Travelling from Singapore to Bangkok to Shanghai in one day was an easy flying day when you were childless, now that you have a child in-tow there’s a new batch of rules, restrictions and pricing options to consider before travelling so the unexpected surprises can be kept to a minimum during your trip. Above all, confirm any international travel law in accordance to baby and toddler travel. Be aware, also, that airlines often have their own policies, which might be stricter than their own governments’ laws. Most of the employees you encounter do not have the power to change or make exceptions to any rule. In the eyes of the flight crew you are a special passenger that just might need assistance.
It’s essential to ask the right questions. Not all information is stated on websites nor will the first person you talk to give you all the information voluntarily. While Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of the best in the world, especially in terms of family travel, keep in mind other airports do not hold the same amenities and luxuries as we have here. In particular, when travelling with a budget airline in other countries be prepared to wait in long lines at the ticket counters take a lengthy walk from the boarding gate to the tar-mat to board the aircraft. There’s also a chance that the budget terminal is a totally different airport on the opposite side of the city. It’s important to know what is there for you and at what cost.
- Extra costs for a lap child? Some airlines have information available on their websites. In most cases, you will have to call and get your flights’ calculated costing.
- Do they offer a bassinet? This attached to the bulkhead of the first rows in economy cabins. It is taken out for you to use in-flight and stowed in the flight crews’ galley for take-off and landings. There are weight limits for the bassinet, most do not allow if a baby is over 4 months.
- Would you be required to purchase a paper ticket for a lap child or is it an e-ticket? Some airlines still use paper ticketing, this means an added 20 minutes to check-in time as it entails a regular check-in for the in seat passengers then shuffling off to the main ticketing counter or office to purchase the paper ticket.
- During layovers will you be receiving your gate-checked luggage when you get off the plane or will it be transferred all the way through to final destination? In some countries where you have a layover, you may find yourself stuck without a pram and unable to communicate well with the airline staff in that particular country.
Seating is an ever more important option when travelling with babies. Here are some options you have to help make your flight more convenient:
- Bulkhead seats, these are (sometimes) the front row of each cabin with the wall in front. Not only do they hold the baby bassinets but they also have a little more floor room than other seats in the economy cabins. The downsides of a bulkhead seat is the armrests do not move as they do in aft rows, which could restrict your movement and there is considerably less stowage for your luggage.
- Near a lavatory. You will be visiting these quite often during flight. It’s a good idea to be as close as possible.
- Isle seats. If your baby is used to being rocked to sleep or being carried while you walk around, you will want to be in a position to make things as normal our routine as possible during flight. When baby needs to be carried around, you won’t want to have to climb over people or wake a sleeping passenger up so you can get up.
- If travelling with 2 or more, try to book seats in the same row or better yet book the same row but leave one seat free in between. In some cases where the flight is not full that middle seat may stay empty. Bonus for you, a free seat for rest! If a passenger occupies the seat, more often than not they will switch with one of your party so you can sit together.
- Look carefully at the seating chart. Sometimes there are some rows with just two seats. This is good if it’s a solo parent with a child or a couple with a lap child.
What are your top tips for travelling with kids? Let us know in the comments down below.