My experiences from a long haul trip.(4 Posts)
So, I recently took my DD (then 5 1/2 months) to New Zealand on my own. I'd been planning this trip since basically the day she was born (the first time I made it out of bed when I got home from the hospital was to hobble to the laptop to book it) and I did a lot of googling and looking for advice on flying with babies. So I thought I should pay if forward a little and write about my experience, not that I have any amazing lessons. Also if anyone is planning a trip and wants to ask me about a thing you could comment, though again I am not an expert.
I took 4 long haul flights (11 to 13 hours) on 4 different airlines (AirNZ, BA, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. They were all very nice but I must say that Singapore were the most amazingly helpful. A senior flight attendant checked on me throughout the flight, asking if I needed her to watch DD while I went to the loo, had a snack, checking if I wanted a drink or anything from the galley, and they served me my meal ahead of others when they saw DD was asleep in the bassinet and I had a free window to eat. Just amazing service.
All the other airlines were still good, and I would still probably pick based on price, but travelling solo and nervous about coping I would definitely recommend Singapore Airlines.
Having booked through the AirNZ website I had to contact all the other airlines directly to make sure I had a bassinet booked. I did this through email for Singapore and Cathay, and BA I contacted through twitter. They were all very good. I thought I had paid to secure a bassinet on the AirNZ flight, but turned out I didn't, and I ended up in a normal seat, near the back, on the aisle. This was a real ballache as I had to be careful DD's head wasn't in the aisle, and she was often encroaching on the passenger next to me. So I would say TRIPLE CHECK that bassinets are booked!
DD wasn't a massive fan of sleeping in the bassinets (these were varying styles on the different airlines. BA was like a bouncy chair with straps, Cathay an open cot and Singapore a cot with a zipped up cover (the best design I thought, I was less afraid of sudden turbulence). I did find them a Godsend for when I needed to eat or just not have an 8kg wriggly lump on my lap though. Being in the bulkhead seat was also useful for the leg room (and not having a seat in front of you...that space feels so much more cramped with a baby! I'm also 5'10"...).
If you are in the bulkhead/bassinet seat, you don't get to put bags under the seat in front (cos there ain't one) so everything goes in the locker above. I found it useful to have a few things on me so...yes I wore a bum bag. I looked like a total tool but it was useful. Also carrying things about it was one less thing to hang on to, and in a sleep deprived state it meant I wasn't going to put down my handbag in the loo and forget it.
Change tables on planes surprised me. On most of the flights it was a totally flat surface with no strap. DD was quite alarmed to start with! I had a small tote that I kept basic change stuff in and took that to the bathroom with me, as obvs it is cramped in there.
Air pressure famously affects their ears but I suspect it affects their bowels too as DD crapped herself spectacularly around the takeoff/landing stages. So bring plenty of changes of clothes.
I didn't take a pram with me, but even if you do you usually don't get it back in transit, so a harness is good. I wore DD in a basic mothercare harness, had a backpack on my back (full of nappies and clothes) the bumbag (cool) and usually the tote with a nappy and a muslin in it (and some snacks for me!).
In both Singapore and HK airport they had trolleys in the transit area that have a baby seat on top, suitable for 2-36 mo (I think) and it reclines right back so would be good even for a little baby. It's fwd facing but it reclined enough that DD could see me pushing her and was happy enough. Look out for those just as you get off the plane, or in the trolley park areas.
People are nice. I couldn't believe how helpful and friendly people were. They loved saying hello to DD but also people offered to watch her (on the plane...) while I went to the loo, or to get me a snack or anything. I was amazed and vowed to be nicer myself!
I did the usual things -- feeding on takeoff and landing etc. DD seemed to love the trip and was really excited by all the people. She slept on me, mostly, and I managed to doze enough that I wasn't knackered on arrival.
One thing I did do, which proved unnecessary, was book an executive concierge (haha) at Auckland. This was basically paying for someone to meet me right off the plane, escort me through passport control and customs (diplomatic line, haha) and collect my bag and take me to the domestic terminal and check me in there. Grabbing the suitcase off the carousel while wearing backpack and baby would have been hard, and I had thought I might not have slept for 36 hours, so it was worth it. It was about NZ$80.
Both HK and Singapore airports had really good changing/feeding areas, and I felt fine feeding her in the public areas too. Auckland had a baby room with arm chairs in their own cubicles (behind curtains) and that was nice when I was feeling frazzled!
That's all I can think of just now. Hope it's helpful to someone, as I found reading various blogs etc helpful when I was planning.
I am past this stage now, but what a great write-up. I'm sure it will be really helpful and reassuring for others. Glad you enjoyed your trips, sounds amazing
A great informative write up for those travelling alone and how brave of you. I could never have done that at the baby stage and would struggle to find the confidence to do same now. Well done.
I could have done with it before I flew to NZ with my 5 month old in January.
What I found was a positive attitude, lots of nappies and a smile makes it all a lot easier.
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