Flying With Baby

So, we flew with little Lain across the country. We… had no idea how it would go. Last week, she spent almost every living moment either sleeping, eating, or crying. That did not bode well for our flight. Fortunately, the likelihood that Megan McArdle would be on a flight from Mormonland to Dixie. So, if she cried, we would do everything we could to keep her quiet, and we would apologetically at everyone else, but we were not going to deprive our parents a chance to meet their newborn grandchild.

Several things fell into our favor. First, we got a non-stop flight. Now, we had to drive six hours to the airport (instead of two to the airport in Summit). We got three seats together (though I was across an aisle). We had to pay for extra legroom to get the seats together, but even that was cheap and oh what a briar patch that was.

We drove down to Deseret the day before. Lain got very fussy when we crossed the Continental Divide or any major high pass. This bode ill for the flight, if she has an aversion to changes in air pressure. The drive, of course, took longer than expected as Lain declined to synchronize her restroom breaks with our stops for tank refills.

The flight went marvelously. She slept nearly the entire time. There were no explosions. Plus, there were no McMegan’s around. The airport in Deseret’s capital is – no surprise – exceedingly family friendly. They walked us through everything we had to do. They did not require the breastmilk to go through the scanner! (Not that we would have cared.) (They even let me take my way-more-than-3oz of contact solution through, after running some sort of test on it.)

The biggest hassle of the whole affair was the luggage. Three suitcases, three carry-ons, plus a baby carrier. I dropped her off at the terminal and then drove to find a parking spot and joined her later.

Next time, I think we FedEx our checked luggage.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. The biggest hassle of the whole affair was the luggage.

    When our children were infants, every trip out of the house tended to look like we were packed for a week-long expedition far from any sort of civilization. Congratulations on pulling things off.

  2. Driving six hours to an airport? Driving two hours to an airport? Where do you live… The moon?

    • Fly over country.

      But I do gotta say, Fed Exing checked luggage… now why didn’t I think of that.

    • Will lives in a reasonably-sized and geographically logically-drawn state called Arapaho, reverently named after the first peoples to inhabit the area.

      • Good lord! I can get to Newark in an hour and THAT seem arduous (it is also accessible via commuter rail but that takes longer). There are two closer regional airports (25 minutes and 40 minutes) plus LGA and JFK are doable depending on the time of day.

        6 hours?!?! I could be 5 states away in 6 hours! I could probably reach 2 dozen airports in 6 hours!

        • 6 hours?!?! I could be 5 states away in 6 hours!

          With tongue in cheek, you call those states? Why, some of them are barely big enough to be counties! To recall a painful drive from my younger days: Austin, TX to San Jose, CA, 1700+ miles, all in four states (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California). And that skipped considerable portions of both Texas and California.

          More seriously, until you’ve lived in the interior Mountain West, or out in the middle of the Great Plains, well away from the few metropolitan areas, you have no idea just how big (and empty) the West can be. And in the mountainous parts, well, driving can get complicated. Points A and B may be 50 miles apart as the crow flies, but it’s a twisty 100-mile drive with 5,000 feet of elevation change because you have to get around the two mountains that sit between those points. There are reasons why the Oregon and California pioneer trails, the major federal highways, and the major railroad lines all follow essentially the same paths from Cheyenne, at the western edge of the Great Plains, to the West Coast.

          • Heh… it’s all so relative…

            The first time I did a cross-country flight during day light hours (Newark to San Diego), I remember going across Western PA and thinking, “Holy crap! This is the middle of nowhere!” Then we hit the midwest and thinking, “That wasn’t the middle of nowhere… THIS is the middle of nowhere!” Then we hit the southwest and thinking, “WHAT THE F?!?! THIS is the middle of nowhere!”

            On the way home, we flew over a mountain range and I thought, “Damn, the Rockies are big!” Turns out it was some range in California. Then we hit the Rockies and I thought, “WHAT THE F?!?! THOSE OTHER THINGS WERE BARELY HILLS COMPARED TO THESE!”

            Same thing with the Grand Canyon…

            The difference in the sense of scale between the northeast and the west coast is massive. High Point, NJ is (if memory serves) approximately 1800 feet high. The chain of the Appalachians that I live in has a few peaks considerably higher, but we lament a 3 mile as-the-crow-flies drive being turned into an 8 mile drive with 500 feet of elevation change… nothing like what you’ve described.

            Of course, the benefit of living in one of these “counties” is that I don’t have to drive 6 hours to get to a decent airport.

  3. Of course, the benefit of living in one of these “counties” is that I don’t have to drive 6 hours to get to a decent airport.

    Weighted by population, Will’s situation is actually quite rare in the West. Using the US Census Bureau’s definitions, a greater percentage of the West’s population is “non-rural” than the national average. Most westerners live in real cities, something that’s been true almost forever, despite the cultural images that have been adopted. It’s just that there are only a few population centers and you can get a long way from all of them. I’ve grown very fond of my compromise. In an hour, I can drive to someplace where I can see the Milky Way at night. And in 2016, I’ll live two miles from a shiny new light rail station that will get me to a world-class airport in under an hour, quicker and cheaper (once parking is accounted for) than I can drive to it. Unfortunately, more than a million people have moved here since I did 24+ years ago, and the forecasts are for another million over the next 20 years.

    • Don’t get me wrong… I fully get the allure of the mountain west. There is a part of me that would love to move to one of those urban centers in retirement (if not earlier). But I would want to be within an urban center. Rural doesn’t cut it for me and most definitions of suburb don’t either (based on where I grew up, a place like Bethesda or Silver Spring, MD would be called a suburb, even though these would be considered fairly urban by most of the country). But that is just how I was raised and what I prefer. I don’t mean to besmirch the mountain west or anywhere else in the country. Because we have fairly opposite preferences, I like to rib Will from time to time, which is as much should be read into my comment. It does sometimes boggle my mind only because that is so foreign to me, but so does the idea of driving 8 hours from LA to SF for a weekend, something I’ve learned isn’t that uncommon with Californians. I am barely willing to drive 4 hours to DC for a weekend. But it’s just a different mentality driven by a different set of circumstances… neither better nor worse.

      To go along with your tidbit about the urbanness of the mountain west, apparently Colorado is actually the most “urban” state in the union. Of course, by my standards, a lot of what they (and elsewhere) calls urban would seem suburban to me.

      • And I understand the attractions of urban living. I will be very happy in three years when light rail puts downtown Denver within a short bicycle trip and 18-minute train ride for me.

        That said, the BosWash urban corridor terrifies me, although not for the same reasons most people have. I spent 25 years doing technology forecasting for giant corporations — what are the important long-term trends, where are they going to take us, that sort of thing. Now that I’m mostly retired, I do the same for my own entertainment regarding energy and infrastructure. BosWash is 50M-plus people, forecast to reach 60M soon, in an area half the size of California. And it is completely dependent on an far-flung and increasingly-rickety supply network for too many critical things. Oil and gas from the Gulf Coast and Midwest. Electricity from Quebec and other outside suppliers (Commonwealth Edison in Chicago joined the PJM exchange so it could sell the nighttime surplus from its nuclear plants into BosWash). Incredibly complex rail and road networks to deliver food, take away the garbage, etc. And the people in charge are sounding more and more insane — the governor of NY talks about shutting down 25% NYC’s electricity generation over a period of only three years, and when asked about alternative supplies, says what is basically “and then a miracle will occur.” Allowing regional oil refineries to shut down, so they have to buy finished petroleum products from distant sources. The region is enormously dependent on coal and nuclear for electricity, but has no sane plan to either maintain or replace that dependence. I estimate that in about 20 years, it will be clear that the wheels are coming off.

        At the same time, the region has outsized monetary wealth and political power. I am terrified of what that region will try to do with those powers once it is clear that things are going downhill rapidly. I know that I’m out on the lunatic fringe here (but it’s where I think the data are taking me). With BosWash in the lead, the eastern US is going to discover that they need western energy resources to keep the lights on and the food deliveries on schedule and the garbage trucks running. I anticipate a breaking point (more than 20 years out but less than 50) when the East declares that all those federal land holdings in the West, that had to be preserved from exploitation by westerners, are going to have their energy resources developed and shipped east. And fish the environmental concerns, because after all, it’s not eastern backyards that are going to be torn up.

        Now that I’m mostly retired, I’ve about decided that my hobby will be to create a western secession movement, on the theory that an independent West will be better off at that future point than it would be as part of an eastern-dominated union. I said I was out on the lunatic fringe, didn’t I?

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