Air Travel With An Infant The Complete Guide

Air Travel with an Infant: The Complete Guide

Family travel with an infant can be stressful if not well planned. When looking for a preferred airline that accommodates infants and children, it’s essential to understand the specific policies outlined by the airlines you plan to fly. Most airlines offer child amenities on long haul flights.  Etihad is famously known and preferred for their in-flight nanny service.

Long-haul flights board more leisurely (best for infant comfort) compared to short hauls which require priority boarding, which you may not have at the time of your travel. Furthermore, many airlines do not follow boarding procedures to the letter while abroad, so it’s to your advantage because you can check-in at the gate without stress.

In this article, we’ll expound on how to travel with a baby and give you tips on some of the best airlines that accommodate young ones plus a few perks you can enjoy while traveling abroad.

Best Airlines that Accommodate Infant

1. American Airlines  

 American Airlines

Best for:

  • Special meals for infants/children or infants on request
  • Kids’ rooms at selected American’s Admirals Club lounges

2. British Airways  

British Airways

Best for:

  • Charge 10% on award bookings for lap children
  • Infant and children’s meals
  • SkyFlyers activity packs which include a coloring book, crayons, puzzles and Sudokus

3. Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways

Best for:

  • Flying Nanny Service
  • Bassinet service
  • Family pre-boarding
  • Dedicated family rooms for first-class and business passengers at select cities
  • Child and infant meals
  • An amenity pack
  • Age-appropriate TV entertainment and video games

4. Lufthansa

Lufthansa

Best for:

  • Bassinet service
  • Infants and kids special meals
  • Select family check-in areas at Munich and Frankfurt and airports

5. Virgin Atlantic

Lufthansa

Best for:

  • Bassinet Services
  • Baby meals
  • In-flight entertainment for kids
  • A special kids’ menu including pizza and chocolate
  • Lap child awards in points – Conditions apply

How to Pack For an Infant

1. An extra Large Suitcase

Use organizers to pack the baby’s clothes to make it easier to see these things when you need a quick change of clothes/diaper/simple tee or the baby’s little swimwear. So use compartmentalizers, like those used to pack lingerie, for instance, and make your life easier when you get to your destination and put the clothes into the dresser without unpacking. Use packing cubes for adult clothes and don’t forget to carry a snuggle pad for the baby to sleep on, on overlays.

2. A Carry on Suitcase

For emergencies, you know, just in case you lose your main suitcase with all the essentials in it. This is also what to use for flight layovers and short trips. It can be a nightmare having to buy tons of baby clothes while on safari, not to mention the puke/poop must-have moments for a healthy infant. Include toiletries, diapers, and wipes in this suitcase. Consider it your lifesaving contingency plan!

Booking Your Ticket with a Baby

When booking your flight tickets, be sure to mention that you plan to travel with an infant in arms. This will be marked on your ticket when boarding. Some airlines give out infant boarding passes such as American Airlines, while others will mark on your ticket that you have an infant in arms.

TSA with a Baby

Wear your baby in a secure wrap when going through the TSA security checks. Alternatively, if you brought your baby stroller along, it may or may not fit in the x-ray machine depending on its size. In this case, have it hand-checked by the security attendant at the airport. 

Gate – Checking

If you’re traveling with your partner, you have two options:

  1. One boards in the first wave with the luggage, which gives them enough time to sort out and organize the seating area while the other partner stays behind with the infant/toddlers and let them burn energy for about 30-45 minutes and board at the last minute. Kids will be knocked out as soon as your flight takes off; giving both parents a chance to snooze away too.
  2. Wait in Line with like everyone else, and the attendants may ask you to step aside for “light travellers” until they finish boarding this lot and you check-in among the last people. Quite tedious if your baby is cranky and tired.

Nursing your Infant

If you need a quiet space at the airport to breastfeed your infant before boarding, look for Mamava Pod capsules, they allow moms to nurse the baby in private. There’s room for toddlers to play around after nursing. It’s free to use, and you can download the Mamava app to discover available pod locations.

The Flight

Help your baby to adjust to cabin pressure during takeoff by feeding them. It’s the easiest way to calm an infant from crying on the flight. Feed them once more on landing. If the baby is strapped in, give them a bottle, but it’s hard to control their emotions, so consider the latter. 

Get acquainted with your flight attendants right away, because you’ll need them to assist you with baby necessities like warm water for the baby, and bounce your cranky baby behind the curtains. You’ll find passengers who frown upon you on realizing they’ll be stuck next to mom and baby the entire duration of the flight. And you’ll find others who don’t mind at all sitting next to you and yours. 

You can apologize in advance, not necessary by the way, unless your kid is a seat kicker, you’ve got a lot of apologizing to do. And do not share treats with the other passengers. It’s hard to control a crying baby on an airplane. The other passengers should understand, and just they’re probably not judging you as much as you think.

Poop Time

On long flights, your baby will require at least 2-3 diaper changes do it in the restrooms, where you’ll find a small fold-down table to lay your baby and change them. Bring along a changing pad to keep all the contents contained in a sterile environment. One more thing, you can change the baby on your lap, if it’s just a soggy diaper just before you land to keep them comfortable for the next stretch before you get to your final destination.

The Terrible Jet Lag

If you’re taking a long-haul flight, from Seattle to Egypt, for instance, if well-fed, and comfortable, your baby will sleep through the trip. Once you land, do not adapt to the local time to keep the baby well-adjusted in the next 24 hours. Keep them on the home time zone in the last 24 hours before your re-entry back home for a smoother schedule transition. 

Be prepared for a few hiccups and bumps along the way, but don’t worry, you will survive, you can do this, and you’ll be grateful you took the leap and had a swell adventurous trip.

Had your first trip with an infant in a plane? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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