We took our first family vacation with the twins before their first birthday. While we survived, flying with twins wasn’t an easy feat.
The Cheapest Way to Fly with Infant or Toddler Twins
The extra cost of flying with twins is a major factor when planning your vacation.
The cheapest way to fly with toddler twins is to fly before they turn two years old.
Most airlines let kids under two fly free if they sit on an adult’s lap during the flight. But remember: the safest way to fly is with everyone buckled in his or her own seat.
Flying with your twins as “lap children” is your best bet to saving money when traveling with them.
You’ll need to have one adult for each lap child on the plane.
Challenges of Flying with Twins
However, this is probably the time when they are easiest to carry as “lap children”: they don’t move much, are happy to cuddle on your lap, and can’t climb or run away.
With toddlers, they may be cheaper to fly free but they take more work. If you’ve got twinadoes at home, just imagine how twins will be on the plane and plan accordingly.
We planned a family vacation in the month before our girls turned two years old. While it was cheaper on our pocketbook, it definitely wore my wife and me out. Our biggest challenge was keeping the girls still and on our laps during takeoff, landing, and other “keep your seatbelt on” moments.
(RELATED: Don't reinvent the twin parenting wheel. Get my 7 Things Every Dad of Twins Needs to Know.)
In fact, on a family trip that we had made six months earlier, I promised myself that I would rather pay for them to have their own seats on the next trip than travel with them as lap children. However, when it came down to the price we opted for the cheaper (free) fare and simply dealt with the mayhem in flight.
You should have a good idea of your twins’ behavior in confined spaces (like long road trips or stuck in a shopping cart at the grocery store) and can weigh their expected behavior with the price of the extra tickets.
Here are some tips for surviving an airplane flight with twins in tow:
Seating Arrangements When Flying With Twins
When you look at the flying with twins and getting seats on an airplane, there are a couple of scenarios that you can have.
- Have an adult and a twin on each side of the aisle. This assumes the airplane has at least two seats on each side of the aisle, which is often the case for domestic flights.
- Have three people on one side of the aisle, and then, another parent on the other side of the aisle. So, maybe you have mom and the twins on one side, and dad on the other side of the aisle. This only works if everyone has their own ticket and no car seats are involved.
- Sit in two rows of seats, one behind the other. You’d have a parent and a twin on one row, and then, the row right behind them, you have another parent and a twin.
Personally, I would recommend one twin on each side of the aisle. And if your twin is not in a car seat, have the twin sit in the middle seat and you, as the parent, on the aisle so you can reach across the aisle and talk to your spouse or pass baby supplies back and forth.
Flying with Twins & Car Seats
If your twins are in car seats, they both need to be in a window seat. This is because you can’t have the car seats blocking the exit in case of emergencies.
When we traveled with our toddler girls, we loved to have them in their car seats. It was a huge hassle to carry the car seats through the terminal, get it on a plane, and install them with the seat belt. However, it was a huge help because it kept the girls in their seats!
You know that the seat belts on an airplane are very easy to open, especially for kids, they just flip the little latch and they’re out. Your kids want to move around, jump around, and run around on the airplane. Having them buckled into their car seats was a huge help to keep them staying put, especially when the seat belt sign is on and the captain has asked that you stay seated.
(RELATED: Still expecting twins? Will you be having two boys, two girls, or boy/girl twins? Answer these quick questions to see what several old wives’ tales claim you’ll be having….)
Before Your Flight with Twins
- Flying earlier in the day means that everyone is fresher and it’s more likely they’re at their best than later in the day. The downside to this is that flights are more likely to be full earlier in the day. Something to consider based on the needs of your family: full flight and better behaved, or extra space and worn-out kiddos?
- For planning purposes, it’s good to know that you can only have one lap child per row on the plane. This is because there is only one extra oxygen mask for any row of seats.
- If you’ll be flying your twins as free lap children, you probably won’t be sitting all together, side by side. Plan to be across the row from each other. This way you can pass supplies or even babies back and forth with your spouse across the aisle with more ease than over a seat.
- Pack a bag for each baby that goes with the parent or adult that is holding that twin. This is especially helpful if your twins are mobile. You’ll have your hands full corralling an active lap child and will need to have your snacks, toys, and books at your fingertips.
- Get a direct flight to your destination. Anyone traveling with kids will tell you it’s easier to get on a plane and get off a plane one time than it is to change or connect with other flights. Basically, you want to reduce the amount of time you are on the plane with your kids. It will even be worth the extra money if you can avoid changing planes en route.
At the Airport
- Check all the luggage you can. Especially if you have other kids, you won’t have any free hands for extra luggage to carry on. Take your kids, supplies for them, and a lot of patience. Check everything else.
- You can check your car seats. Many airlines have large plastic bags that you can put your seats in to protect them from dirt and damage during transit.
- Take your double stroller and check it at the gate right before you get on the plane. You don’t want to have to carry your twins and carry-on bags through the airport terminals. Let the stroller carry the baby burden and you can even sling some bags on the back of it.
On the Plane
- Read the labels of the airplane snacks before you give them to your babies. You don’t want to be introducing new foods or risk allergic reactions when confined on a plane.
- Your twins will want to play with the peanut snacks because of the texture and sound of the packaging. While this will provide a needed diversion for at least ten minutes, if your twins have teeth, realize that it is possible for them to chew a hole in the packaging and make a really big mess (my wife learned this the hard way).
- Have a sequence of toys and activities you can pull out over time during the flight to entertain your twins. Attention spans are short so plan accordingly.
- Make sure your twins have something to eat, drink, or suck on during takeoff and landing. This will help alleviate any pressure in their ears and will prevent extended pain-induced crying fits.
- You can always switch parent-twin combinations. For example, each time you change planes or on the return trip. That said, always assume that the other parent is going to be out of reach or have their hands full. Each parent needs to be self-sufficient with a backpack full of supplies to take care of that twin by him or herself.
If you have other kids and have traveled with them before, you probably know a lot of these tips already. However, with twins you’ve got twice as many things to worry about.
The bonus of twins is that they are such an anomaly that people in the airport, on the plane, and during your trip will not only stop and comment, “Oh! Twins!” but will be more likely to help you when they see your hands are full.
Take advantage of those that offer to help because once your kids are bigger, help won’t be quite as easy to come by.
I talk more about the joys (and logistics) of traveling with twins in Chapter 13 of my book, the Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins.
Photo by Ankur P.