Our flights to NZ were the first long-hauls that we had ventured on with our 10-month old daughter (so why not do one of the longest routes humanly possible?!). It’s 8800 miles/ 14000km over 16 hours from Dubai to Auckland- and if you’re anything like us you’ll want as many handy hints as you can find to prepare for as smooth a journey as possible. Hopefully this post combines a lot of tips for ease of travel that we found out before (or sometimes during) the journey.
We did tonnes of research in advance when choosing which airline to fly with and a particular site called Flying with a baby proved invaluable. Who knew there was such a thing as a Sky Nanny? The helpful little chart on that site made it very easy to decipher which airline offers which service for babies.
We decided to fly on the Dublin-Dubai-Auckland route with Emirates, due to their excellent reputation for accommodating families with small children and we weren’t disappointed. One of the stewards came to introduce himself to us early on in the flight and told us that if there was anything we needed we should ask for him. It was great to know that there was help at hand, for example if one of us needed to use the W.C. whilst the other was sleeping, the steward was on hand to look after our little princess.
BASSINET OR CAR SEAT?
Rather than booking a bassinet we decided to book an extra seat for Sophia and bring her car seat for the plane journey. We could snooze knowing that she was safely strapped into her carseat in between us and there was no question of it getting lost in transit before needing it for the taxi journey from the airport. We had been told that if babies are asleep in the bassinets and the fasten seatbelt sign gets switched on they need to be lifted out and strapped into the seatbelt on the parents’ knee. We didn’t fancy that on a 28-hour journey so although it was a bit of a hassle (for Jeremy) carting the car seat around the airports, it was well worth having.
Only certain car seats are approved by the FAA for air travel and as Sophia was about to outgrown her first size infant car seat, we made sure that we purchased an FAA approved next size of seat. Basically, after all my research I found that if the seat has a sticker with the letter E and a number inside of a circle (mine is E1) as well as an ECE R44/04 code it is approved by most airlines, but check before you lug it all the way to the airport. Emirates provided detailed info online regarding travelling with a baby and stated the types of approved car seats. At the check in desk they asked to see the sticker and it was plain sailing from there (no pun intended).
We decided to buy the Britax Prince Romer car seat which is lightweight, has a five-point safety harness, side impact protection and most importantly for air travel, multiple recline positions to help your little one snooze without head-bobbing . We also purchased the ‘Gate Check’ car seat transport bag. Although we didn’t check it in at the gate, it was much easier to transport the car seat around the airport in this bag and I would definitely recommend it. We also stored things like the baby sling and the nappy bag in here when we were wandering around the airport so as to have some hands free. Gate Check also sells stroller bags but unfortunately they were too small for our travel system. If you are checking in your stroller or car seat make sure to affix the sticky check in label to the outside of the bag or the handle of the item. Ours got lost in Duabi airport due to the fact that the label couldn’t be seen by the baggage handlers!
Our evening flight from Dublin to Dubai (about 7 hours 30minutes) coincided nicely with Sophia’s bedtime and turns out she slept for most of the flight in her reclined car seat. The man who was supposed to sit next to us saw that we had a baby and scarpered, resulting in an extra seat for us. Bonus.
BABY CARRIER FOR THE WIN
Our Baby Bjorn carrier turned out to be extremely useful when travelling through the airports. Your baby can either be front or rear facing in the original baby bjorn carrier, leaving your hands free for holding onto important things like passports and boarding passes. We find that Sophia falls asleep when rear facing and likes to watch what is going on when front facing, so positioned her accordingly!
We were allowed to proceed through security with Sophia in the baby carrier. Regardless of whether she was awake or asleep, she went undisturbed. However, when she fell asleep in our Uppa Baby Vista travel system buggy before we had made it through security, she had to be taken out of the buggy, subsequently woke up and then made her protests to the rude awakening known to all within a ten mile radius of Dublin airport. If she had been in the baby carrier sling, she could have stayed asleep and the tutters would have had nothing to tut about.
IS THAT A BABY IN YOUR BACKPACK?
When Sophia was wide awake we transported her around the airports in a Montis Walk Back Carrier baby backpack and packed a lot of her travel items in it (nappies, wipes, snacks, bibs, changes of clothes). It was like an extra nappy bag and had surprisingly a lot of storage space in the various pockets. It was comfortably stored under her seat during the flight, and worn as a backpack around the airport. The honest reason we brought it: because we needed more luggage space for baby items and this ‘baby carrier’ went unnoticed as an item of luggage! Sssh don’t tell anyone, though. It also doubles up as a handy way of lugging your child on other modes of transport too, even a bicycle (although probably not recommended by the manufacturer).
For more travel trips check out my post: Handy Hints for a Happy Baby on Board