This is probably the most common question I googled prior to our family holiday this year; ‘What can I expect when flying with a baby?’ I had no idea. I didn’t know if it would be a hassle manoeuvring my way through the airport, I didn’t know if the baby would sleep or scream, I didn’t know how the other passengers would react and so on.
I prepared the best I could before we flew and as our flight was only 3 1/2 hours long, William did really well but I think even if it had been longer he would have still been fine. If anything, I would be much more worried about the older one!
So, here is what we learnt from our experience of flying with a baby:
This year we chose to drive straight to the terminal and have our car collected instead of driving out to a car park and having to catch a bus in. It was so easy and I can highly recommend doing this. It saved us so much time and hassle. The number of times we have stood around at one of those car parks in the rain and cold, waiting for a bus and don’t even get me started on those that are so full you can’t get on!
Save time and check-in online you don’t want extra queuing when you have children in tow. We quickly made our way to check our bags in once we arrived and the queue moved very quickly and it was even self-service! This was the first time we had seen this but there were plenty of members of staff on hand to help and if your baggage is overweight (as ours was, oops!) they can try to help to resolve this or to give advice on the charges. If you don’t want to check your pushchair in with your baggage that is fine. You can take this all the way up to the plane door so don’t feel as though you have to do away with it once you arrive.
If you are not directed by a member of staff look for the family security line as this is separate from the normal section. It is easier when there are a lot of you plus you can take your pushchair straight through. This was the quickest security check I have ever been through at an airport and it removed all the stress, fuss and hustle and bustle from other holidaymakers.
Yet again, we were immediately seen to by a member of staff who allowed us to take a fast-track route to show our boarding passes. We were then met by another staff member who explained where we could leave our pushchair and who allowed us to board from a different entrance because we had a baby and it was a warmer option for him than queuing downstairs. Everybody was thinking of us.
Once on Board
The air hostesses were very quick to take note of who had babies and I was handed a seat belt for William to wear as babies/toddlers under 2 years have to sit on a parent’s lap for a flight. She showed me how to attach it to my own seatbelt and then I simply had to adjust it to Williams size and clip him in. I was also provided with a tiny life jacket to place in the pocket of the seat.
After a very early start and with lots going on, William became a little grisly just before take-off. I could see a few people looking around and I expect their thoughts were ‘are we going to be listening to this all the way?’ and I would be thinking the same thing if I was in their position too! I gave them a nice smile to acknowledge the fact that I knew there may be some concerns but at the same time I was clearly showing that I was trying to soothe him etc. I think it is important to show that you do have consideration for those around you even if you do struggle to calm your baby.
Luckily, he decided it was all too much, had a feed from me and fell asleep. During take-off, I did worry a little that his ears would hurt but he didn’t even stir! I was ready with a dummy, blanket, muslin, toys and boob in case he did need anything so I would definitely keep things to hand and don’t feel the need to put everything in the overhead compartments.
Once he woke he needed another feed but as I am still breastfeeding this was easy. If you are formula feeding I would speak to the hostesses to find out your warming up options. He played for a bit with some of the toys we brought, he was entertained by his brother who refused to give in to a nap (sigh) and once he became grisly again I rocked him back to sleep. And that was basically how it went for the whole journey. The only negative for me was the size of the toilet and changing area. As it was a short flight the plane was very small and the toilets were ridiculously tiny. The changing table (if you can even call it that) was a hard shelf that dropped down over the toilet. William has very little core control so as soon as I placed him on this shelf he rolled away from me and I was terrified he was going to drop off! I then attempted to hold him whilst I got everything I needed from his changing bag and discovered I couldn’t bend down in there!! It was such a faff. So, my tip is to get everything you need out and carry that to the toilet with you. Maybe take a blanket to roll up to provide support or to use as extra padding under your baby’s back.
As we began our descent William had fallen asleep again but as Jake suffers with his ears at this point (we found this out two years ago when he screamed the plane down!) I was concerned that William would wake so I kept his dummy in and just gave it a tap every now and then to encourage him to suck. It worked perfectly and he sucked away but stayed asleep and we had no ear popping.
I would say that the biggest issue with arriving is everyone else! Why are people so quick to jump up and battle to get their luggage out of the compartments?! Then they all push and shove to get off the plane. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little more consideration? We were stuck in our seats with 2 children and couldn’t move. One lovely lady offered to hold William for me whilst I got myself out but other than that it was like every man for himself! Once we were off, a bus was waiting to take us to the airport and another nice lady gave up her seat for me and William to sit down.
The airport was small and everything moved through quickly. Our luggage quickly came off and the pushchair was waiting for us in another area (we did have to go on a hunt for this with another family, though!)
All that was left to do was to find our transfer (we pre-arranged a taxi to take us directly to our hotel) and enjoy our holiday.
I hope the journey back will be just as smooth!
Good luck with your flight and remember
- Don’t worry so much
- Speak to the staff as much as possible
- Take your pushchair up to the plane door
- Have everything you need to hand
- Talk to other passengers or smile at them
- Encourage sucking at take off and landing
- Give yourself a break, babies are unpredictable at the best of times and most things are out of your control!
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