Frankie is officially my number one travel companion.
He doesn’t talk back; he sleeps anywhere, anytime; he goes along with all of my ideas; and he loves the warmth. Just like Dad.
He sleeps on long haul flights. Gets us bumped to the front of the line at security, and we always get extra special attention. It’s bloody great. I wish I knew about all these perks years ago. I would have had a child much earlier (jokes – cause it’s not like we weren’t trying ;p)
But seriously, travelling as a single man (my husband was home making the money), I got all the perks. And man-o-man was it joyous. To be honest, I am surprised Frankie’s big gorgeous eyes didn’t get us a free upgrade. You know Air NZ are getting tight when not even Frankie can spin us an upgrade *eye roll*….
While we haven’t been home much since Frankie was born, we do like to live an active life. I get extremely bored sitting home with my wee man all day. Thank god for instagram (@lovefromyourdads) keeping me sane…otherwise it very much feels like Ground Hog day.
As an avid traveller with ADHD (not really?), and being a tight arse accountant, I have set up Grab-A-Seat notifications and spend a stupid amount of time on Air NZ’s website. Mark thinks I have a problem. Do you think there is such thing as AirNZ Anonymous (AA)?
I had diarised Grab-A-Seat’s birthday sale (17 July btw), so I was eagerly waiting in anticipation for some sweet, sweet birthday deals. And voila – birthday goodness was delivered. I bagged a number of great deals including a return flight to LA for myself and Frankie (less than $800), and return flights to Bali for the three of us, plus some sweet domestic flights. WINNING!!!
The only problem was, I hadn’t told Mark yet….and we all know that Mark doesn’t love me buying more flights. So we had a bit of a problem. Later that night I told Mark, and sure enough he was not the happiest. So I called Air NZ and cancelled the flights.
But then I thought about it, and thought: You know what. I am always working, and this may be the only time in my life when I don’t have to ask for leave from my job, and get time off work. Where I will get flights to the USA for less than $800, and manage to escape NZ winter for a week in the California sunshine. So I booked the flights again…
It wasn’t a long wait until the holiday, and so I had to get Frankie’s passport sorted ASAP. Considering I am still not his legal guardian (we have to adopt Frankie from Aleisha – even though he is my biological son), this meant getting Aleisha to complete the passport forms, getting photos for Frankie and getting these signed by a witness who knows Aleisha, and is not related to Frankie. Technicalities come into play here…
His passport showed up the day before we were due to fly, but I had called the Passport office and they gave me his passport details so we could arrange his ESTA visa (90 day visa waiver) for the USA. So far so good.
Because Aleisha is the still the legal guardian of Frankie, we needed Aleisha to provide us with a letter in case anyone at immigration in NZ or the US questioned me travelling with him. Fortunately we didn’t need this, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Time to pack and go……
With most airlines (I flew Air NZ and United domestically in the US), you get two free checked bags when travelling with an infant – one for your stroller and the second for your car seat.
Because I took Otto as a carry on stroller, I told the airline the travel bag had my second ‘off-road’ stroller in it, which did the trick! Air NZ and United also allow you to check the stroller at the gate as you enter the plane, and pick it up at the door. This is awesome if you don’t want to carry on and try and find space in the overhead locker (this can be a major mission on US airlines as everyone takes ALL their crap onboard, and there is never any room for a bag!).
Summer packing check list:
- Cool, loose fitting, sun smart clothes
- Lots of bibs
- Muslin wraps for shade cover
- Singlets / Summer Rompers
- Swim Nappy & Matching Togs 😉
- Change of clothes for both of us on the plane
- Pamol for Frankie and Nurofen for Dad
- Temperature gauge
- Babu baby Sunscreen
- Milton tablets
- Cloth nappies / cloths to wipe up mess
- Ed & Co Otto – compact stroller
- Ed & Co capsule
- Ed & Co carry cot
- Bath wash
- Change mat pack (sudocream, plastic bags, wipes)
- Lula Doll & Shusher
- Ecosprout merino blanket
Both NZ and US security allow water, made up formula and milk powder above the normal limits of 100ml/100g.
Going through security in NZ and the USA I carried on:
- 4 x 150ml of water in his bottles
- 1 x 150ml milk
- 1 x 900g can of milk formula
- Edwards & Co Otto
NZ was slightly more relaxed than the US and I was able to push the stroller through the security screener and got ‘security wanded’. In the US they folded the stroller up themselves (must be easy!) and put it through the conveyer belt X-ray.
They also had a machine that tested the water and milk before letting me go through.
Both NZ and US (LAX and SFO) were actually really easy, and having a baby sure helped as we got ushered to the front and also got to use ‘stroller’ friendly lanes. So I definitely recommend taking a stroller, not only for easy navigation and being able to use your hands to shop, but also to get through security quickly.
Also, a lot of people ask how I warm Frankie’s milk. I don’t. From birth Frankie has had room temperature milk, which makes everything so much easier.
Onboard and ready to fly…
Our plane was literally the furtherest gate possible; so it was lucky I had Otto to carry Frankie. He actually fell asleep on the way to the gate from the lounge it was that far. Meanwhile we got asked about 7 times, “where is Mummy”, to which I replied like a broken record, “he doesn’t have a Mummy, he has two Dads”. I wasn’t going to confuse them with the old “he has two Mums and two Dads….” discussion. It was 9:30pm and I was well ready to get onboard and hit the States – yyeeewwwww!!!
I push the stroller right to my seat. Well I tried, but turns out the Business Class seats stick out on a funny angle, and I had to lift Frankie up in his stroller and carry him through business class. It was highly embarrassing, with all these middle aged white men starting at me from their expensive white leather seats, drinking champagne, while I traipsed off to Economy.
At least the people in Premium Economy offered to help, and while I folded up the stroller to put it in the overhead locker, I already had about 5 ladies offer to hold him. Perfect. I almost didn’t return to pick him up. See you in 12 hours hahaha…
I was lucky enough to have the row to myself so the spare seats beside me became the perfect place to hold all of Frankie stuff. God, how can such a little person have so much bloody stuff!!!!
I took off his ‘street clothes’ and had his onsie and LFOH merino underneath for sleeping. I then wrapped him up and put his little infant seat belt on, ready to fly. I made sure I had his bottle at the ready for take off and landing.
Number One Tip: Feed from the bottle on take off and landing to help ease air pressure in little one’s ears.
After take off, the flight attendants brought around the bassinet and put that up on the bulk head, and I put Frankie down to sleep. I used a pillow to create a tent, and put a muslin over the bassinet to block out the light. However, I was freaking out about this falling on his head and smothering him, so I didn’t sleep much, constantly checking it.
Next time I fly, I want to get one of those bassinet covers…
Anyway the flight was extremely uneventful (thank f*ck). Frankie slept most of the night and didn’t cry the whole way. He was AMAZING!!!! The flight attendant Katie was also AMAZING, and it was such an enjoyable flight thanks to Air NZ flight attendants.
And just like that, Father and Son were in LA. Ready for a week of sightseeing, sunshine and good times.
Check out Frankie Goes to Hollywood for our tips on what to do, where to stay and how to get around LA with an infant. (Blog post coming soon…)
If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment below so we can update our blog.