Flying with a baby is not the easiest task. We have done it four times in the last year and I don't believe the last time was any easier than the first one. Babies do a lot of developing in their first year which means that when you're flying with a baby you have to be adaptive to these changes. What works to soothe and distract them during one phase may not work the next time around.
One thing I did learn when we began traveling with our baby was just how small airplane seats become when you're trying to not let your little one grab and climb on whoever may be stuck next to you in a row of three. To save money flying with a baby under 2 years of age, we opt to use the "infant on lap" option rather than buy her her own seat. However, all the trips that we had taken before this one had been short trips and in her younger months she wasn't yet mobile.
This time around we were flying for about 13 hours. We started our journey in Amsterdam and eventually landed in Nashville, Tennessee. Since it was going to be such a long haul and our baby is now mobile, I decided to do two things to try to make it easier on everyone involved.
- I opted to do an "overnight" flight
- I upgraded us to Economy Comfort
Flying with a baby overseas: Our experience
I'm putting the "overnight" in quotations for a good reason. While it was technically our bedtime during most of the flight, I forgot about the fact that we were traveling backwards in time. 7 hours in fact. This meant that the sun did not set during our trip and it was constantly bright in the airplane. (What didn't help either is the lady in front of us who just would not close her window shade even after we asked and it was clear as day that she was neither looking out the window nor happy that the baby was crying.)
What was our solution to this problem, you ask? We made a makeshift window shade between that lady's seat and where the baby's head was so that when I was laying her down and rocking her to sleep she didn't have the sun glaring her in the face. This lead to about 2.5 hours of sleep for the baby and none for me. :( Flying with a baby comes with it's own sets of challenges.
As for how flying in economy comfort was, I am so glad that we upgraded. For shorter flights, I'm all about budget rather than comfort. And I probably would have done the same for this flight if we weren't flying with a baby. However, by choosing economy comfort we had so much more space. I wasn't worried about the baby not having enough room to move around without disturbing others. And my legs could actually stretch out. It was well worth the extra money that we spent.
On our journey home we flew out of Sacramento on our way home to Amsterdam. Again, I booked an "overnight" flight. This one worked out perfectly. Since we weren't going against the sun this time, after dinner service was over and the cabin was dim, we were able to all grab a bit more sleep than the first time around.
On both legs of the journey the cabin crew was amazing. They were very friendly and helpful and seemed to enjoy having the baby there. I can't say the same for some of our fellow passengers. But again, I'm under the belief that you just can't please everyone in life. Flying with a baby is stressful. Even if you've done it a million times before, you can never predict exactly how a baby is going to behave. I do my best to pack everything that I believe that she needs but there's always the chance that she has a melt down.
When we first began traveling with our baby, I used to get so stressed out preparing for the flight. I used to wonder how she would do, what would other passengers think if she started crying, etc. Now that I've done it a few times, I no longer have those worries. Yes, she may have a melt down. And you know what. That's ok. I believe that as long as you do your best to be prepared and try your best to help your baby travel safely and happily, that is all that anyone can ask for. Flying with a baby doesn't have to be stressful. And just because you have a baby, doesn't mean that you should stop traveling.
Want to learn more about KLM Comfort? Check out their website
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