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Old May 3, 12, 10:08 am   #1
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
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First flights with infant twins

Well, Saturday will be our first flight (DEN-MCO) with our 3 month-old twin boys. I've spent a number of hours trying to plan out how this all going to work - however any comments or thoughts are welcome. Flight is on United, I'm a million miler so that makes both myself and my wife Gold (still painful to not be 1K after 10 straight years).

We're doing a Disney Cruise - not that I particularly wanted Disney - but we just need to get out of town and Disney appears to be the only cruise line with a 3 month age minimum (others are 6 months).

Both the outbound and inbound flights are on A319s. I understand that these have changing tables in one of the lavatories, so at least that's a plus.

I'll update this post afterwards with our actual experiences. As I mentioned, any comments or thoughts that could be helpful would be greatly appreciated.

Seats
We decided to try this trip with both boys as lap children. I'm of course completely second guessing this decision, and probably should have bought at least one seat. We're in the bulkhead on the outbound with aisle and window (middle is still open) - but I'm guessing that with the reduced width of the bulkhead seats the option of "requesting" that we keep the middle seat free for a car seat is out of the equation. We'll see how this goes - and then adjust future travel.

Inbound we have a middle and window in E+, so we'll just have to deal with that.

I haven't really found any good opinions (either pro or con) on using a Baby Bjorn on the plane. From what I've found it sounds like you can't have them in the Bjorn during take-off and landing, but that it shouldn't be a problem during flight. I'm thinking we'll use the Bjorns to allow some freedom of movement during flight. Plus, they should help during boarding / security.

Upgrades
First off let me state that I have absolutely no expectation of upgrades. However, I will not turn them down if we get them.

What's interesting to me is that, despite what I've read in other threads, I don't have an option on United.com to use a confirmed upgrade for these flights. We did put the lap children in on the original reservation (which I understand you don't have to do), so I'm guessing that the presence of the lap children makes that option unavailable. I'm curious to see what happens at the 48 hour mark, and will update accordingly (as there most definitely is UDU availability).

Boarding
So the good news is that, as Gold, we'll get on nice and early. A far cry from the 1K days on legacy United where I could almost assure myself that I was getting on first.

As anyone with twins will tell you - strollers are a dilemma. Especially during the infant stage where they can't sit in a seat and need the car seats. We bought the Baby Jogger City Select specifically for this trip. The City Select is a front/back double, however it's "stadium seating" so its nowhere near as long as a standard front/back double. In fact, it's only about 6 inches longer than the Bugaboo Donkey side/side. The primary driver with the City Select was that it folds up nice and tight for a double. We thought about the Maclaren Techno, but we did want to take the car seats (and not check them as normal baggage) so that wouldn't work.

I'm anticipating that the fun will start once we reach the end of the jetbridge. I can easily see how boarding with one kid will work, but two infants is going to be a challenge. Especially when you consider that I've got travel bags for the stroller and the car seats, so it will probably take me a good 5 minutes to get everything broken down and put in bags. I'm debating leaving the stroller, boarding with both infants, leaving them both with my wife, and then swimming upstream back out of the plane to deal with the stroller.

Security
This is where I start to get nervous. I'm in the "TSA is worthless" camp, so I fully realize that I'm going to have to check my normal security bad attitude at the door on this trip.

I'm hoping that I can just wheel the stroller / car-seat combo through security for a manual inspection without having to completely break it down. I realize that this may be a pipe-dream, so I'm preparing for the worst. The worst involves the following:
  • load all our carry-ons on the belt w/ kids in stroller
  • take kids out of stroller and put in Baby Bjorns - now I've got one stuck to my chest
  • break-down stroller put on belt
  • walk through metal detector with baby in the Bjorn (either self-selecting out of the AIT or opting-out)
  • Reverse process airside

Of course if I opt-out they are going to have to deal with me and the baby, so I'm hoping for a nice dirty diaper about that time. There's no way I'm exposing my children to the untested radiation of TSA's favorite pointless security exercise (sorry, a bit of that bad attitude bled through).

Arrival
We're spending a night in a hotel on both sides of the cruise, the last thing I wanted to do with infants was risk any sort of delay. Rather than take my chances with cabs, two car seats, and two adults (plus luggage) I booked ground transportation (an SUV). We booked all 4 transfers (airport -> hotel, hotel -> cruise round trips) through the same company.

Supplies
Found a company through the Disney Cruise site (and on some other message boards) called Babies Travel Lite. You can order everything you need for your trip, and they deliver to the ship, where hopefully it will be waiting for you on arrival. We're taking supplies for 3 days which should cover the 32 hours between leaving home and boarding the ship with room to spare.
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Old May 3, 12, 10:44 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Inbound we have a middle and window in E+, so we'll just have to deal with that.
You might want to rethink this. If I were the aisle seat PAX, I wouldn't be too happy sitting in your row. No reflection on you, it's just that you will take up more room with two PAX holding babies, plus you will very likely be getting up and down a lot for diaper changes and aisle walking. You really should consider booking opposite aisle seats. Same for your aisle and window seat booking. In the very likely chance the middle seat is sold, I'm assuming that you would move to the middle and window seat, presenting the same dilemma for the poor aisle PAX as your return flight.

Good luck. At least it's not an international flight. And bring twice as many diapers, bottles and changes of clothes on the plane as you think you'll need.
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Old May 3, 12, 10:45 am   #3
 
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I am not sure your seating choice is going to work. If you and your wife are in the aisle and window seats, and each holding a child, that's four people. I think there's a problem with the number of available oxygen masks if someone sits in the middle seat; aren't there only four masks in that row? I don't believe you will all be able to sit in the same row. You may want to check this so you aren't surprised and reseated at the airport.

Yes, you do have to put your infants on the reservation, not sure why someone would tell you that you didn't. And, a 319 has a very small F as I am sure you are aware. I'd say odds of UDU are close to zero.

Why don't you have an option to upgrade this flight? I'm guessing it's not because of the infants, it's because there is no upgrade availability. Did you look at your flights and see if R>0?

Also, have you considered checking the car seats and stroller at the check in counter, and just carrying the babies in the Baby Bjorns? I am assuming you'd each have a baby and a diaper bag? Way easier to get onto the plane and through security that way.

Have a plan for what to do if your ordered supplies do not arrive as planned. Personally, I never rely on things working out and always have backup idea if they don't.

Traveling with two babies with two people is really not that difficult. You can do it.

Last edited by 6rugrats; May 3, 12 at 10:59 am.
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Old May 3, 12, 10:48 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by 6rugrats View Post
I am not sure your seating choice is going to work. If you and your wife are in the aisle and window seats, and each holding a child, that's four people. I think there's a problem with the number of available oxygen masks if someone sits in the middle seat; aren't there only four masks in that row? You may want to check this so you aren't surprised and reseated at the airport.
Good point. That's another reason to select opposite aisle seats.
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Old May 3, 12, 11:02 am   #5
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Take care of Seating ASAP

You will not be allowed two lap children in the same side of the same row (not enough oxygen masks). I don't recall whether the 319 has 4 masks in all rows or just one side. If it's all rows, both sides, you can sit across the aisle. If it's just one side, you can sit in successive rows.

But, all of that is dependent on seat availability. That is best handled sooner rather than later.

Having traveled with infant twins as early as at 4 months, I can tell you have having at least one extra seat is a real plus, particularly on a longish flight such as DEN-MCO.
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Old May 3, 12, 11:11 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lost*in*cyberspace View Post
You might want to rethink this. If I were the aisle seat PAX, I wouldn't be too happy sitting in your row.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 6rugrats
I am not sure your seating choice is going to work. If you and your wife are in the aisle and window seats, and each holding a child, that's four people. I think there's a problem with the number of available oxygen masks if someone sits in the middle seat; aren't there only four masks in that row? I don't believe you will all be able to sit in the same row. You may want to check this so you aren't surprised and reseated at the airport.
Excellent points. I was going to say that it was unfortunate, as checking seats now shows no addt'l availability. However, the point is moot (or as someone I work with always says "mute") as we did get the UDU on the outbound. Inbound though there's no good change I can make.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6rugrats
Why don't you have an option to upgrade this flight? I'm guessing it's not because of the infants, it's because there is no upgrade availability. Did you look at your flights and see if R>0?
What's interesting is that we did get the UDU on the outbound - but I still can't find an upgrade option. I'm a legacy United guy, so I'm definitely not familiar with the new format of the reservation screen on united.com - but I know on my one previous combined flight I was easily able to find the option, and use, Regional upgrades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6rugrats
Also, have you considered checking the car seats and stroller at the check in counter, and just carrying the babies in the Baby Bjorns? I am assuming you'd each have a baby and a diaper bag? Way easier to get onto the plane and through security that way.
Two reasons - and I have no idea if they are good reasons or not. First, under the theory that gate checked luggage has a smaller likelihood of damage - as it bypasses the "get to and from the plane" aspect of baggage. Secondly, I imagine its going to be much easier in the airport with them in the stroller rather than strapped to my chest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
You will not be allowed two lap children in the same side of the same row (not enough oxygen masks).
This is where airlines just don't get why traveling can be such a nightmare. If this isn't allowed, why in the world would the reservation system allow me to put us in the same row? Seems like a simple edit check in the seat selection logic would fix this and would relieve lots of people (including their own employees) a lot of grief.
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Old May 3, 12, 12:03 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by coyote View Post
Excellent points. I was going to say that it was unfortunate, as checking seats now shows no addt'l availability. However, the point is moot (or as someone I work with always says "mute") as we did get the UDU on the outbound. Inbound though there's no good change I can make.
That's great you got the upgrade. Keep checking the seat availability to see if something opens up, because it's a real pain to do it at the airport.

Quote:
What's interesting is that we did get the UDU on the outbound - but I still can't find an upgrade option. I'm a legacy United guy, so I'm definitely not familiar with the new format of the reservation screen on united.com - but I know on my one previous combined flight I was easily able to find the option, and use, Regional upgrades.
Go to your itinerary. Look at the flights and click on "fare class" which is in blue. It will bring up "available cabins". If you find R>0, there is an upgradeable seat.


Quote:
sons - and I have no idea if they are good reasons or not. First, under the theory that gate checked luggage has a smaller likelihood of damage - as it bypasses the "get to and from the plane" aspect of baggage. Secondly, I imagine its going to be much easier in the airport with them in the stroller rather than strapped to my chest.
If you gate check a stroller, UA will not be liable for any damage. Just a thought. I don't know which way will be easier for you. For me, less was easier than more.

Quote:
where airlines just don't get why traveling can be such a nightmare. If this isn't allowed, why in the world would the reservation system allow me to put us in the same row? Seems like a simple edit check in the seat selection logic would fix this and would relieve lots of people (including their own employees) a lot of grief.
I don't know why it allows this; it shouldn't. And, yes, it makes a huge pain when people have to be reseated. I know I don't appreciate being asked (told) to change my seat.
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Old May 3, 12, 12:35 pm   #8
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Safety First

This could devolve into a lengthy debate about how much it would cost to reprogram a carrier's systems to preclude 2 lap babies in a row on one PNR (but, what's to prevent the same with 2 lap babies on 2 PNR's)?

The simple fact is that it's a violation of FAA rules and the aircraft will sit at the gate until you are reseated. So, the better move, once again, is not to fume about why the carrier's IT systems aren't programed in a given way, and to get on the phone, to properly arrange the seats.

Please note that I strongly urge phone and not website.
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Old May 3, 12, 12:37 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6rugrats View Post
Go to your itinerary. Look at the flights and click on "fare class" which is in blue. It will bring up "available cabins". If you find R>0, there is an upgradeable seat.
Available Cabins: F5, JN5, A5, Z3, ZN3, P3, PN5, Y9, YN9, B9, M9, E9, U9, H9, HN9, Q9, V7, W2

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6rugrats View Post
If you gate check a stroller, UA will not be liable for any damage. Just a thought. I don't know which way will be easier for you. For me, less was easier than more.
Makes sense - I'm usually a less is more person myself. Thanks for the input on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Often1
Please note that I strongly urge phone and not website.
Yep - will be calling as soon as I can get off this painful conference call. Hoping hold times have gone down. My one concern (and I'm sure completely unfounded) is that there's some new policy of no lap kids in First (hence not being able to upgrade on the web) and I'll lose my UDU. I know - probably being paranoid.
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Old May 3, 12, 2:27 pm   #10
 
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I've never been allowed to walk through the metal detector with the baby in the Baby Bjorn, either by TSA or security at European airports, and I've never been allowed to bring the stroller with the baby in it through for manual inspection. I've always had to hold the baby in my arms. (In my experience, it's been easier in the US than in Europe, where in Berlin, they actually took my 9-week-old son away from me for "security.")

And personally, I'd gate check the car seats and stroller rather than put them through regular checked luggage. Less opportunity for loss and damage.
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Old May 3, 12, 2:35 pm   #11
 
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Having travelled extensively with twin toddlers since age 3 months, I bet you will will find all goes a lot more smoothly than you expect. The security folks usually took us to the front of lines, and the kids mostly slept on the plane. Granted, we usually flew J when the kids were flying 'free'? Good luck, and try to enjoy the experience.

Cheers,
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Old May 3, 12, 3:32 pm   #12
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Definitely take the stroller and car seats to the gate. Do NOT check them as luggage. The airlines often lose and break luggage, including car seats.

I know this is short notice but I urge you to get better quality baby carriers. The poorly designed Bjorn hangs the baby by its crotch and pulls on the adults' shoulders. I had one with my first and it was in the closet by 6 months. Killer on the back since it doesn't distribute the weight well. A good baby carrier should go at least to age 2 or 3.

I couldn't sit in it nor could I breastfeed in it (both of which were a breeze in a Ring Sling). I've used a number of carriers, all vastly superior to the Bjorn. Head over to one of the many Baby-Wearing sites for more information. With twins, you need something better!

Two adults with two small babies shouldn't be a problem. I was able to get through security with a 4 month old and two toddlers without a hitch. The baby went in the sling. The stroller went first. THEN the carry-on's (easier on both ends). Remember no shoe-taking off for the babies. Your shoes go last.

One trick is to push your gear all the way to the end of the trough after the X-ray. Just shove it down there. Get out of everyone's way and then you have some space to re-organize yourselves. If any bag needs inspecting, they'll bring it to you and you watch them while putting everything back together. Pop the stroller open, put the bags back on and shoes go on last.

Make sure you have backpacks or backpack-style diaper bags. The Mrs. should ditch her purse. Pack it or leave it at home. Flying with babies means hands free-no fiddling carry-on's. ONLY what you need for the flight and not one item more! I used a string purse or very fashionable fanny pack No one will expect you to look like runway models!

I think other twin parents have probably reminded you, if they wear different sized diapers, have both in both carry-on's.

They're actually a good age for travel, not yet mobile and over the newborn phase. Glad you're taking advantage!
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Old May 3, 12, 8:23 pm   #13
 
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Definitely take the stroller and car seats to the gate. Do NOT check them as luggage. The airlines often lose and break luggage, including car seats.
Thanks - I think that's what we're going to do.

I ordered some carrier seat covers - unfortunately I got some that fit full size toddler car seats. I think I might be able to fit both rear-facing seats in one of these.
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