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Flying With An Infant? What To Expect On Board Your Flight

Flying with an infant soon? We know that feeling well with our eldest flying at 11 weeks old and both now have 80 flights. Here is some of my first-hand experience information to give you a realistic idea of what lies before you, with some useful and practical tips for traveling with an infant by plane from my flight attendant days.

flying with a baby tips

What To Expect On Board When Flying With An Infant

My tips for flying with an infant, are especially useful if you:

  • Haven’t flown with your baby before.
  • Are unsure of any airline boarding procedures.
  • Are unsure of regulations relating to strollers
  • Rules on board.

After this post, I recommend reading the following posts which go into much more detail about each stage and are full of useful information and insider tips you may not have thought of.

9 Insider Tips For Flying With A Baby For The First Time.

airport departure gate sign, tips for flying with a baby

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.

If the airline/airport doesn’t have that policy or you are unsure, ask for the extra time to board at the boarding gate. (American Airlines will allow you to board early if you make this request and SouthWest boarding policy is here)

But don’t always take them up on it!

Airplane travel with infants can mean long days and nights in one confined space. So to minimise the time on board, why not board later which is what we do unless it’s a night flight?

A handy alternative if your baby is a wriggler or an older toddler, is one parent boards first and finds space for the bags, whilst the other parent waits with the baby at the gate lounge.

This means little one can crawl or toddle and work off some energy, rather than sit in their seat waiting for everyone else to board.

Most airlines will allow you to bring your stroller/pushchair/pram to the gate or the doors of the plane.

This can be a great option if you have a bit to carry. When you check-in or are at bag drop, mention to the ground staff that you would like take your stroller to the boarding gate.

They will give you a luggage tag fo fit on and then you can proceed to security and passport control. At the gate or by the aircraft doors, ground staff will take your pram and take it to the aircraft hold.

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. An exception is unless it’s cabin sized stroller, which can be stowed with you if there is space or as a replacement item to one of your cabin bags.

You can take your travel system to the gate.

However, it is always worth asking the crew if they do have room in the cabin, especially if your stroller is very compact and collapsible).

If they do allow it and have space, consider this a bonus. There are no actual designated pram compartments in the cabin to store them. (I have been asked this!)

Cupboards which store aircraft equipment and/or premium cabins passengers’ jackets are usually used to store the occasional stroller. If the flight is full, it is highly unlikely that your pram will be brought inside.

N.B Some airlines have a weight limit on strollers, and if they exceed this, they must be checked in immediately and cannot be brought to the gate.

tired children and mum at the baggage carousel. Tips for flying with a baby

Is a travel system considered one piece of luggage?

A travel system e.g a Bugaboo is considered one piece of luggage in airline terms, even though it dismantles into two – the frame and the bassinet/seat. A double stroller is also considered one piece.

Is a pushchair considered luggage?

A pushchair/stroller is an additional free allowance on top of your normal baggage allowance. Usually a car seat can also be carried for free and is not part of your checked baggage allowance. However, sometimes (rarely) an airline will only allow one or the other. In both instances the child or infant must be traveling on the same flight.

Do airlines charge for strollers?

No, they can be carried for free as an extra to your normal luggage.

BA stroller label

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 will pop an orange tag on so the ground staff are aware.

 A baby sling/carrier is highly useful if you need to collect at the baggage carousel. Some airports/airlines do provide a courtesy airport strollers for you to use on arrival/transit. Please see my post on airport strollers, to see which ones.

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 until you have returned.

airline bassinet positions on the plane
You cannot let your baby sleep on the floor by the airplane bassinet positions.

Flight Attendants will not allow your infant or child to sleep on the floor.

Even if you have the bulkhead seat where the skycot or bassinet is, and the bassinet is too small, the crew will not allow you to use the floor as extra space or as infant seating due to safety reasons. (Those reasons 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.

Emirates Bassinet Seat on the B777
Emirates Bassinet Seat – a baby can sleep in one of these if they meet the size and weight requirements of the airline. Bassinets are sometimes known as skycots, or less frequently as infant airplane seats

If your baby was on the floor, combined with the other effects, it would be difficult to get your baby close to the oxygen supply.)

Your baby will either need to sit on you lap, as a lap infant, or you can purchase an extra seat and use your airline approved car seat. If you are flying with an infant on lap, some airlines provide a lap belt or extension seat belt.

child restraint devices airline lap belt
Me wearing the infant lap belt

If your baby is over 1 year old, you can also use a CARES harness if you purchase a seat.

Car seats airplane, child restraint devices CARES harness back
CARES harness (front) Photo courtesy of Tim Kelley

If you need milk warmed up, ask before you need it.

Air travel with an infant, will make them thirstier than normal. If you are bottle feeding, most airlines will happily warm the baby milk for you. But allow extra time and try not to leave it to the last minute. Flight attendants are usually very happy to help you, but unfortunately they could be super busy with the main meal service. You may also need to leave time for it cool.

If you are breast-feeding, there is no private area on board the plane to feed.

Yes, I was asked this too when crew! Unless you really want to use the loo? With air travel with an infant, privacy is pretty much out due to the restricted space. If you are particularly concerned about privacy, then the window seat is your best bet. It’s unlikely that you would be able to use the galley, as the crew will need regular access to and from that, but do ask as some crew will be happy to oblige.

For more information breastfeeding tips when flying or on  airline breastfeeding policies, see this useful airline and airport guide

Plug socket on plane

If you need to pump and use a plug, or need to charge a phone, many of the larger international airlines do have in-seat sockets in economy class too.

When you are traveling with infant on a plane, you may need to express or pump milk. Some larger and newer aircraft do have a socket at each seat. They do vary from airline and from aircraft type to aircraft type, so check on your airlines website before you go. Most have USB and not the USB-C sockets yet, and some have the standard international plug socket as well.

Airport Services

If you are planning international travel with infants, then many airports also offer welcome services (for a fee) to help you navigate terminals, show you where the airport strollers are (see highlighted link to see where available) and more.

Don’t forget:

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What to expect on board when flying with babies and young children #flyingwithababy #familytravel
What To Expect On Board When Flying With An Infant -tips for flying with a baby. 9 Tips For Flying With A Baby For The First Time. Here is some general information to give you a realistic idea of what lies before you. Also see my more in-depth flying with a baby tips  or flying with toddler tips. #flyingwithababy #familytravel #flyingtips #flyingwithbaby
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fly with baby on lap - travel tips for flying with a baby
fly with baby internationally - travel tips for international flying with a baby

Tuesday 15th of January 2019

Thanks for that advice! I have a red-eye flight and was already thinking about waking baby to feed or suck on pacifier. This is helpful to know :)

Nahid Anwar

Wednesday 6th of September 2017

Hi there... I m planning to travel with my 5 months old baby from India to London. Unfortunately i m travelling alone as my husband is in uk and he cant come due to some health issues. Can you plz suggest the best flight to travel with a baby... and do i have to buy my own bassinet or they provide it. And what about the airport?? How am I going to carry my baby.. ( specially when going to loo ) i m really nervous.


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

Hi Nahid, a lot depends on your personal preferences. If you read my post on Top Family Friendly Airlines you will gauge an idea of what some airlines provide. The airline will provide a bassinet- but you will need to request it when you book your flight. Some airlines allow you to do this immediately ( BA) on their website but obviously it will not be available if someone has booked the same flight with a baby. Emirates are very good with babies as are Qatar and Etihad. I would highly advise using a Baby carrier at the airport and then keep in your hand luggage for when you disembark in London and walk to baggage reclaim. It means you have your hands free for luggage, and for going to the loo.


Monday 9th of January 2017

What a great blog. So happy I came across it! I will traveling with my 8 month old from America to South Africa soon. Due to a family member being on their death bed, we're leaving as soon as we get her passport. Any tips for a last minute (literally) flight?

I looked at the bassinets that are available but my daughter is well over 20lbs. So that may not be an option.

Carrie Bradley

Saturday 2nd of January 2016

Hi Faye, hope I'm not to late! Yes the liners are a great idea as it is tricky to clean bottles properly on board. I've also used Milton tablets and used the sink in the loo to help clean too!

Carrie Bradley

Saturday 2nd of January 2016

Hi yes they should have enough especially if you are transiting through Dubai and are on 2 different planes.

I also usually make sure I have enough for 1 or 2 feeds and put in a baby bottle, keep cool by placing in a ziplock filled with ice- which is easy to replenish at an airport or on the plane. That way you have some with you just in case of any unplanned delays etc.

Have a lovely time. Mauritius is beautiful!

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