Flying with children for the first time?
It can be a gruelling experience if you are handling it the first time. Knowing what to expect and preparing for the trip will help to ease the bumps along the way.
Here are some some tried-and-tested tips from parents who have been through it.
- Research airlines that are baby-friendly
When booking your flight, research for airlines that have baby-friendly amenities. Some of such airlines are Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.
Take note that infant passengers within the first 48 hours of their birth are not permitted to travel. Air travel is also not recommended for infants 7 days of age or under. You can book a ticket for an infant if he/she is more than 7 days and less than 2 years old at the point of travel. Each infant in the booking must travel with an adult who is 18 years of age or older at the time of departure.
Emirates allow you to skip the queues and go straight to their family check-in desks if you are flying with young children. For Virgin Atlantic, baby meals are provided and complimentary in-flight cots installed for you after take-off when you make a request in advance.
If you are flying with full-service airlines such as those mentioned above, you can request for a bassinet when you book an infant ticket. A limited number of bassinets may be available on board and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. However, take note that most budget airlines such as Scoot and AirAsia do not allow, nor provide, bassinets on board flights. Only Jetstar international flights on Boeing 787 aircraft have bassinets fitted.
- Make sure you are well-packed
To help your child be as comfortable as possible on his first flight, bring along his favourite toys to keep him busy. It is handy to have at least 2 pacifiers packed so that your baby can suck on them during take-off and landing to help with ear pressure. Alternatively, breastfeeding mothers can breast feed to relieve ear pressure if child is not using a pacifier. A bottle of milk also works.
If you are travelling from Singapore, you can bring on board sufficient quantity of expressed breast milk/baby food you need to nurse your infant for the entire journey. British Airways, Emirates and Air New Zealand are some of the airlines that offer baby food and milk warming facilities.
General baby amenities such as diapers, disposable bibs, feeding bottles, and baby wipes are also available on board airlines. However, they may have limited quantities so do make sure you are well-packed with what is needed.
- Getting through security and getting on board
Families with infants and children are given priority boarding. This allows parents more time to stow away cabin baggage and ensure that children are seated comfortably without having to worry about disturbing the flow of other passengers boarding.
Comfort is important when you travel. It is also advisable to wear a layer of clothing just in case of spills. Choose also something comfortable for your child to wear while boarding a plane.
- Carrying a car seat or stroller on board
If you have purchased a seat for your infant or young child you can bring an approved car seat for them to sit in. A car seat doesn’t count towards your carry-on baggage allowance. Check with your airline on the car seat regulations and inform them when you would be using a car seat for your child.
Children up to two years old (24 months), are not required to have their own seat. You can carry an infant under two years old on your lap. Airlines will give you a special seat belt extension.
Strollers on board also have to meet cabin requirements.
Compact foldable light-weight strollers will be checked in if there is no space in the cabin. You may carry on board any type of compact foldable light-weight stroller only if they meet the requirements. Strollers that do not meet the requirements will also have to be checked in. These strollers, when checked in, will not be counted as part of your checked baggage allowance.
If you do not own a lightweight stroller but know that you definitely need one when travelling, you can look to stroller rental services such as PramShare which provides a range of cabin-sized strollers for rent.
Knowing what to expect and preparing for the trip will help to ease the bumps along the way. Research on the rules and regulations (such as approved child safety seats that can be brought on board) so that you can get through security smoothly. Though you get priority booking when travelling with a child, it helps to be at the airport before the stipulated time so as to help ease the pressure that comes with flying.
Lastly, have an enjoyable time though there might be unforeseen circumstances! It helps to stay as calm as possible in the face of situations.
Singaporeair.com. (2018). Travelling with children. [online] Available at: https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/sg/travel-info/special-assistance/travelling-with-children/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].
Singapore Parenting Magazine for baby, children, kids and parents. (2018). Traveling With Children This Festive Season? Here Are Some Useful Tips:. [online] Available at: https://sg.theasianparent.com/travelling-by-plane-with-your-child/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].