2 weeks ago we flew to Tenerife with BA (we flew back with Norwegian, it’s a long story…) and I was really quite apprehensive about the flight – how would I get her to sleep? would she scream with pain from the pressure? would she get really bored? The flight out there was slow so it was 5 hours in total, which got very LONG towards the end, coming back it only took 3.5 hours.
Here is what happened and some tips!
At the airport:
We were going to take the train to Gatwick but decided on a taxi in the end and I’m glad we did. The driver was on time and it was really easy, she fell asleep for 30 minutes on the way there:
Check in was easy and we decided to check the buggy in rather than take it through the terminal. We had bought a new buggy (http://cybex-online.com/us/pushchairs/callisto.html) for the trip and it was really good, here it is in action:
It was easy to put up and down and the sunshade was really big.
So we popped her in the Ergo (http://store.ergobaby.com/baby-carrier/four-position-360) and off we went through security. This is when carrying the baby comes into its own as I just walked through the metal detector, no taking out of buggy, putting buggy through x-ray machine etc. However if your baby is heavy or your flight is delayed, I can see the advantage of taking the buggy to the gate.
TIP: get a buggy protection bag, an air stewardess I know told me buggies get thrown about a lot and can get damaged so I would definitely invest in a bag.
We went straight to the lounge for some food and so I could feed her somewhere quieter than the main terminal. (http://www.no1traveller.com/gatwick-airport-lounges.htm) We have a priority pass (http://www.prioritypass.com/) through our Amex Platinum and I love it! The advantages of lounge access with a baby are:
- it’s quieter
- it’s less crowded
- free food and drink
- mini play area
- you can put the baby down on the floor
- comfortable seating to feed
If I didn’t have access but my flight was delayed I would definitely consider paying for a day lounge pass. We even found an empty room where we put her down on the floor to play before the long flight:
She wore a long vest, a cardigan and leggings with feet so she didn’t get cold. The flight was warmer than i thought in the end. She fell asleep in the carrier for about 30 minutes before we boarded, which meant if anything she had slept an hour that day.
And so the time came to board, I was really stressed about this flight but then quickly realised there were other babies on board so there was no way she would be the only one screaming! Turns out the baby behind us was much worse and moaned 80% of the flight.
TIP: don’t stress as much as I did, you are not alone and the engine noise actually cancels out “baby noise” quite well!
One thing I hadn’t realised was that even if your baby is asleep on you, you have to take it out of the carrier and strap it in for takeoff and landing. It took me a few minutes to work the below out!
Now as for the whole “ear popping” and feeding during take off and landing is concerned, I’m not sure if its a myth or not, A seemed totally unfazed and I actually think it would be quite hard to breastfeed whilst the baby has the belt on (would work fine with a dummy or bottle), anyway she was not affected at all.
The flight ended being 5 hours long and she slept for 30 mins of those. About an hour and a half in, I fed her, she fell asleep and miraculously I managed to sit her up against my chest and kept her asleep there in the carrier until the baby behind her screamed and woke her up! Very frustrating! I have to say A has a good capacity to stay awake a long time without getting too cranky but I can imagine most babies would not do that well being awake for 4.5 hours so just hope there are no other babies near you!
I kept the carrier on the whole time as it kind of made a mini seat for her and was easier when she was asleep. On the way back, the same happened (fell asleep eating) but I didn’t move her this time, I made sure my jacket was under my arm so it took some of the weight off. We had a free seat between us but I was scared she would wake up if I moved her.
She slept for about an hour and a quarter:
I used my breastfeeding cover to make a mini tent so it was a bit darker, make sure to close the window blind as well.
TIP: ask at check in if the flight is full and if not can they block a seat so you have one to put the baby down on.
So what did we do to entertain her?
- read books
- read her the emergency card
- gave her Sophie and then her rings (4 pounds very well spent: http://www.mothercare.com/Mothercare-Textured-Linkies/455949,default,pd.html) and “Mister Spot” who I now know is actually a girl called Chloe (http://www.tinylove.com/en/on-the-go-toys/chloe-cow) TIP: bring toys that don’t make too much noise and most importantly you can attach to the baby or yourself or the seatbelt to avoid them going on the floor and then being unusable.
- stood her up so she could see behind us and in front
- gave her sips of water
- fed her quite a lot to kill time
- changed a poonami with only 2 wipes (#parentingfail) TIP: check the wipes before you get on the plane, I don’t know how we didn’t!
- walked around with her in the ergo
All in all, it was not as bad as I thought at all and I am glad we went when we did because if she had wanted to walk or crawl it would have been much worse. We were sat next to a man and who told us how his daughter stayed awake all the way to California when she was a baby and was promptly sick once they got there so there is definitely worse and other parents full understand.
We landed around 6PM, which was late, the return flight was much earlier and better, I would definitely avoid late flights that come close to bedtime. She was getting pretty restless and tired by the end. She slept for 10 mins in the car on the way to the hotel and then only went to bed at 9PM, which is really late for her but became a theme during the holiday at the AMAZING Abama hotel .(http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Abama/Default.htm) but that’s for another blog post. Happy flying!