Cultural Musings, Foreigners in Poland

How to survive a transatlantic flight with a baby 

This November we flew to the States for the first time with Maks when he was 5.5 months old. There’s a lot to be worry about when you fly with a baby. What if he cries the whole time and everyone despises us? What if I don’t bring enough diapers and he poops all over himself and me? What if he picks up some creepy bacteria?

We were incredibly lucky. Our baby didn’t cry, we had plenty of diapers and no sickness after. But there was a lot of prep and a few bumps along the way. We flew from Katowice –> Frankfurt –> Orlando as we usually do with Lufthansa. It’s just the easiest route for us as we live very close to the Katowice airport. Typically this trip is pretty long, especially if you have a layover in Frankfurt, which is hard to avoid. This time we woke up at 2 am for our 6 am flight and arrived in Florida the next day about midnight in Poland. The way back was much shorter – only about 15 hours total.

Bring a back up carrying method.

When you get off each flight, they’re supposed to give you your stroller. This being our first flight, we weren’t sure so we asked the flight attendant. She said sorry but she didn’t know and we needed to get on the bus asap as we were holding everyone up. Didn’t see the stroller after walking off the plane, and it was cold so we hopped on the bus. As we were driving away we saw the guy come out with out stroller. Cool – 6 hours in Frankfurt with no stroller. If you have a big baby, you can rent a stroller there – it’s crappy but possible. If your baby is small, you’re screwed.

Book seats with a bassinet.

If you have a relatively small baby, I’d say under a year and a half, you can book seats at the front of the row and they’ll attach a baby bed to the wall in front of you. Totally sucks for the third person in the row, but highly recommended as even if your baby sleeps there for a short time, you’ll at least have a break from holding them, which would be hard for 10 hours.

Ask about family lines when going through security.

In Frankfurt they have special lines for families so you don’t have to wait in the long lines with other people. Usually they’ll lead you there, but if not then be sure to ask about it. Cuts waiting times and just makes your life easier.

Prepare yourself for jet lag.

For adults, it really depends on the person, but babies are creatures of routine. They’ll fall asleep at the same time no matter whether it’s still light outside or it’s been dark for 8 hours. When we went to the States, the jet lag wasn’t too bad. The first few days Maks went to sleep at 5-6 pm and woke up at 2 am and 5 am to play. Trochę brutal but we took turns and it was fine. Plus, we were on vacation and could wake up whenever we wanted. After a week he just stopped waking up at night and starting going to sleep later. When we returned to Poland, it was a little harder. He didn’t want to sleep until 2 am. Every day it he went to sleep a little earlier and little earlier, but when you have to wake up for work at 5:45 and the baby goes to sleep at 1:30 and then wakes up at 3 and 5 to eat… it’s rough. My suggestion is take a day or two off after you return from your trip because it’ll be hard for both you and baby to adjust and you won’t be sleeping much. I took off only one day and it wasn’t quite enough.

I’d say overall flying with our baby was fantastic, but every baby is different and I’m sure that can really make the difference. Maks is rather calm and doesn’t cry for no reason so we’re definitely lucky and that makes travelling a lot easier. Our next transatlantic flight is in April to NYC! We’ll see how that one goes. I’m wondering if it’ll be easier or harder since he’s more active now. Have you ever travelled with a baby? Maybe you have some tips?

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  • Reply Alex 17 February 2018 at 11:31

    The first time we went to NYC with James we thought we won the lottery. He slept most of it, was cute when awake and we just felt bad for other parents whose children weren’t that calm. But then James got bigger and on our next flight to Miami we got what we deserved for being smug! James was so interested in everything – other people, other people’s long hair, other children, flight attendants trolley. He didnt want to stay seated at all. We think the best thing for a child on the plane is an ipad loaded with games,
    music apps and videos. Even though he was only 11 months he already had his favourite apps. He loved looking at himself in the video camera and replaying those videos. Virgin Atlantic baby bassinet is for kids up to 10kg and British Airways – 9kg, so worth checking if you will be allowed to use them. James wasn’t that heavy but they questioned if he is too tall to fit in it. We tried to lie about it but then James was really uncomfortable in the bassinet. We try to feed James loads before he flight so he feels sleepy and sometimes that works – it calms him down… We also restrict the ipad before the flight so when he gets his hands on it after not seeing it for a week he is so engrossed in it. Change of clothes for us was a must – he was so active he spilled everything. I just had a spare jersey jumpsuit for me so it was light and small in my hand luggage. Good luck!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 20 February 2018 at 06:03

      Hahah oh my god!! Is this what we’re in for on our flight in April? Maks will be about 10 months… they said the bassinet is good for up to 12 kg so that shouldn’t be a problem. Yikes now I’m a bit freaked out! Need to plan a little more. I’m sure he won’t sleep in the bassinet during the day flight but night flight? I figure he’ll sleep the whole time. We’ll see! Thanks for letting me know what your experience looked like and for the tips!!

  • Reply Kathy 21 February 2018 at 18:14

    One thing for sure is to NEVER fly CONDOR airline!!! Few from Seattle to Frankfurt with 1.5 years old and they did not offer a single glass of water for her!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 7 March 2018 at 10:00

      That’s insane! I’ve never even heard of that airline!

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