6 Ways Holiday Plane Travel Is Different Before Kids vs. After

Drinking a soda during a flight used to be easy—but then you had kids.

Plane travel before kids felt kind of stressful—people all around you are stressed, and a weather delay could throw off your whole day. But when you have small kids, your previous kid-free challenges suddenly feel like they were a day at the spa.

Here's a breakdown of seven differences between flying then vs. now.

Packing

Before Kids: You packed everything neatly into a small carry-on bag that easily fit into the overhead bin. At the airport, you scoff at people waiting in line to check luggage—who does that?

After Kids: You fill three streamer trunks with clothes, toys, diapers, and the 50 accessories you need to get your children to sleep at somebody else's house. Then spend three hours planning out how you will transport your luggage, car seats, stroller, and children to the airport check-in line. You pay whatever extra fees it takes to bring everything with you.

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Security

BK: The security line is a little long, but you just wait patiently and then get through quickly once you reach the front.

AK: The security line isn't that long but feels like an eternity when you're trying to keep your kid from using the line rope as a monkey bar. When you reach the front, you spend some time debating whether a fruit pouch counts as a liquid and consoling your toddler, who has to put his stuffed Pikachu through the X-ray machine.

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Flight Weather Delays

BK: When you hear the delay, you sigh a little and head to the nearest café to take the chance to catch up on some work. Or maybe read a book. As you sip your peppermint latte, you decide the snow falling outside is actually kind of nice.

AK: You search your carry-on luggage for toys and books, download five new apps on your phone, and buy an assortment of new snacks to distribute. You desperately point out new planes to your kids to keep them distracted. Look—that one being de-iced has a fox on it!

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In-flight Entertainment

BK: You order a drink and cue up a holiday movie to watch on the plane. Your only interruption is a flight attendant asking if you would like a refill, or perhaps, a tiny bag of pretzels.

AK: You order a half-full cup of water with no ice, and slam it in one gulp before your toddler has a chance to grab it. You show your little one two minutes of 10 different holiday specials until you find one to distract him for a little while. In the few moments of downtime you have, you stare blankly at the tray table in front of you.

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Crying on the Plane

BK: There is a baby crying on the plane. It's a little annoying, but you just put on your headphones and turn up your music.

AK: There is a baby crying on the plane, but it's pretty hard to ignore because she is sitting on your lap.

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Arrival

BK: You gather your things and leisurely stroll off the plane, high-fiving yourself because you don't have to wait at baggage claim.

AK: You gather your children and mountain of gear and begin the odyssey to baggage claim. Once you arrive, you are feeling good—you survived the flight and the hardest part of holiday travel is over.

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Well, that is, until the trip home...

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