Since there’s bound to be a lot of traveling during this busy holiday season, here’s a quick post on some traveling tips for you and your baby/toddler before you take to the air. Specifically, I would like to provide some advice on things you should set up with your airline before you travel. The tips below apply more to international traveling, but hopefully some of it will still be helpful to those traveling domestically.
Be sure to check with your airline ahead of time to determine what procedure they use in assigning bassinet seats. Some airlines will ask you to call into their office 1-2 weeks in advance of flying to request bassinet seating because they only open up those seats at that time. When we used Eva airlines, we called about 5 days prior and were so thankful they still had bassinet seats available for 3 out of the 4 legs of our international journey! Other airlines (like Delta airlines when we flew with them internationally), require you to go to the check-in counter on the day of the flight in order to request bassinet seating. This can be a pain especially if you happen to have an early morning flight (which we did at one point). Imagine having to get to the airport another ½ -1 hour earlier especially with a baby early in the morning!
If you’re traveling internationally or with a foreign airline, the airline will often provide special perks like tailored age-appropriate meals. To get these age-appropriate meals assigned to your child, you would need to request them ahead of time (often within 24 hours of the flight) from the airline office. Having some meals provided really relieves you of the burden of trying to carry all of your baby’s or toddler’s food on the plane. And it tastes pretty good too! I was impressed by the number of different options provided by Eva airlines, depending on the child’s taste and weaning status. For example, there was a Baby Meal (BBML) for those between 6 months to 2 years of age, a Post Weaning Meal (PWML) for those over 2 years old with soft and easy to chew options, and a Child Meal (CHML) for children 2-5 years old. This means that for children under 5 years of age, parents can request for the child’s meal on the plane ahead of time, and just bring snacks/supplements!
Another sometimes overlooked perk of certain airlines is that diapers can be provided on board. Yes, it’s free of charge! This can be a real blessing because you then don’t have to worry about bringing so many diapers on board (believe me, they take up quite a bit of carry-on baggage space). However, you would also need to call into the airline office ahead of time to request these for the flights that you’re taking with the airline. A request for diapers usually needs to be made at least 24 hours in advance, but may vary with different airlines. There are 2 other things you should be aware of when requesting diapers on board. First, figure out your child’s size in diapers as international airlines may use kilogram weights and different designated sizes (e.g., a medium M 16-23 lbs or 7 -10kg diaper provided on the plane differs from the ‘stage 3 diapers’ usually sold in the United States which is 16-28 lb or 7-13 kg). Second, the number of diapers provided does not correspond to the length of the flight. We have experienced receiving only 2 diapers on one long all flight lasting over 12 hours, and on a short-haul flight of 4 ½ hours receiving a whole package of 8-10 diapers!
Request Special Assistance
When you’re on the phone with an airline agent, don’t forget to request ‘special assistance’ if you feel you might need it with your family. This is especially the case if you have multiple children in the family and need assistance getting from one gate to the next during a short layover. This will help to make the transitions between flights much smoother and less stressful!
Lastly, I would like to make a note about travel insurance, even though it doesn’t strictly fall under airline requests. Before you travel, it is wise to look into travel insurance. Check if your existing insurance covers your travel, or get some other insurance that does. This can be helpful if you or a family member end up needing a doctor or hospitalization during the trip, especially if there are any medical concerns existing in the family. Not to mention, travel insurance plans often also cover issues like loss of luggage, damaged luggage, or delayed travel plans. Happy Holiday Traveling!