Flying with Babies: All You Need to Know

Lots of parents fly with babies every year. Check out our tips to make your next A380 family trip go smoothly.

Flying with young children can be stressful. While the adventure of flying on an A380 can excite and entertain older kids, babies and toddlers may be a little young to appreciate the wonders of the skies. But you’re not alone – thousands of parents fly with babies every year. We have these tips to help make your next family trip go smoothly.

Booking Tickets

Research the airlines that not only serve your route, but also offer the support you need* (see list below). Certain airlines are especially family-friendly and go the extra mile to help you take care of your little one – with services such as childcare or on-board nannies. Also consider facilities at layover airports (such as short stay hotels and soft play areas) that may provide you with your own space and a place to rest.

When looking at flights, consider departure and arrival times and how these may affect your baby’s routine.

A380s have special seats for people traveling with young children. These allow you to attach a cot or baby seat to the bulkhead. You can reserve these spaces when you book your tickets. The cots and seats vary according to weight, so discuss options with your airline.

You should also reserve kids’ meals in advance. These are usually for children aged 2 and over, though some airlines do offer baby meals (for example, jars of puree). However most parents prefer to take their own to ensure they have their baby’s favorite flavors and recipes.

Packing Checklist

Pack everything you need but nothing you don’t. Everything you take on the plane you not only need to carry but also organize once you’re seated. Try and ‘pack smart’ to make best use of your space.
Pack:
  • Enough milk and food for the journey, including for time in airport lounges and arrivals. Keep solids in small containers that can be resealed. Food snacks and finger foods that don’t need reheating (bananas, apple slices, soft biscuits) are a good idea for new eaters.
  • Enough diapers for the journey, as well as baby wipes. Take a spare plastic bag for soiled clothes.
  • Spare changes of clothes to cover diaper leaks, burping and food spills. Also take a spare T-shirt or sweater for yourself. The A380 is a spacious airplane but never underestimate the challenge of feeding a small baby in the air!
  • Take medication such as Tylenol in small bags available from pharmacies (much easier than juggling bottles and measuring spoons).
  • Finally, don’t forget their favorite small toys and books.

Before You Fly

Check airport security information in advance to make sure you can take your milk through screening; limits on liquids in hand luggage may apply to baby milk but this depends on the airport. Pack all baby milk and food together in one bag so it’s easy to open at security. You may also be able to reserve baby milk and baby food at a shop or pharmacy after security by phoning ahead or ordering online.

Arrive at the airport in plenty of time so you can get organized and buy any last-minute supplies. Don’t forget to allow time for a diaper change and toget into pyjamas so it’s one less job after the plane takes off.

Most airlines will allow you to take your stroller to the boarding gate, where it will be loaded in the airplane hold for you. You may not have access to it again until you reach your destination, so consider the logistics of being without wheels during layovers and at arrivals. Some popular layover airports have strollers available for use in the terminal (check the airport’s website). These are invaluable if you need to change planes or if the little one needs a sleep. Also consider taking your own baby carrier to wear.

On the Plane

Airlines allow families with children to board first – this will allow you plenty of time to get to your seat, get organized and work out a system with your diaper and food bags. Think about what you will need access to during the flight and keep this in a small bag under your feet, and put anything you don’t need regular access to in the overhead bin. Try and put everything back in its bag once you’ve finished with it so you can keep your seat easy to manage.

Passengers with small babies have reserved seating at the front of each section of the A380 cabin where there is extra legroom (and space for a cot). However your baby will need to sit on your lap for takeoff and landing – you’ll receive a special seatbelt when you board. The staff will show you how to use it if it’s your first time flying with a young one.

All A380s have baby changing tables in the toilets, as well as bins for dirty diapers and waste. It can be a good idea to make regular use of these bins so you can keep your seat area clean and tidy.

The flight attendants will usually be able to warm milk and baby food for you, but this depends on the airline’s policy (ask in advance). If they can help, remember they can be busy so plan feeds ahead and ask before you know you’ll need it. Note that the change in pressure can affect your baby’s ears – feeding can help relieve this, as can sucking on finger food or a comforter.

When it comes to feeding in the air, breastfeeding comes into its own – it doesn’t require bottles to be carried, filled, heated or stored. Here is what you can do to make this moment even more comfortable:
  • Wear a nursing tank top under your shirt that can be pulled away fast and easily,
  • Pack a special blanket or a scarf to put around your neck and rest your child,
  • Bring an extra top for change,
  • Pack or ask a flight attendant for a neck-pillow for your baby to rest her head,
  • Extra tip: bring a burp cloth...it comes in handy!
In any case, airlines and their staff will provide safe and supportive environments for parents. If you have additional questions, make sure to get in touch with your airline before the flight.

Finally, Try to Relax

Being worried about your baby disturbing other passengers is a common concern. Often this can be more stressful than taking care of your child. Remember we were all babies once. Smiling, remaining courteous and apologizing for any disturbance can help put other passengers at ease. But try not to feel guilty about flying with your family – concentrate on the elements of the flight you CAN control. How other passengers feel about the flight environment isn’t something you can control.

It’s easier said than done – especially when your little one refuses to sleep on a night flight or if you are covered in baby food after a tantrum (don’t worry: all parents have been there). Staying calm and trying to retain your sense of humor can help.

Try and take time out when your baby does. Get up and stretch your legs, use the bathroom when they’re tucked up asleep and get some sleep if you can.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help from a flight attendant or even another passenger if you need it.

Grace is Australian, her husband is English and they live in France with their two children.

‘We’ve flown dozens of times between France and Australia, as well as between the UK and Australia. We always try and fly an A380 to Australia if we can.’

‘The key is to keep your sense of humor and try to enjoy the adventure regardless of how tiring or stressful it is. We’ve done it all – vomiting en route to Dubai, food spills to Hong Kong, temper tantrums over Thailand, poo everywhere on the way to Paris, sleeping at Heathrow and then crying all the way to Singapore. But looking back now, these are really good memories.’

‘The first few trips were stressful – especially as we worried so much about disturbing other passengers. But try to relax and focus on your own flight. If you’re flying long haul, try and approach the journey in the two layover legs. Plan where you will stop and for how long, and make sure you have accommodation and transport arranged at your destination so you can get some rest as soon as possible. Some babies are good flyers and others aren’t – there is no way of telling how much rest you will get on the flight.’

‘If you’re finding a flight hard, just do what you need to do to make it through to arrivals. Touching down at the other end is a huge achievement with a baby – and usually a big relief!’

* Support and policies vary from one airline to another. Check out the type of services they offer:

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