When we were going in our first airplane trip with Ola we had of course a lot of questions, fears and daubts. Many times on board of planes we have seen people traveling with children, younger and older, infants and toddlers so we knew that it was possible. As for our first tirp we were wondering if it wasn’t too early, how Ola will tolerate the flight, what to do with her stroller, we need to take it with us, how to pack all that baby stuff etc. After weighing all the pros and cons we decided to leave home. It was few months ago and since then we have flown together already more than once, each time going through all airport procedures, check-in, security check, we have been on board of several different airlines so we have gained some experience and would like to share it, helping other parents plan a good journey with an infant.
To go or not to go?
The decision when to go on the first airplane trip with an infant, whether to go at all, we leave to parents. There are so many opinions about that and we think that parents have to decide themselves. In our opinion if you are not affraid of your child’s reaction on the plane and your pediatrician approves the idea you can plan a trip. Although most airlines do not take on board infants younger than 2 weeks, doctors’ opinions are a bit more restrictive. General consensus is that a healthy child can fly from 10 weeks of age. However there are many exceptions concerning for example time and method of birth and potential child’s chronic diseases so before first trip it is worth to pay a visit at the doctor’s to check if you should feel free to go. Remember also about vaccination – planing any kind of trip right after inoculation is rather risky. You cannot be sure how the baby reacts so it is advisable to let him or her stay home for few days before going anywhere. What is also important, you will need some kind of ID for your little one. We applied for passport for Ola right away, now it is her ID in the country at the same time allowing us to travel abroad.
How to buy a ticket for a baby
Interesting fact is that airlines consider infants all kids below 2 years and for such they do not provide a separate seat. Infants travel on parents lap. Of course it is not impossible to transport such a little one on a separate seat. It’s not a popular solution but you can buy a separate seat for your baby if you have a special, attested device for kids transportation. Basicly there are two options: a car seat certified for an on board use (mounted usually by the window, in rows not next to the emergency exit) and specialy designed seatbelts CARES (For kids from 10 to 20 kg). In both cases it’s the parent, who has to provide the deviced and what is more, very often inform airlines about plans of traveling with such and sometimes even buy the ticket through call center. Airplane certificates for those devices should be presented at the airport. There are some airlines that provide such eqipment (i.e. Virgin Atlantic) but you have to make sure to book it at least a day in advance. Paying for a separate seat for an infant you also get the right to take more luggage. Regardless of how your baby will travel you cannot buy only a ticket for him. The thing is that baby’s ticket is always added to adult’s reservation. One adult can take on board only one infant and their total number on the plane is limited by airlines’ internal rules and number of kids seatbelts avaliable.
Since they do not have their own seats it seems that child’s ticket should be way cheaper than adults’ but it is not so obvious. In traditional airlines kids under 2 years get a 90% discount of their fare, to which later on airport fees are added. The thing looks different in cheap airlines – there is a fixed fee for an infant, in two the most popular on our market airlines this is: 20€ in Ryanair, 25€ in Wizz Air so if you are looking for best offers it might happen that your ticket will be much cheaper than baby’s. To avoid such situations, if adult ticket is cheaper than 25€ Wizz Air lowers kid’s fare to the same amount.
If you want to add a child ticket to your already existing reservation, you can do it only on the phone. You need to reach your airlines’ call center but pay attention at the cost because in cheap airlines those are quite expensive calls. Sometimes, it makes sense to consider buying a ticket for a child together with yours even if you are not sure if the baby flies. Above mention price reduction in Wizz Air works only at purchasing online. Ryanair always charges that fixed 20€.
Kids under 2 years cannot participate in airlines loyalty programs. But if you expect your boy or a girl to become an air travel enthusiast and Wizz Air fan, you can join a kind of loyalty program for kids. It involves collecting stamps to a special passport each time when being on board of Wizz Air planes. You print Captain’s Pass at home and when fill it up with 6 stamps your baby will be invited for a visit in the cockpit and will seat at Airbus’ controls.
Where will I fit all the diapers? The thing about infant’s lugagge
Baggage limits for people traveling with children depend on airlines regulation. Most of them allow infants to take not only hand luggage but also checked one. Some carriers, such as Lufthansa or British Airways grant infants the same baggage allowance as adults, others limit bag’s weight to 10 kg (i.a. Air France, Emirates, Singapore Airlines). Totaly different policy have for example Air Asia or Wizz Air – they do not allow passengers under 2 years to carry any luggage. The only thing you can freely take flying any airline is baby pushchair. It is always accepted no matter what size and it is free of charge. Ryanair additionally allows, besides baby stroller a car seat, one more thing: booster seat or a travel cot. Some online services for parents love making long lists of necessary things you need to take with you when leaving home with a baby, today we have only one advice – make sure not to take on board any toys making sounds and remember that the less things you take, the easier travel will be.
What does an infant do at the airport – how to get through check-in and security
Arriving to the airport with baby in a stroller, even if you checked in online and have no other luggage to be checked, first thing you need to do is to visit check-in anyway. If you want your pushchair to travel by plane it needs to be tagged exactly as all the other luggage with the code of your destination as it will be transported in hatch. Parents with kids often have priority to check-in and in some airports there are specialy designated check-ins for them. In most airports you can choose whether you want to check your pushchair in or you take it to the gate and there hand over to the staff. If you prefer to get rid of it at check-in you might be asked to put it in oversize luggage point. Leaving the stroller at check-in makes you carry the baby all the way to the plane but saves you from passing through security check with it. Unfortunately stroller, as all other baggage needs to be X-rayed and that requires from parents demounting it totaly to fit it in way too small machine. In big airports after passing security sometimes we find strollers prepared for children to be used for free on the airside of the terminal. There are different types of them but all are rather suitable for babies that already sit.
At security check parents with children go through a designated pass. This is to be used by people with kids and those carrying medicines in their handluggage. Sometimes scanners are little bigger there but still not enough for the stroller to go through without disassembling it. You have to know that traveling with an infant you can carry milk, other meals, drinks and medicines exceeding standard limit for liquids (bottles of 100 ml, max. 1l) however it is not specified how much more you can take. Remember only that they mean food and drinks for the time of travel, not for two weeks of holidays. All the products will be scanned and you will get a special container for liquids. If you do not have a stroller and any more liquids than standard quantities you can choose any queue, don’t have to use this exact one.
After passing security check, on the airside, you will find some facilities prepared for children. Before flight you might want to use a mother&baby room where you can feed the little one and change the diaper. It will be much more convenient to do it there than in microtoilet on the plane. The rooms on most airports are nice and clean. If your baby falls asleep and he or she needs quiet to get good rest for the time of waiting for boarding you can visit airport quiet rooms. But remember that all the people came there looking for peace.
Some passengers like to visit business lounges but we think that it depends on the airport. Some business lounges are designed for passengers looking for some rest and coming with a little one you can that atmosphere. Lounges toilets usually do not have changing tables. However there are exceptions – you can find lounges that welcome kids, have playgrounds for children and offer high chairs for little guests. There you know you can freely go with a baby and let him/her play with other kids (or rather next to other kids at that age). Playgrounds for younger and older children are avaliable on most of terminals and are usually occupied by little travellers. Older kids will more likely look for some multimedia entertainment than playgrouns. They are avaliable but only on some airports, bigger ones and more exclusive.
Boarding starts around 40 minutes before the scheduled time of flight. Families with children have priority for boarding, probably because it takes us a little more time to store handluggage, take places and fasten seatbelts. If you decied not to check your stroller in just come with it to the gate. If you are boarding through the jet bridge, no problem, hand it to operating personnel at aircraft door. Another thing is when you need to take the bus to get to the plane – in most cases you will have to go downstairs form the gate to ground level. And here usually you will find stairs. No lifts. Then happens something that all parents love – carrying a stroller, baby and baggage daownstairs. Not a pleasure. When finally get to the plane fold the stroller and leave it by the stairs. Some airlines, to be honest those more expensive, help parents protect their strollers from getting dirty in the hatch and put them in big plastic bags. Thanks to that you get your pushchair at the destination airport clean and dry but those are only those top ones.
Where to look for your stuff at the destination airport? It depends on internal regulations of each port. In some of them you will find it on the belt together with other luggage, on the others with oversize baggage while at some others – by the stairs of the airplane. Do not hurry when leaving the plane, look around, maybe your stroller is already waiting for you.
So far you are doing pretty good, you checked in, passed security control and arrived to the plane smoothly, holding boarding passes for every member of your family and having everything under control. But what will happen on board? It is unpredictable how your sweet little one will tolerate the flight but there are some things that you can do to help him or her. First check some general information about an infant in the air.
Is it possible to survive a flight with an infant at all?
The most important for parents thing about flying with a baby, we already mentioned it before, is the fact that those under 2 yers old usually do not get their own seat on the plane but travel on parent’s lap. We have to say that it is not really comfortable. Especialy in cheap airlines where the space is limited. But on the other hand it’s not that bad to make you stay home. The younger the baby is and the less it moves the more convenient it is. When it starts moving and gets curious of everything you have to be strong to hold your young. Basic safety rules, like fastening a seatbelt, apply to all passengers, even so small ones. Infant gets from cabin crew his or her own seatbelt which adult fastens first to his own and than wraps around baby’s waist and buckles. When flying over some bigger bodies of water you will also get a lifevest for you child. Put it under your seat and keep the fingers crossed not to have opportunity to use it.
Usually the most dfficult part for an infant is taking off and landing. More noise, changes of pressure, clogged ears might cause big cry. There is no wonder, some adults don’t like it either. To help the baby unclogg ears give her something to drink, water or milk. You can also try pacifier. Swallowing will help to equalize the pressure in ears and get rid of this uncomfortable feeling.
Depending on the length of your journey and time of day your baby can get hungry during the flight. If you use formula milk do not hesitate to ask cabin crew for water. In cheap airlines you will probably have to pay for it but still will be able to feed the kid. When traveling by traditional airlines on longer routes infant can count on getting a meal as other passenger. Little one gets a dinner in a jar, milk, water or juice and fruit. Either it is breastmilk, formula or fruit child eats still on parent’s lap. There is no any quiet place on the airplane which you could use for feeding.
After eating as we all know the necessity of changing the diaper might come. Luckily all the toilets are equipped in changing board so no problem. Space in the toilets is limited but to change the diaper it is enough. Good solution helping us keep hygiene in public places are disposable pads you can use to put baby on. The disadvantage of aircraft toilets is a little more noise but it should not bother the baby.
Remember to take on board some favourite toys of your child, something that can keep him or her attracted for the longest possible time and will let passengers seating next to you survive the flight, we mean toys that will not be making any sounds. Imagine sitting next to you a crying baby and parents trying to calm it with some noisy toys… insane. You will know what to choose to entertain your son or daughter best but keep in mind limited dimensions of hand luggage.
Traveling with a baby on longer routes you can apply for a special cot, a bassinet mounted at first rows or at partitions separating classes or parts of the cabin. Applying for a bassinet you will get a seat right in front of it. Thanks to that not only baby will travel comfortably but you will also get some more space for yourself and your baggage. Different airlines offer different types of bassinets but in most cases they are suitable for children under 10 kg and one year. But it is worth checking directly at the airlines because there are bassinets serving even kids up to 2 years. Cheap airlines do not offer them at all. The cot, even if sometimes doesn’t look like, is really stable and trustworthy and you can safely put your baby there. It’s perfect when traveling with a newborn, who put there to sleep and potected by belts will not get out on her/his own. Such thing lets parents get some rest, although safety rules do not allow leave the child unattended and go to sleep. Anyway it will be easier to survive the flight, even without sleeping, when the baby will not be on your laps all the time. Of course for take off and landing bassinete needs to be removed and baby has to come back to parent’s lap and fasten the seatbelt or if you chose that solution seated in that special seat or buckled with CARES restrains.
As you see even the flight with an infant can be spent in quite a nice atmosphere but we want to remind you to do everything to keep the same atmosphere for other passengers. Making a little baby be quiet during the flight is not always possible but keeping the older one from coming in too close contact with others is. Although your baby is the most beautiful, the sweetest and nicest in the whole world other passengers might not be willing to play with him or her. Baby running around the plane all by herself, disturbing others and waking up those sleeping ones is unacceptable. Let the others travel in peace and you will be better treated and will not hear those heavy sighs when sitting with the baby next the others on the plane.
If you have any questions we didn’t answer above, there is something still unclear or you need to get some more information on anything, please feel free to ask us. It will be our pleasure to help. And after your first flight with the little one you will see that all that is easier than it looks. Of course you have to be well organised but it’s the same for every kind of trip. Do not hesitate and choose your destination! Good luck!