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Tips For Flying Longhaul With A Baby

My 9 month old nephew is a seasoned traveler. Having flown longhaul from London to Bangkok at Christmas, he recently returned to the Far East to visit us in Singapore. Naturally I pleaded with my sister in law to share her tips on flying British Airways longhaul with a baby. This is a route I do often but with a 9 and 7 year old, it’s a totally different kettle of fish.  I have almost forgotten how anxious you can get in the lead up to a longhaul flight with a baby. Have I packed the right things? How will I stop my baby from making a fuss the entire flight? In fact, this was the reason I set up Jetlag & Mayhem in the first place – to share real stories and useful advice.  I digress. Over to Emily, hope you find her tips helpful!

How did you book the flight?

Online through the British Airways website. Found it straightforward to make the booking. I could choose my seat straight away and luckily there was one with a bassinet available (in fact at this point in booking, all bassinet seats were available.  I booked during the BA sale – it’s worth keeping an eye out for this.

I checked in online 24 hours in advance of the flight.

At Heathrow T5

We checked in at the Family Zone A. The staff were all extremely helpful.

Went to Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food for coffee. Had high chairs so I was able to give Jax his dinner there (pouch).

Main baby items in hand luggage (you can find Emily’s packing list here)

  • Took the pot of powder and additional formula box in case he needed extra feeds.
  • Chamomile tea bags
  • 4 bottles with water
  • 2 without water
  • Tommee Tippee disposable bibs
  • Food pouches
  • Feeding items
  • Nappies & Changing Mat
  • Change of clothes

I had a stroller, small wheelie suitcase and a backpack. In hindsight I was overcautious and shouldn’t have had the wheelie.  As it’s a night flight you don’t need as much as you think so I could have easily condensed it all into my backpack (which I did for the return flight).

No problems with security, I was able to take all my bottles filled with water through.

Onboard

I left the buggy at the gate and put Jax into the Ergo baby carrier. They informed me at the Gate that the buggy (Baby Jogger City Mini) WOULD NOT be waiting for me at the aircraft door on arrival. Instead it would be at the Carousel. Apparently this is commonplace for all larger strollers, they will only take the lighter umbrella ones to the door.

Our plane was an A380 and the flight took off at 7.30pm.  Luckily the staff were kind enough to keep the seat spare to the right of me. I was sitting in 20E which is behind Premium Economy. The upside of this is that you don’t have a noisy galley in front of you.

The BA crew were very helpful. They offered to stow away all my bags and asked I needed any bottles heating up. They also asked what kind of bassinet I needed (BA has two kinds, a box version for young babies and a car seat style one for older babies.

Once up in air they installed the bassinet. Unfortunately it was broken and wouldn’t stand up properly. However, in a way it meant Jax could actually get a better sleep as he was laying flatter. I did try to call the staff to change it but nobody answered call button.

I do know it’s policy but there’s nothing worse than having to remove a sleeping baby from the bassinet when the seatbelt sign comes on!  I wish they would make the seat secure enough so you don’t need to take them out.

The temperature onboard was absolutely freezing. Luckily I’d brought plenty of layers and also my Morrck baby hoodie travel wrap. These are super handy as you can thread a seatbelt harness through it.

Top Tips For Flying With An Infant

  • Remember that even in the moments they are screaming, there is an end to it. You are going on a holiday. Roll with the punches. Don’t get yourself worked up. There’s no escape. You’ve got to stay calm. The calmer you are, the calmer they are.
  • On the day of travel, try and stick to your usual routine.  Especially the late afternoon nap if it’s a night flight. When they are overtired at 7pm then it’s harder to get them to sleep
  • Wear lightweight clothing for when you put the baby sling on. It’s hot, the baby’s hot, you’re holding all your bags – you don’t need a thick jumper!
  • Jax flew in a short-sleeved vest and babygro
  • Once in the air, I gave him calpol. I also give him a bottle with chamomile tea to calm his tummy.
  • Buy a bumbag!  Use this to store your passports, phone etc.
  • Don’t bring wheeled suitcase
  • Get everything in one bag
  • Bring toys including soft toys you can attach to the bassinet. Jax spent quite  bit of time sitting on the floor and playing with the toys. That said he also enjoyed the seatbelt buckle!
  • Packed an iPad so that I could access Baby Tv.
  • Don’t assume stroller will be there when you get off plane.
  • I ended up changing nappies on the floor. Ask where the nearest disabled loo is so that you know where to go
  • Packed organic rice crackers as snacks but didn’t end up give them to him.
  • Should have bought ready made milk at the airport as that’s much easier to use than powder.
  • Don’t assume that a 7pm flight will be a good time to fly as they keep the light on. It’s quite difficult to mimic the dark.  I wish the bassinet had a hood!
  • Bring dummy clips

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