Ready for Takeoff

Last updated: July 2022

Our family is taking a trip in a couple weeks to visit family. This is an especially meaningful trip for us as it is the first time to travel home in more than two years. It will also be the first time for a lot of our family to meet our baby, Ruby.

Prior to the pandemic, we traveled a lot. Margo’s first flight was when she was three months old, and her last flight to date was when she was 2.5. When we learned about her CF diagnosis, one of our first questions to the doctor was whether she would be able to travel and fly in an airplane. He reassured she would be and encouraged us to do so. As such, we travelled with Margo a lot, flying to Nashville, San Francisco, Savannah, Oklahoma, and Florida.

Airplane routine and tips

We had a very specific airplane sanitization and cleaning routine that at the time probably made us look a little neurotic. We carried packs of cleaning wipes we prefer because they specifically kill pseudomonas. We would hold Margo in one of our laps and one of us would wipe down every inch of her area: her seat, back of seat, in and out of the tray, the air vents and ceiling above the seats, seatbelt, armrests. We would put her in the middle seat and buckle her in and do the same to both of our seats, as well as the window and wall.

Other tips for CF families:

  • Check whether you can board early for medical families. This will give you time to be seated and sanitize your seats and areas.
  • Dab some Vaseline in your and your kid's nostrils. The recirculated air can be incredibly drying and this helps create a moisture barrier.
  • For little ones, if you have enough room and they are content to sit still during it, use the flight time to get a manual PT session in. We’ve done this for early morning flights and evening flights. We’ve also done it in the waiting area before boarding. Manual PT is particularly easy since we just need the small rubber percusser, but plugging in your vest and nebulizer before the flight is an option as well.
  • While we had the option to hold Margo in our lap on every flight before she turned two, for a 6-hour flight to San Francisco when she was about 22 months, we opted to buy her a seat and purchase this air harness. I cannot recommend it enough- it keeps her contained in her seat but is more comfortable and secure than the seatbelt. It comes with a carrying bag and is easy to clean and sanitize after the flight.
  • We usually buy cheap window clings for Margo to put on the window and toss them after the flight. It makes for easy entertainment and even easier clean-up!
  • We always give Margo fruit snacks or gummy bears during take-off. The chewing helps prevent ear popping. When she was a baby, I would either nurse her or give her a bottle, and she’s suck on her pacifier all during the flight.

Smooth summer flights

This trip will be a little different for us all. Margo is older now and understands why we need to take time to clean the seats and the area around us. She will be happy to get to use her tablet to watch movies and play games, and we will let her eat all the snacks she wants on the plane to occupy her. She knows to wear her mask throughout the flight.

This was actually a practice we tried to implement on previous flights but because of her age and not being used to it at the time, she would only wear it for a few minutes before taking it off.  And of course, this time we have a new member of our family who will require much more attention. Fingers crossed we will have a smooth flight. Best wishes to all those traveling this summer!

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