Flying With A Baby Tips – Top Tips from Booking to Arrival
I started this site as a flying with kids resource (with all the information in one place) – after my own frustrations with flying with my little ones. Despite my cabin crew knowledge, I still wanted to discover any information that could make the flight easier. After much time was spent Googling and phoning airlines I thought it was worth sharing this knowledge so other parents could feel less frazzled and save some time.
Although this site covers everything from babies to older kids in so much more depth, I thought a briefer list of my best tips, would also be helpful for those who don’t have time to read through the whole site. For in-depth information on certain points- just click on the links. Do let me know if these flying with a baby tips are useful?
Before you Book
- Sometimes going directly to the airline offers you a better deal but it is worth looking at sites such as GoEuro or Skyscanner too. Be prepared for most flights with under 2’s to cost 10% of an adult fare + applicable taxes. Some countries offer free flights for infants if it is an internal flight. If you purchase a seat for your baby, fares are usually around 60-75% of an adult fare.
- Check what travel documentation is needed – even if flying internally. A passport is always the best ID.
- If a bassinet is important to you and you are flying long-haul, do look at which airlines have a bassinet which is suitable for your baby. Age and weight requirements vary from airline to airline and often plane to plane. Most are suitable for up to 8 months, and British Airways bassinets are suitable for up to 2 years old. When we have flown to Australia with my daughter(s) at various stages from 8 months to 13 months – an airline which had a bassinet was a huge influence on which airline I booked.
- Look at the airline policies on hand luggage and hold luggage. All airlines allow at least a car seat or stroller – with the majority allowing both for free. Lots of airlines provide an infant allowance too, some for both cabin and hold baggage. If you think you will be taking a lot of stuff- look at what each airline provides. That cheap flight may not be so cheap if you have to pay extra for baggage.
- See if the bassinet seat is available before you purchase. Very few airlines will let you see seat availability – but more often or not, you don’t find out until you get to choose your seats – after you have paid. If in doubt, call your airline and ask them what the availability is like for a certain flight on a particular day. If the system shows it is free, then there is a good chance it still will be when you go online to book the flight. Several airlines allow you to choose your seat immediately if you are flying with an infant – some for free! e.g British Airways and Thai Airways. If you want to double check for a particular seat. Look at www.seatguru.com and put in your flight number where you can check the plane layout.
- If you are thinking of purchasing an extra seat and using your car-seat – look at airline policies on car seats first. Some airlines allow both forward and rear facing car seats on an airplane seat, others only forward facing. Often they won’t fit on the new business and first class style seats. Other child restraint devices (CRD’s) such as the CARES harness for over one’s are universally allowed on certain seats.
- Even if you have requested a bassinet seat ring up and double check the request is there. For American and Canadian airlines it is often the case that the first one at the gate grabs the bassinet. For other airlines, it’s the age of the baby that will have priority- usually the youngest. Finally, a few airlines just base it on who requested it first.
- If your baby is weaning, request a baby meal. These are pureed jars of food. Some airlines provide toddler meals too. If your airline doesn’t provide or if your baby is over the pureed stage- most airlines will not have food for your baby. You need to provide this yourself. A few do have some extra amenities onboard for babies and toddlers, but they are in the minority.
- The best bit of kit is definitely a baby carrier. For those walks to baggage reclaim and through customs, it is so convenient to be babywearing and have your hands free to push the trolley- especially if you are flying solo. There are also so many amazing travel strollers on the market these days too – some which you can take as hand luggage.
- If you have a bassinet- I can’t recommend the CoziGo highly enough- which shuts out the cabin light so baby can sleep even during the day time. It doubles up as a UV breathable stroller cover too.
- Snacks- all the snacks and more!
- Bring some interactive but quiet baby and toddler toys which will keep them busy.
- Ziplock bags- put a change of clothing in each one, nappies/diapers and wipes etc, so you can easily find them and whip them out quickly!
- For a more comprehensive baby travel checklist – see here. It also includes a free checklist to print out.
Before You Fly
- If you are in the UK, consider ordering some supplies from Boots to pick up after airport security. This includes nappies, milk, wipes, suntan lotion etc. The benefit is you should pass through security a bit quicker with fewer liquids.
- Plan to leave extra time for the airport- especially for security.
- Pack any liquids in an easy place to access quickly.
At The Airport
- Decide whether to gate check your stroller or check it in immediately. I’ve done both, and I prefer checking it in unless its a designated piece of hand luggage. Babywearing makes it a little bit easier to board.
- Ask the ground staff if they know where you will pick up your stroller – at the aircraft door, or at the baggage belt.
- If you are flying with a toddler, check out the airport soft play and let your little one)s) burn off some steam for a bit before the flight. If not, use a blanket on the floor for them to stretch out a bit.
- Clear security in plenty of time. Be prepared to take your baby out of the stroller or baby carrier.
- Baby milk ( pumped, powdered or readymade) water for baby, baby food, are all allowed over the 100ml /3-1-1 liquid rule. It’s often worth asking the cafes airside ( past security) for ice to replenish your ziplock bags if you have any perishable goods on you for the flight. Ice packs are often not allowed through security.
- Board a bit later than everyone but have your partner board earlier. There is generally no point in having a wriggly baby or toddler restrained on a plane waiting for eveyone else to board. This is certainly the case for day flights- but night flights you may find it easier to get them settled first.
All airlines are happy with a mum breastfeeding. If you are a bit self-conscious- here are my tips.
- If you need milk heated up – do ask in plenty of time.
- Baby is likely to drink more than they usually do as the cabin air is quite dehydrating.
- The bassinet should be set up for you after take-off, once the seatbelt sign is off. Most airlines will ask you to remove to baby if it is turbulent.
- For more information on what to expect on board – this post has more detail.
- Some babies cry with the change of pressure in their ears- feeding often helps relieve this.
- For baby sleeping tips when flying- this post will help.
- Fill out any documents in plenty of time including customs forms. If you are entering certain countries you must not bring any fresh food off the plane. If in doubt, declare it and go through the red channel. For example, I have had tinned baby milk, declared it and it has been fine to enter Australia, but I always declare.
- Some babies cry with the change of pressure in their ears on landing too – feeding often helps relieve this.
- Ask the ground staff meeting the plane if they know where you will pick up your stroller – at the aircraft door, or at the baggage belt and will it be on the oversize belt.
- Some airlines and airports provide courtesy strollers for you to use – but just in case they are not available that baby carrier will come in handy again.
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