I recently flew to Canada with Izzie on British Airways (BA) so she could meet my family. As she was born in London, no one from my family other than my Mum had met her yet.The idea of travelling with such a young baby terrified me so much that I started planning our adventure 2 months ahead of time. I was adamant I needed to know everything about flying with an infant, especially considering my husband was staying behind. I looked at every website and blog I could find to ensure I knew exactly what I was allowed to bring on board with me etc. Being a notoriously heavy packer, I knew I had to somehow consolidate my clothes and toiletries, the plan was to stay for 3 months so that meant I somehow needed to fit everything in, including Izzie’s extensive wardrobe of 3-6 month clothes. I finally managed to fit everything into two suitcases weighing 23kg (EXACTLY) each and shoved everything else into our 3 carry-on bags including her bottles. I knew I would not be allowed to carry large amounts of formula through security without having to open the sterile ready-feed formula bottles to taste them, so I opted to purchase all of the Aptamil I needed, plus some, from the Boots through security at terminal 5.
Getting to the airport was easy. My husband took us to the check-in counter and carried our bags. I chose a back pack, my Storksak nappy bag and the bag that fits on the front of our Stokke Xplory pram, as my carry-on bags as they all attach to the pram so I knew I would not have to carry anything and balance the baby as well. We figured out a way to wedge the car seat under the pram seat so it stayed put and off we went through security. The tricky bit started when we arrived at the gate.
What they don’t tell you when you are travelling BA is that if your need to take a bus to your aircraft, you first have to collapse your pram. This presented a problem as my pram was holding all three of our carry-ons, my baby and the car seat. There was no way I was going to be able to manage it all on my own, in addition to carrying my collapsed pram and pram seat. I started to panic. What was I going to do?!?!
No, I said to myself, I will not panic, I will become supermum and pull this off. It was fine, really, I’ll just balance the baby, one bag here, then put the seat under that arm… oh crap! I was royally screwed!
Except, luckily, I was flying a BA flight with a superb crew that day!
As I was collapsing my pram, a lovely lady working at the desk offered to hold Izzie while I sorted everything out. Another gentlemen offered to carry my pram and car seat onto the bus for me. Great I thought, but how do I get it all off again?!?! No problem! I don’t know why I was worried, I was flying BA.
When we arrived at the aircraft, the bus driver, kindly took my pram and car seat to the drop point so it could be loaded on the plane. I then had to climb the stairs to the aircraft, this was by far the most difficult part of our journey as I did have to carry our 3 bags and my daughter up the stairs – bearing in mind 3 months of formula I bought at the terminal. Do not fret however, I was flying BA, it got easier. When I arrived at the door I was greeted by the most lovely air hostess I have EVER met, Katie (KATIE!). The air hosts greeting us at the door all saw we were struggling and Katie was the first to spring into action. She took Izzie and one of my bags for me and escorted me to our seats. Katie, promptly assisted me in getting everything I needed for take-off out of my bags and helped me get settled quickly and effortlessly. As I settled into my seat Katie kept hold of Izzie and reassured me that everything would be fine (did I mention I was a panting nervous wreck at the thought of flying across an ocean with my newborn?!?!).
Once all the passengers had boarded, Katie brought me Izzie’s safety belt and talked me through everything I needed to know to keep her and I safe, and comfortable. She explained I should feed Izzie during take-off and landing to help her ears and that I should leave it as long as possible before I began the feed. When the seat belt signs were switched off, Katie quickly got me a cot for Izzie and secured it in front of me so she and I could both rest comfortably. Throughout the flight she would check on us and would watch Izzie for me while I used the loo. She was wonderful!
When we landed in Toronto deplaning was just as easy. Katie assisted me in taking all my bags to the aircraft doors where my pram and car seat were waiting and she again held Izzie while I assembled it all. Katie went way above and beyond to assist me and make our flight as enjoyable as possible – A SAINT! Katie and the rest of the BA staff were absolutely wonderful and made my journey home with Izzie as easy and comfortable as I could have ever hoped for.
So from my experience I have compiled some of my top tips for flying with a newborn:
1) If you are not exclusively breastfeeding, bring all your bottles pre-sterilised and pre-order ready-made formula from the chemist on the other side of security (click here to learn more).
2) Use bags which attach easily to your pram as your carry-ons. This frees up your hands and gives your shoulders a break;
3) Bring lots of baby wipes in your nappy bag. These come in very handy when your baby is touching everything and potentially picking up germs from all over the world that they are not immune to, but they also come in handy when the air pressure and altitude cause poo-plosions and baby sick incidents (trust me!);
4) Sleep when your baby sleeps. This is especially important when you are flying long haul. As tempting as it is to stay awake and watch that new release, it is unlikely that your baby will sleep through the length of the flight and you need to re-energise to keep them entertained when they do wake up;
5) Fly BA and ask for KATIE!
(HOT TIP: Unlike some airlines, when you fly BA with a child under 2 you do not pay a percentage of the adult fare if the child is travelling in your lap (this includes seats with cots), all you pay is the taxes.)