Maddie’s First Flight

My husband and I traveled a ton before Maddie was born. We have stuck relatively close to home since our angel came along out of fear, complication, and the unknown. We decided after I beat cancer, that life was too short to live it in fear, and we wanted to travel the world! Our first destination would be St Thomas during summer break. This would be Maddie’s first time on a plane as well as her first time a plane ride away from a hospital with a neurosurgery department. Talk about overcoming one’s fears! With some research and pre-planning, the plane ride was something we all enjoyed and much smoother than we had imagined it could be! I would love to share some tips we learned during our first experience with flight!

  • Call ahead and talk to both TSA as well as the airline. They will want the measurements of your child’s wheels and you can get all of your questions answered! We asked about medications and options for where to keep her wheels and medical equipment.
  • Schedule a TSA liaison to meet you at the front door! This helped us a ton since we were very unfamiliar with the airport and procedures. He walked us through security, helped us with bags, and moved us through the check points much faster than we would have on our own. He got us all the way to our train for our gate.
  • We asked to gate check Maddie’s wheels. This way we could use them up until we got into the plane and they were waiting on us outside of the door the moment we got off.
  • Pack all of your child’s medicine in a clear bag in your carry on. If you have it all out in the open it will go through security much faster. It is important to have all medications and cathing supplies you need in your carry on in case of lost luggage!
  • We found out we could take all of Maddie’s medical supplies in a separate bag with no cost for that checked luggage as well as no weight limit. We included all of her toiletry items, potty seat, and extra cath supplies so they wouldn’t count towards the weight of our other bags.
  • We flew Delta® and opted for the comfort plus seating. It costs more, but provides significantly more leg room which made it much easier for us to use Maddie’s car seat on the plane.
  • Stop by an information desk to find out where the nearest family restroom is in the airport! We had to go to a different terminal to get to one, but it provided the most privacy for cathing before and after our flight.
  • We chose a non-stop flight both for ease as well as ideal cathing. Our flight was 3 and ½ hours so we planned that day’s cathing schedule immediately before boarding and shortly after we landed to avoid having to cath on the plane. We were also selective with flight times to make sure they worked best for our typical cath schedule.
  • You can request an aisle chair if your child is too heavy to tote to the seat. You also get to pre- board before everyone else so you can get seated more easily. The pre-boarding however only gave us a few minutes worth of a head start so be prepared to hustle!
  • We requested a lift to help us get off the plane at the small airport we landed at since they did not have a tunnel. It was a fun experience and we didn’t have to try and tote Maddie down the steep stairs.
  • Give yourself a good 3 hours before your flight leaves to get to the airport, get through security and be ready to board. Even at the smaller airport on the island, the process takes awhile!

I hope these tips can be helpful when planning your child’s first flight! Now that we have this one under our belt, we already have our next on the calendar! As long as you are prepared, it is nothing to shy away from out of fear! Happy travels!


In order to keep you informed of new stories from Amanda and Maddie, please click on the link below to 'Join Our Community'. All we need is your name and email address.