I have flown long haul several times with my two little ones. Both flew for the first time before they were 2 months old. Here are my top ten tips:
1. Try and get a night flight- If there is a choice between day and night flights I would recommend taking the night flight. Your baby is more likely to sleep.
2. Pre-book the bassinet seat- If your baby is young enough or light enough make sure that you mention that you need a bassinet at the time of booking and also when you confirm your flight a few days before.
3. Get to the airport early- This is vital if you want to have a good chance of getting a bassinet. Even if you have pre-booked your bassinet there is NO guarantee of getting it. I have personally lost out on at least 2 occasions! There is nothing worse than sitting with a baby on your lap for 12 hours.
4. Try and fly with another adult- This is not always possible but it is always easier if there are 2 pairs of hands. I once flew alone with my daughter and had a particularly bad flight. She was too big to go in the bassinet so I had her on my lap for the entire 12 hour journey. The flight was very full and the cabin crew were particularly unhelpful. I could not eat, drink anything hot or go to the toilet because there was no-one to hand the baby to. However, I must add that that was a particularly bad flight. I have more recently flown on my own with a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I had to hold the 1 year old because he was too big for the bassinet but the cabin crew and other passengers were much more helpful on this flight.
5. Ask for help if you need it! On that very bad flight I was really upset that no one offered to help me (e.g. to get my bag out of the overhead storage). However, people dont always offer to help unless they are asked- if you dont ask you dont get!
6. Make sure that your baby has something to drink or suck on during take off and landing- This is absolutely vital because babies are not able to equalise their ears like we are. The process of sucking or swallowing will help their ears to equalise. If you have ever been on a flight where a baby is screaming hysterically after take off or as the plane is descending, this is a very likely reason for that.
7. Take a bottle of water on board- If you are breastfeeding this is particularly important. Even though you can normally get a drink from the cabin crew, it is not always enough especially because flying is very dehydrating.
8. Pack a change of clothes into your hand luggage- You need to take a change of clothes for the baby in case a nappy leaks or the baby throws up. A change of clothes for you is also a good idea (if case youre in the line of fire!).
9. Pack in a few EXTRA nappies (and other essentials)- You never know what delays you may experience so take a few extras along. There would be nothing worse than sitting in a confined space with a dirty nappy for a few hours (not to mention the inevitable nappy rash on your poor babys bottom!).
10. Try and get a good nights sleep the night before you fly- Most people struggle to sleep on a plane at the best of times but if you are travelling with a baby you are likely to get very little sleep even if they sleep well.
FINAL TIP: Travelling with little ones IS stressful. It is unlikely that the trip will go without hick-up. So, expect the worst the worst- if it doesnt happen be pleasantly surprised! HAPPY TRAVELLING!