The part of our journey we were afraid of most was the flight. Though our Little Man is a very easy-going and calm baby and I’m used to taking him with me everywhere I go, I was worried how he would cope with not having a lot of space around and how he would react to the changes of pressure in the cabin. I was also afraid of the temperature inside the plane and the dry air – afraid because I didn’t want our Little Man to spend his first holiday abroad at a hospital or in a hotel room. To be honest, despite the fact that our Little Man’s well-being is most important of all to us, we wouldn’t want to spend our holiday that way either for obvious reasons but I guess that risk is always part of travelling with a baby and there’s nothing really you can do about it. At least not once you’ve reached your destination.
Before we left, I read about flying with infants and spoke to our travel agent. As with every new situation, we have to be prepared that our baby may behave in a variety of different ways but there is a few things that we can do to help our little loved one enjoy his first journey by plane.
First of all, a baby that is familiar with public transport will surely be more calm on a plane. The amount of people around, sounds on the plane or at the airport, the atmosphere in general will surely not affect an infant if he or she has already travelled by bus, tram or train for example. As I mentioned before, I take our Little Man everywhere with me and we often take a bus or tram so he didn’t seem bothered at all with what was happening around at the airport or on the plane (ok, maybe except for the flight attendants…every time one of them passed our seets and he wasn’t asleep he would stare at them like he’s never seen a human before lol! cute!)
(Photo by Agencja Gazeta borrowed from archiwro.blox.pl )
Next, we have to be prepared that the air in the cabin may be hot or cold, or rather very hot or very cold should I say because it’s never even close to inbetween, at least I have never experienced an optimal temperature on board. As we usually travelled in cold planes and our travel agent said we should remember that it might get very cold in the plane, me and my husband wore jeans and jumpers and all warm just to find out, of course, that this time it was totally opposite. Typical (; Luckily our Little Man was prepared for everything so we undressed him a bit once we entered the plane and he seemed to be happy. I took a spare top and blouse and jumper for our Little Man and his favourite blankey too. We didn’t use it on the way to Greece but we did on the way back so it’s always good to be prepared for different options.
Seat and entrance priority. This was something I didn’t really think of too much as I unfortunately assumed that if our travel agent said we have priority with a baby, then we do. Well, we didn’t. I think it was a matter of the staff at the airport, a young guy that seemed to be miles away from earth. He said we will be treated like all other passengers thank you bye. Not nice but there was nothing we could do about it so we waited until all other people get on the plane and then sat on our numbered seats, somewhere in the middle of the plane, I had a feeling there’s no other plane that has seats placed so tightly. Fine, if you’re travelling without a child but I struggled a lot with getting seated, trying to move around, feeding, eating, basically with everything holding our Little Man in my arms. What we did is whenever I wanted to do something I passed him over to my husband and the other way round. Poor thing had to be passed from hands to hands constantly throughout the flight but luckily he slept most of the time so we all managed somehow. Also, the 3rd seat in our row was free so when our Little Man woke up we could seat him there for a bit of space and movement. On the way back from Greece we were a bit wiser after the first flight and the moment we got to the airport we asked our resident to help us out with better seats and the long, very long queue. She took us straight to the front of the queue, excused and announced to other passengers that we’re going first as we have a small baby and then the staff was kinder too and seated us in front of the plane where we had much more space so next time we know we have to ask for priority instead of assuming anything. Well, at least when flying on holiday or with cheap airlines.
Cabin pressure. The pressure on board gets very high at times just to suddenly fall the next moment. It’s high throughout most of the flight but when the plane aims for a lower position or starts landing, not to mention the start off, that’s when we feel pressure changes the most and some people are happy with chewing gum or yawning while others suffer from ear-aches or can’t get rid of ear-blocks, dizziness, nausea etc. We as adults are responsible for ourselves, we know what we can or can’t do and how to act if we feel unwell. A baby is totally unaware of what’s happening and may react differently. I think this is what I was afraid of most. I was advised to let our Little Man drink as much as possible at start-off, landing and throughout the whole flight (3 hours) in general. And so I did. I breastfeed and our Little Man never refuses „offered a drink” so the moment our plane started moving I started breastfeeding. A bit too quick as before the plane got on track and was let on the runway, our Little Man was nearly finished but somehow I managed to keep him drinking until the plane reached a stable position and decided to keep in mind that I shouldn’t panic next time and wait with feeding until the plane is actually ready for start-off. Our Little Man didn’t suffer at all and looked very happy. Unlike before landing. Once the plane was slowly getting ready for landing our Little Passenger began to cry, I knew it was because of the sudden pressure decrease because his crying was different to all the other ones we’ve experienced plus he was touching his ear. I immediately gave him my breast and he did sob a few more times while drinking but after a short moment he was happy again. So remember, whether you breastfeed or not, let your baby drink as often as possible during the flight!
Nappy change time – yaaay! My mistake because I forgot to change our Little Travellers nappy right before the flight (recommended if it’s a short or relatively short flight like ours). Once he woke up after quite a long nap in the air, I decided to change his nappy. I asked a flight attendant whether they have a place where I could change my baby’s nappy and I was surprised to hear that they actually do, in the toilet. I went there and indeed, the cheaper flights do have them too but they aren’t too comfortable for any of the sides. However, big plus for having a changing table on board at all. Now imagine you enter the toilet – tiny and loud as in any other plane, the toilet itself is right in front of you, basin on your right, you have about half a square meter to move around and there it is, right above the toilet seat there’s a table you unfold from the wall leaving yourself about 10 square centimetres to move around while changing your baby’s nappy. I found it quite funny but our Little Man didn’t. He was uncomfortable, unhappy and irritated so I changed his nappy in express mode and quickly left the toilet without taking a photo for you guys. Instead, I’m borrowing a photo from another blog – mamatatadziecko.blogspot.com because that’s exactly what it looked like.
Still, it’s much better than putting your baby in danger while changing his nappy on the floor of the main aisle, having people walk over his head and leaving the luggage store open right above his head like one of the other passengers did with their child. I call for common sense! Wherever you are, please remember about the safety of your child, even if it’s only a quick nappy change!
Other technical issues you might want to know about:
Liquids – you are not allowed to take more than a 100ml of liquids on board so if you don’t breastfeed, just take the powdered modified milk with you and you can ask a flight attendant to bring you some boiled water. If you prefer to have your own mineral water for that, you can buy it at the airport in the duty-free area and take it with you or just ask flight attendants for heated MINERAL water.
Stroller – when flying with a baby you are allowed to take a stroller or pram with you. Once you get to the entrance of the plane, you leave the stroller behind for luggage staff to pack it on the plane. Wherever you land, you either get your stroller at the exit of the plane or it comes out with all other luggage on the luggage claim line.
Tickets and luggage – children under the age of 2 do not pay for flying. However, standard flight costs are charged. Children are not allowed any claimed luggage but they can have small hand luggage.
Please correct me if I’m wrong?
If you’re flying with an infant, it has to be seated on your lap and you are given a special seatbelt attachment for the baby.
This is what it looks like when the seatbelt is properly fastened:
I must say that our Little Man was very brave and coped very well with the whole journey despite its few inconveniences and we’re so proud of him! He seemed to have liked the plane trip and on the way back he slept the whole flight through ( unfortunately our flight was moved from noon to 1:30am landing at Wrocław Airport at 4am) which means he probably felt comfortable and we haven’t noticed any influence of any of the flights on his well-being, behaviour or daily routine.
To sum up, our Little Man’s first plane trip went much better than we all expected and in my opinion, there’s no need to postpone flying until a baby gets older. However, it’s you who knows your baby best and if you feel it’s a bad idea because you’re pretty sure that your baby won’t cope with such a journey, then wait until you feel it’s the right time. No pressure!