Friday, 28 February 2020

Baby Flying Tips: Benny's First Flight with Air Transat


There are so many firsts that you experience with a new baby: first smile, first time they crawl, their first word. One of the major firsts that I was most looking forward to, and simultaneously gave me the most anxiety, was Benny's first flight.

Readers of La Petite Noob know that I love to travel, and really didn't want to see that love end once we had a baby. When the opportunity came up to take our first flight as a family of three with Air Transat, I was ecstatic! My dreams of traveling the world with a child were coming true, and I was counting down the days until it became a reality. Then the panic set in.

The thing is although I've flown countless times, sometimes as a pair, as a group and often by myself, I had never flown with a child - let alone a six month old baby. What would security be like? What do I pack? Will they cry? What is the protocol for takeoff and landing with a baby on your lap? There were so many questions that arose in the days leading up to our first trip with Benny, I found it hard to move past the fear of the unknown.

I'll save you any dramatics and just skip to how our flight turned out: it was excellent. Check in at the airport was a breeze, we sailed through security, enjoyed a (mostly) silent and sleepy flight to-and-from the Cancun Airport in Mexico, and packed some key baby essentials that made the day a lot easier. Flying with Benny at six months took a lot more planning than I'm used to, and there were a lot more nerves involved, but it was incredible and totally doable for the future.

So let's get into the details of flying with a baby. First, the airline: we chose to go with Air Transat for our first flight with baby and it was such a good decision. You guys know that I've absolutely loved traveling and working with Air Transat over the years (we flew Club Class for our honeymoon) so I was already confident in the airline going into the flight. There are some definite perks to flying Air Transat with a baby that we took full advantage of, and that made our first flight much easier. These perks include:


  • A Family With Small Children check-in and baggage drop off line. As a couple who has not checked any luggage for over five years (Brian and I prefer to travel carry-on only) the fact that we would now need to allot time to drop off our baggage, but also check in with a baby added a whole other layer to the airport experience. Thankfully there is a special line for families with small children with Air Transat that allowed us to bypass most everyone in line and drop off our baggage in no time. We learned quick that time is of the essence when traveling with a baby, so the less time that we spent in lines with Benny the better. 

  • Extra Baggage allowance for Diaper Bags. Knowing that we were able to bring a dedicated diaper bag for Benny, outside of regular carry-on items, on our flight made packing so much easier. 

  • Gate Checking Strollers and Car Seats. Knowing that we would be doing a lot of walking through the airport with Benny, I knew that it would be important that we kept our stroller with us right up until we boarded. Thankfully with Air Transat, families are able to gate check one stroller and car seat at no extra charge, which was a lifesaver for us. Although we didn't use our own car seat on this particular trip, knowing that we're able to easily bring it with us makes traveling to Europe much easier.

  • Families with small children are also eligible for Pre-Boarding with Air Transat. It seems like those traveling with kids are on two very polarized opinions on pre-boarding. For both Brian and I, especially on our first trip traveling with baby Benny, pre-boarding was essential. We took advantage of the extra time that we had on the plane to sanitize everything around us, store our carry on and remove any items that we would need for Benny throughout the flight, and to get organized and comfortable. 

  • Friendly and Helpful Air Crew. The flight attendants and crew working on Air Transat flights are very well-versed in making people comfortable, and they went above and beyond with Benny. From helping us collapse and pack up our stroller at the gate, to briefing us multiple times during take-off and landing, to even bringing me extra water since I was feeding often during the flight: the crew took care of it all. Air Transat crew will even warm up baby food brought from home. A friendly air crew can make-or-break your flying experience, and our crew with Air Transat made sure that we had an amazing first flight with Benny.

After a successful first two flights with six-month old Benny, from Toronto to Cancun and back with Benny on our lap, I picked up a few tricks that I will implement on any future flights. Here's what made our flights a little more comfortable with baby.

  • I was initially worried about the change in air pressure and how it would affect Benny's ears on the flight, so I made sure to breastfeed during takeoff and landing for both flights. I'm not sure if it was this, the particular flight, or our individual baby, but Benny did not fuss whatsoever with changes in air pressure. In any case, I'm sure the sucking motion contributed to Benny's comfort and the feeding seemed to relax him - in fact, he fell asleep every time. If you're not breastfeeding then offering a bottle or a soother would have the same effect.

  • Because we wanted to make sure that we had desirable seats for maximum comfort on the plane, we opted to upgrade our seats on our own both ways to Options Plus. Options Plus is great because it allowed us to select our preferred seats in advance, enjoy extra leg room and gave us food from Air Transat's Bistro menu.  Options Plus also allows you to have priority boarding and our own check in line (should we not have had a child.) 

    Although not always an option, we were so happy to have upgraded to seats with extra leg room at the front of the plane. If you're not comfortable with an upgrade, I would suggest checking in 24 hours in advance of your flight to make sure that you're comfortable with your seating arrangement.

  • Babies are fickle, and I never really know which toys will entertain Benny on any particular day. For this reason, we packed his favourite toys, but also got creative for entertaining baby on the flight. When Benny all of a sudden tired of his beloved keyboard, an empty water bottle with stir sticks inside provided a solid 20 minutes of entertainment. Some other make-shift baby toys are a mirror, snack wrappers - whatever peaks baby's interest, just roll with it.

  • I'm a light packer by nature, so I didn't want to overwhelm our plane seats with too much stuff. The items that I packed for Benny on our flight were a muslin blanket, an extra set of clothes, 4 diapers and a pack of wipes, a pacifier and a pacifier clip, two toys and a package of pacifier wipes to sanitize soothers and toys throughout the flight.  We used everything that we packed, and I didn't wish for anything else.

Flying with a baby can seem overwhelming, but is completely doable and can actually be enjoyable! It takes a bit more planning, some extra stuff, the right airline and a few deep breaths. I'm already looking forward to our next flight with Benny.

What do you guys think? How was your first flight with your baby and/or children? Are there any tips that made the experience easier for you? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Air Transat. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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