Air Travel with a baby in tow

Travelling with children can be a challenge whatever age they are and I have to admit we have got a system that works for us.  We normally travel as a family and the teens, hubby and I normally balance the jobs well and we get to our destinations smoothly with no hiccups.

The last time I flew with a young child was 15 years ago when Callan was almost two and I remember it being a challenge as he just wanted to charge up and down the plane, so I had some idea of what I was letting myself in for last week when I travelled alone with Sebastian (14 months) by road and air.

I toyed with the idea of getting to Heathrow by train, but there is no direct service from Bournemouth and hubby dropping me off wouldn’t have worked due to the school runs so I made the decision to drive.  I looked into airport parking and APH jumped out at me. I could park on the perimeter of the airport and I would be transported to and from my terminals and it didn’t matter that we were leaving from Terminal 2 and arriving back at Terminal 5!

Booking was simple, I gave my flight details, car registration, name and address and that was it.  They emailed me my booking form and gave me directions on how to get to parking site.

I left home at 6.30am to make sure I arrived in plenty of time.  There was a bit of traffic around but I followed the directions and found the APH site with no problem  – and all without a satnav!  The parking complex is gated and the gates rose as I arrived.  I was welcomed by name at the booth and given my instructions of what to do and where to park.

The staff were brilliant and helped me with my case.  I had a short wait until my transport to the terminal arrived.  The cases and buggy were loaded and then we were off and dropped right to the door of Terminal 2.

I have not flown since our Honeymoon in 2005 and that was from Bournemouth, so Heathrow was quite a shock for me.  You can book in yourself on touchscreen computers but because I had a baby with me, I had to go to the empty check-in desk.  This bit was easy as they took my case and labelled my buggy for me, but the first challenge was just around the corner – passport control!

Checking the passports was the easy part, it was the bags that caused the issues.  I had taken two small bottles of water (sealed) and Sebastian’s sippy cup, also containing water.  I had to throw the water bottles away, despite being sealed as they were bigger than 50mls which I wasn’t too impressed about.  Trying to put bags through the X-Ray machines is stressful enough, but trying to hold a wriggly baby, fold a buggy and out anything loose in the boxes was really stressful.

My bag was then held in a queue as they wanted to check something inside it………sealed baby food!  I bought pouches of baby food and snacks to take on the plane for Sebastian and they physically opened every single one and tested it to make sure it was ok.  This took about 20 minutes and the wait was awful as Sebastian had enough of being put in and out of his buggy by this time.  There is a Boots store just inside the terminal so next time I will buy it once I am through passport control.

Flying with baby

Heathrow has plenty of shops and restaurants but I was really impressed to see a small soft play area for the kids and took some time out to relax and play with Sebastian after the stress of the morning so far.  We moved on when we were called to our Gate and then proceeded to watch the planes taking off from the window which Sebby loved.

On all the flights the staff made sure we had a window seat which was a godsend.  Sebastian not only loved looking out of the window, but when he fell asleep it meant I could rest against the wall which saved my arm!

Seb LOVES flying!

I was worried that his ears would pop and make him uncomfortable, the noise would scare him and he wouldn’t like the flying sensation.  I needn’t have worried at all – he was brilliant.  The only thing he wasn’t impressed with was the seat belt but it wasn’t on long.  He really was a good as gold on all three flights and everyone stopped to say hello as they walked passed.

Flying with Baby

The first flight to Athens was 3 hours and long and they brought our buggy to us as we disembarked so I didn’t have to worry about carrying him around.  Getting through to our connecting flight to Rhodes was fairly straightforward and we had a little wait so we stopped for a bite to eat before checking in all over again.

Thankfully they weren’t quite so thorough with the remaining baby food, but for some reason I set the alarms off and had to be patted down.  The Greek authorities were more than happy to take Sebby off my hands for a cuddle whilst this was done and I think he must have felt like royalty with all the attention he was getting.

At Athens we had to get the bus to the aircraft and then climb steps aboard.  There were staff waiting to out the buggy in the hold and then we clambered aboard.  By now Sebby was used to travelling and literally had his nose pressed against the window, pointing at other planes as we set off.  This flight was only 40 minutes in length, but he befriended a little boy in the seat in front and played peekaboo for much of the journey, although the gentleman sat at the end of the row kept playing with him too.

We had an amazing holiday and I cannot wait to tell you all about it, but what I did learn about taking a baby through an airport is to travel as light as possible and I made sure I had less with me for the journey home.

The fabulous team at Mark Warner helped me off the coach and into the terminal with my bags, but sadly they can only go so far into the airport and had to leave me after we got checked in.  Sadly passport control and the bags were just as much of a nightmare on the way back, making it the most stressful part of the journey but once we had got through that it was plain sailing from then on in!  Sebastian was even more fascinated by what he could see out the window and he kept pointing at things he could see.  Again he slept for a good hour and the rest if the time was spent singing nursery rhymes and looking out of the window.  There were some bad storms over Europe and the flight was quite turbulent but it didn’t bother him in the slightest and he giggled when we bounced on landing at Heathrow.

flying with baby

Getting our buggy back at Heathrow did prove a challenge as they just were not prepared for the sheer number of families travelling and we waited half an hour to get it back, which was incredibly frustrating.  Terminal 5 isn’t the easiest to navigate either and I am so glad I did have the buggy as we had to negotiate trains, lifts and a long queue at the passport check.  Whilst we were waiting I contacted APH to advise we had landed and were on our way to collect our luggage.  They told us to meet them at bus stop 28.

Once I had collected my luggage I headed outside to look for the bus stops.  They were all clearly marked and as I approached bus stop 28, the minibus arrived to collect me and my luggage.  The driver loaded all my items on board and set off for my car. He even unloaded and helped me put everything in my car up when we arrived back the parking zone.  It really did make my life so much easier and I would recommend APH everytime!

Thankfully the roads were clear and we got home in an hour and a half.

Travelling alone with a baby – DONE!

APH are 4x winners of the British Travel Awards and also offer:

– Flexible booking terms – customers can cancel up to 48 hours before travel without being charged (as long as it’s not a non-flex or supersaver product) which is great as we all know travel plans can change.

– Customer loyalty – once you’ve booked, you’ll receive up to 20% off your next visit

– Hotel and Parking packages to avoid that dastardly M25!

18 thoughts on “Air Travel with a baby in tow”

  1. I always forget how strict airports are about taking liquids on board. How annoying that they had to open every food pouch at security, but I suppose it’s a good thing really because they were being vigilant. We’re taking out first flight together as a family next year and I hope our trip goes as smoothly as yours.

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  2. Fabulous tips here. Normally I hate Heathrow with a passion but you may have persuaded/converted me with mention of that soft play.

    The only flying Aaron and I have done is to Ireland and back and I have done it alone quite a few times. The journey to Stansted (my fav airport) was short and thankfully it is a calm airport BUT the bit that stresses me is the security bit, as I have had exactly the experiences you describe. Also, trying to take your belt and shoes off and put them back on again when the toddler is creating mayhem. Not strapped in because they have insisted on your folding down your buggy…….. gggrrrr AND then when you are just about coping your plastic boxes (I always have more than 1) get spot checked and everyone seems to forget to pass them back to you after and you’re in danger of not getting to the gate (which is a long walk) in time.

    Wow I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it – and breathe.

    Well done you on getting through it.

    L xx

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  3. You are brave doing it alone – I have flown with under 2s a couple of times, but always with my OH on hand to help! I used night flights on those occassions which meant they slept- hoorah!

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  4. We haven’t taken the children abroad yet. Thankfully we are past the baby stage, although I think a couple of excited tweens on a plan could be hard work!

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  5. I remember going to Spain when my son was 5 months old. Travelling with a baby on a plane can be done but needs some thinking through. Passport control is always really stressful, you should try the USA!

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  6. Ah so glad to hear that it went well. I remember being so worried about Kit and Ozzys ears the first time they flew and they too were fine. APH sounds like a good thing to do – I’ll be sure to check it out next time we’re flying x

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  7. We don’t even have valid passports these days so I think my days of air travel are long gone. My children can’t sit still at all so I dread the thought of taking them on plane plus all the waiting around in the terminal. You are a lot braver than me!

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