Nobody likes babies on planes; it’s just a fact. Every passenger immediately goes rigid when they see a baby heading for the seat next to them – alright, maybe not every passenger. But babies don’t fly alone. They usually bring some sort of entourage that consists of parents, way too much hand luggage, and toys that make every kind of sound known to man.
It’s no treat for parents, either. According to Wotif research, most Aussie parents (80%) have changed their travel plans due to the cost of travelling with children and 22% have decided to drive with their kids, rather than fly, in order to save money. But flying with kids – including babies – doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.
Our little one is now up to eight flights, all by the ripe old age of five months, and there are a few tips I’ve learnt that you’ll want to know. Especially if you want to save a few dollars and avoid those “Don’t-you-dare-sit-next-to-me” glares from your fellow passengers.
1. Choose wisely: Not all airfares are created equal and there are often differences in baggage allowances. Generally, an infant fare will allow travel with the basic baby necessities (think car seats, prams, and portacots). Consider what you want and what you need when choosing an airline to avoid being stung with extra charges down the line.
2. Cheap seats: OK, technically not a seat, but instead a lap; infants up to the age of two years old can usually fly for free or a minimal charge. After that age, your flying costs will jump dramatically, as you’ll have to pay for a dedicated seat. This could be a deciding factor in planning your travel dates. In fact, Wotif research has found that 16% of parents have chosen to travel while their kids were younger to in order to save money.
3. Timing: Completely optional, but if you have a choice of flight times, pick the one that best suits your little one’s moods. Knowing our daughter is more restless in the evenings, we usually opt for a morning flight.
4. Pram: When checking in, always ask if you can take your pram through security, directly to the gate (instead of checking it in). Some airlines won’t allow you to, but for many it’s not an issue. Having the luxury of a pram to use in the terminal sure makes life a lot easier. PS: Your arms can thank me later.
5. Bottle up: If you’re feeding au naturel (insert Milkybar Kid pun here) – then awesome you can save yourself some hand luggage. If not, it never hurts to over-prepare in the bottle department. Australian Customs at international airports will allow a ‘reasonable’ amount of baby-related liquids, such as milk, formula, and food. Always check the latest advice for all the airports in your itinerary.
6. The power of distraction: Bringing a toy for in-flight distraction – nothing groundbreaking. But ‘earning’ a new toy on every flight gives your little one something exciting and new to interest and occupy them. Maybe back yourself with a trusty fave toy too, just in case!
7. Befriend your neighbour: It will help bucketloads if you get off on the right foot with your neighbour, so make sure to keep up the general niceties. Think warm smile and polite chitchat. Oh, and definitely leverage your baby’s cute-factor – that stuff is priceless. That way if it does come to a screaming frenzy, you’ll buy yourself a few extra minutes of patience.
8. Entourage: Go it alone if you dare – but if you are sane, then rope in the partner/grandparents/entire entourage. It will help ease the pressure and there are some key times when you’ll thank them for it (like bathroom trips and dealing with overhead lockers).CHECK OUT TOP FLIGHT DEALS
Behind the stats
Wotif’s Research was conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 1,042 Australians aged 18+. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and regional areas. The survey was conducted online by members of a permission- based panel between 4 May and 7 May 2018. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.