Flying with a baby may be a new experience for your family, but with these top tips, you can make the journey that little bit easier.
Allow yourself some extra time
Even if you’re an experienced and regular solo traveller, we’d recommend giving yourself extra time when travelling with a baby- things always just seem to take that bit longer! Confirm your check-in time with your airline and whether you have to check-in online before you get to the airport.
You can usually check in additional hold luggage items for your baby such as car seats, travel cots and buggies, but all airlines will have their own policies on this.
After you’ve checked in, it’s likely that you’ll have to take larger items such as car seats to ‘oversized’ or ‘out-of-gauge’ baggage, which is a separate check-in area. The check-in staff will advise you though.
If you want to keep your buggy with you until you board the plane, just let the check-in staff know. They’ll put a baggage tag on the buggy (on each piece if it’s in multiple sections) but will let you take it with you until you board the aircraft. More on that later!
Getting through security with a baby
Preparation is key to getting through the security procedures easily. You’ll find differing restrictions on what you can take through security in different countries, but for the latest rules for travelling from the UK, check out the UK government’s website. This gives guidance on liquid restrictions, sharps, medicines etc, and rules on baby formula, expressed milk, baby food etc.
Our top tip for security is to have all of your liquids and electronics for the whole in one of your carry-on bags and designate one person to be in charge of getting these out for security. It saves you searching for liquid bags in multiple carry-on bags and finding electronics spread throughout your packing.
In most airports, you’ll have to fold your buggy up to go through the x-ray system with your carry-on bags, but security staff will advise. Some airports have systems in place that mean you don’t have to fold them up, but this is still pretty rare in the experience of the Family Travel Pro.
Security staff are well-trained to help families negotiate the security process so don’t hesitate to ask if you need any assistance at all. People generally love being able to help out.
Pre-order items to collect at the airport
The majority of UK airports will have shops that will stock a small range of baby formula, baby pouches and snacks. It is worth packing your own favourites though as the ranges and availability can be limited.
However, at some airports you can pre-order products such as baby formula, baby food pouches and other baby food and snacks to pick up before you travel, after you’ve gone through security. Just check the website of the airport you’re flying from to see if this service is available or drop their social teams a tweet or facebook message. This can be a great way to maximise your carry on luggage as most airlines allow an additional carrier bag from airport shops.
Boarding the plane
People travelling with babies under two years old will usually get the chance to board the plane first. This is a great opportunity to avoid any queues and have enough time to get settled.
If you have a buggy or travel system with you (and haven’t already checked it in), you’ll usually be asked to leave this at the plane steps or door if boarding from an airbridge. If you’re travelling by yourself, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help you fold the buggy or hold your little one whilst you do it. People are usually delighted to be able to help out. You’ll usually get your buggy back at baggage reclaim at your arrival airport, but confirm with your airline when you check in especially if you’re on a connecting flight as it can differ by airline and airport.
Babies under 2 can usually travel on an adult’s lap for free but if you want to, you can book them a seat which you will be charged for. They will still have to be on your lap for take off and landing and if the seat belt sign is on, but this can be a great way to give yourself a bit more space on board.
Whether your baby has their own seat or is travelling on your lap, you’ll be given a lap belt by the cabin crew that loops on to your belt. The cabin crew will show you how to use this.
Feed on take-off and landing
If you can, it’s a good idea to feed your baby on take-off and landing as the sucking and swallowing motions help their ears adjust to the changes in cabin pressure and can stop their ears getting sore.
Keeping your little one occupied
Family Travel Pro advises taking a few key toys, books or games on board to keep your baby occupied but the new surroundings may well be enough to keep them occupied for a while.
If you’re travelling when your baby would usually nap, bringing their favourite blanket or comforter on board with you can be helpful, but be prepared for usual routines to maybe not go to plan! Any naps on top of that can be seen as a bonus!
What if my baby is unhappy?
Lots of parents worry about their babies being unhappy on flights and disturbing other passengers by crying or being unsettled. In all of the Family Travel Pro’s experience, other passengers have generally only been caring and helpful. More often than not, other passengers just feel for the parents! Please do not feel the need to apologise for your baby – they have every right to be travelling – as do you – and they are only expressing themselves in the only way they can.
It’s also worth remembering that on an aeroplane you can actually hear very little beyond your immediate seats because of the noise of the aircraft. Your crying baby probably can’t be heard by anywhere near as many people as you think!
Changing nappies on a plane
All planes will have facilities for baby changing, but you probably won’t have a whole lot of room to change your little one. Family Travel Pro advises packing a small separate bag with a few nappies, wipes and bags that you can easily pick up and take to the onboard toilets with you rather than carrying a whole bag with you.
Pack some spare clothes … for everyone!
In case of accidents and delays or cancellations, Family Travel Pro would always advise a few changes of clothes are available in carry-on bags, and not just for baby! An extra t-shirt or top for Mum and Dad can come in very handy in our experience, as well as a couple of muslin cloths – they can be helpful in all kinds of unexpected scenarios!
You can find even more information on flying with a baby here:
- What to pack in your hand luggage when flying with a baby
- When can I first fly with a baby
- Best buggies for holidays