A horizon, looking on fire, appears in front of us. The captain asks the flight attendants to prepare for landing. Finally, we have arrived at Maui. A journey of 26 hours with the twins on our knees, chests or heads has come to an end. These are our seven best tips to you as a parent of two or one flying infant(s)!
1) Book flights early and claim bassinets
Booking flights, as soon as you know your dates, is crucial. If you find that perfect flight, book it immediately. It will, for sure, become more expensive. We traveled Oslo-Frankfurt-San Francisco-Maui. The trip took 26 hours in total, with two and four hours stops.
Choosing seats is just as important as the time schedule. When traveling with twins, you are not allowed to sit on the same section, unless it is a bulkhead seat with two baby bassinets. We asked the travel agency to request bassinets, but unfortunately it was turned down by United Airlines. We were told that our twins were too old and too big. To our big surprise the kids who were given the bassinets were months older than our twins. So at San Francisco we went to United Airlines ourselves and managed to book bassinets for our return flights.
Lesson learned – contact the airline directly and be make a more personal request for bassinets. If you do not get bulkhead seat (with or without bassinets), try to get seats behind an emergency exit seat. They cannot be declined and will give you extra leg room. We had two aisle seats opposite each other, close to a toilet. This made it easy to get up for walks, diaper change and assisting each other when i.e. preparing food.
2) Getting to the airport
We travelled with three collies for checking in (two Dakine roller bags and a Stokke prampack). Our hand luggage was two small backpacks, big diaper bag and a collapsable stroller.
Lesson learned – we ended up with lots of plastic bags with food and water bottles, looking like a gypsy camp. More suitable hand luggage bags must be brought next time.
The best option for us was to take the airport express train. The twins and I took the tram to the railway station. Alexander took a taxi with our luggage. On the airport express train, there is a special section for strollers. You can attached your stroller with a hook to the wall for increased safety.
Getting the luggage up to departure involved some heavy bag pulling and some sweat, but no big problems.
Special twin tip – since our flight was really early, we put our twins to bed in their travel outfit. They wore a thin wool suit, which kept them warm and comfortable.
3) On the airport
We were given the advice to fill up our prampac with more than just the stroller, so we through in diapers etc. But they checked it! We had to pay extra. Ouch.
Lesson learned – check maximum load for oversized luggage.
Our flight left at 6 am. The twins slept in the collapsable stroller until security. Gardermoen, as many airports, has a family track. You are allowed to bring baby food through security. I read that you can even bring liquids >100 ml in baby bottles, but remember to present it to the security personnel.
If you buy products >100 ml at the tax-free, it will probably be taken away from you when going through security in the US (even if it is a sealed shopping bag). This happened to us, some years ago, on our first flight to Maui. Bye bye, P20 sun lotion! ;(
After security, we filled a big thermos with hot water at the first cafe, being ready for milk and porridge. We mixed hot milk to the twins before entering the plane, being ready for take-off. Infants have less problems with pain in their ears if they are fed or suck on a pacifier during take-off and landing.
Lesson learned – make the milk extra hot if you make it before boarding and plan to let your kid drink it during take-off. Or it will be cold (and one of our kids refused to drink it ;))
Special twin tip – we bought a used MacLaren twin techno stroller before our trip. It was a true lifesaver! The twins could sleep or sit and look around, which kept them happy. The stroller also has good space for your hand luggage under the seats.
4) On the plane
As I wrote, we looked like a gypsy camp with a lot of hand luggage. One of the reasons for this, was 25 hours of food for the twins. You can buy baby food on airports, but this twin mummy is always ready for war. We planned for five meals and brought seven (porridge/dinner, fruit smoothies and milk).
On the plane, we try to have babies to sleep as much as possible, adjusting it towards the end of the flight and the destination time zone. We focused on getting them to eat well, followed by a sleep. Since it was such a long flight, we also had sleep. We had one baby wrap and one large scarf, to make sure that the twins did not fall down if we all fell asleep. Still, I must admit that I only slept for 10-15 minutes a couple of times.
We did not bring many toys and the twins have not been introduced to iPads yet. We had downloaded a playlist with lullabies, and «mummy jukebox» sang a couple of hours all together. Infants can play with almost anything. The cup holder on the picture was one twins favorite.
Special twin tip – Prepare as much as possible at home, since you both will have an infant on your knee on the plane. We had formula in bottles, and porridge powder, oil and prune smoothie in small boxes at home. On the plane, we just added water or milk. Ready, steady, eat.
Special twin tip – Since we have a diaper bag the size of a house, we made a small bag with some diaper and wet and dry tissues. The small bag fitted under one of our seats, making diaper changes easy.
5) Changing flights
We had two hours in Frankfurt and four hours in San Francisco. No stress and time for eating, diaper change and sleep. Four hours in San Francisco might seem a lot, but getting in to the US takes time. From landing until we had entered the new departure terminal took two hours (passport/visa, checked baggage pick up, bag scan, new bag drop, new security). Then it was diapers and clothes change, parent eating, twins feeding, getting hot water and discussing return seats with United (claiming those bassinets).
6) Do not forget yourself
As parents, we focus so much on our kids, it easy to forget ourselves. We bought some extra sandwiches, a salad and extra water bottles, to make sure that we could eat independently of meals on the plane.
You should also bring an extra t-shirt for yourself! Still, no one cares if you arrive at your destination with porridge on your t-shirt. I would also recommend compression socks.
Special twin tip – buy extra food for yourself. With one infant each on your knees all the time, eating hot flight food will be difficult. But have a glass of wine, you deserve it! And if the flight attendants offer you croissants, nuts etc. Take it! You never know when you need that extra snack.
7) Go with the flow and ask for extra service
Once you have passed security, there is no way back. The journey is on. You can plan a lot, ask other parents for advice and read blogs. Still, unforeseen episodes will happen. Our babies decide and we do not know how they will react on such a long flight. Try go with the flow, enjoy and keep calm.
Special twin tip – Ask for extra service. We found that many wants to help traveling twin families. We got upgraded to seats with more leg room for our final flight from San Francisco to Kahului/Maui. We got fast tracked through visa/passport control. We got to feed our kids in the a half empty la carte restaurant (avoiding a very busy cafe section) in Frankfurt.
Looking back, the trip was not as bad as I expected. Many people said to us, 26 hours with an infant on your lap, well good luck! But the boys were so great! I feel so privileged being able to take this trip. At home, there is a lot of logistics, laundry, internet and other stuff that attracts our attention. On the plane, the focus was only our boys. Playing, singing, feeding, sleeping, crying and comforting. Oh yes, those last five hours from San Francisco to Maui was a struggle (even though we had extra leg room ;)).
We got to the beach front cottage in Paia at 9 pm. Then started a part of the journey, which I had not planned for! How to adjust twins to a -12 hours ay difference? Well, go with the flow, I thought, and eat my flat chocolate croissant, which I got 24 hours earlier on the plane to Frankfurt. Good night!