Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Travelling with Baby Tip 3: The Flight

The helplessness, the anxiety, the no-where-to-go. I've never been claustrophobic but I think I can respect people who feel that way when I'm praying that everything goes alright.

It's OK when the the baby acts up

Babies are going to cry. I've found that if you look suitably concerned with trying to settle the kid than people around are generally sympathetic and understanding. It's when parents ignore a screaming child that annoys fellow passengers, other mums included. A plane flight is not a place to reinforce controlled crying, Feber or anti tantrum parenting techniques. The kid will deal with this one exception... they are resilient that way.

Dealing with changes in Air Pressure

This really isn't so much of a problem anymore as the newer planes are pretty good at maintaining the in cabin pressure well enough so that you don't get the problem of needing to pop your ears when the plane climbs or descends. But if you're travelling on an older looking plane or just want to make sure your little one doesn't get distressed, a good idea is to nurse or feed the baby during takeoff and landing. The sucking motion clears their ears and the comfort from the feeding or nursing calms the baby down during all the noise and g forces.

When to put the baby to sleep

I really should have known better but this actually took a fair bit of trial and error. First of all I try to do night flights which is usually easier to get the baby to sleep. Our first flight we noticed the baby was tired and therefore I started patting him to sleep just as we were settled down only to have him awoken by the announcements by the captain and cabin crew followed by the safety announcement. The next time we waited till after the announcements and he was fast asleep only to be awoken by the crew coming by with dinner. Since the Little Man is interested in all things food related there was no way we were getting him down whilst he was surrounded by food.

These days we get him to sleep after the food has come and gone. Depending on your airline, baby food may be available. On a recent Emirates flight the steward came by with a silver try with 12 different kinds of organic baby food (savory and sweet) and asked us which one The Little Man would like to eat today. Otherwise this is a good time to give them a little bit of brought baby food followed by a bottle or a nurse to encourage a good long sleep. Excepting urgent announcements due to turbulence, there should be no announcements till you're about to land.

The Bassinet Seat

Sought after by people with children and childless travelers alike for their extra legroom. These seats are not the easiest to come by. Budget airlines shamelessly sell these seats to the highest bidder (I'm looking at you Jetstar!)

/begin rant
I recently traveled with The Little Man (@5 months) on an 8 hour Singapore-Melbourne flight. I always call ahead several days before to ensure that I get a bassinet seat because trying to stand up in another seat and rock a baby to sleep is IMPOSSIBLE. I also check in early so they don't give my seat away.
I fly enough to recognize seat numbers and this was not a bassinet or bulkhead seat. The guy says they are all booked out but that the seat next to me is empty. Not ideal because if I have to bounce the baby it'll have to be in the aisle.
Still I don't like yelling at counter staff, it's usually not their fault and they get yelled at lots already.
On board I have to walk all the way to the back section of the plane passing every bulkhead and bassinet seat available in economy and NOT A SINGLE ONE WAS OCCUPIED BY A YOUNG FAMILY. To add considerably to my annoyance. I found that I was seated next to a nervous looking young man (no doubt because he realized that he would be sitting next to a woman with an infant for 8+ hours. How freaked out would he have been if he knew I was breastfeeding d'ya think?)
Wasting no time I called over a steward and informed him of the unacceptability of the situation. But apparently the flight was full and he couldn't do anything till they finalized who was on and who wasn't. So I take my seat next to nervous young man who kindly waves away my apology and says it's alright and just do whatever I need to keep myself and baby comfortable. (nice guy).
When the flight was cruising the baby starts fussing due to being denied a feed during takeoff as usual. This was difficult not because I was concerned about flashing a boob but because in order to lie him down to feed him his feet or head would have to hang over the arm rest onto nervous guy's lap. The steward comes by and tells me that the found me another seat and I pack up bags baby and we end up in the back row of the forward section of Economy (ya know with the least leg room and the seats which don't recline). At least we had 4 seats, not that I could put the baby down anyway and I still had to rock him in the aisle.
So... not flying that airline again. Stay tuned to many more rants and accolades about airlines and flying. 
/end rant

So lesson here you're paying between 10-50% in far (depending on the airline) for having a 5-15kg weight sitting on your lap for a whole flight. Don't be afraid of trying to pull a little bit of weight. But always remember politeness and niceness always wins over yelling and complaining. At the end of the day you're not going to see the service people again but who knows how much your own Little Man or Lady remembers ;-)

Just one more thing to add about the Bassinet. Those things are only about 60-70cm long. Little Man was already squished in it at 8 months. These days we use it for extra storage space (place to put the food trays and blankets) so the main reason for getting the seat is the standing up room.

1 comment:

  1. Point number 1 - couldn't have said it better myself. Fantastic!