It makes everyone nervous! Flying with an infant. I will start by saying flying with an infant will be much easier than you probably expect. The key is to stay calm, leave yourself plenty of time, and to be prepared.
Stay Calm: I truly believe that babies can sense when their parents are stressed. They don't like it! So before you embark on your journey, say out loud that this will probably not be fun, but you will roll with the punches. My husband can get irritated by small things very easily. Our first time flying w/ our new baby, as soon as he parked the car, I looked at him and said, "Know this is not going to be fun, but try to stay calm, we'll get there." Sometimes hearing it, can help the stress a little.
The first time I flew alone w/ my 2.5 month old, there were all sorts of problems. Our connecting flight was hours late, and then our gate got changed last minute, and everyone had to take a shuttle to a different terminal. I luckily had my baby in a baby carrier (I was using the Moby Wrap at the time), and the carry-ons went in the stroller, so moving was fairly simple. Another mom, I felt bad for her, was trying to push a baby in a stroller while pulling luggage too. Why someone wouldn't offer to help, is beyond me!?
Leave Plenty of Time: This sort of goes without saying, but make sure you leave yourself plenty of time getting ready to leave the house, so you can get to the airport w/ plenty of time to park the car, check in, etc.
Be Prepared: If your ready to deal with situations, it will help your baby stay happy and you less stressed. A week or so before flying figure out your baby's favorite SMALL toys. Pick a few and take them away at least a week before your flight. That way, on the plane the toys will be new and lots of fun to play with. Most babies love playing with water bottles. Just BE AWARE OF THE COVER!!!! Either take the cover away, or make sure it's on REALLY tight. Covers can be a choking hazard!!!
Pack a travel size baby cornstarch (or just put some in a baggy). We were stuck on the runway once for an hour, and they were not running the A/C. It was HOT. I calmly stripped DS down and used the cornstarch to keep him comfortable. Crisis averted!
Put your baby in a cloth diaper cover and pack an extra. You want to put it on OVER the disposable diaper. Do this especially if your baby is exclusively breastfed! You don't need to deal with a diaper that has leaked poop and gotten all over baby's clothes, or possibly worse. A diaper cover will be sure to keep it all contained. I recommend a diaper cover that has leg gussets. Thirsties brand is great. They're about $10/each. Or if you know a cloth diapering mom, ask if you can borrow one or two. Also, you can always resell them on diaperswappers.com when you're done. Changing a poopy diaper on the plane is tough, so if you are landing soon, with a diaper cover you can just wait to change it There were two times flying I was very glad I had a cover on. Along this line, pack an extra 3 or 4 onesies, and plenty of diapers.
What to do with the car seat? Carry it on with you! Even if you are not paying for an extra seat (which I never did.) If there isn't a spare seat, then you can check it at the gate. If there IS a spare seat, then GREAT...use it. When you get on the plane, ask the attendant for a pillow. That way if you have to hold your baby the whole time, you have a little something to put under your arm if you need it.
Know that babies will most likely sleep on the plane. Keep them up in the airport if you can, then once those jets start, you baby will probably sleep. Concerned about air pressure? If your baby is awake, nurse during take off and landings. My son never seemed to have a pressure issue. If your baby doesn't sleep, you have those "new" toys you pack to keep him/her happily entertained!
When I flew alone with my baby, I used the combination stroller. I put the car seat in the stroller, and put 1 carry on in the car seat, and one under the stroller. I wore my baby in my Moby Wrap, so I could have my hands completely free. But know that you may have to take your baby out going through security. One person made me take him out, but others let me keep him in. You just have to go with the punches.
Control what you can. Let go what you can't.
Happy flying! Please share any tips that you have also!