The smartest thing we did was getting to the airport three hours before our flight. I don't remember the last time I wasn't rushed at an airport. Not having to scream, "HURRY UP!" even once at the airport probably added seven years to my lifespan.
There was a line at the ticket counter, but it was smooth, efficient and moved quickly. We were a bit of a spectacle in terms of our volume of luggage, equipment and childrens. Jameson, Truman and Amelia each had a wheeled suitcase to pull. That arrangement actually served the dual purpose of lightening mom and dad's load as well as keeping them occupied. Julie had a duffel bag, a diaper bag and Eliana in her stroller. I had an oversized backpack, a car seat, and Darwin on my shoulders. The looks we received ranged from admiration to sympathy to Dear-God-I-will-give-up-a-testicle-if-you-put-me-on-any-plane-but-theirs.
Checking in was relatively effortless. Our only mistake was not tagging our bags before getting to the airport. Oops.
The security line was a bigger challenge. I was mentally preparing for it for weeks but was still dreading it when we walked up to the line. The security line is slow, boring and unavoidable. I knew the kids would get restless at this point but I didn't count on Darwin requesting to be carried and then promptly falling asleep in my arms. That left me trudging through that miserable line lugging a 30 pound car seat, 25 pound child and a 20 pound backpack. My back nearly burst into flames.
Once we reached the actual security checkpoint it was time for the mad scramble. Removing shoes and jackets, folding up strollers, unpacking laptops, loading up the conveyor belt -- all while juggling a ten week old infant. Christmas came early, though, in the form of a sign that read, "Children 12 and under are no longer required to remove their shoes." Hallelujah. That eliminated twelve steps of our process. The shoe bonus was slightly negated by the fact that our bag with (empty) sippy cups had to be opened and rescanned.
Overall, we got through just fine and with no searches of body cavities -- we'll put this in the win column.