We flew from Midway to Sea/Tac. When picking flights we knew we wanted non-stop flights both ways. We could have flown out of Fort Wayne, but we would have had layovers each way, and one of our flights would have been a red eye. We opted for the three hour drive to the airport instead of the overnight flight. Both of our flights left early in the afternoon which fell right during nap time. The kids thankfully took a cat nap on the drive to airport both ways, because there was definitely almost no sleep on the planes. It's amazing what a difference a 20 minute nap can do.
Getting through security at Midway was easy. They have a wheelchair and stroller lane, so we didn't have to feel rushed because the people behind us had kids too. Sea/Tac did away with their family lane a couple years ago, so getting through security there was not quite as easy, but we still did it without too much of a struggle. If possible make sure to print your boarding passes ahead of time. We were able to print them ahead for our flight to Seattle, but not for the return trip. we definitely save 20-30 minutes of standing in line by having boarding passes pre-printed.
We flew Southwest, which means we got to pick out seats. We didn't do priority boarding, because Southwest lets families with small children load after A group. We didn't have any troubles getting seats together on either flight. Instead of taking up seats on both sides of the aisle, we picked window seats in front/behind each other. It worked really well to be able to pass things back and forth if needed.
In my carry on I packed their blankets and a back of snacks for each. I went pretty heavy on the snacks, but I am someone who would rather be over prepared. They each had 3 pouches, two Happy Tot granola bars, 2 Mighty 4 Kids bars, 2 Cliff Twists, and a bag of goldfish. The pouches were great during take off to help with the pressure. We also made sure to bring empty sippy cups, and we filled those as soon as we made it through security.
So much stuff!
After debating for weeks on how to handle the car seat and stroller issue, we decided to take our Britax B-Agile Double and gate check it. Our stroller is easily collapsible, and we didn't have any issues bring a larger side by side. I can't imagine not having it with us. With as much walking and hills as we had on our trip, an umbrella stroller wouldn't have worked well. We bought stroller hooks for the stroller and they were a huge help. I was able to hang my carry on and purse on there, and they were also helpful when getting groceries in the city.
We also decided to bring our Diono Radians, and not check them. The kids sat in their car seats on the plane, which I think helped make them more comfortable and not as interested in moving around. These were the one thing we knew we absolutely had to have, and we didn't want them to get damaged. We bought a folding luggage cart to lug them through the airport. Yes they were a pain in the ass, but I would do it the same way again. I think it's also worth mentioning that we forward faced them while in Seattle due to size constraints, and then switched back to rear facing once we got home. They had absolutely no issue switching back and forth.
The kids didn't sleep at all on the way there, and only slept for a short amount of time on the way home. Even with the lack of sleep, they did really well on the 4 hour flights. The only times they had any issues was during the descent. Harry was so upset he wouldn't listen when we told him to take a drink or have a sip of his pouch. Brooke did take drinks when we asked her too, and that helped a lot with the pressure.
One thing we brought along that I wish we wouldn't have brought the Pack and Plays. They are so large and bulky, and there's no good way to carry them. Thankfully we won't need them the next time we fly. If I had to do it over again, I would spend the money and rent pack and plays for a week instead of bringing them with. There are rental services in almost every large city.
By the end of the trip, our Kindles were a saving grace.
I think the biggest thing we will do differently is the duration of our trip. We were originally going to go for 7 days and then changed to 11 days. It was too much for the kids. By the last few days, they were a mess. Too many days with not enough sleep had worn on them. I think a week would have been perfect. I also think next time we travel they will have their own space. We all shared a room which was ok, but I think they would have slept better if they had their own space. I foresee a hotel suite with doors when we head to Denver next summer.
The view from our bed to theirs. Definitely right on top of each other.
While we were in the city we took the bus quite a bit. There are a lot of really great smart phone apps that can help you master public transit schedules. We used One Bus Away and MoovIt. It was definitely easier, and cheaper, than driving and paying for parking. We didn't rent a car, and we definitely didn't need one. We did take a limo to and from the airport. It cost us about the same as a cab, and we had help loading/unloading. We even had driveway pick up. I definitely recommend looking into a town car/limo service for getting to and from the airport.
Overall I feel like our trip couldn't have gone much better. Traveling with kids is no joke, and it requires so much planning. I hope what we learned can help others with planning trips with littles. I think we can successfully tackle another trip with H and B, and I'm glad we don't have to for another 10 months.