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flying long haul to US with 3 month baby

(20 Posts)
crazyhead Fri 22-Jul-11 22:01:20

Hello - when our baby (due in November) is three months' old, we need to fly from London to California (San Fran) for a family wedding. This is our first, so does anyone have experience of flying long haul with a little 'un? and also any particular recommendations for airlines to the West Coast would be great. I look forward already to being the least popular flight passenger....Also, any thoughts about time of day for a flight with a small baby would be great too...

It feels a little daunting pre baby (if it wasn't a wedding we'd probably be staying in a cottage somewhere about 30 miles from London for a first holiday, ;) ), but I'm hoping it'll be fine....

bcmummy Fri 22-Jul-11 22:31:35

It will be totally FINE! It seems daunting, but actually travelling with very young babies is pretty straightforward. We first flew long haul with our son when he was 5 months, so a little older than your little one will be, but not much. We flew west coast of Canada to the UK (we were living in Canada at the time) and back again. Actually, I did the Canada-UK leg of the journey on my own with the baby and DH flew back later to join us and I was so stressed about it beforehand but actually it was a great flight - DS slept for 7 straight hours overnight and all the airline crew etc were SO helpful. I'm not sure I could recommend any specific airline (think we flew BA and they were great but it will depend on cost etc ) but things I would recommend are:-

- Book a skycot or something similar - this is my number one tip! These are baby cots that fit onto the bulkhead wall in front of your seats where baby can be during the flight (and you shouldn't need to pay any extra for). Baby can sleep/lie there instead of needing to be in your arms the whole time (although you need to hold baby for take off/landing) which is WAY more comfortable for everyone. The added bonus is that you get bulkhead seats with more legroom smile
- You might be using a sling/baby carrier or something similar but if you are using a pram then check that you can take the pram right to the door of the aircraft and pick it up again at the door when you arrive. Not all airlines/airports do this but it is a godsend with a wee one - not just for transporting the baby but also for somewhere to put all your stuff!
- If you are breastfeeding then you don't need to take anything with you for baby to drink - so easy. If you are formula feeding, make sure you take more formula than you think you will actually need just in case of delays etc. You can take as much baby milk as you need on to a flight, regardless of usual liquid restrictions. Same rule for nappies, spare clothes etc - take more than you think you need!
- Nappy changing in a tiny plane loo with a wriggly baby is not fun! To make it as easy as possible, I made up a bunch of little freezer bags that each had 1 clean nappy and a few wipes in it. That way I only needed to take that one little freezer bag into the loo with baby each time he needed changed.
- You should be able to take whatever other baby kit you need for free as additional luggage ie pram, car seat etc but it's worth checking. It would probably be a good idea to check out the websites for a few airlines that you are considering and see what their rules/procedures etc are for travelling with infants ie what they allow you to take for free, if they have skycots, etc - might help you choose which airline seems best.
- You will probably find that flying to the west coast of the States you will mostly see daytime flights out and nighttime flights back. Nighttime flights are better because baby is likely to sleep longer. We flew back to Canada when DS was 6.5 months on a daytime flight and even though it was both DH and myself it was more stressful than the nighttime flight I did alone as DS only took short naps and got overtired etc as it was daylight the whole time. But you probably won't be able to get 2 overnight flights anyway.

I think that's about it! Basically, it will be WAY less stressful than you think it will and you will no doubt have a wonderful time at the wedding showing off your wee one to everyone! And California in February will be great! Good luck smile

lollystix Fri 22-Jul-11 22:36:32

Try Nz with a 17 month old. It was torture. 3 month olds sleep loads so it will be good. Not too long a flight either. Just pre book your seats to ensure you get the basinette thingy.

soymama Fri 22-Jul-11 22:49:22

I flew to seattle with a 4 month old, no problems. I just needed help getting all my stuff from the over head locker. He slept heaps. Good luck, you will be fine smile

jubblicious Fri 22-Jul-11 23:06:22

We flew to SF with our 2.5 month DS. I was slightly dreading being the parent with the baby that cries throughout. And all my fears didn't come true. I checked in all our luggage. So we just had the pushchair and change bag! Which made customs and getting on and off the plane so much easier!!

We flew BA and booked a bassinet so my DS could sleep, and he did! And I even saw a movie!

We were thinking of flying Virgin but try couldn't promise us a bassinet and said it was first cone first served on the day. An with such a long flight that wasn't a risk worth taking.

giraffemummy Fri 22-Jul-11 23:55:00

Flew KLM via Amsterdam to San Francisco when DD1 was 3 months old.
Had bulkhead bassinet. Daytime flight on way there. DD hardly slept at all and we walked the length of the plane many, many times between the two of us.
When we got there my DH and I were physically exhausted and fortunately DD fell asleep with the two of us for a good eight hours (unheard of for DD at that age).
The flight back was in the evening and DD slept almost all the way back in her bassinet. DH and I got to eat our dinner together and watch a couple of movies.
Overall, a positive experience. Easier at 3 months than a bit older. Very easy if breast feeding. KLM friendly and helpful.
We used BabyBjorn carrier around the airport and all our hand luggage was in one wheelie case.
Took DD's pram with us but checked it in. Had bugaboo cameleon and the storage bag, whilst pricey, holds lots of extra clothes, muslins etc stuffed in the gaps between the pram bits. Needs checked in as outsize baggage and never gets weighed so handy for extra luggage.

Good luck.

PipPipPip Fri 22-Jul-11 23:58:29

Hi guys, I'll be doing lots of flying with a five-month old.

For a big, long-haul flight the travel agent says that the infant will cost about 1/3 of the adult ticket. Have you also paid for your babies' to travel or has it been free?

MelanieWiggles Sat 23-Jul-11 08:33:28

It is relatively easy with a very small baby. My only tip would be to get one of those things that attaches a dummy to your baby's clothes, if you use one. Nothing worse than seeing your last dummy roll down the cabin floor as the fasten seatbelt sign goes on !

Gemsie77 Sat 23-Jul-11 21:41:58

Great to find this link our first baby is due in 3 weeks and I'm in the process of looking into flights to NZ to see my sis and her family. If we don't go then we'll never go. I'm pleaseed to read positive feedback and hope this will persuade my husband more as he's more apprehensive.

crazyhead Sat 23-Jul-11 21:42:14

A massive THANKYOU for all of your help. I really appreciate it and this has made me feel a lot less worried about it, and I will make a list of what you've recommended. I'll definitely make sure that I get a proper skycot thing for my baby to sleep in.....

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 23-Jul-11 21:46:03

I did it with a four month old and it was fine- I purposefully made sure I was still breast feeding and therefore didn't need to worry about how I would get bottles heated etc. We also booked a sky cot and got the added benefit of extra leg room. We flew with Are lingus and they were brilliant, really child friendly and the air hostess also took my daughter for a walk to give me a wee break.

drcrab Sat 23-Jul-11 21:49:39

Good luck ! All v doable. I flew to singapore from London (12.5 HR) with a 4 month old and a nearly 3 year old by myself. Night flight. Big one slept for 7-8 hours?? And baby was on boob and then in the bassinet. Great. Got to watch movies eat dinner go toilet. All v civilized.

To person who wanted to know about tickets- you pay a small percentage of actual cost of tickets. Till aged 2. You pay nearly same price after that.

redfoxy Sat 23-Jul-11 21:58:39

all good points here, just wanted to ad that it really is not as bad as you think it might be, I've done lots of flying and long trips with my daughter to Canada and US and back. And there are more understanding people on board airplanes than the intolerant ones!!
skycot is great, although i remember trying to change nappy in the toilet was a nightmare, DD freaked out because of the noise, after that, I just asked the people sitting next to me if they minded if I changed her in skycot, noone minded (just a wee nappy, mind, don't think I'd subject anyone to a pooey one in the plane!!!)

RunningGuerita Sun 24-Jul-11 00:06:35

crazyhead not trying to be nosey but would just add that if you happen to be a US citizen, you must get your child a US passport before you travel. Allow plenty of time for getting passports (US and/or UK) and pictures beforehand.

Like others on here, I flew long haul with a 2.5 month old on my own and then a 7 month old on my own. Expect that it will be hard work but that you will manage it. Personally I found other passengers very friendly and helpful.

Given the choice you might be better off flying a UK airline, the two US ones I have flown (American and Delta) do not let you reserve the bassinet/skycot and in both case only carry one on each flight. So I was very stressed getting to check in super early to bag the bulkhead seats (which they also don't allocate ahead of time) and on the flight first so I could then ask for the bassinet.

Also in my experience, if you are travelling internationally with a "lap infant" (no assigned seat) you pay taxes for them. And if you want to buy them a seat, the cost will vary widely from airline to airline (American it's 10% of the adult price, Delta it's a whopping 80%).

californiaburrito Sun 24-Jul-11 07:26:16

I do a lot of flights to the US West coast and I think you're best bet is BA from Heathrow T5. They are very helpful when you are with little ones. DO NOT consider an American carrier. And I would go as early in the day as possible, but I've got an earlier riser so this is never a problem for me.

Don't worry about being the most hated person on the plane, there will be at least a few other babies. 3 months is not a bad time to fly, or at least not as bad as 15 months!

If your child does qualify for an American passport, you'll have to be super organized to get one before three months. My DD didn't get hers until she was about to turn two and we never had a problem using her UK passport.

bcmummy Sun 24-Jul-11 09:17:09

I just remembered it was KLM we flew with when DS was 5 months (took me a few days to remember - pregnancy brain!) and they were incredibly helpful. Skycot booked in advance, pram right to the door of the plane & picked up there on arrival etc. Also, you would have to fly via Schipol in Amsterdam but they have an amazing baby room there in the airport with private areas where you can feed baby, baths, cots etc - really nice.

dreamofgenie Sun 24-Jul-11 15:46:41

I did this on my own when dc was 3 months old- a very active 3 month old. It was absolutely fine as most people are a lot more understanding than you think and babies at this age sleep loads. I put my dc in a sling and didn't bring the pushchair as it was easier to carry everything. Also I brought a lot more nappies than needed as I didn't want to be short-changed. Also, if you ff, you can bring the water in the bottle through security. The nappy bag does not count as one of your hand luggages either.
WRT airlines, BA is good as is Virgin, but if you get an American airline, it means there will be a lot more US citizens on the flight, meaning you would hopefully have a shorter queue through immigration.
However, I flew United Airlines and would not recommend them as they were rubbish for flying with children. I booked the bulkhead with a baby cot, and when I arrived, I was actually given a middle aisle, middle seat which is probably the worst seat when you have a baby. No amount of pleading would get them to change my seat. It was only because of a really nice man giving up his seat, that I was able to sit in an aisle (not getting a baby cot, but at least it wasn't in the middle). It seems that the general consensus is United Airlines is very unfriendly for children/babies.

TheTeaLady Tue 26-Jul-11 22:14:56

Have flown to NZ and Canada with a baby, including once to UK from NZ by myself.
Bassinets are great; best flight left at about 7pm so baby slept about 8 hours. Another left at midnight; it was dreadful. Baby was so overtired and overstimulated she couldn't sleep.
Air New Zealand is wonderful. I can't praise the crew highly enough. The staff were so helpful on board and they organised a porter to help get me through Heathrow to the arrivals gate. You can fly LHR to San Fran direct with them. Do it!
Air Canada does not have bassinets on domestic flights; It was hell flying across the entire country with a wriggly baby so check what the deal is if you aren't going direct to SF!

SkiBumMum Thu 28-Jul-11 14:30:33

Have done BA Heathrow to Vancouver a few times with DD. The easiest was definitely when she was youngest! All the Silver Pound/Dollar ladies loved having a cuddle for me when I went to the loo etc!

BA will book you a SkyCot and also have fixed "bouncy" chairs for the bulk head which are great - SkyCot is quite short.

Even if Bf I would suggest a bottle of boiled water as they get so dehydrated and so do you. I found flying really messed up my milk supply (which was never great).
You just taste it at security.

Have fun

thehiddenpaw Thu 28-Jul-11 21:42:48

super advice everyone, am thinking of long haul trip wtih 4 month baby in October November. Did fly to Carribean with 18 month yr old *(and lots of short haul european flights with baby from 6 months) but it all seems a long time ago. will be taking 3 kids this time!was wondering what is the latest on taking milk through security as am not bf and will need access to liquid

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