Updated February 2018
What To Expect On Board When Flying With A Baby
Here is some general information to give you a realistic idea of what lies before you, with some tips for your first flight with baby.
These tips for flying with a baby, 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.
- For more detailed flying with a baby tips which cover absolutely everything from booking to arrival see here.
- For flying with toddler tips see here.
- For specific airline rules when flying with a baby – you may find this post useful.
9 Insider Tips For Flying With A Baby For The First 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.
In February 2016, United Airlines reversed its policy and now allows families flying with children under two to pre-board.
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)
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.
However, it is always worth asking the crew if they do have room in the cabin. (It is only worth trying this 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.
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.
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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This combined with the other effects, will mean it would be difficult to get your baby close to the oxygen supply.)
If you need milk warmed up, ask before you need it.
Most airlines will do this for you, it depends on their policy, so definitely ask before you travel. Cabin crew are usually happy to help you, but unfortunately they could be very busy with the main meal service. Furthermore, they could over heat it, so you’ll need time to let it cool.
If you are breast-feeding, there is no private area on board the plane to feed.
Unless you really want to use the loo? 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
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.
They do vary from airline and from aircraft type to aircraft type, so check on your airlines website before you go.
If you are flying with a baby or toddler the extra help with boarding, disembarking etc is very helpful. The sky nannies will provide some inflight entertainment for children. Well worth considering, especially if you are flying with a baby solo or if you have several kids.
Don’t expect them to take your kids entirely off your hands though. They are part of the normal crew and will have their regular duties to perform.
- Read the detailed flying with a baby tips from booking to arrival here
- Read the detailed flying with a toddler tips here.
- Have you remembered any items you need to help your baby or toddler sleep on the plane?
- Would you like a free printable (no sign up) packing checklist? If so see here.
- Find out which airlines/airports provide courtesy airport strollers here.
- Discover some quiet travel toys for babies here.
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