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mseas Nov 21st, 2007 05:43 AM

MSP to HNL with 22 month old
Hello - we are flying from Minneapolis to Honolulu to visit friends who are stationed at Ft. Shafter. Since they will be there for a finite amount of time, we are going to take advantage of their hospitality and visit in March 2008. This will be our first trip to HI.

We have a nonstop flight from MSP on NWA; the plane is an Airbus A330.

I'm concerned about the baby and the long flight; she's flown to PHX but that is the longest flight (~3 hours). I dread being the family that annoys the rest of the plane.

When selecting seats, (anticipating we'll be able to choose seats 90 days out) should we choose three of the four in the middle section and hope the 4th seat isn't filled? Should we choose three seats together at the very back of the plane? I'm hoping there will be times during the flight that she can move about if needed.

I've read through many posts and am looking for your real-life experiences with this sort of thing.

Thanks in advance.

dfr4848 Nov 21st, 2007 06:27 AM

I gather from your description that the baby is getting his/her own seat - which is a very good idea. I'd pick the middle seats and hope the 4th doesn't get filled. It can get crowded and a little noisy in the back (the galley and lavatories are in the back), so IMO I'd avoid that.

We flew often when our daughter was young (and went to Hawaii when she was 3) and would suggest:

1 - have something for the baby to drink/suck on at take-off and landing when their ears can be the most affected.

2 - bring snacks, food, something to drink, The airline food, if they have any, won't do much for a 22 month old. [It doesn't do much anybody these days].

3 - bring toys, etc to keep him/her occupied, especially something they're used to playing with, but also something new that will be fun and different.

4 - relax and enjoy the trip

mseas Nov 21st, 2007 06:52 AM

Thanks, I was leaning towards reserving 3/4 seats and hoping to end up with an open seat in our row.

She did OK on previous flights to Phoenix for the holidays but, obviously, we've never done an 8+ hour flight.

mseas Nov 29th, 2007 07:17 AM

Any other thougths/tips/suggestions?

rkkwan Nov 29th, 2007 07:34 AM

Don't know if NW allows you to book seats CDG or CFG in the same itinerary, with an empty seats in the middle. This way, that seat will only be filled if the plane is really full. Then just switch with that person.

dmlove Nov 29th, 2007 08:11 AM

On any flight with a toddler, we found the best thing was to bring a bunch a new "activities" -- all quiet activities, of course -- so you can bring them out as necessary -- coloring books, crayons, magna-doodle, legos (the big ones, for little hands), that kind of thing.

gigib Nov 29th, 2007 11:18 AM

What time is the flight? Perhaps you can wear her out so she'll sleep several hours. While waiting to board you can walk and walk and walk around the airport.

Our daughter's one and only difficult flight from LA to Hawaii was at 18 months, she wanted so badly to walk up and down the aisle of the plane.

jreichert Nov 29th, 2007 11:58 AM

We just flew Mpls to Palm Springs (about 4 hours) with a 21 mos old so I feel your pain. My daughter refuses to sleep anywhere other than her crib so it was a looooonnnng flight!

Our life savers were the portable DVD player with lots of Wiggles and Elmo, Dum Dum lollipops, stickers, and this thing:

It's a child's 5 pt harness for the seat and it worked great...especially b/c we didn't want to lug a car seat around. The added bonus was that she LOVED playing with the buckles-- snapping them in place, having us undo it, and then doing it all over again. I am not kidding- she did this for the majority of the flight. It was great entertaintment for her!

Good luck!

curiouser Nov 29th, 2007 02:43 PM

That belt is a great recommendation-- thanks from all of us parents! I have been bringing my daughter's car seat since it keeps her snug and restrained, but now she's grown a little, it also puts her feet right in the ideal place to kick the chair in front: #1 bogey for me as a passenger! (She is NOT allowed to do this.)

Getting three seats together and hoping for a empty fourth is the better plan than a cramped seat at the back. And it's likely that any fourth passenger might try to find an alternative spot when apprised of the situation :-).

I've done a lot of long flights with my kids and it depends a lot on their personalities. Older son has always been a wonderful traveller and has always slept, played with toys, or read books, with no problem. Small daughter has been less easy since she also seems to need to lie down to sleep and will not be comforted by sitting in a parent's lap. I try the pull-out-multiple-small-items over the course of a trip. It's fun to have them wrapped up as little presents, which adds a bit of extra distraction time, but might not be so effective for your baby's age. What has been brilliant for us are the Australian Faber-Castell markers with lids that let them click together. The clicking part alone kept my son busy for hours. And the pens are much less likely to fall and get lost. Another great plane toy are Zoobs, little pieces that click together. I spent a long time with my son making jointed animals and whatnot, and in the end it all disassembles to be very compact.

Those joining us on our trip to Hawaii in a couple of weeks will be able to report the success of these strategies for us at the squirmy 18 month stage.

TheWeasel Nov 29th, 2007 08:06 PM

<Then just switch with that person.>

Right. And then a week later we'll have a ranting thread from someone who specifically booked a seat but had this rude family surrounding them who expected this individual to switch seats. Some people do not want windows or aisles and actually prefer a middle seat, so book what you want/need and do not expect someone else to switch to suit your wants and needs.

rkkwan Nov 29th, 2007 08:08 PM

So, you're saying some person will rather sit in a middle seat with a parent and a child on one side, and another on the other?

Sorry, but I don't think this scenario exists.

TheWeasel Nov 29th, 2007 08:23 PM

I'm saying some people do not want the window seat or the aisle for various reasons, and your advice would force them to choose the lesser of two evils, which could easily be avoided if OP would ignore your advice and simply choose the seats they need.

Basically what you're suggesting is rather than picking the seats they really need, they should take your advice and expect a stranger to switch seats because they have the ability to make the flight miserable otherwise.

Nice entitlement attitude there.

Cali Nov 29th, 2007 09:12 PM

I have a feeling that mseas is talking about the center section of the plane rather than the seats on the sides. The A330 is a large plane and has seats on the sides (aisle and window) and then several seats in the middle and more on the sides. I agree if you book the seats in the middle section you just might not have someone between you - just depends on how full the plane is and nowadays I have found many of our flights full. Good luck and have a great trip.

rkkwan Nov 30th, 2007 04:13 AM

TheWeasel - I'm saying is that I don't know anybody in the world who prefers a middle seat to a window or aisle, when traveling alone.

If you like to complain about some practice, at least find something that affects real people, not hypothetical ones that don't exist.

mseas Nov 30th, 2007 04:58 AM

Thanks jreichert for the helpful insights. I'm definetly going to look into the 5 pt harness as she does like to play around with buckles, etc.

I know it's a bit risky to select 3 of 4 seats in the center section and I would NEVER expect someone to alter their selected seat. That's the point of selecting, right? Does anyone remember when planes weren't so full and there were a few empty seats sprinkled about.....vaguely.

curiouser -- would love to have some real life reports on the upcoming trip to HI with toddlers if you/your group is so inclined.

Thanks again to everyone.

rkkwan Nov 30th, 2007 05:25 AM

mseas - My parents fly EWR-HKG all the time on 15-hour flights. Many times, I'll pick them two aisle seats on the inside section with a middle seat left open.

Now, I won't get into the "ethical" question here, as both my parents like aisle seats, and they have no problem sitting with someone in the middle at all. This is not your situation.

But what I'm telling you is that when that happens, 100% of the time the person in the middle will <b>initiate</b> to switch seats with either of my parents so that he/she can get an aisle seat instead. And he/she is always disappointed that neither of my parents will switch.

So, as a technical standpoint, you and TheWeasel are worrying about nothing. But if you think that's not the right thing to do, then it's up to you.

But you ask what's the best way to make sure you two and the baby have a good trip, and I offered my very practical and technical advice.

Just think about how nice it is if you 3 can have 4 seats so that the baby can sleep fully horizontal across two seats in the middle. It won't happen if you just pick 3 in the middle, as something will definitely take that adjacent aisle seat unless the plane is super empty.

rkkwan Nov 30th, 2007 06:06 AM

BTW, mseas, if you don't care about the 4th seat, then just pick the last row. If you just pick CDF or DFG, someone will definitely take that aisle row.

But if you still want to use my way to gain &quot;The Unfair Advantage&quot; (title of the autobiography of legendary American car racer Mark Donohue), then pick some rows near the back of the plane. Last seat someone will want to pick is a middle seat near the rear.

mseas Nov 30th, 2007 06:33 AM


All replies appreciated.

TravelRocks Nov 30th, 2007 11:12 AM

Hi, you will have fun in Hawaii! We have flown there every other year since my first son was 21 months old and he always did great on the long flights (he's a pro at it now--travelling back and forth to HI and Europe!) We just returned from Hawaii October with our second child in row--she was 16 months old--she did just fine--we just kept her busy with toys,books, walking up and down the aisles, and watching these children's movies on the seats. Airbus 330 is great! We flew that as well. Flight attendants were very helpful and they gave us first dibs on the food, etc. Really nice. 3 seats together in back really helps a lot--and yes, these belts to play with is a lifesaver as well! Just keep your cool and bring tons of toys/books :)

Have fun!

ejcrowe Nov 30th, 2007 03:01 PM

I'm with rkkwan on this one. Book 3 out of the 4 seats in the middle section, leaving a middle one open. That way you're very likely to have 4 seats. If your baby has more room to be wiggly and active, all of your neighbors will be happier.

I'm not sure how old your baby will be by that time, but one further suggestion is to actually gift wrap all of the items you're taking for the baby. Opening the gift wrap, wrangling with ribbons/bows can help pass some of the time. Even if it's just a snack pack that you've wrapped up, it will seem more special. The main caveat here is that security does have the right to ask you to unwrap everything, but I've found them to be understanding in cases like these. If you let them pick a couple of items to unwrap and they unwrap them enough to see that their toys or kids' snacks, they might very well let the rest of the items slide. Of course, if your baby really is a little baby, then gift wrap won't be all that special!

lcuy Nov 30th, 2007 03:37 PM

Just keep in mind the TSA amy make you unwrap them....

FHurdle Dec 2nd, 2007 03:47 PM

I agree with the advice to book two aisle seats and one middle seat towards the back of the plane. It dramatically increases your chance of having the remaining middle seat stay empty.

As for someone being &quot;upset&quot; about having to move, there is not a single person in the entire country living outside a mental institution who will not be thrilled and overjoyed to exchange a middle seat for an aisle seat. It just won't be a problem.

Also, take some food. There isn't any served on this flight or than some wraps for purchase that don't look too appealing.

mseas Dec 3rd, 2007 11:41 AM

thanks again!
She will be 22 months old when we travel....sounds like a consensus to have a variety of 'things' - food and otherwise.

TravelRocks: can you tell me more about this statement, &quot;, and watching these children's movies on the seats. Airbus 330 is great! &quot;

colombiana Dec 3rd, 2007 01:32 PM

someone in this forum suggested you look for your particular airline and the aircraft you will be flying and tells you which seats are best, what I also did for my trip to Hawaii I often checked my own flight and saw how many seats were left. As someone else here said, there are not that many flights that are not sold out completely. Hope this helps, Gina

cheapboxofwine Dec 3rd, 2007 01:50 PM

I have flown to Europe several times with my two girls and alone! It can be challenging even when you have help. Great that you are booking a separate seat for your child. I'd suggest to bring the car seat on board so the child knows that you are traveling and needs to be strapped in just like when you are in the car. That is a safe way to go with the kids anyway in my opinion! Not sure what time of day you leave from MSP but keep the child on a regular nap/sleep schedule prior. Have some healthy snacks and even eat a light meal before boarding. You never know when you'll be fed! Carry on a sippy of water in case your child's ears are feeling it. I am from MSP--head to Creative Kidstuff and get some travel friendly goodies for the flight! I never did this, but have seen younger kids with dvd and headphones. Hey, it can work when they need a break from the stresses of travel.

shoefly Dec 3rd, 2007 03:51 PM

Are there &quot;bulkhead&quot; seats on that plane? They seem good for kids because they can stand up now and then, and it seems like airlines try to put families in them.

mseas Dec 4th, 2007 05:50 AM

Great idea on Creative KidStuff.

We're on the 11:40 a.m. direct flight out of MSP. She usually has a nap around 1 p.m. so I'm hoping we can maintain that schedule.

I checked on SeatGuru and see that the seats in the front half of coach have power supply capability -- I suppose that would be the way to go as far as using laptops, etc. Right?

mseas Dec 14th, 2007 11:15 AM

We selected three of the four seats in Row 38...thanks for the advice. I'll try to remember to post back on how it all turns out.

suze Dec 15th, 2007 08:57 AM

Good luck with your flight. Hopefully some of the time everyone will spend napping. Do take plenty of food and snacks along.

The Weasel, I don't know of a single person living on this planet who *prefers* a middle seat on an airplane.

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