1. Check everything but the onplane essentials (and your laptop, which won't fit in the diaper bag, so you stuff the emptied diaper bag into your checked luggage and use a camo duckhunting tote from LLBean.
2. Take the stroller with the carseat on it, get ready to gatecheck both pieces.
3. Fully acknowledge to the gate agent that you're using your cute kid to manipulate her into giving you space for the carseat. She will appreciate your candor, while still being unable to resist your kid's charms.
4. Curse Newark airport for not having a changing table in the mens room. Thank them for leaving enough grimy lint on the carpet that you're able to remember which side of the blanket was down and which was up.
5. Score extra seat for the kid. Wish gate agent a good, early weekend on a Tuesday.
6. Put carseat against window. The one time you want the middle seat.
7. Surprise yourself by turning your seats into a little nest, unpacking and getting all kinds of stuff ready. It's the exact opposite of the road warrior behavior you knew. You are SO ready, though, you can feel it.
8. Change kid into pajamas, pull down shades. Night now begins at 5pm.
9. Get bottle ready, time it so you know the kid'll be eating during takeoff/ascent.
10. Watch kid have a serious meltdown just as the door closes. Early shrieking helps build suspense for surrounding passengers.
11. Get kid to take bottle while laying on your lap. Let her calm down immediately, thereby demonstrating your parenting prowess. Start feeling a little cocky, cuz she's going to sleep, too.
12. Cover her with the blanket, GOOD SIDE OUT, when the icy cold AC kicks in.
13. Sit back and relax after takeoff, because your kid is asleep, fed, warm, and your neighbors can only be impressed.
14. React with polite alarm when the old NJ Shore-baked grandma in front leans her seat back onto your kid's head. Return to calm state.
15. Watch as the kid spews a geyser of formula straight into the air, covering herself and your lap. Grab her quickly and sit her up, facing you, so that the second shot lands only on the blanket and your shirt. Calmly reach up and hit the call button while your kid smiles meekly.
16. Get a garbage bag, and every towel you can, wet and dry. Dump blanket, shirt. clean self. dump pj bottoms. Break out backup Onesie (R).
17. Play with kid for a few minutes. She'll be very happy, calm, playful. Then she'll sleep for the rest of the flight, not waking up until you get her to the baggage claim.
18. Remember to slip the pacifier in before landing.
That's it! 5 hours of good behavior in exchange for 2 vomit-soaked outfits. Sounds like a fair trade to me.