Have you ever flown a very long distance with a baby?
October 17, 2006 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Anyone flown extremely long distances with an infant? We're planning to fly to Thailand from NYC with an 11-month-old and I'm wondering if it's best to fly direct and get it over with in one long ugly trip or fly with stops in Seattle and Taiwan so baby (and we) can get a break for a bit. There's a little more info inside.

The direct flight from NYC to Bangkok is about 18 hours, while the indirect flight, with stops, comes to about 28 hours. The seating category on both flights is "economy deluxe" so we'll have a little more room than usual. Has anyone here ever flown this kind of distance with a baby? What are your suggestions on the matter? Thank you.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese to Travel & Transportation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Fly direct. (1) I can gurantee that your baby will just go to sleep when you need to wake it for landing. (2) Every time you break a journey there is a chance for a delay. (3) As you queue to re-board the baby will do what baby's do and you will be carrying a nappy bag onto the plane (4) You will have to bring more stuff. I have done it and it is not as bad as you think it will be, and it is a lot easier than it will be in 2 yrs time when they can move. Take spare babygrows, assume the baby will be sick on you, and let the baby suck on something when you take off and land. I have resorted to letting the baby have some calpol to ease sleep. Those tetrapaks of baby milk are great but maybe there are some security issues now Nobody wants to sit near a baby. Expect growns from those around you. Only care about the growns from those that were never babies themselves.The new airport in Bangkok is much better than the old.
posted by priorpark17 at 7:58 PM on October 17, 2006

I'd suggest taking the shortest option. Also, at 11 months I'd suggest getting a seperate seat for the baby, no matter which option you choose - you might be able to bring a car seat on board. The baby will be probably too large/old for the bassinet option that some airlines provide.
posted by slightlybewildered at 8:06 PM on October 17, 2006

Get said baby drunk on drops of vanilla. Then do one flight. I'm not kidding. Worked on me.
posted by sachinag at 8:07 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

One flight. Airports are hellish places to wait in, you won't get any rest, you'll stress about missing your connections, and the baby will have a worse time of it because you'll be going up and down and up and down and up and down and the poor kid's ear pressure will have to take it numerous times, instead of just once.
posted by Rubber Soul at 8:09 PM on October 17, 2006

Take the direct flight. Speak with your pediatrician about possible ways to help ease baby's stress and potential suffering. Bring a sippy cup or two, you can always get water/juice from the attendants.

And, take it from me: Even though you may be anti-pacifier, anti-cartoon-or-baby-einstein, or anti-juice, one flight of catering to your child's whims to keep him calm won't spoil his upbringing, and will keep you sane. Give him whatever he wants to stay happy. :)

My wife and I traveled by plane with our son at 7 months or so, and it worked out just fine. 11 months isn't that much different. You'll be fine. Your fretting about it is worse than the trip is likely to be.
posted by Merdryn at 8:18 PM on October 17, 2006

I vote one flight. Easier on his ears. The change in pressure is the worse part of flying with a baby.
Benadryl is a proven method, but try it out before hand. Sometimes Benadryl will make some kids hyper instead of sleepy.
Get a window seat, video ipod, and new toys for entertainment.
Trust me you will be more anxious then the other passengers.
We flew coast to coast with an 11 month old and she slept most of the way. (without Benadry)
posted by Beaufort at 8:20 PM on October 17, 2006

definitely one flight. i flew with my sister and my 4 month old nephew on a 10 hour flight, and then again when he was 1 year - he slept the whole time (until we landed and had to sit on the runway for 2 hours until our gate was ready - but that was just bad luck). oh, and i second the bringing a car seat - everyone else with a baby will look at you like you are insane for struggling with carrying it on. but then when their kid will not sit still and is not restrained for 11 hours, they will be totally jealous of your brilliance. Good luck!
posted by jengineer at 8:24 PM on October 17, 2006

Try your hardest to get a bulkead seat. You can put the baby on the floor with pillows and blankets to sleep.
posted by Neiltupper at 8:51 PM on October 17, 2006

Also recommend only one flight. The baby may or may not sleep the whole time, but the disruptions and extended travel time of seperate legs are not worth it. I have taken international flights with my kids at 8 weeks, 13 months, 18 months (with two different kids) etc. One baby is hard, but easier than more than one.

We also tried benadryl, sometimes it works to help the baby sleep, sometimes it makes them hyper. Try it ahead of time. Also, definately agree on getting them their own seat. The longer the flight, the more important it is. It is worth the money.

The worst trip we had was from Cape Town, South Africa to Indiana with an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam before the connection to Detroit, and then on to home. It would have been okay, but our girls, 18 months and 3 years old both began projectile vomiting and diahrrea at the beginning of the trip. I advise taking not only chages of clothes for the baby, but something for yourself as well. It is not pleasant to smell like vomit for 24 hours! Not that this will happen to you, of course. Your flight will be without incident!!
posted by rintj at 8:54 PM on October 17, 2006

Try to get bulkhead seats--there's more room.

And don't worry about annoying people. Just be reasonable and take toys and books for baby to play with so she won't get too bored. People may not be thrilled to be travelling with a baby, but she has a right to be there.

Don't believe it if airline employees tell you they will furnish formula and diapers. I believed them, but it wasn't true, so make sure you have sufficient supplies and several changes of clothes.

Good luck, enjoy the trip and your baby's company.
posted by gg at 9:18 PM on October 17, 2006

As everyone else has said, one flight. And don't worry if your baby can't sleep and is screaming and has diarrhea and hiccups and heaven knows what else: it's not your fault, it won't hurt your baby, and when you get to your destination your baby will recover more quickly than you did.

Here's a tip that's worth knowing: Westerners in Bangkok usually go to Bumrungrad hospital when they're sick. They have lots of staff who speak English, and it's a very nice, modern hospital. I've been there twice (once for me, once for my wife) and I think the two visits cost about US$50. Your hotel concierge can tell a taxidriver where you want to go or you can just tell the driver "Bum rung rad hospital" and they'll usually understand.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:12 PM on October 17, 2006

Direct! Takeoff and landing are hardest on babies. Pressure changes hurt their little ears so bad, it's hard to imagine.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:09 PM on October 17, 2006

Fly direct. The indirect flight will give you two stops of between 3 and 6 hours. This won't be a break, this will be an oppportunity for you to gather all your stuff and carry it around while standing in queues, searching for a bathroom or something to eat that costs less than the flight, and eventually sitting in chairs much less comfortable than those on the plane.

My brother has flown between australia and europe several times with his kids between one month and three years old: he said that at less than a year old, they're almost no trouble except for the extra luggage, which isn't a problem once you're onboard, and it's not like they need the opportunity to run around and get rid of excess energy. From his experience, give yourself as much extra time to make the flight as possible: their last trip, they had hours to spare once they had reached the airport until they changed the baby's nappy, and as they finished he pooed over himself and his mum, using up their spare time in a cleaning operation. This is also a suggestion for those sets of spare clothes for everyone.
posted by jacalata at 3:48 AM on October 18, 2006

We flew to Australia from Los Angeles with 18 month-old twins (on Qantas) and it was fine. We got the bulkhead seats which had bassinets in them (not sure if other airlines have these). The engine noise lulls them to sleep and drowns out most of the noise they might make. As others have said, try for a direct flight.
posted by mattholomew at 4:14 AM on October 18, 2006

Hmmm... I'll play devil's advocate here.

My wife has flown back and forth from France a number of times (from Australia - about as far as is possible from anywhere, but similar to your route) - on her own with our son, she didn't have major problems but were both wrecked for days after the trip.

The two times I flew with her, we took stop overs - not a few hours, but a couple of days to break up the flights. This allowed a bit of normality in the sleep pattern department - which actually meant that on arrival for the holiday, we were in better shape and able to get into it quicker than doing a 28 hour marathon.

It seems that most people (in this thread) have had good experiences doing the long haul, but that may be more about the trip and less about the time on arrival.
posted by strawberryviagra at 6:30 AM on October 18, 2006

I imagine that if you call Thai and tell them you've got an infant, they'll just give you the bulkhead seats with the bassinet holder thingies. Their number in the US is 1-800-426-5204.

Also, here's an insanely detailed review of the *exact* JFK-BKK flight you'd be taking, with photos - check out that bulkhead room!
posted by mdonley at 7:01 AM on October 18, 2006

With a baby, one flight. Young kids, it's not quite so clear-cut to me. My wife and kids (now 8, 4 and 2) have flown from Hawaii to Florida in the past, sometimes in two jumps (HNL to ATL, ATL to MCO), sometimes in three, and once in four (when you're buying three or four tickets, sometimes you gotta be a cheapskate!).

Making connecting flights and possible delays are no fun, but my wife did mention that breaking the trip up gave the kids time to stretch their legs. (Translation: Run and make too much noise and be the total nuisance folks expect kids to be.) It led to much less restlessness on the plane, and for the oldest kid, seemed like a much more special trip. In her mind, they didn't just go to see her grandparents in Florida, they visisted four places. The fact that it was just stuffy airports didn't matter.

Just another devil's advocate thought. Personally, I'd go nonstop too. Though with a baby, I'd plan ahead for, you know, the possibility that he or she might catch a cold, and need a little Benadryl to make him or her "more comfortable"...
posted by pzarquon at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2006

Take lots of diapers and changes of clothes for everyone. My child always pooped copiously when flying. Try Benadryl. Use all the comfort tricks in the book. Don't make any changes to the baby's diet, or the mom's, if nursing, right before the trip. Try to bring as much safely bottled water as possible, and bring anything your doctor can recommend for diarrea and/or vomiting. Babies can be quite sensitive to minor changes in bacteria, and bottled water is not at all sterile.

If the baby tends to be a bit fussy, be prompt with the tylenol. My child was pretty fussy, but generally a happy flier because he liked the stimulation of all the new experience.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 AM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, thank you all for the suggestions and information. It seems that the direct flight is the way to go.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2006

Benadryl and a portable DVD player are going to be your best friends.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 12:49 PM on October 19, 2006

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