Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Moving abroad Part 3: Flight arrangements

While the prospect of living in another country is like a big, happy, bright spot in my near-future, the prospect of actually getting there on a plane with a baby is like this dark, hairy thing lurking in my happy spot.  I'm seriously afraid of it. I wouldn't be so apprehensive if my child liked to sit in one spot for more than, oh, 36 seconds. But she's a mover and a shaker and I think being in our seats for the duration of our flights just may kill both of us off.

I've done a bit of preparation for our flight already that I hope will ease the pain of an international flight with a baby.

Plan flights around sleeping schedules
One thing that gets mentioned a lot is to plan flight times during naptimes/bedtimes. In our case, our total travel time is 22 hours (see why I'm scared?) so we will pretty much hit all of Ada's naptimes and bedtime and with any luck (heaven help us) we might just get her to sleep during them.

Reserve a Sky Cot
This was a revelation to me. A Sky Cot is basically a little bassinet that hooks on/folds down from the bulk head wall and babies (usually up to 8 months) can sleep in it. Not all planes have them, but from what I understand most large "air bus" type planes do. Reserve them early when you reserve your seats. This took a lot of calling and hold music, but I think it's going to be worth it (I'll have to write an update about this). Mostly I'm just trilled that I don't have to hold Ada (as much as I love holding her ) on my lap for 12 plus hours while we fly overseas.

Consider your layovers.
Our flight itinerary has two layovers.  Some people are in the "get-there-as-expeditiously-as-you-can camp" and others are in "layovers-were-our-saving-grace camp." I think we may be in the latter. It will give Ada time to scootch around and us time to stretch our legs. (Plus when you fly out of Salt Lake, it's hard to find any sort of direct flight no matter what you pay).

Pay the lap tax in advance.
If we were more flush, I probably would have sprung for a separate ticket for Ada so she could have her own seat. Even though she can't sit, I think the extra room would be worth it. We didn't. This time. However, regardless of whether or not your baby has their own seat, you have to pay for them to get on the flight. The "lap tax" for infants is usually 10% of the cost of your ticket if you book it before hand. I read someone else's experience which involved several money transfers and pretty much giving up an arm and a leg to get their child on board at the gate. Bottom line, even though you many feel like the airlines should be paying you to keep a baby on your lap the whole time, save yourself the headache (and a wad of cash) and pay the lap tax in advance.

Do your research on baggage policies.
The nice thing about lap taxes is that by acknowledging that your child is a person and therefore needs to pay a fee to board a plane, they are counted like regular people in the baggage department. By paying the lap tax, we got two more free checked items, another carry on, and a personal item. Good thing too since we'll use one of her checked bags for her Pack'n'Play, her checked item is her stroller is her carry-on (by gate checking it) and her diaper bag is her personal item. Sheesh, kids come with a lot of extra stuff. Baggage policies were confusing to me. We're flying Iberia, but the first leg of our flight is "American Airlines operated by Iberia." Long story short, the international flight always trumps the domestic when it comes to baggage policies.

Don't forget to bring your consent form.
Like I mentioned in this post, Mikey and I had to get a little statement notarized giving our permission for our spouse to fly with Ada. It's weird since we're both her parents, but I heard a story from my Aunt about a woman who wasn't allowed to take her child with her because she didn't have this paper. (Needless to say she stayed in the airport and probably had a breakdown).

For more travel tips see:
HERE
HERE
and HERE

5 comments:

Linae said...

Ugh! Iberia.. I flew Iberia from Bogotá to Madrid and they would only allow me to have one bag.. Which was weird because I booked one itinerary and the flight from Quito to Bogotá was operated by United which allowed to items.. I just made sure they checked all my bags until Prague and thus didn't have to pay extra fees.. But that is definitely something you should double or even triple check! I thought it's just understood that intercontinental flights allow 2 bags.. How wrong I was.

Sonia @ My Sweet Monkey said...

Make sure you double check your reservation for the sky cot and hope your baby uses it! We had one on the way to Texas but my daughter refused to sleep in it but she did sit and play in it. On the way back to Italy, I was bumped and didn't get my sky cot... and that was the flight she slept the most!

Most international flights also have infant meals so, you might want to call and make sure you get that too. It's usually a jar of Gerber food but it helps to also have lots of snacks.

As far as sleep... she might stay on schedule but wake up to see all of the new faces. My daughter should have been asleep when we landed in Frankfurt but she was wide awake... it was not fun.

If you have the sky cot then having an extra seat isn't necessary... however, if there is one next to you, claim it ASAP!!

Anonymous said...

These posts are genius, Paige. And we may be needing this information next fall for an internship in london so keep it up please! I'm really interested in how you guys found housing and how you are paying for all of this too!

Anonymous said...

Dang it. That was me. Ellen. Stupid phones.

Elena said...

Sounds like an adventure Paige! Can I come visit? I'm living in England right now! hope all goes well! Love reading your blog!

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