Can I check a jogger stroller on American Airlines?
I'm getting ready to fly a domestic flight with my 4 week old son and all I have in the way of strollers is a Baby Trend infant carrier/jogger stroller travel system. He is flying as a lap child. Has anyone had any experience with checking jogger strollers on American? I want to know if I can take the stroller and if I need to fold it up myself at the gate to avoid damage from someone who may not know how to fold it. Also, how much milk (breastmilk in my case) are you allowed to bring on board? I'm flying a 4 hour flight. What are some good tips for a new mom flying with a newborn for the first time. I have an hour layover also. Thanks for the tips and help!
I haven't done so on AA, but I have taken a double jogger through security on both UA and CO and gate-checked without any issues at ORD, HNL, and SAN. Others report similar. Check with the airline, but you should be ok.
As far as breastmilk, the rule is vague - along the lines of a "reasonable" amount. Think about the total time from your home to your final destination (ie, hotel or wherever), estimate the amount your child would normally drink in that timeframe, and multiply it by 1.5-2 to account for any delays or extra feedings to calm him. You may need to explain to the TSA person that you've got a connection which adds time if asked why you're bringing so much, but I've generally not had a problem at most stations.
If you already have an infant "bucket", you should consider buying a snap-n-go frame -- it has a basket, decently rugged wheels, and weighs very little. We used one of these as our main stroller until our daughter outgrew the bucket.
I have seen several people gate check jogging strollers, by the way (many of them fall into that "fully collapsible" category. I personally wouldn't do it because they are very expensive and I don't trust that it would not get damaged. But if yours is lightweight and easily maneuverable you might give it a try.
Regarding milk, the rule is that you can bring what you need. However, when I took a week long work trip without my daughter, I pumped all week and carried back with me (on-board) 72 ounces of breastmilk with no issue (and remember, I didn't even have my daughter with me). You shouldn't need that much; you can feed her directly from the breast and have maybe 4 packets/bottles with you "just in case." If you're not feeding her from the breast, I would be sure to carry on enough food for a 24 hour period. If you get delayed or diverted you will need to be prepared.
When you approach the TSA checkpoint, declare your breastmilk (and other baby-related liquids you might have) and declare it again at the XRay and you should be fine. Technically they are allowed to test the breastmilk, so let them. But as they go to inspect your bag/cooler, ask them to put on a fresh pair of gloves. When I have asked that they have been happy to oblige. At 4 weeks old, you can not be too safe where cleanliness is concerned.
During takeoff, make sure she is sucking on something. I like bottle on takeoff and paci on landing; however, I have heard people say just a paci is successful for both. I use a very slow flow nipple for the bottle, that way she is sucking hard and her ears won't hurt.
At 4 weeks she will likely sleep the entire time; you should have no worries. I would recommend buying the extra seat rather than putting her on your lap or in a sling/bjorn. She will be far more comfortable.
Also I don't bring a purse with me. I throw a few things of mine into a diaper bag so I just have the diaper bag and by daughter. You don't need more than that, and more than that will just slow you down and add to your (and others' frustration).
Other than that, just ignore people when they give you dirty looks. Air travelers are generally jerks to moms with kids, but they'll get over it. But your daughter can sense your mood so if you get stressed so will see, and then she's more likely to fuss. Keep smiliing and she'll be a happy baby.
I second the stroller frame recommendation. The Gogobabz thingy is expensive and the baby is close to the ground. With the stroller frame, it's almost like a lightweight travel system. You can use it on the ground too, not just for air travel. I had a basket under mine that I could put things and I could also hang bags off the handle, which you couldn't do with the Gogobabyz.
As a Flight Attendant, I saw a ton of huge strollers at the door of the plane. Whatever you bring, make sure you have a bungee cord to secure it. Some people also like to bag their strollers to keep them clean. You can use any sort of cover, waterproof or not.
If you are taking your car seat, be sure to either use it on board or gate-check it. Never check a car seat in as luggage. They get lost and broken by the airlines all the time and compensation is usually not offered since the airlines consider it a "delicate" item.
It's a myth that babies are supposed to suck on something during take-off and landing. Please don't wake your child unnecessarily or change his feeding schedule. They often fall asleep on the taxi to the runway so please let him sleep!
If you bring your car seat, ask if there is an empty seat that can be placed next to you. If you can manage this, make sure your baby is safely strapped in for take-off and landing. No need to remove him to force him to suck. I have flown transatlantics, often with connections, twice a year plus other flights with my three children since the oldest was 4 months old. I have never, ever made them suck and they have never, ever had any ear problems. You'll see this "tip" a lot when discussing flying with children.
By contrast, if your child has an ear infection or other problem, this is painful and potentially damaging. Don't risk it and try to schedule a doctor's visit a few days before leaving. Healthy ears can handle pressurization changes and any problems can be healed before you leave. Don't risk putting your child in pain (anyone who has been on a flight with a child with ear pain will confirm this!) No amount of sucking will help. Luckily, as a Flight Attendant, I can confirm that it's rare.
Be sure to have a good baby carrier. Hopefully you already have a good one. Try to avoid fiddly front packs like the Bjorn or Snugli, the kind that suspend the child by its crotch. It's helpful to have one that you can use to breastfeed in and can sit down comfortably. Be sure though that the baby is LOOSE in your lap for take-off and landing if you don't have a seat for him. Either remove him from the carrier or remove the carrier from yourself.
Skip the purse and either bring a backpack or a backpack-style diaper bag. I put a small purse around my neck which holds the essentials; tickets, wallet, cell phone and passports. You'll be glad to have your hands free.