First time flying with the pair of toddlers? Let’s go for the most challenging trip — Boston to Hawaii, 6156 air miles, 18 hours, Hawaii to Boston, 5167 air miles, 11 hours back. We made it, and it was a good trip. Reason for the long flight down is that we managed to use all those frequent flyer miles that I saved up and upgraded us to first class, in exchange for a longer route down, BOS-MIA, MIA-LAX, LAX-HNL. It was worth it. We have three seats. The almost three years old gets two pillows on either side of him, made a little bed, and slept for most of the trip. Mommy held the 1+ toddler on her on a aisle seat behind us.
I did not want to bring car seats for two kids. We ended up using a local car company instead of taxi. They provide car seats for a very small extra charge, just a few dollars. They asked several times during reservation to make sure they are providing the right type of seat — forward facing normal car seats, not boaster seats etc. One surprised is that the seats were the old fashion non LATCH type. Since our cars have the LATCH system, I did not know how to use the seat belt to tie down the car seats. The driver told me that I am suppose to “install the car seat myself”, probably due to insurance issue. Of course, he helped me anyway.
The alternative for us would have been to drive our car with car seats to Logan and park at the central parking. The car service both ways works out to be just very slightly cheaper than parking the car at Central parking for a week. But the hazzle factor is lower with the car service, since they drop off and pick up right at the terminal.
We took our double stroller with us. The took the stroller thru the gate between the metal detector. They did not really look at the stroller too much.They however made us took the kids shoes off. They let our two bottles of milk thru without any questions. Low security alert I have to say.
The mountain buggy
We handed the stroller to the gate agent before the jet way before we board the plane, and picked up the stroller at the jet way outside the plane door on arrival. I was glad that we had the stroller. Running from one end of MIA to the other without it would be a pain. We did not have a bag for it. For those who has a buggy, you know that the only thing that holds the buggy folded is that snap on the hand strap. I brought a piece of shoelace and used that to augment the hand strap tie down.
The stroller suffer no damaged after five flight segment, although at the last leg, arriving at Boston, it got pretty dirty for some reason. Boston was the faster in getting the stroller back to us at the jet way. The other segments it came mostly after the plane is almost emptied.
The CARES Child Aviation Restraint System
This sounded like a great system. We did not want to carry a car seat with us. Does it work? Not quite. The strap the ties around the seat back does not open completely, which is probably a good design. However even at the maximum opening, it is too short for the first class seat on the 757. I could barely hook it onto the top of the seat back. As a result, it does not fit the toddler very well. I ended up just hooking up one side of the shoulder strap onto the regular seat belt. The concept seems good though, and I bet it would work well for narrower seats.
In Flight Entertainment
I brought a small travel magna doodle, a book, and several brain quest card decks with me (recommended by [GM]). The only thing that ended up used is the magna doodle, because they always loved the toy. Otherwise little G just watched the horribly tiny overhead video screen without sound on the 757. I did have my Treo smartphone with me and I can play a few kids movie on it, but I did not have to use that during the flights. I did have to use it during car trips once we got there.
With two kids, it is really not practical to bring two car seats with us. We rented a minivan from Hertz. They supply car seats for something like $5 a day. I think even if we rented it for longer period of time it is wtill the same charge. We also opted for their GPS option, which was really useful since I do not know HNL at all. It was very useful in getting to restaurants etc to meet friends and family. They don’t have to give detail directions.
One thing about the rental car, when we got there they had the reservation messed up. Strange for Hertz. They were very friendly, and “upgraded” us to their bigest SUV. In fact, a brand new one. However, while the car is bigger, the height was a pain. Getting in and out, putting the stroller in and out etc were very difficult. We also had problem parking the thing in small parking lots. Not recommended.