What to expect when flying with a baby
This information is a general ‘what to expect once you are boarding or are on board the flight,’ so you can have a realistic idea of what lies before you and prepare for any of your needs in plenty of time.
Families with young children generally get to board first. Make the most of that time as it really helps take the pressure off finding space for your luggage etc.
Last year (2012) some American airlines including United Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines have changed their policies. United Airlines is the most controversial change, which means that families board with everyone else. If the airline/airport doesn’t have that policy or you are unsure, ask for the extra time to board at the boarding gate.
A handy alternative is if one parent boards first and finds space for the bags, whilst the other parent waits with the baby at the gate lounge. This means your little one can crawl or toddle and work off some energy, rather than sit in their seat waiting for everyone else to board.
Take the pushchair to the plane
Most, but not all, airlines will allow you to bring your stroller/pushchair/pram to the gate or the doors of the plane. As a general rule, don’t expect your buggy to be stored inside the cabin but instead in the hold with the rest of the luggage. However, it is always worth asking the crew if they do have room in the cabin, (if your stroller is compact and collapsible). If they do allow it and have space, you are very lucky. There are no actual designated pram compartments in the cabin to store them. Cupboards which store aircraft equipment and/or premium cabins passengers’ jackets are usually used. If the flight is full, it is highly unlikely that your pram will be brought inside.
If your stroller is in the aircraft hold, then you will generally collect it at the baggage belt, where you collect your suitcases. Also check in oversize baggage if you can’t see it on the belt. Some airports/airlines will bring it to the aircraft door on arrival once all other passengers have disembarked. It really depends on each airlines and /or airports policy. e.g British Airways try to do this into London and Emirates into Dubai .
A baby sling/carrier is highly useful if you need to collect at the baggage carousel. Some airports/airlines do provide a courtesy pram for you to use on arrival/transit. Please see my post on courtesy prams and strollers, to see which ones.
Baby crying during take-off and landing
Babies often cry during take-off and landing because of the change of pressure which hurts their ears. Crying does actually help relieve this, but it’s not exactly soothing for you and your fellow passengers. Feeding your baby can help relieve this pressure this or sucking on a dummy or pacifier.
If you are thinking of weaning them off of a dummy around the time of your flight, I would recommend waiting ’til you have have returned. Makes it easier for both of you.
No sleeping on the floor!
Flight Attendants will not allow your baby or child to sleep on the floor. Even if you have the bulkhead seat and the bassinet is too small, they won’t allow it for safety reasons. (Those being the overhead oxygen mask will not stretch that far, and in the unlikely event of a rapid decompression, the time of useful consciousness is minimal, and that combined with the other effects, will mean it would be difficult to get your baby close to the oxygen supply.)
Warming up milk
If you need milk warmed up, ask before you need it. Not all airlines will do this for you, it depends on their policy, so definitely ask before you travel or check my links to each airlines baby/infant/child policy. Ryanair are one of those who do not heat it up. Cabin crew are happy to help you, but unfortunately could be very busy with the main meal service. Furthermore, they could overheat it, so you’ll need time to let it cool.
By Carrie Bradley
After being a flight attendant for over 12 years & now a mummy, I couldn’t find the extra, quick reference guide with all the answers I required in ONE place, to make ANY flight as painless & easy as possible. I knew many things from working on a flight which have helped us & others greatly, but some practicalities you learn as parent along the way & earn your badge, or in this case wings. My information is based on personal experience & research to help YOU. Happy Flying!