because of an out-of-service aircraft. Knowing I had time to make it worthwhile, I went ahead and bought a day pass to the Airline Lounge. Best money ever spent!

Many airline lounges sell day passes for as little as $50. If you are delayed at least an hour, this can be a great retreat for you and your kids. Just getting away from the crowded gate area can give everyone a more relaxed approach to the day. The lounges usually have light snacks (we had yogurt covered pretzels, Chex party mix, and fresh apples) and they often have a small restaurant where you can purchase food that is at least as good as anything else you could find in the airport. Many also have a kids room so your kids can really feel comfortable playing with toys, watching kid shows, even sometimes playing on kids computer games. We were able to set up at a dining table, enjoy a good (and relatively quiet) meal, and had access to nice, clean, spacious restrooms.


Exercise in Airport

Now I don’t mean to let your kid run wild, but giving your children a chance to move their legs to keep them from feeling trapped can help the time pass by. Check to see if your airport has a play area for kids. These can be a really great spot to spend some time and give the kids some freedom. If space is limited you can lead them in some stand-in-place exercises like jumping, marching in place, jumping jacks, and squats.

Use the Toys Meant for the Plane


Normally you might want to save those special new toys for the airplane, but if your child is becoming fussy and difficult before hand, you might as well try to keep him happy while you can. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll actually sleep on the airplane. Just focus on the minute at hand and worry about the airplane later. Check back with me next week and I’ll post some ideas of ways to keep a child occupied in flight if you have gone through all your own toys and activities.

Go Exploring


Many airports have some great art displays throughout the terminal. Even if your home airport doesn’t have pieces of art such as this one, your child will enjoy looking at billboards, light fixtures, signs, etc., throughout the airport. Remember these things are fairly new to your child and children are really good at having a sense of wonder about everything. See things through their eyes and enjoy something you would normally overlook.

Go Visiting


Not every child is outgoing, but if your children are like my two, they will enjoy walking around and saying “hi” to people. This really seems to brighten the day for other travelers as well, especially when little John, at age 1.5, looks right into someone’s eyes, smiles, and says, “HI!” Last week in the lounge he asked the ladies working at the check-in desk for high-fives. He walked up to them and said, “Five!” It actually took me a moment to figure what he wanted. He made all the ladies laugh.

Take a “Train” Ride

Sky Link

Some larger airports have a train that connects terminals. DFW, for instance, has a SkyLink train that is inside security and has two stops in each terminal in the airport. This can be a really fun excursion for young kids. Ella used to love standing at the front of the train and pretending to be the engineer. Enthusiastically steering with her invisible steering wheel, she had a great time! If you have a posted delay with plenty of time to leave the gate area, this can be a fun addition to your travel day.

Enjoy Plane Watching


Try to find a window where you can view planes taking off and landing or even taxiing in and out of the gate. Depending on your child, this could be so fascinating that you could stand there for an hour without a peep.


Are there other activities you do with your children when waiting for a delayed flight? Share your ideas in the comments to help other parents!


This post has been shared on Walking On Travels page for Travel Tip Tuesday! I love Walking On Travels’ advice for How YOU Can Help a Parent with a Screaming Child. To read that and other great travel tips, click here.

Categories: Flight Delays, Flying with Toddlers, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments