We flew ALL carryon. If I had to do it again, I would still fly ALL carryon, but I would re-evaluate what I was taking with me and how I was carrying it. We had:
1. The stroller, which I think I could have done with out (I HATE strollers, so it could just be my bias)
2. A giant 2200 cubic inch backpack which housed toys for the plane ride and my pump
3. My messenger bag which had the Baby B'air (LOVED IT!) and the diaper wallet along with my phone, wallet, camera and GPS
4. Giant duffel bag which had all clothes, shoes and toiletries.
Flying from DFW to NY was not bad. We woke up early and drove to the airport while Em would have been asleep. After I declared both, security @ DFW wanted my pump and EBM out, and the security guard held Em while I worked on unpacking and repacking the bags. They didn't even ask about my liquids, because they saw that I was just a mom traveling with her baby with no help.
At the gate, I let Em cruise around and a group of high school girls were apparently riding with us to NY for a choir competition. They not only kept her entertained, but watched my bags while I went to change her as she had pooped 10 minutes before boarding. By letting her get her energy out, she fell asleep before we even took off and slept for 2 of the 3 hours on the plane.
The last hour, I fed her cheerios one by one, and attempted to entertain her with a toy. It was thrown to the floor three times, and I realized the "wisdom" of bringing her a toy for every half hour was the stupidest thing ever. At least for her.
She started crying before the descent was announced, and I popped in the paci. Worked like a charm.
Being around 3 year olds for a week improved Em's walking (and trotting!) skills considerably, so I worried about my gameplan for the trip back. At NY's La Guardia, I did NOT have to take my pump and milk out even after I declared it, nor did I have to take out my liquids. Again, I think it was seeing me struggling with all the stuff that I had (it wasn't bad, but it sure looked it!) kept the security guards from going crazy with the screening.
I got to the gates, and saw that another flight to DFW was taking off in a few minutes, so I asked about any extra seats. Not only were there seats, but we got a whole row to ourselves.
Thank goodness that we did. Because we didn't get a chance to burn off energy at the gate waiting, the novelty of being on the plane wore off in about 30 minutes. The takeoff was fine. The snack was fine. And then she started crying for about an hour. I can't even imagine trying to deal with her with somebody next to me. Nothing worked - paci, toys, food.
She'd been fed EBM before we left for the airport, but I went ahead and gave her the bottle that I was saving for the landing. Even with that, she kept popping off to cry. I finally gave her a dose of tylenol, and rubbed her gums with a good helping of baby orajel, and after a while she finally fell asleep for the rest of the flight. She was so out that I was able to lay her down on the seats while I gathered all of our stuff.
SO to recap:
1. Let them burn off energy for the flight.
2. Keep food, and drugs on hand just in case.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help from anyone around you.