Flying with a baby: 5 reasons it shouldn’t scare you

bassinet

Moms—let me guess—you just booked your first plane ticket since giving birth and are now cruising the internet for support. How do I get through TSA with my formula and breast pump? What should I do to protect my little one’s ears? How do I cope with the glares of other travelers who are none too happy too happy to have a baby sitting next to them? Flying with a baby is easy, said… NO PARENT EVER!

I’m here to help boost your confidence. Guess what… Along with the challenges, there are some serious benefits to flying with a pint-sized partner!

I’ll be honest, I was terrified about our first flight with Hudson. He was 10 months old and we were headed to AUSTRALIA. Way to break him in gradually—right? The flight was 17 1/2 hours, the fifth longest in the world! However, we had to get there. My husband was teaching a study abroad program in Sydney and we would be living abroad all summer. In fact, we flew 12 times in our two-and-a-half months in Australia. So, trust me when I tell you, flying with a baby isn’t as difficult as it seems.

Benefits to flying with a baby

boarding


You get to board first


Get ready to feel like a first class traveler! Travel with a baby and you will be high priority for the airline. Exact policies vary by carrier, but most airlines offer some sort of early boarding for families with small children. Their goal is to get you seated and settled, so you don’t hold things up as the rest of the herd boards.

Listen closely to the boarding announcements. Preboarding moves FAST and you don’t want to miss your call!

We flew United, which allows families with children under 2 to board before elite or first class travelers. Worried you’ll feel a twinge of guilt walking past the long queue of other travelers? Don’t be! The flight will be better for everyone if you have plenty of time to get your baby gear organized and your family situated.attentive flight attendants


Attentive flight attendants


Flying with a cute little bundle? Those baby smiles work magic on flight attendants, so expect great service. There’s a good chance they will check in on you more more frequently than other travelers. Remember, they are seasoned flyers and have seen it all! Use them as a resource and don’t be embarrassed if you have questions. 

  • Wondering which bathroom has the most space for a change?
  • Need extra water for your formula or apple juice?
  • An emergency diaper? 
  • An extra set of arms so you can go to the bathroom (if you’re flying solo with a baby)?

Furthermore, if you’re flying on a long haul flight, you might be surprised at the wealth of experience your attendants have. We’re talking 25+ years with the airline! For example, the “newbie” on our Houston-Sydney flight boasted nine years with United. Long haul flights are quite desirable for flight attendants. Only those with the most seniority can secure a route like IAH-SYD.


More room & possibly empty seats


We had a row to our selves on our trip to and from Sydney. Awesome right? Well, it gets even better. We also had an empty seat next to us on nine of the 12 flights we took with Hudson this summer. You see, if an airline knows you are flying with a baby and they have empty seats, they will do what they can to give you more room. Not only are they helping you, they are also eliminating the ire of your fellow travelers who might not be thrilled to sit next to a squirmy babe.

If you’re buying a ticket through a travel-booking sight like Expedia or Priceline, be sure to visit the airline’s website as well so you can read up on seating options and procedures for parents flying with a baby. Those who are traveling internationally may be able to call to request a bassinet. The bassinet is a lifesaver on a long haul flight!

extra room

In addition to allowing you—and your baby—to get some sleep, you’ll also get added leg room and a free upgrade. United moved us up to the next seating class for no fee because bassinets must connect to a bulk head.

Finally—before you even get on the plane—take advantage of the extra space family rooms or nursing pods can provide at the airport. These facilities are a true blessing for nursing moms looking for privacy. Not all airports offer them, but it’s worth a quick check on your cell phone to find out.


Your child’s ticket is free (or almost free)


Parents, this is your magic window for affordable family travel! Children under the age of two can fly free as a lap child on most major airlines. You may pay a small fee—like 10 percent of your ticket—but it sure beats an additional $1,500 fare (if you’re traveling to Australia like we were).

The Federal Aviation Administration encourages parents to buy a seat for their infant, but does not require it. It says the safest way for children to fly is strapped into their own harness, which can be with an approved car seat or other type of approved restraint.

We opted to go the lap child route for several reasons. First, Hudson is most comfortable, well behaved and secure snuggled up to me in his Baby Bjorn. With him strapped to me and my lap belt on, I felt very confident he was safe and secure. Secondly, our car seat was way too big for the plane.

For those flying internationally, remember your child will need a passport. Domestically, no ID is needed. However, if your child is close to age 2, you might need documentation to prove his or her age. This can be a birth certificate (copies or photos are okay), immunization record or passport.


Great conversations with your fellow travelers


On a flight, I’m usually one to put the headphones on and stick my nose in a book. However, flying with a baby opened up my eyes to the engaging conversations you can have with your fellow travelers. There’s something about a smiling little dude that really sparks interesting communication.

We met great families, found unlikely connections and consequently kept ourselves entertained on what can be a draining excursion. In fact, one of the families we met (from the Sydney area) was flying to the U.S. to visit tiny Slinger, Wisconsin. That’s just a short drive from where my husband grew up! Imagine that?!


This post marks the beginning of my travel series covering our Australian adventure. I’ll be sharing packing guides, tips on getting through TSA with a baby, how to navigate Sydney with an infant and more. Have specific questions? Please let me know in the comments below.

—Lindsay

31 COMMENTS

  1. Princess | 19th Sep 18

    Wow, you’re such a wonderful mom. Many people don’t want to travel with a baby in tow. My mom is one of them, she often told me when I was younger. Should definitely show her this article. Thanks for sharing.

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      You’re so kind! We were worried about it, but couldn’t pass up this opportunity to see the world. Now, it inspires us to keep traveling!

  2. The Tale of Mummyhood | 19th Sep 18

    I’ve never seen those cribs before, that’s such a brilliant idea!

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      It really made the trip SO much easier!

  3. Monidipa | 19th Sep 18

    Wow, amazing experience while traveling with baby Hudson. I didn’t know that if you travel with baby there are so many great options. I travel a lot nationally and internationally both but I haven’t ever been with child.

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      Neither did we! That’s why I had to share this. We did some research before the trip and I am so glad we did. That’s how I found out about the bassinet and parent rooms/nursing pods at the airport.

  4. kumamonjeng | 19th Sep 18

    Glad you shared your experience here and I thought traveling with the baby can be daunting. Not sure the air pressure can be safe enough. Great educational post for me.

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      I was very worried about air pressure too, but made sure I had something I knew Hudson would want to suck on. If your child has a very strong suck on a bottle or pacifier it will ensure he or she does not have ear pain. Glad to help!

  5. Preet | 19th Sep 18

    I am actually planning a trip abroad next month with my baby and it keeps me thinking about things that could happen since it was my first time to bring my baby on a trip.

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      It is certainly an adventure! I’ll be following up with more detailed informational posts covering packing, dealing with security, etc. Two points of vital advice–have something you know your baby will want to suck on (pacifier, juice in a bottle) and make sure you have plenty of EXTRA outfits (for him/her & you).

  6. Katey | 19th Sep 18

    The photo of Hudson in the bassinet is too cute!! What a champ to make it through such long flights!

    • laveremis | 19th Sep 18

      Hi Katey! Hope you guys are having a great summer. He really was a trooper. Now, we’re not afraid to travel anywhere with him!

  7. Geraline Batarra | 19th Sep 18

    This is such a nice post and it looks like you are having a wonderful trip with your family. And I agree that there are a lot of good benefits travelling with your baby and my most favorite of all is your baby’s ticket is FREE!

    • laveremis | 20th Sep 18

      It was a wonderful trip! Thanks for visiting the blog. Traveling with a baby is certainly an interesting adventure, but totally worth it!

  8. GiGi | 19th Sep 18

    THANK YOU! Finally some positive speak about having young kids!! I am due in December and I only hear negativity like OHHH YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO SLEEP. BE WARE OF ALL THE POOPING AND CRYING, etc etc and I am like OKAY I KNOW THIS but commonnnn!!!

    • laveremis | 20th Sep 18

      Congratulations! Seriously, don’t stop yourself from traveling. Your baby won’t mind and it will help you from going stir crazy. My biggest fear was that Hudson might have ear pain. As long as you have a pacifier and a bottle your little one will suck on, they won’t have an issue at all.

  9. Evelyn | 19th Sep 18

    I traveled with my baby since he was a baby and never felt fear. Traveling when they are small is great and free!

    • laveremis | 20th Sep 18

      Exactly! We plan to get moving as much as we can while it’s affordable.

  10. Bree | 20th Sep 18

    I don’t have kids but I am always empathetic towards parents flying with their children! Especially, if it seems like it’s their first time. Love that you gave helpful tips + tricks for other parents!

    • laveremis | 20th Sep 18

      It’s so nice of you to feel that way! As a new mom, I was very worried we’d anger other travelers. I was pleasantly surprised by attitudes like yours being the norm!

  11. Nafisa | 20th Sep 18

    I would be really terrified if I have to think of traveling with a baby who is less than a year but you just saved me (though I am not a mom yet). In near future, I would remember your tips. Thank you

  12. Jennifer | 20th Sep 18

    Great Post! I love it when a family of a young one prepares in advance. It makes such a difference for the baby, the passengers, and for mom and dad.

  13. Von Mango | 20th Sep 18

    You are an amazing mom! I don’t have a baby but i find this useful for when i have my three future babies (fiance wants three children) 🙂

    • laveremis | 22nd Sep 18

      Wow–3 will be an adventure! Thanks for the kind words.

  14. Ashley | 21st Sep 18

    Although I am not yet a mom, this has given such wonderful advice and eased some worries I am sure others have had (and to be honest, I have worried about too for when we do have kids) . It sounds like you had a wonderful experience and time in Australia!

    • laveremis | 22nd Sep 18

      If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Australia, do it! Amazing country and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered.

  15. Emily Leary | 21st Sep 18

    This is such an informative post for anyone thinking about flying with a baby in tow. I love the bassinet for a long haul flight. Well done to you and your husband!

    • laveremis | 22nd Sep 18

      So glad to help! I just remember having many of these questions before we embarked and wanted others to have this information.

  16. Rhea | 22nd Sep 18

    my friends are always terrified of flying with their babies, reading your post makes me wonder maybe they doesn’t know the perks of travelling with their infant, will share your post 🙂

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