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
Don’t expect your buggy to be stored inside the cabin, but instead in the hold with the rest of the luggage.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
Feeding your baby can help relieve this pressure, as can sucking on a dummy or pacifier.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 as can 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.
If you fly with Gulf Air they provide a specially trained Sky Nanny for free, to help you with boarding, disembarking or to give you a break whilst you have a snooze or read a book. Wow!
By Carrie Bradley via Flying With A Baby: What to expect on board when flying with a baby.
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!
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I would add a few points if I may.
Boarding – in my experiences of being able to board early, all that meant was more time in which to keep the kids restrained. Not always a good thing.
Ears – take liquid pain medication on board at all times, but especially if your child is prone to ear pain. Having once suffered it myself, it’s excruciating and may help your child for the landing, if not take-off. Similarly, I was advised to give my child a decongestant, but don’t try this for the first time on a flight as children react differently. (Please note – this is not medical advice and your doctor should be consulted before a flight.)
Bottles – I “trained” my babies to take their bottles at room temp which helped enormously when flying a lot. Carry the powder and water separately and don’t mix till you need it.
And my extras – take more stuff than you think you’ll need. More diapers/nappies and food. Not all airlines have baby packs or baby/toddler friendly food and the one time I ran out of diapers, (after a 6 hour delay) the airline only had teeny diapers and one parent on board kindly gave me one that was slightly too big. Just like adults can have stomach issues while flying (I do!), so can babies, and that can be explosive!
Take a change of clothes for kids and babies – in case of spillage, sickness or poop problems.
Thank you for your valuable advice, Toni!
I agree with all of it 🙂 I would prefer to board quite late with a baby or toddler too.
I’d also recommend a change of clothing for the parent too… experience = having had a full glass of orange juice spilled on me before we took off on a 12 hour flight!