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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Plane travel with 3 kids

    I'm in debate about planning a trip to see my mom in FL this spring.

    My DH will not be able to come along. My sister is working on figuring out if she can fly one leg, most likely outbound, with me, but her kids are older and have school and sports commitments that make her travel dates pretty inflexible, and as a result - expensive. So it will most likely mean me flying alone with three small children, ages 5, almost 3, and 10 months at time of travel.

    Despite pressure from family, I obviously do not want to check carseats or even rent them at our destination. I would like to put my 3-year old and my 10 month old in their carseats on the plane and get a RSTV for my 5-year old for the rental car at our destination.

    Two questions.

    1) Has anyone traveled alone with three small children, two in carseats? If so, how? I have two RNs and an EFTA. I've traveled alone with 2 children and one car seat, but this seems harder, especially in the large and chaotic Orlando airport on our return trip.

    2) Configuration on the plane is 2 and 2 - an Embraer 190. Am I actually allowed to put my 5-year old and my 3 year-old in the row alone and then have myself and my 10-month old in the row in front of them? I would put DS2 in his XTSL next to the window, DS1 on the aisle.

    Any input would be welcome. I have not booked anything or even really investigated it yet because the whole thing sounds daunting, but if people think it *can* be done, then I'm open to exploring my flight options further.

    TIA!
    Victoria, mom to
    C: January 2007, 42 lbs, 43 inches, Frontier/Cybex X-Fix
    T: May 2009, 30 lbs, 34 inches, ERFing in a RN XTSL/RN65
    J: May 2011, 20 lbs, 29 inches, RFing in an EFT65/CCO

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  3. #2
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I haven't traveled with 3, but I've done 2 little ones with carseats (2.5 yrs and 3 months). I brought a Radian, an Avenue to RF the baby, and a side-by-side double stroller, but used one side to transport the carseats and either the big one walked or I wore the baby. I would venture that it can be done if you have some kind of front carrier that you can wear the baby in and backpack straps for the radian, both to be used to actually get on the plane. It's a bit awkward but possible to carry a seat on the plane while wearing the baby on the front and the radian on the back--just have the other two walk in front of you until you get to your row. I know you can't rely on it, but often a flight attendant or other passenger would offer to help with the seat or a carry-on bag that DS1 was struggling with.

    I wonder if it would be easier for you and the baby to be across the aisle from your older 2 instead of in front. You could see them the entire time and hand things across the aisle to the 5 year old. If you're sitting in front of them and have any turbulence that you have to stay buckled, it could be harder to interact with them behind you.
    Outdated profile name--I'm up to Momma of 4 boys now with another little boy on the way!

    (9.5yr, 7yr, 5yr, 28mo)

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  5. #3
    CPST Instructor Carrie_R's Avatar
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    Are you open to purchasing a travel seat? Or, do you have an infant seat for the babe? I think I would strap a Scenera (or infant seat,) nested in a Radian, to a rolling carry on - or luggage cart, but the carry on would let you put an RSTV & "stuff" inside. Put the babe in a carrier, then you have a free hand for the toddler. Pack a bag of toys (small rolling bag or backpack) and put the 5yo in charge of it.

    On the plane, I would ff the RN in the center, babe by the window, you on the aisle and the 5yo on the opposite side of the aisle.

    Others will undoubtedly chime in w other ideas but that is where I would start.

    ETA: I missed your note on configuration. I would call the airline and see what they suggest. If you put the older two across the aisle, I'd feel ok with it - you could even swap with the 5yo if the baby is content/asleep and your 3yo needs you. I'm just not sure if it if permissible to have two kids that young sitting alone.
    Down to just a spare Radian, folded in the hall closet for my Godbaby.

    Check out this thread for a Pilot overview!

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  7. #4
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by Carrie_R View Post
    Are you open to purchasing a travel seat? Or, do you have an infant seat for the babe? I think I would strap a Scenera (or infant seat,) nested in a Radian, to a rolling carry on - or luggage cart, but the carry on would let you put an RSTV & "stuff" inside. Put the babe in a carrier, then you have a free hand for the toddler. Pack a bag of toys (small rolling bag or backpack) and put the 5yo in charge of it.

    On the plane, I would ff the RN in the center, babe by the window, you on the aisle and the 5yo on the opposite side of the aisle.

    Others will undoubtedly chime in w other ideas but that is where I would start.

    ETA: I missed your note on configuration. I would call the airline and see what they suggest. If you put the older two across the aisle, I'd feel ok with it - you could even swap with the 5yo if the baby is content/asleep and your 3yo needs you. I'm just not sure if it if permissible to have two kids that young sitting alone.
    I am open to a travel seat, but am wary of installation issues at our destination in an unfamiliar car. I had an Avenue at my mom's house for use there (seat has since moved on), but had a terrible time installing it. But maybe if I have it here and play with it for a while first instead of showing up to a completely unfamiliar seat. DS3 is too big for our SR22.

    I see both your points about us being all four across instead of me in front of them. It might work better than I originally thought.

    I have a Joovy Caboose. I wonder if I could use the jumpseat on that stroller for carseat carrying, put DS2 in the front, DS3 in the Ergo (yes, I have a carrier), and the other RN on my back. It only gets complicated on the jetway and at security then. Oh, and if they have to use the bathroom.... Hmm.
    Victoria, mom to
    C: January 2007, 42 lbs, 43 inches, Frontier/Cybex X-Fix
    T: May 2009, 30 lbs, 34 inches, ERFing in a RN XTSL/RN65
    J: May 2011, 20 lbs, 29 inches, RFing in an EFT65/CCO

  8. #5
    Senior Community Member
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I travel with my 3 frequently. I almost always have dd1 and ds in the row in front of me. When we have had a 2x2 configuration I have done them in front of me and across the aisle from me. I have also had dd2 (Rfing) by the window, DS (FFing) center, me aisle and DD1 across the aisle from me. I prefer to have them in front of me because I can squeeze my hands through the seats to help them easier than reaching across the aisle. This is really only a problem when the seatbelt sign is on for an extended period of time. I will not lie, it has gotten a lot easier now that I have 2 kids that just use the lapbelt.

    The last time I had two in carseats I used a Cocorro and a Radian. I folded the Radian and strapped it to a luggage cart and then strapped the Cocorro to the Radian. It was a little tippy but doable. I had DD2 in my beco and I wore a backpack for a carry on. Both big kids had their own backpacks for carry ons. I think you could probably make most carseats work with a luggage cart, but you should play around with how easily it pulls, etc... before you go.

    Really it is exhausting but completely doable.

    Oh, and it has never been a problem having the older two sit by themselves. In fact one time they tried to split us up (after I paid extra to have preassigned seats) and have dd1 way in the front and ds about 8 rows ahead of me. They were 6 and 4 that time. I refused. I would have been okay with dd1 being by herself as long as I could still see her but ds would have flipped out. Thankfully a few other passengers moved and ds sat across the aisle from me and dd1 was two rows ahead.
    Former CPST and Mom to
    C-13 years old, B-11 years old
    A-8 years old riding in a Harmony Youth Booster or Graco TurboBooster

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  10. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    France
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I also vote for putting them in front, not in back, of you. With smaller kids, it's easier to interact with them and pass things. You can do across the aisle when they're older.

    I flew with a 4 yo, 2 you and a 5 monther from France to California (with a connection in Paris) but I only had one seat. I had one waiting in California that I bought on another trip.

    Can you have someone bring you to the airport and come in with you? Ask if it's possible to get them a "gate pass". This will let them come through security and bring you to the aircraft door. Unfortunately, SFO int'l doesn't allow this but ask at your airport. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

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  12. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Thanks so much everyone! I think I'll call the airline today and work on making this happen, and will definitely follow the suggestion of having them seated in front of me. Makes a lot of sense that it would be easier if we are confined to our seat. Our return trip with DH in November had some of the worst bumps I've ever experienced (no in-flight service and DS threw up as soon as we touched down), so it makes sense to me to be able to pass things between the seats. On that trip, DH and I each had a RN and DS3 had his bucket carrier attached to the Joovy.

    Any recommendations of using the stroller vs using a luggage cart? If luggage cart, which one do you all recommend? The advantage to that would be getting down the aircraft aisle to our seats. Disadvantage would be no way to contain my 3-year old in the airport if a gate pass is not permitted. Any thoughts on this?

    Eclipse, my sister mentioned the gate pass idea last night. She is a single mom and uses one to get her two boys on the plane to see their dad in Chicago. I imagine it is a possibility at BTV... not sure about MCO.
    Victoria, mom to
    C: January 2007, 42 lbs, 43 inches, Frontier/Cybex X-Fix
    T: May 2009, 30 lbs, 34 inches, ERFing in a RN XTSL/RN65
    J: May 2011, 20 lbs, 29 inches, RFing in an EFT65/CCO

  13. #8
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I think the stroller vs. cart idea is entirely dependent on what you have. Try it at home first and practice taking it apart and putting it back together so that you're an expert when you hit security.

    I went with the cart because I used to borrow a stroller at my destination.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  14. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Eclipse, quick question about your blog. In the luggage cart section, you talk about not putting the cart in the overhead bin. Totally understand, but do luggage carts get gate-checked then? Or can they be wheeled to our seats and then stowed some place else in the cabin?

    I am realizing that I will likely have to do a travel seat... no way do I want to deal with carting the RFing boot for the RN and possibly an angle adjuster in my carry-on/diaper bag. I'm trying to avoid checking any bags at all.

    ETA - never mind on the cart storage question - saw the answer in another thread! Still in debate about 2 RNs vs one RN and a new, lighter seat ala Scenera or something in that line....
    Last edited by lilliput; 02-01-2012 at 02:49 PM.
    Victoria, mom to
    C: January 2007, 42 lbs, 43 inches, Frontier/Cybex X-Fix
    T: May 2009, 30 lbs, 34 inches, ERFing in a RN XTSL/RN65
    J: May 2011, 20 lbs, 29 inches, RFing in an EFT65/CCO

  15. #10
    CPST Instructor Carrie_R's Avatar
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    For the 3yo -- what about one of those animal backpacks with leash? Keeps him contained and, added bonus, you can put stuff in it! (I am not a huge fan of leashing kids but I always kept one around for emergencies and specific situations.)
    Down to just a spare Radian, folded in the hall closet for my Godbaby.

    Check out this thread for a Pilot overview!

  16. #11
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I did it with three. I took two seats (a Radian and a Coccoro). It wasn't the most fun i've ever had, but it was do-able. I use a luggage cart for the car seats, wear the baby, and have the other two walk. I'd put the two kids in front of you and sit behind them with the baby, so you can keep an eye on them and hand them things (and poke them to keep them in line ).

    They wouldn't let DH get a gate pass to help me because I was over 15. I said if I were under 15 traveling with three small children I'd need more help than someone to walk with me to the gate

    Take full advantage of the special security line for those with small children!!!
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  17. #12
    Senior Community Member rxmommy's Avatar
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I get to do it with 4 kids and 2 carseats and 1 connection to Canada in August. DH is still on the fence about being able to come......

    Just reading for ideas. I am buying a new double stroller and debating on whether the stroller will contain carseats or kids. I have carriers for both younger kids but I will also be 2 mo post c/s and not sure I could carry both kids at once! Also debating a luggage cart for the convertible seat which I would have DD1 pull. Too many decisions....
    Annie, mommy to...
    Olivia 8/04, Evelyn 3/06, angel #3 10/08,
    Sophia 1/10 and
    Isaac 6/11/12

  18. #13
    CPS Technician An Aurora's Avatar
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    I'd take a double stroller with the two youngest kids on it (or wear the baby, put the next two youngest in it) and push that while pulling a luggage cart with the seats on it (or have the oldest pull it if you need two hands to steer).
    Anna~ RN and expired CPST (hoping to recert soon!)

  19. #14
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Quote Originally Posted by rxmommy View Post
    I get to do it with 4 kids and 2 carseats and 1 connection to Canada in August. DH is still on the fence about being able to come......

    Just reading for ideas. I am buying a new double stroller and debating on whether the stroller will contain carseats or kids. I have carriers for both younger kids but I will also be 2 mo post c/s and not sure I could carry both kids at once! Also debating a luggage cart for the convertible seat which I would have DD1 pull. Too many decisions....
    Wow! This makes me definitely feel like I can handle it! I would agree with Aurora. I'd put your middles in the stroller, wear your newborn, and have your eldest walk. I hope you can convince DH to come along on your journey. Is there anyone else that can accompany you? If I come across any other tips than the ones that we've gotten so far, I'll be sure to pass them along for you!!

    Aurora - thanks for the info on the gate pass! That actually could happen to us too, thinking about it. My sister mentioned a few weeks ago that SW no longer considers her eldest a UM when she sends them to Chicago. He's 14 and his brother is 12....

    Carrie - I had a backpack/leash for DS1 when I flew with him to Germany in 2008. He was so cute... I never got to use the leash part because he insisted on holding the monkey's tail/leash part, so it didn't work for us, but heck, he loved it! I'll have to see if I can find it....

    Well, I will go ahead and book our trip and start tinkering with the details like stroller vs. cart. All of you seem to have so much love for the CCO, I am feeling terribly tempted!
    Victoria, mom to
    C: January 2007, 42 lbs, 43 inches, Frontier/Cybex X-Fix
    T: May 2009, 30 lbs, 34 inches, ERFing in a RN XTSL/RN65
    J: May 2011, 20 lbs, 29 inches, RFing in an EFT65/CCO

  20. #15
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Make sure you pay the extra fees or whatever it is to make sure that your seats are together. They always, always spilt up my kids and we end up with seats all over the place and gate attendants that tell me that is my problem and not theirs. I end up begging people to change seats on every flight, always. I didn't realize until recently that it doesn't always have to be this way. :roll eyes: And thanks to the airlines for booking a 2 year 8 rows ahead of me!
    DD1-13y, DD2-9y, DS1-7y, DS2-4y

  21. #16
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Plane travel with 3 kids

    Btw, not to get OT but what I do with this one is that I call the airline 72 hours ahead, then 48. If that doesn't work, try calling yet again, within 24 hours. Even if they say not to, I was told that, did anyway and the agent was able to get us together.

    Don't be duped by "but your seats are close" with middle seats. Get AISLE seats, even if far away from each other. These are far more negotiable if you do have to trade on board. Also try to seat yourselves in two's, if possible, again on the aisle. Most people fly in pairs.

    Ask at check-in, if you still haven't managed to get your seats together. They might have you go to the counter at the gate. Say okay and head straight there.

    If they couldn't sort it out at the counter and you still, still are separated, be sure to ask passengers on board yourself. There are two reasons. First, if you as the F/A's, they'll be more cooperative if you tell them you've tried and also, passengers say no to F/A's but find it difficult to turn down another passenger to his or her face, especially when flying with small children. If you've been unsuccessful, the F/A's can check if there are company employees or match you up with passengers who also want to swap.

    If you are flying a low cost company like WN (SW is Air Namibia), consider paying for early boarding, especially if you're alone with multiple children and car seats.

    If you bought your tickets waaaaay ahead of time, check periodically with your seats. Sometimes there is an aircraft change and this can really mess up seating arrangements.

    Recently I bought my tickets through Expedia and they couldn't give me seats. I checked with my frequent flyer account (which you can give to Expedia upon booking) and they automatically gave us three seats together. I only learned this by checking my ff account directly with the airline.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

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