Flight of the babies

We have just been invited to our first 2014 wedding, which is in… Australia! We are no strangers to weddings abroad, having travelled to the Philippines, California and what feels like most European countries with suit and fascinator in tow. In general they are a wonderful excuse for a holiday, and some life-changing events have happened during our trips such as getting engaged in the Philippines and conceiving the reason for this blog in Italy. What we ARE strangers to is travelling at all with a baby, let alone travelling with a baby to the other side of the world on a 24-hour flight.

Our little one will be around nine months old by the time the Australian wedding comes around, so we have a bit of time to think about it and see how he/she turns out, as well as establish whether babies are even invited!

But even if this trip is nixed for whatever reason, thinking about it all did make me want to find out more about the practicalities of flying with babies.

baby-airplane

When can we fly with our baby?

The NHS has information on this. There aren’t any hard or fast rules: it depends on the airline. Some allow babies on board at two days old, others require them to be at least two weeks (how does one get a passport in two days anyway?) A letter from the doctor stating that the baby’s health is fine may be needed as well. And if you’ve had a caesarean, you may not be able to fly yourself for a good several weeks, although I guess this wouldn’t stop the baby going off without you…

How much does it cost?

The bad news is the baby isn’t always completely free up until the age of two, as I’d thought was the case for all airlines (British Airways is still free!) The good news is you’ll probably only have to pay up to 10% of the adult fare. So if the adult price is £200, your baby will only be £20 extra.

How does it work?

Again, it varies with the airline and how long your flight is, but it’s likely you’ll be offered some form of travel cot especially on the long-haul flights. For example, Emirates’ Travelling with Infants policy includes many special features for families including priority boarding, changing tables, larger lockers and extra pillows and blankets as well as a bassinet. They also lend you a stroller in Dubai airport. British Airways offer similarly helpful things – there is a video with information on it here. Mr Cath’s friend travelled to Vietnam, the Maldives and Bermuda all before his child turned two (got to get that discount in!) and has enthused about how easy airlines make the travelling process. For example, you can use your own or the airport’s stroller right up to the gate and then they stow it for you – judging from his feedback, there seems to be a remarkable lack of faffing around evident in the airport / airplane area.

While we’re on the subject of ferrying your baby around, airlines such as Virgin let you bring your pushchair and car seat along in addition to your regular baggage allowance for no extra cost.

And flight attendants always seem to absolutely dote on babies!

What now?

The logistics of flying are not the only thing to consider when travelling with a baby. There is also the question of how to apply for a baby passport, as well as the potential minefield of how and what to pack for a journey. I’ll have to save those for another post! Websites such as Disney Baby have loads of tips and advice on travelling with little ones. In the meantime, it is encouraging that most airlines seem to so helpfully accommodate babies as their passengers. It remains to be seen whether we will actually want to fly with our one once they arrive, but at least we know that we can!

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