Sunday, 12 October 2014

Our experience of flying with a 1 year old

In the last month, we have been abroad twice with Little One; once to Menorca and then to France, so four flights in total. Before going, to say we felt anxious would be a total understatement. We had no idea what to expect or how he would react to be confined to a small space for so long. We didn't actually look up any tips before we travelled, but we have some friends who had travelled with babies of a similar age who were able to share some top tips. 

Before boarding the flight, we obviously had to go through security. We pre-paid about £7.00 to go through security fast-track. As it turned out, the airport was really quiet and there was no queue anyway, but if you were to travel at peak times, I'd strongly recommend booking the security fast-track if it's available at the airport. Anything to avoid having your little one sitting being bored in a pushchair for longer than they need to be! You can take baby bottles filled with water and sippy cups/beakers too. They will ask you to get them out so they can be checked, and at some airports they actually place the baby bottles in a machine to check it's safe liquid. If possible, see if you can go to the same security point as a family. We got separated and I ended up having to empty bags, get bottles out, dismantle his pushchair and remove my shoes all while holding Little One. 

We flew to Menorca with Jet2 and the flight was around 2 hours 45 minutes long and the flight to France was with Ryanair and it was about 1 hr 40 minutes. I tell myself that while he's a toddler I wouldn't fly for any flight longer than the one to Menorca, however, we were sitting next to a 2 year old who was quite content watching episodes of Peppa Pig for the entire flight and didn't make any fuss at all!

Prior to boarding, it can be tempting to want to get to the front of the queue to get on the plane first and get settled. However, from our experience we found it easier to wait as long as we could before boarding and being the last passengers to get on. This meant Little One wasn't sitting on the plane for ages before the plane even took off. Equally, if you can choose your seats when you book, try and book them near the front or back of the plane so you can be first off. Up to the age of two, babies and toddlers sit on your knee and have an extender seat belt. 

As well as our own hand luggage, we also took a small backpack for all Little One's things which we kept under our chair so it was easy to get to when he needed a quick snack. On our first flight, we made the mistake of giving him his bottle of milk too early on (before we had even set off. The following flights, we started him off with a couple of snacks and found 'little and often' to work really well. This is what we took:
  • Goodies carrot stick corn snacks (these were really messy though and the orange colour stained his clothes).
  • Raisins.
  • Annabel Karmel Cheesy Breadsticks (these come in a pot with a re-sealable lid so we were also able to use them on the flight home).
  • Philadelphia cream cheese breadstick dunkers.
  • Packeted sandwiches- these were brilliant as we were all able to share them and it kept him occupied for a while.
Of course, we didn't give him all these snacks on each flight! We were then able to give him his milk as a fall back when he got really restless. We also took another milk bottle filled with tap water. This kept him hydrated on the flight and the sucking motion seemed to help him on the descent. 

Overall, I think Little One coped pretty well on the flights, but I wouldn't want to go flying with him too often and I definitely wouldn't go on my own with him, mostly because I physically wouldn't be able to carry everything. We had a few problems with having to carry him in his buggy down numerous flights of stairs at Leeds Bradford airport, while also carrying two hand luggage suitcases and two bags. I would advise checking availability of lifts at your airport. 

Here are a couple of iPhone photos from the airport and on our flights.







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