I recently saw a post on Yahoo answers where a momma of two, an 18 month old and a 3 month old, will soon be flying by herself with her 2 babies. She was asking for tips, and I wound up typing a lot, as I've flown so often with Naomi already! So I thought I'd share, and then ask my reader(s) as well: Have you flown with babies? What tips or tricks do you recommend?
Here are my best observations:
Wherever you have a layover, make sure it is at least 1 and 1/2 hours, but not longer than 3. 1 and 1/2 is ideal. Any less than that leaves no room for error if they change your gates or your first flight arrives late. And running through the airport with a baby in tow to try to catch your next flight is not fun!
Bring a collapsible stroller for the airport for any baby who won't want to or be able to walk long distances in short amounts of time.
If your baby is around 5 months or older, bring "new" toys that s/he has never seen or hasn't seen in a long time and doesn't remember. This will get you through the last leg of the flight when they're cranky and bored.
If your baby uses a pacifier, bring some, or ensure they're nursing, or drinking from a bottle or sippy cup during takeoff and landing. This will help relieve the pressure in their ears and help prevent screaming.
Check your bags. I know it costs an extra $25 each way, but it's worth it to only have to worry about the baby, stroller and diaper bag for the flights and through the airport! And weigh your bag on your bathroom scale before you leave to make sure it's less than 50 lbs. This will save lots of shuffling around items during check-in, and prevent carrying too many heavy things in a diaper bag.
If you fly with baby food or liquids, have them easily accessible when going through security.
If flying with a baby and a toddler, I would likely use the carseat with the toddler so that s/he won't be constantly trying to get off your lap and run around the plane cabin. If possible, carry on both carseats so that in case there is an extra seat available on your row, you can strap both kids in. Most airlines allow this if you ask for it.
If you need to check a carseat, then remove all extra padding, buckle the buckles and pull the straps completely tight. This will prevent wear and tear on the straps. (Also, if an airline loses your carseat, they DO have "loaners" they will give you until yours comes in. And they will bring you yours to your address. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.)
Try to time your flights around their naptimes. If you can arrive at your final destination near your baby's afternoon naptime, it might be worth it to leave at 6 am.
Pack a snack for you in the diaper bag as well. Those little pretzels sometimes just won't cut it, and you'll be wishing for dark chocolate peanut M&Ms.
Most of all, remember that the flights have to come to an end at some point!