Have you been putting off a much needed vacation because you always dreaded the thought of actually going on one with a baby? Or developed a recent fear of flying, ever since your baby came along? Ever wondered what facilities will be provided for you and how much are the crew really equipped to handle babies on board?
Having been a crew for a good 8 years, and now traveling as a mum of a 2 month old myself, I have come up with a few tips* I think will come in handy for any traveling parent. *Please note the list is indicative and not completely exhaustive 😉
★ Check-in most of the luggage:
If you have lots of luggage, kindly check-in maximum of it! Carry-on luggage should just be things that baby and you may need in-flight.
Carry your diaper bag with your usual stock, but with an extra set of clothes for baby AND you (I have faced serious spit ups!!). Something warm like a stole or shawl for you and baby in case will come in handy if the aircraft gets cold. You both can snuggle in one. Also keep a sanitizer handy, just in case you need it. Most airlines do carry basic amenities for babies. But they are limited, provided only on demand, and given on a ‘first come first serve’ basis.
★ Taking strollers on the plane:
Strollers are not counted as part of your luggage. It will be taken from you before you get on the aircraft and returned again at the door when you disembark, or at the conveyor belt, depending on airline/airport policy. This rule however does not apply to First or Business Class travelers. Both those cabins usually have separate closet space, apart from the overhead lockers. So if someone is taking Business Class, the crew may be able to accomodate the stroller in the closet.
★ Know the rules of the airline:
Rules keep changing. From aircraft to aircraft, airline to airline, country to country. I was super shocked when I was asked IF I would like an infant seat belt to strap my baby in for take-off and landing! Another airline did not even offer. This, after I have had years of training on how every infant needs to be secured in one! And please have patience to hear the crew, no matter how many times you have heard the rules before.
★ Get Medical Assistance, if required:
Your crew is equipped to handle any medical emergency, babies included. All crew are certified First Aiders and are trained each year to ensure their knowledge is up to date. Do not hesitate in going up to any one of them and asking for any help.
Most airlines carry basic medication for infants and children. But it is always advisable to carry your own in your hand bag. In case of any serious requirement, crew have the facility to contact doctors on ground and take assistance.
For immediate help, crew will page for doctors on board. However, since your crew is already trained and have a vast experience in dealing with all kinds of medical situations, they will hand over the proceedings to a doctor only after their protocol is over. Remember, everyone on board is working to assist you and baby. Please try not to panic, it helps no one.
★ Don’t hesitate to take a walk down the aisle:
Everyone on board understands if your baby is getting restless and you need to walk up and down the aisle or stand in the galley to soothe her. Don’t even bother about people who may give you ‘the look’. Also never ask the crew to hold the baby for you.
As much as they would like to help, and however good their intentions to help might be, holding your baby or taking her to the galley for cuddles could get them into trouble. For many airlines, it is against their safety standards.
★ Feed your baby while landing and taking-off:
Do feed your baby, especially during descent. It’s very important!! Babies often tend to cry their lungs out since they don’t know the trick of ‘suck / swallow to open ears’. My baby slept through the first flight and then there was total chaos during the second. This, when I was continuously trying to feed him. He just wouldn’t swallow. Finally took his feed and then slept off just before touchdown.
And remember never insert anything in their ears like cotton balls. You may end up causing more damage and agony than actually helping.
★ Ask for help any at given point:
Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for help at any point. It is your prerogative to get special treatment. This includes boarding first, getting your choice of seat, and jumping queues by going via ‘special handling’ counters.
Ground staff and Cabin Crew should and will help you if you are travelling alone with children. If they don’t, ask for it. It’ll be comforting for you to know that before the start of each flight, crew discuss the number of babies on board/children on that particular sector.
Assisting unaccompanied mothers, giving them extra bottle of water, a plastic bag to store rubbish, helping them store their luggage for take-off / landing etc. is a ‘nicety’ that all crew are asked to indulge in. Briefing parents on safety related issues is mandatory so expect to be briefed on each flight.
These are the tips that I thought will come handy to you. Hope you have a safe flight! 🙂