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First-Time Flight Experience

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First-Time Flight Experience

We are a road trip-type family having driven for all our vacations in the past. For this year’s family vacation, we decided on a trip to the Northwest Pacific coast. Unfortunately, this was further than we had the time to drive roundtrip with stops and sleeps and still get a vacation once we got there, so flying became our best option. Being a family who generally jumps in the car for a trip, this meant it would be both my husband’s and 6-year-old son’s first flights as well as the first flight I’d taken since 1996 when I was a child myself. Inexperienced but eager we journeyed forward, enjoyed the flight, and made some once-in-a-lifetime memories.

The first-time experience

Excitement was high as flight day approached. We did our research on the dos and don’ts of packing and bought new luggage and travel containers that fit within airline guidelines. Navigating the airport and security to leave Des Moines was quite easy and streamlined leaving us with ample time in the gate lobby. For our first family flight, we elected to fly non-stop with Allegiant Airlines and the total flight time was just over three hours for a relatively short trip time. For a first-flight experience, a non-stop flight was ideal, so we didn’t have to manage transfers and connections. We enjoyed the whole flight experience from the exhilaration of takeoff and the beauty of the skies and clouds to the pleasure of landing safely. The flight crew was gracious, and my son was much more interested in the in-flight service menu than the snacks we brought along. Flying home and departing from Portland International Airport was a similar experience on a larger scale. 

Things we learned along the way as first-time flyers

  • Kiddos aren’t required to remove their shoes for security. This was minor, but helpful as we made our way through.
  • It might seem a silly thing, but on the flight out we mistakenly assumed that since liquids over a limited number of ounces aren’t allowed that beverages wouldn’t be allowed to be brought onto the plane. We ended up spending more on in-flight beverages than we likely needed to but corrected that on the flight back and bought our beverages before we boarded.
  • Child safety devices, such as car seats and booster seats, are free to bring along and check on the plane with either checked luggage or at the gate. My son is in the between age and size where he no longer needs a car seat, yet requires a booster seat, so we were glad to save a few bucks by checking this for free.

The best part of the first-time flyer experience

Following a tip from a friend, my son and I got an opportunity to check out the cockpit of the plane, which was unquestionably the most memorable part of the experience. Upon boarding, I explained to the flight attendant that it was my son’s first trip and asked if it would be possible for him to see the cockpit or if that was even something they would be willing to do. The attendant said she would speak with the captain and that it may be possible during deplaning. I’ll be honest, I certainly had my doubts that we’d be allowed inside but was pleasantly surprised when that same lovely flight attendant called us aside during deplaning. Not only was my son allowed to peek inside, but he and I were both permitted to go inside the cockpit and sit down. For other young first-time flyers who are interested, I’d highly recommend parents ask about this opportunity!

travel, family travel, first time flying, plane travel, plane travel with kids

The experience of being novice travelers was certainly memorable and as a family we enjoyed it. We’ll still road-trip when we can but having experienced the ease and convenience of flying first-hand, we will absolutely be flying again when the need arises!

Michelle Jarnagin

Michelle Jarnagin

My name is Michelle Jarnagin and I live with my husband Dave and our son Devic in Des Moines. We have two Chihuahuas - Loki and Ollie. I work full time as a social worker and Dave is the stay-at-home parent in our household. Devic is currently in Kinderschool and will be entering Kindergarten this fall. In our free time, our family enjoys walking with the dogs, exploring parks and playgrounds, and visiting bowling/arcade centers. This summer you're likely to find us at the baseball fields for Devic's first season, camping, or enjoying one of the many festivals/activities Des Moines has to offer.

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