First time taking kids to airport..

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z91
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First time taking kids to airport..

Post by z91 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 pm

Going from Bay Area to LA/San Diego this weekend with my two young kids (4, 6). Anything I should know?

We are renting a car in San Diego and have opted to bring our own car seats instead of paying the retail price to rent one. From what I've read they will get checked-in for free, and my colleagues have said they will seal it up for us, so we can just bring them as-is (i.e., no special bag/packaging).

We are now trying to figure out logistics to/from the airport. Luckily I have a family member that can drop us off..but pick up is a different story. I am thinking about renting a shuttle (Super Shuttle) on the way back, so my kids can just strap themselves in the car seat and go. Uber/Lyft appear to have a surcharge for this type of service -- it's also unclear to me if they will provide the seat or if we can easily use our own, so I'm hesitant to use them. It appears the price is around the same as the shuttle anyway. I will definitely tip the driver a few bucks given we have a lot of stuff lugging around.

Long-term parking is around $80. A shuttle is about $55 (no waiting, no stops). No idea about taxis, but I don't like supporting them..been screwed so many times on fares and poor service.

Glockenspiel
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Glockenspiel » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:06 pm

I'm not sure about Uber/Lyft in California, but in my home state of Minnesota, we just used our own car seats, and there was no extra charge. The driver was more than willing to allow us a few minutes to get the car seats into place.

livesoft
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by livesoft » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:09 pm

All the Bay Area airports are easily accessible by public transportation such as BART and CalTrain. Sure, you might have a lot of stuff, but I think the challenge of packing extremely lightly would be welcomed by you.
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Mom 2 Groms
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Mom 2 Groms » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:34 pm

I'm not sure if you need a bag/carrier to put your carseats into, but they might be easier to carry. I know for us, it was easier to carry the bag with a handle rather than the bulky awkward seat with belts dragging behind.

We have not taken an uber with car seats. We have been picked up by family members though, and quickly installed the car seats in the pickup zone while we loaded the car with our luggage. I don't think this would be an issue with an uber.

Backpacks are great carryons. They are really convenient when you have to carry the bag with a sleeping child, or holding their hand, ect. We prefer them to ones that roll or just go over one shoulder.

mega317
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by mega317 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:39 pm

Two of those huge convertible car seats? You're going to need a luggage cart from the car to check-in. I've never seen a car seat sealed or had anything else done by an airline employee except body slam it onto the belt. I bought something like this https://www.amazon.com/Childress-Gate-C ... travel+bag Yes checking them is free.

Get there super early. That way you will have 0 stress if you get halfway through a long security line and then the younger one has to pee Right Now. Any two of stress, little kids, and air travel is a terrible combination--don't have all three. When you have time to kill it can be fun to walk around and see the planes or go "shopping".

The rental car place is somewhat of a ride from the terminal at SAN. I'd recommend one of you go there while the other waits for the bags to save a few minutes and so you don't have to load and unload the shuttle with all that stuff.

Now that I think about it, why don't you just suck it up and pay for car seats from the rental company? It will make your life a lot easier.

Rupert
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Rupert » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:45 pm

You can gate check carseats for free. That's preferable to checking them at the check-in counter. They'll get slammed around a little less (just a little).

barnaclebob
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:45 pm

z91 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Long-term parking is around $80. A shuttle is about $55 (no waiting, no stops). No idea about taxis, but I don't like supporting them..been screwed so many times on fares and poor service.
Pay the extra $25 for parking to not have to worry about rides before and after the trip.

getthatmarshmallow
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:51 pm

You can use Lyft with carseats easily -- just order the bigger Lyft car. We checked our car seats and installed them in the Lyft driver's car with no hassle or fuss at the aiport. If you have a long way to go before you get to the airport without the car, you'll want a bag or something to carry the seats in, as they're not heavy but unwieldy.

Pack a lot of snacks. My kids (5 and 2) acted like I hadn't fed them in a week as they scarfed down everything on the plane.

Rupert
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Rupert » Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:52 pm

getthatmarshmallow wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:51 pm


Pack a lot of snacks. My kids (5 and 2) acted like I hadn't fed them in a week as they scarfed down everything on the plane.
The chewing helps equalize the pressure in their ears. My kids eat nonstop on planes too.

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dm200
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by dm200 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:12 pm

Good luck!

Our son was beyond car seats when we went on several air and car rental trips. Fortunately for us, he really LOVED to travel and was a delight on the planes and in the airports.

Ron Ronnerson
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Ron Ronnerson » Thu Aug 09, 2018 5:52 pm

We have a four-year-old and have done over a dozen flights with her. Relatives drop us off at the airport and we do curbside check-in. We drop off our suitcases and car seats at that point. We usually fly out of SFO or Oakland Airport and often there is a long walk to get to the gate. So we keep the stroller until we get to the gate and check it it in then. TSA precheck helps get through security more easily. My wife and I each have backpacks as our carry-ons so that our hands can be as free as possible.

I’ve taken BART to get to the airport while traveling alone but would strongly advise against it with kids, car seats, and all the luggage.

TallBoy29er
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:35 pm

Best thing ever for kids. Car booster seats that double as the kids backpacks, and they have storage space for snacks and other goodies. Not sold in the US, but you can get them on the internet. https://www.trunki.co.uk/collections/boostapak

TallBoy29er
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:37 pm

Also, don't forget headphones. Our kids are entranced by seat back entertainment systems. Pick up a couple of cheap over ear pairs for 10 to 15 bucks per. Totally worth it.

ddurrett896
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by ddurrett896 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:38 pm

z91 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Long-term parking is around $80. A shuttle is about $55 (no waiting, no stops).
Park at the airport.

TallBoy29er
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:51 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:38 pm
z91 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Long-term parking is around $80. A shuttle is about $55 (no waiting, no stops).
Park at the airport.
Agreed. Probably less an issue on the way out, but you'll likely not want to mess with a van ride making other stops on the way home. Kids and simplicity go hand in hand.

megabad
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by megabad » Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:57 pm

I would gate check if you have an expensive car seat. Otherwise expect it to get treated like normal luggage (ie. destroyed).

I would never dream of using a shuttle for more than a very short ride after an exhausting trip with two little ones. I would gladly pay the $80 for parking and take a free 5 minute bus ride to my car instead. My vehicle would already have the tablets ready with plenty of shows, snacks, and binkies. That said, I love my vehicle and I trust myself driving more so than I trust anyone else (at least with the little ones in our extended family).

3dream3
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by 3dream3 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:59 pm

We always use long term parking too. We have 3 kids and it actually is comforting to get in to your own car after a plane ride. We also looked in to uber, shuttles, and even limos... but it was always more than long term parking since we are kind of far from the airport. I also suggest over the ear headphones... the kids love them. Picked up cheap pairs from tjmaxx.

mw1739
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by mw1739 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:07 am

Big fan of this car seat bag: https://www.amazon.com/J-L-Childress-Ul ... dpSrc=srch

It has backpack straps instead of 1 strap, so the weight of the heavy car seat is more evenly distributed. Check it at the ticket counter so you don't have to lug it across the whole airport.

Bring lots of snacks, an iPad and some headphones. Candy doesn't hurt either for that moment when they have a meltdown.

Leemiller
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Leemiller » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:32 am

Uber has a more expensive option with car seats, in my area the drivers are also professional I think. Just as a head’s up I’ve never had a shuttle driver help me with luggage and taxi/uber drivers almost never do - so I think you need to be prepared to do everything yourself. If you get a private car service, which I’d highly recommend getting pricing for, they will definitely help and can come with installed car seats.

I’ve used a booster seat with uber before but isn’t CA a state that keeps kids in those giant captain’s chairs boosters? That seems like a huge pain to lug around two of plus a 4 & 6 year old!

mmmodem
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by mmmodem » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:10 am

We fly out of SJC and SAN often with children. These are some of the things we learned while flying.

1. You get to board first after all the VIP's so you'll get to sit together if you fly Southwest. I never really paid attention to the announcements of families boarding first until after having children so this was shocking to me.

2. You can take a stroller right up to the gate. We use it to help carry all the necessary carry on bags. Be sure to get a bag tag for the stroller at the gate before you board.

3. Check out mifold and hifold car seats. They are foldable booster seats that are very portable. We just purchased 2 mifolds so I don't know how well they will work, yet. The last time we lugged one carseat and two booster seats with us. I don't bother bagging the carseat. Some airlines put it in a bag. Others just put it on the belt. When retrieving your car seats, some annoying airports separate oddly shaped objects from the normal baggage claim area. We wasted 20 minutes waiting for our carseat once until someone told us it was at another claim area.

4. Drive to the airport and park at airport long term parking. The reason is installing car seats in airport pick up/drop off area is very stressful. The police will be rushing you every step of the way whether in an Uber or rental. I don't want to rush and install a child seat improperly. Public transportation cost for a family of 4-5 approaches long term parking costs. We stay together at all times and therefore go to the far off rental counter in SAN together. It's not ideal but when you are outnumbered as a parent, it's difficult to take care of potty breaks with just yourself at baggage claim with luggage you cannot move even if you didn't have 3 children tugging at you. Don't separate from your spouse.

5. Children don't need to remove their shoes at TSA.

6. If it's safe and they don't get in the way, most people and flight attendants don't mind if your child walks up and down the cabin aisle. Everyone will mind if your child is screaming or kick the seats in front. If your child is restless, take them out for a walk.

7. Go really early. Consider everything you know about enough time to go to the airport as an adult and triple it for a family.

Glockenspiel
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Glockenspiel » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:28 am

Leemiller wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:32 am
Just as a head’s up I’ve never had a shuttle driver help me with luggage and taxi/uber drivers almost never do - so I think you need to be prepared to do everything yourself.
Bizarre. I've never had an Uber or Taxi that has not helped with loading luggage into the vehicle.

hicabob
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by hicabob » Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:13 am

TallBoy29er wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:51 pm
ddurrett896 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 6:38 pm
z91 wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 4:01 pm
Long-term parking is around $80. A shuttle is about $55 (no waiting, no stops).
Park at the airport.
Agreed. Probably less an issue on the way out, but you'll likely not want to mess with a van ride making other stops on the way home. Kids and simplicity go hand in hand.

Or use Skypark (or similar) in San Bruno if flying from SFO. Park'n'fly from SJC. Good service, convenient and 1/2 the price.

z91
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by z91 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:28 am

I ended up taking Uber. Very nice driver, 5 stars at 7k rides and was good. Only thing is he didn't help out with the car seats (likely a liability issue), but no big deal, they were just click and go. He actually drove the same car I do, making things easy for me and familiar for the kids.

Was about $40 including tip and didn't have to worry about driving there and getting lost while parking. Will definitely do it again on the way home.

With long term parking I'm always afraid of getting my car broken into, so it's nice knowing it's safe at home.

downshiftme
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by downshiftme » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:09 pm

Sitting in one place for hours with little to do and no good way to wiggle can be very hard on kids at this age. I usually did well with lots of kid friends snacks and a few small surprises and activities that they would like. It worked best to only reveal one at a time and not to let on that there were more, or that there were several to pick from. Pencil and paper games they can play with adults, even tic tac toe, can be great. Airplane seatback entertainment systems are much better than when I last flew with young kids, so a pair of kid friendly headphones so they can watch an appropriate movie could be a big plus.

Twood
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Twood » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:21 pm

If the stroller isn't necessary for the rest of the trip, or if you know you might need to move fast in the airport, have a kid who likes to dart away, etc, consider a cloth kid carrier like a preschool sized Kinderpack. It should handle the 4 year old, or even the 6 year old (center of gravity isn't quite as much fun) in a pinch.

Texanbybirth
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by Texanbybirth » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:32 pm

Those red bags to put over your car seats are a must. No airline is going to cover your car seat for you. We use them on two car seats (1.5yo and 3yo) when we travel. One we've had for 3 years, been through dozens of trips, and it's still going strong.

We always take the stroller through the airport and gate check it. It carries snack bag, diaper bag, and carry-on bag; we check everything else. Oh, I guess it occasionally carries a kid, but they love the airport and can ru...I mean walk. Will have to reconsider when baby #3 comes this spring, but the other littles are expert travelers at this point.

Curb side check-in is your friend, park at the terminal (no shuttles!), take your own car seats (I'd NEVER trust a rental car company's car seats), GET THERE EARLY, and relax. IMO, a 4 and 6 year old should be just fine travelling; they're plenty old enough. UBER has always been super chill about traveling with our kids car seats, but I don't really trust the drivers so we try to rent cars. Yes, it's expensive and annoying. Yes, I'm over protective.

Good luck and hope y'all enjoy your vacation! :beer

audioaxes
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by audioaxes » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:42 pm

groupon always has deals on airport parking atleast in LA. I always park because I hate having to wait on others to pick me up

mega317
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by mega317 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm

audioaxes wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:42 pm
I always park because I hate having to wait on others to pick me up
You used to be able to tell people you were landing 10 minutes before you actually were. Now everyone checks the flight status on their phone.

iamlucky13
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Re: First time taking kids to airport..

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:41 pm

I have been told some ticket agents may request a copy of a birth certificate or other identification, so I have always kept one in my carry on for our children, but never been asked for one.

Note that although TSA does not require ID from minors - just a boarding pass - some of their officers are trained in "behavior detection." I found out on a past trip that includes watching for signs a child might be kidnapped. We only had one, low pressure experience with this where our 2 year old's wide-eyed fixed gaze in response to more activity than he was comfortable with was apparently noticed. The agent who approached was satisfied that he clung trustingly to mommy when a stranger (the agent) was near, didn't ask for any documentation, and explained in a friendly manner why she had stopped to talk to us.

Car seats - some airlines have plastic bags to wrap them in so straps don't get sucked into baggage handling equipment or have removable parts fall off, but I don't think it is universal. I prefer to have my own bag to help reduce the risk of damage.

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