Putting Baby On The Plane

In less than a week, we’ll be travelling to London with our three month old child. Tonight, having drunk some beer and watched some dreadful television to steel ourselves, we started checking things off for the flights.

Firstly, we had to figure out what was going on with bassinets. We’re flying with British Airways, who, when you’re flying with an infant, allow you to select your seats free of charge, so you can sit somewhere convenient for parents and child, and hopefully minimize distress for everyone else on the plane.

Or rather, they do, but if you’ve booked your flights separately to your child’s (it’s complicates, and involves redeeming frequent flyer miles) then you can’t. So that took four calls to BA’s call centre to resolve. The first three times the call was inexplicably dropped; the fourth time, the call centre agent promised to pass it on to the seating department, but we may only find out what happened when we get on the plane, and find Felicity is at one end, my wife is at the other, and I’m in a seat with a broken recline right next to the toilet. Maybe.

Air Canada was easier; we were on hold for ten minutes, then a Canadian sorted us out with seats and confirmed we had a bassinet for one flight (and definitely not for the other) so we are quite confident about that.

What we’re not sure about is the way to safely transport Felicity around each country, when we introduce motorcars to the equation. She’s definitely too young to drive in either the UK or Canada, and too small to be in a normal seat, but we can’t figure out the right way to transport her car seat across the world.

Car seats are designed to help children survive crashes. They’re actually quite fragile and so if we can help it, we don’t want a baggage handler chucking it around. Since our child doesn’t get her own seat on the flight, we don’t have space to strap the car seat in anywhere, and I’m not sure if it will fit into an overhead locker or not. You see people fit rucksacks several times larger than me into the overhead on planes, provoking tutting from other passengers, but a car seat is less squashable, and certainly won’t fit under the seat in front of you. But we can’t leave it behind; we need safe transport for her to and from each airport, and for driving around in the wilds of Canada. Information on this is fairly sparse, which is to say non-existent. If anyone has tried this recently, we’d love to know how they got on.

As well as the car seat, we have an enormous stroller for wheeling our child around in. Wondrous though this is, I suspect it’s going to be very hard to transport, and much more likely to be pounded to a thousand pieces if we surrender it to the abyss of checked luggage. So we have less than a week to determine if our daughter is happy to be strapped to my torso or not.

There are other things to worry about. I don’t know how much our three month old is going to enjoy twelve hours in a noisy metal box. Musical celebrations in Chinatown are one thing (and tonight’s instrumental rendition of Careless Whisper, on Casio keyboard, by a tone deaf pianist, was certainly a thing) but they generally cease after two or three hours. Half a day is a lot more for her to put up with. It will be noisy, cold, and at either end there will be grumpy security guards. I expect they’ll be much more grumpy in Heathrow than Changi, but it’s rare to ever meet a cheery Customs officer. We have to figure out how many nappies to take with us. And what we’re going to do with those nappies once they’re surplus to requirements; you don’t want to be the person who blocks the toilet on a twelve hour flight, after all. There are also lots of things I can’t even think of yet: I rather hope I do before we actually set off for the airport.

In the long run, it’s probably funnier if I don’t. In the short term, it’ll be very, very serious.

3 thoughts on “Putting Baby On The Plane”

  1. Yeah travelling with a baby is a nightmare. You do have the advantage that a 3 month old is small though and will probably be happy to travel in a front carrier thing for some of the time. Most babies I’ve known love it.

    Aren’t they quite strict with how large your hand luggage is allowed to be these days? Not sure a baby car seat complies… I’d be nervous about entrusting a stroller or car seat to baggage handlers too… have you thought about hiring the equipment? I’ve never tried it, but in the absence of all other peace of mind options, it might be worth exploring?

  2. We gave her a test run in a carrier yesterday, and she was quite happy with it – but not quite sure that a ten minute jaunt around Chinatown is an adequate simulation of a couple of weeks of walking around.

    The major issue is the car seat. I think we could rent one, but the outstanding problem is how we get the car seat to be at Heathrow at the same time that we arrive. Still, this must have been a problem for somebody else already…

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