I had read that travelling with a baby has airlines treating you like royalty and that’s not far off true!
Checking in, we didn’t have to line up – just got ushered to the front of the line for family check in. At security there was only a handful of people in line, but I’m sure if it was busy the same would apply there. We then had priority boarding. When we landed at Heathrow, we had to join the initial line for border control, but then got sent to the family line where only three families were in front of us – compared to the main line which was looooong!
We booked tickets at the baulk head, where you can request a bassinet. This was useful, but the steward told us you can only use it while the seatbelt signs are off – when the light is on, you have to hold the baby in the “seatbelt” position, which is upright on your lap with your arms around them. The seatbelt sign was on for a lot of the flight meaning the bassinet felt a little pointless at times, though it was helpful for having somewhere to dock Maisie when sorting bags, and also for changing her outfit when she threw up on herself (which happened twice in quick succession!). So my advice would be to weigh up if it’s worthwhile for your flight as to how likely turbulence is. One rule for using the bassinet is that you have to strap down the mesh “lid” in case of unexpected turbulence which might sending your baby flying. We laughed when the steward told us this but she assured us it does happen which was sobering. 😳
Maisie only cried for about 20 mins about 15 mins after take off. We gave her baby Tylenol (on doctors advice) once we got on the plane pre-take off and I think it must’ve helped. She slept really well throughout the flight – we took off at 6pm and decided to swaddle her at 8ish for bedtime which worked well and laid her in the bassinet when possible and took it turns holding her otherwise. She slept well so I recommend going for night time flights, particularly this age!
Tom did all the diaper changes on the plane but said very good things about the on board facilities. Just small, as expected. Though for the first change he was allowed to use the business class toilet which he said was very fancy!
In terms of carry on baggage – Maisie went through 4 outfits in all and a lot of burp cloths and swaddle blankets, so packing lots of spares in hand luggage is a good idea. We took a stroller with us to the gate and got it back at the gate on arrival, which was very helpful for carrying our stuff, her stuff and her! We did have a carrier with us in case we needed it but found we were ok with using the stroller and just cuddling her when she was upset. Now that she’s older I would think the carrier would be more useful!
Babies get the same luggage allowance as adults even on a lap ticket despite basically only paying taxes for the ticket which is great.
Overall I’d say it was a pretty good experience and wouldn’t have a problem doing it again! Flying with a newborn is a daunting task but it’s such an easy age to quell any upsets – all she ever needed was a feed/cuddle/bum change and sleeping was her default.
My best advice would be to be prepared, be ready to bend and go with the baby’s needs, and pack smart. (By pack smart I mean put things you’ll need quickly where you can get to them easily.)
I know now that Maisie is seven months and more active it would make a flight a totally different beast with trying to keep her entertained. I think for long haul choosing a night flight again would hopefully still work with Maisie being put in her sleep sack, and laying down in a bassinet to sleep. For a shorter flight it would probably be ok to aim for nap time flight and then keep her occupied with books and toys and snacks the rest of the time.
I’m looking forward to our next flight and seeing how she does!