For any Canadians that follow my blog, or for those who pop in for a read but don’t necessarily follow, you know how ridiculously expensive it is to fly across The Great White North. Considering you can get across Europe for fractions of the price, it seems ridiculous to spend $500+ on plane tickets just to get us a few provinces over… IN THE SAME COUNTRY! However, my husband’s family lives on the East Coast, so we made the trip.
When booking our plane tickets out, we tried to co-ordinate with my husband’s brother as he was flying over to Nova Scotia from Alberta the same day and we were all planning on taking the two hour drive from Halifax airport to my in-laws together. His flight was landing in Nova Scotia at 7:00am I think, so we tried to get an early flight so he wouldn’t be waiting as long. The earliest we could get was a 7:40am flight out of Toronto Pearson Airport.
For those of you who don’t know, and haven’t flown in or out of Pearson, it’s a nightmare. There is a tram connecting three giant terminals. Each terminal is usually packed with people with lines that take forever to go through.
Just to set the mood for you guys, I was travelling with my newborn who was five weeks at the time. We were also travelling with our moody dog and a butt-load of luggage to last us the two weeks visit.
Babies need a lot of stuff. Bottle warmers, breast pumps, creams, receiving blankets… it all takes up a lot of space. Because of this, we couldn’t just take a regular cab to the airport, we had to take a van cab at 5:00am in the morning. Doesn’t seem too hard, right? Well, I forgot to mention that in Toronto, there aren’t as many van cabs on duty, particularly this early in the morning. Not to mention, there are a lot of drivers that refuse to take pets, even if they are in a travel kennel.
I had called our cab company the day before to ask if I needed to book a van cab in advance. The cab company said no, just call when you need the cab despite me telling them my need for a van and a pet-friendly driver.
This, of course did not work out for us on the day. We had to call three other companies before getting our van cab which put us forty-five minutes behind schedule.
Arriving at the airport, we had two large suitcases that needed to be checked. WestJet used to give each passenger one free bag to check, but they recently changed it and now it is a $30 charge per bag. Then we each had a carry on. I had a small suitcase that had all the necessities I couldn’t go without for our daughter during the trip, my husband had a back pack and we also had the diaper bag. Not to mention my daughter in her travel system, and Toby in his kennel.
Checking in took a bit of time as Toby, the two pieces of the travel system, and the two checked bags needed their own tags. The woman checking us in was nice, but very slow and didn’t show any reason to hurry despite the growing line behind us. Normally I wouldn’t care about something like this because we got to the airport with what we thought was enough time to go through all the motions, however we were wrong.
After being checked in, we should have hurried right over to the oversized baggage section and put Toby in so they could load him onto the plane. However she didn’t tell us this and told us to proceed to check out regular luggage and then move on to oversize.
With all the lines, we ended up missing out flight!
It was early, I was a little stressed and it didn’t take long for my frustration to kick in. We were bumped from our flight because they refused to check Toby in. It was past their pet check in time. Which, now, I completely get, but having been at the airport for as long as we were, going through all the lines, and waiting for that woman to check us in at a painfully slow pace, I was internally fuming.
All of those annoyances aside, I think it’s important to note that even though we did have to pay for our checked bags, WestJet will gate-check two pieces of infant equipment for free. Which was great because that meant I could use my stroller all through the airport until I got to the doors of the plane and then I could hand it off. The flight attendants are very helpful when you are travelling with an infant.
Our Sunshine was great on the flight. She slept the whole way there, breastfeeding on the way up to ease any discomfort caused by cabin pressure changes.
She didn’t sleep the whole way back, but was still better than I would have expected.
What I will say is that flying with a baby at the newborn stage is the best time to do it. Feeding them always quiets them, you can scoop them up and bring them wherever you want without much fuss or debate, and they sleep a lot. I imagine travelling with a toddler is a different ballgame.
Travelling with a toddler may require a little less equipment, especially if they can walk and you can go without the stroller all together, but honestly, the stroller is a big help moving through the airport, and since they check it for free at the gate, I would bring one along even with a toddler.
All in all, it was not as difficult as I imagined it would be and if I could afford it, I would travel as much as I could with her at this age.