Flying Norwegian Airlines with kids

It's time to make an updated review of Norwegian Airlines. In the winter time I was having a difficult time booking Markus a seat without all the extras - and it did cause me a little bit of a headache that Norwegian didn't have a better system in place. Well, that's water under the bridge now.
This last trip to Denmark was also with Norwegian and I must say I'm very happy with them. (Following is a lengthy and several slightly boring paragraphs about the trip. You can skip to the bottom for the recap! ;))


It made me feel so good leading up to the day of departure that I would have that seat for him!

On the day of departure, I got my "get-up" to the airport. I had bought a 'Traveling with Toddler' thing-y that strapped his car seat to my carry-on and it really was a breeze taking him through airport like that. I'll write about that another time.

Upon checking in, I could not use the check-in monitors as it appeared that I was traveling with two children named Markus. Though I had gotten a refund for the infant part of my own ticket, they had not removed it from the ticket. So, upon scanning our passports - well, let's just say we're ONLY two but the system insisted that we were three traveling. 
I thought I had been smart only traveling with carry-on, but I still had to get in the long queue in JFK to get us checked in and our boarding passes printed.

The lady at the desk was having some issues with the above problem, but nothing a supervisor couldn't fix and before I knew it we were on our way.
I had expected the same problem to occur when leaving Copenhagen, but nope - there was absolutely no issues what so ever, and in fact the Norwegian personnel, Joseph, was absolutely amazingly sweet while caring for our check-in in Copenhagen. but that's a whole other story.

Going through security was a mess but that's obviously not on Norwegian.

I waited on the Premium line, though we were not premium ticket holders. However, we were a solo mother with a toddler sitting in one of the rows at the end of the plane. Naturally we should rightly be some of the first people onboard.


The flight attendants helped me with my carry-on luggage and I installed the car seat upon finding our row.
Markus was in a good mood, and the music playing before take-off on the Dreamliner was cozy.

There was many available seats so though we did initally have a person sitting on the aisle seat - those persons were moved and we got the row for ourselves both going and coming back. When traveling with a car seat you will always get the window seat - so I didn't feel the need to "pay" for the services of selecting my own seat. It was a given - car seat goes by the window, and mommy goes right not to the car seat with baby.

The flight to Denmark was nice. Markus didn't make too much of a hassle for me. Flight was on time. I had not booked a ticket with food but since the flight was 11PM it wasn't needed. I did buy myself a muffin and coffee from their in-flight "minibar" on the screen. It was surprisingly good.

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Going back from Copenhagen to New York was a different story. Check-in in Copenhagen Airport was great. Thanks, Joseph.
Security a breeze. Extra passport control and questioning not an issue.


But Norwegian was delayed. And Markus got a fit. And the flight was more delayed and I started to have a headache. We didn't leave until more than an hour after our initial departure time and we didn't save any time flying, and upon arriving in JFK there was not available gate for us.

Markus did not want to sleep. He must have fallen a sleep 3-4 times but kept waking up again and crying, and just feeling uncomfortable. I was having a major headache and nothing I tried to do helped the poor baby.

I had bought a ticket going back to NY that included luggage and meal remembering how nice I thought the meals were the last time we flew Norwegian I was OVERLY disappointed. I rarely complain about plane food - but that's what it was: PLAIN FOOD. And the "morning" sandwich was wet. Nasty.

So though we had the entire row for ourselves the delays and poor in-flight meals just made the trip almost unbearable. Not entirely on Norwegian ... but if only they didn't have those delays I guess my migraine-like headache and my sleepy toddler would have maybe felt a little better.

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Recap:
Will I fly Norwegian again? Yes. I loved how easy it was to call and make the changes to my initial ticket and purchase a child ticket without all the extra. I liked the total price I had to pay for a some-what last minute ticket (well, three weeks in advance ticket)
Did I like the delays, that often happens to Norwegian? No. Did I like the fact that I got a whole row to myself both of the flights? Yes. Will I ever pay for their food again? No.

Thanks for being cool about the cranky baby from CPH-JFK though.

Planning a trip with a toddler

(This blog was first posted on my personal blog, iloveny.dk)

Can you believe it? This Danish woman who didn’t travel to Denmark for over 5 years after she moved to NYC is now going to travel to Denmark for the 2nd time within 8 months!!???

As you may be aware – I took my son to Denmark back in March. Then back to NYC in May to take care of business … but am now heading back to Denmark on November 30th!

I’m excited – though I ended up spending more money on the ticket that what I though I was going to. See, what happened was I had been looking for a cheap ticket for a long time. I remember the days of paying a minimum of 3500 DKK (about $560) for “a cheap ticket” but often more than 4000 DKK (equivalent to $640). That would be tix with a stop-over somewhere.
Now with low-budget airlines such as Norwegian I know I can get something for less than $500 and that’s what I was looking for. So when I finally found a ticket just below the 500 mark I didn’t even think twice. I bought it. It included the fare for my son, who is still under the age of 2 and therefor travel at about 10% of the base fare of an adult ticket.
I decided not to bring luggage TO Denmark, but I wanted to be able to bring a suitcase of clothes that I left in Denmark on my way back to NYC. Ergo, one regular LowFare – and one LowFare+ coming back. Just under $500. (We should all book via the norwegian.no website as it’ll get us the cheapest fare!)

Now …. the next morning I felt guilty! I literally woke up panicking – what had I done? Bought a ticket with seat for myself and expected my 15-month old son to be super cool with being on my lap during the 8 hour flight? NO!!! — So I called Norwegian customer service and they were awesome! I said: “I have to get a seat for my son. How much? …. <<hold on one moment, miss>> …. 2600 NOK …. Me: Yes, okay here’s my credit card number. Make it happen! <clickity-click> … Yes, mam, your confirmation number is … blah blah bla!”

Big sigh… I had done what I was suppose to do. Secure my son a seat, and give myself some peace of mind. I know traveling with a lap child is a hectic job with the ultimate risk of hurting your child in the case of heavy turbulence. But, my son is also a big boy already (81 cm (32″) 12.3 kg (27lbs)) and I was just picturing the nightmare it could eventually become. But safety first. Then ‘mommy sanity’! I felt proud – this will be his 8th and 9th flight, all with a seat except that one time flying home from Palm Springs last year.

Now … you’d think it would all be over right? Well. Then I started thinking about car seat when I come to Denmark, and how to make sure that my son will be secure in this seat during flight. And how should I transport him through the airport as I will not bring our stroller (there’s one in DK for us). Long story short …. after much researching — I bought the super duper lightweight Cosco Scenera Next off jet.com at around $40. I used the ibotta app and got some cash back through there. I already have a great – but heavy car seat – so this was somewhat of a necessity. At the current moment in time I am trying to determine whether I should get a car seat transporter cart or try a car seat travel buckle accessory.

Anyways … I love to travel, and though traveling with a toddler is more expensive and will cost me 2-3 extra headaches it’s definitely worth it. Because in two weeks time we get to see ‘mormor’ and ‘moster’ (grandma and aunties) and there’s no way you can add a price tag to that …

Follow our travel Instagram: www.instagram.com/travelingwithmarkus

Markus enjoying his new Cosco Scenera NEXT car seat

 

Contemplating a trip again

Alright, so it's been some months since we went to Denmark. And Germany. And no blog posts yet. It's not cool - but I did Instagram our trip on @travelingwithmarkus account.

Now, back in New York City to resolve some things before planning the next trip. As an travel entrepreneur you really CAN get it both ways.

I've never been on a cruise. Unless you'll count the DFDS Seaways Cruise from Copenhagen to Oslo, Norway when I was a kid.

That's an option.

I also been dreaming about doing it the Amtrak way, for a long time. Before Markus was born. He turned 1 this past Thursday, is it time yet?

I'm so eager to get back on my traveling game. But how do you travel with a toddler? Is cruise a good idea? Is it too soon to cross country with train? Or should I just fly to Paris and get it over with?

What do you think?

Norwegian – Making it a little harder to bring your kid

Dear Norwegian Airlines,

I've decided to write this blog post as a letter to you. I hope you find it well-meaning but also encouraging to make changes. As a traveling mother and tourism entrepreneur I have needs that I'd like to be met when purchasing my airfare and you almost lost me as a customer.

I've flown twice cross-country with my infant, Markus, utilizing the services of Jetblue. They're my favorite for various reasons but they don't fly to Europe. And I was planning a trip to Denmark, after more than 5 years away. I'm adamant about getting a seat for my child after experiencing one horrible plane ride with him as a lap child.

Your website is fine - but when entering my child's age it doesn't allow me to choose if I want to purchase a seat for him, or keep him as a lap child. I reached out to your social media team on Facebook who told me to book the ticket for Markus, as if he was over the age of 2, write in a fictive birth date, then contact you to have you change back his age. A little bit of a hassle but OK.
I wanted to upgrade my own ticket to a Low Fare+, to be able to get a suit case with me. I didn't care too much about the food and the choice of seat but it is what it is.
However, I do not see a reason to get a 6 month old baby a meal, suitcase and choice of seat as he would just have to sit next to me in his car seat. But, your website does not allow of the purchase of one Low Fare, and one Low Fare+. So I reached out to your social media team again and they informed me that I would have to purchase my own ticket online, and then call customer service to purchase the other ticket for him. I  called before I booked my own  - thankfully!
I was told that I would be charged 300 kroner to book over the phone. I told them, it wasn't by choice but necessity: I wasn't able to book a regular Low Fare separately for my child online.  And then the connection broke. Surely, my bad?!
Frustrated I just went ahead and purchased two Low Fare+ tickets online and called it a day.

But wait - I did still have to call back, and ask you to change the birth date of my child.

Too much of a hassle, Norwegian! I know you're cheap, and you did provide excellent service on board but c'mon! I can't possible be the only parent who just want a seat without all the extras for my infant?

Sincerely,
a mother-who's-going-to-go-through-it-all-again-in-a-month.

Getting passport for baby + mommy

On Friday Markus turns 6 months old. He's already been cross country twice in his life. Both trips to California. But now, it's time for some international traveling with baby.

I'm a permanent resident (Green Card holder) in USA and a citizen of Denmark. My passport expired this summer - oops! My son is automatically a dual citizen so making a passport for him is easy. We just went to the nearest passport acceptance facility and 1-2-3 had the application filled out and they even took the photo of him.

I had to go to the Consulate of Denmark but thankfully that's in New York so it was just a subway ride away. There I filled out the paperwork and they did the rest.

I was worried I wouldn't get the passports in time to get to Denmark by March 6 where I'd participate in USA Travel Show, a B2B tradeshow for US tourism suppliers and Nordic travel agents etc. But, I did! Also in time for the prices to have went up but that's what happens!

If you want to know more about the process head on over to my ILOVENY.dk blog: Dude, my passport expired! This is also where I blog about things NOT travel related.

P.S. Walk With Me – A walking tour in Palm Springs

Since my last post giving you a taste of the history in Palm Springs I went on a walking tour with a guide named Jade Nelson. He’s the owner of the walking tour business: www.pswalkwithme.com and I took contact with him after being recommended his tours. An early Saturday morning (8:50am), I met with him and 5 other guests in the courtyard of ‘The Corridor’ – (a must-hang-out-and-drink-a-coffee-spot)
The tour is called “The Legendary Las Palmas” tour and was the perfect choice since I hadn’t explored this part of town yet. Jade started the tour right away telling us about a nearby church. The tour went on for about 2.5 hrs – a little longer than usual due to wonderful chatting. The pace was great, and we saw so many different but beautiful and interesting houses. Each one with a cool or sad (yes, plane crashes did come up twice) story. Jade is very knowledgeable about architecture, culture and the history of Palm Springs.


One reason being that he grew up here. Another, I guess he’s just one of those people who keeps in the know and is passionate about his work. Sort of like myself (a NYC Licensed tour guide) who may not have been raised in New York City but love that city so much, that my guests wouldn’t know I’m not an authentic NYer. Anyways, back to Jade … He made sure we had time to ask questions and he knew the answers. You can always judge the character of your tour guide by his encouragement of his guests asking questions.
There was some  ‘celebrity’ aspect to the tour – but it wasn’t the main focus. I did get a little excited when I saw the home a certain Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio owns. I didn’t see him though … or should I say, he didn’t see me! No one knows what I was doing later that day! 🙂

Overall – great pace, fun & interesting and very informative. I didn’t bring my baby Markus with me but I could have. The terrain was easily accessible for the stroller and I actually think Markus would have enjoyed the sights. He’s only 5 months old (today!!!) but he loves the outdoors. My TripAdvisor review is here: turistinewyork’s review

Price: $30/person.
Book now: www.pswalkwithme.com
Or get in contact with Jade, and arrange for a private tour: http://pswalkwithme.com/contact/

Jade telling with great passion about this particular home …

Palm Springs History

When you think about Palm Springs, you may think 60s style and colorful atmosphere. But, as a NYC Licensed tour guide and a sucker for history and “old days” I had to find out more of the history of Palm Springs.

Downtown Palm Springs, on South Palm Canyon Drive at the Village Green, you’ll find the historical society and the two museums they manage and some other buildings worth visiting as well. The two buildings that now serves as museums are the oldest ones standing in Palm Springs today.


There’s the McCallum Adobe house from 1884, and the Cornelia White house from 1893. Both have free entrances but please consider donating. The McCallum Adobe house is featuring exhibitions of the colorful life of Palm Springs, focused on the film industry.

The Cornelia White house is the home of the pioneer Cornelia White and stands like a home would have by the turn of the century. It was once a part of Palm Springs’ first hotel.


The historical society offers walking tours – and if there’s something I always recommend tourists to do: it’s to take a walking tour! (p.s. says the tour guide offering walking tours in NYC)


Next to the two buildings are Ruddy’s General Store museum which does charge an admission – of a humble 95c. And yes, you’ll get change for a dollar. This general store has about 6000 unopened, unused grocery items mainly from the 1930s and 40s and was a personal collection from Jim Ruddy. It was so much fun, even though I didn’t grow up in the USA I still recognized several brands.

And, Markus my little baby enjoyed the sights of all the houses so much that he eventually fell a sleep in his K’Tan carrier!


Walking back and forth on Palm Canyon Drive you’ll see many buildings and houses with small plaques on it – I recommend you to stop and read them. Get to know more about the heritage and history of this wonderful city of Palm Springs before AND after you enjoy its foods and shopping.


For more information, and please book a tour guide:
www.pshistoricalsociety.org – The historical society.
http://pswalkwithme.com/ – I was recommended booking a tour with Jade. I’m looking forward to my first tour. I always want to support local guides who made it their career to entertain and enlighten tourists.

Palm Springs Village Fest

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Every Thursday, downtown Palm Springs turns into a "street fair featuring arts, crafts, foods and entertainment" - and it's so much fun! I've experienced it a couple of times before so obviously we went again.

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Walking through the streets along with the many, many other locals and visitors alike looking at interesting displays with locally grown foods, handmade jewelry, arts and clothing. Listening to local musicians. Buying snacks and making small talk with different sellers. Also - most retailers as well as restaurants are open so you'll have a chance to check that out too.

There's a sense of "small-town" and you feel the community getting together. It's really cozy and I definitely recommend it. Next time I'm heading back to Palm Springs, you know where to find me Thursday night.

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Even Markus enjoyed it. All the lights and sounds had him very curious in the beginning - and then he fell a sleep. Even when we got back home - he slept almost through the night!

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Check out the official website for more information: http://villagefest.org/

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Baby’s First Flight

After getting through the packing, getting to the airport, through security and onto the plane - the real worry started: How was baby gonna act during this long flight? The flight attendants had been beyond helpful and I was able to get the whole, left last row for myself and Markus. The car seat got buckled up in the window seat with him in it and I sat in the middle. Markus was curious! He has this cute sound he does, when he's eager .. and he kept saying it while looking everywhere around him. That made mommy's heart happy.

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The plane started taxiing and since it was around 7PM and therefor also Markus' usual bedtime he started getting fussy. I gave him a little bit of the bottle (I had pumped, to make it easier during the trip) but he wasn't having it. He started a full-blown fussy-attack so I had no other choice but to take him out of the car seat and rock him. He was doing his usual 'I'm crying so loud because I'm tired', during take-off but few seconds after he was a sleep. I tried "forcing" him to suck on the nipple of the bottle in order to help with his ears and he allowed it. But he was a sleep. I gently put him down in the car seat, buckled him up and wrapped his blanket around him. And I started holding my breath. The hours went by ....

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Twice he made a little sound like he was going to wake up but I comforted him and he slept again.

I kept holding my breath but 4 hour into the flight I realized that I had nothing to worry about. My child was a sleep and he was going to sleep through the flight. I was able to enjoy the flight myself, and got a little bit of a cat nap.

As always, the service onboard JetBlue is great. I got my free seltzer waters and plenty of free snacks.

Jetblue inflight services

About 40 minutes before arrival at Palm Springs, the flight attendant let me know so I could start giving Markus his bottle. The descent would be worse on his ears if he wasn't sucking on something. He was a sleep and for the first time in his life I had to try and wake him up. Problem was, he didn't want to. I literally had to force him to take his bottle ... (ps. he doesn't wanna take a pacifier. I had brought one anyways, but I ended up dropping it under the seat at take-off :-/)

Mommy + Markus in a plane
And then we landed ... while he was still sleeping, quietly sucking on the bottle. Seconds after we hit ground he opened his eyes and looked around, and gave me one of his famous little smiles. This mommy was RELIEVED! First flight was over and had been so comfortable.  Flight attendant Laura helped me out of the plane with my carry-ons and helped get the stroller and car seat put together again.

Markus arriving in Palm Springs

I am thankful to the crew of JetBlue, and I'm thankful I got a seat for him. Now, I'm just awaiting our return on Flight 150 to NY on Dec 2.

Palm Springs Baggage Claim

On a side note ... Palm Springs International Airport is so beautiful! Right after you get out of your gate, you walk outside amongst palm trees to get back into baggage claim. Everything is in a 60s style so you really feel like you've arrived! All in all, Markus' first flight went so well that I'm excited to start planning the next trip. But first, let's enjoy California!

Palm Springs International Airport

Palm Springs International Airport
Palm Springs International Airport

The Big Travel Day

The day has arrived. It's now November 14, 2016 and it's 6:15 AM. We're traveling out of JFK, New York in about 12.5 hours and how much packing and preparing have I done? ... I did laundry yesterday.

I've ALWAYS been like that. Always packed the night before, always run around last minute to get my tooth brush or passport. You know, the essentials. However, I never forgot anything and it was actually the best way for me to mentally get prepared. Because I was READY with adrenaline pumping at the airport. READY to TRAVEL!

Initially I'd assume that it's not gonna work like that at all with an infant baby. And my intentions were to be completely done over the weekend. But things get in the way and before I knew it it was Sunday evening and baby fell a sleep while nursing, and then mommy fell a sleep too.

I got it ... right?

To be .... continued ...!

Traveling with baby
Updated: the following day...

Oh wow, so of course I had to run around and didn't know how to finish packing in our carry-on bag. Things just didn't wanna fit. So, I decided to get my large red four-wheel suitcase I've traveled with the past seven years out from the back of the closet - and I stuffed things in there. There was even room for the car seat base. Oh yeah, I decided after speaking with my flight attendant friend to bring my Graco Fastaction Click Connect travel system and just gate check it. More about that later ...

We left our house in Queens a little too late, traffic getting into JFK was horrible. We made it by 1 hour and 40 minutes before departure. I had already checked-in online the day before but that was when I didn't plan on bringing a checked bag.

I tried to maneuver from the curb into the check-in counter with my carry-ons, the stroller and the large bag. Thankfully a sweet woman, Karen, saw my frustration and came to help. She took the suitcase and walked me to the Help Desk (where I didn't know I had to go, to get boarding pass for my baby) and checked my bag and got my boarding pass.

JetBlue Help Desk
We had a nice conversation, that comforted me. I was worried we had too little time. I was worried about the trip ...  He was booked as a lap child which I kinda regretted the more I thought about it. Anyways. Karen was helpful, and so was the guy at Help Desk. 1-2-3 ... and I had my boarding passes and now things were a little easier to maneuver.
In the line to security several people said: 'Aww', and 'wow' about my baby. Asking if it's his first flight. Some people told me: "You got this girl!". It was really encouraging.

Getting through security was a little bit of a hassle. Computer up, liquids up, stroller and car seat detached and up. Oh, and "please take your slippers off, we don't care you don't have socks on!"
Held my baby through the scanner and had my hands swiped. Getting my things together was HARD but a woman came to my rescue and put the stroller and car seat together so that I could put Markus down and gather the rest of my things. The bottles with breast-milk (2x 125 mls) were examined and off we went towards the gate.

newyawkerr gatechecking
As always JetBlue let's families board first and it was GREAT ... I was able to take my car seat on-board and gate checked my stroller. That was simple. Getting to the end of the plane (our seat was in the back row 25) pushing my Samsonite carry-on, diaper bag and baby in the car seat was impossible. Now I know that but then the flight attendant came to my rescue and helped me to the back row. Since it was not a full flight and the flight attendants were super nice and helpful - I was able to get a seat for Markus! 😀

I'll end the post now and make a separate one for Baby's First Flight .. so follow along tomorrow!

Edited: Here's the link to Markus' first flight:
http://newyawkerr.com/babys-first-flight/

newyawkerr car seat in plane