It is over. We have survived five flights with a baby and come out with our sanity mostly intact and only slightly ridiculous hair. It was fine, actually. In the continued absence of any guidance from Samuel L. Jackson, here’s a quick primer for your Babies on a Plane experience:
1. Call the airline before you fly and request the bulkhead seats and a bassinet. Henry stayed in it for all of ten minutes, but it’s the extra leg room you want. Our first flight to New York was almost empty and we had enough room to morris dance our way through the aisles if we felt so inclined. It made so much difference.
2. Take more than you think you’ll need. Flights are long, but if you happen to miss your connection and get stuck in an airport for hours you don’t want to sit in a sicked-on outfit or run short of baby food. (While we’re on the subject, United Airlines, to make us miss one connection with your lateness may be regarded as misfortune. To miss both looks like carelessness, doesn’t it?)
3. You can get away with a heck of a lot when you’ve got a baby. Work your advantage. Get him out for the check-in assistants to coo over. Find his ticklish spots and use them. Take him with you looking all soulful when you request to be bumped to the top of the stand-by list. No one likes to see a starving baby in an airport. Be shameless about it: he is your best asset. Use it.
4. Useful manhandling information: babies are allowed their own carry-on bag; with most airlines, you can check in one suitcase and one pushchair/car seat for free (so with two of you, you can check both); with larger aeroplanes you can keep him in the pushchair right up until the gate; with smaller ones, bring a baby carrier for hands-free convenience; baby bottles and food are exempt from the fluid limit but still need to be in plastic bags, and they will probably make you taste-test them then watch to see if you blow up.
5. Night flights are better: they sleep. You won’t, but you’ll have an easier time.
6. For your own sanity, don’t sit next to an anti-social Japanese chap spending his long-haul flight looking through colour photos of eviscerated human bodies. I hope he was an academic, and not a serial killer.
7. It is worth any amount of airport time to spend two weeks with your mother.
In other news, baby jet-lag is a COMPLETELY JOKELESS SITUATION, isn’t it? Last night, hallucinating with tiredness, I spent a long five hours trying to convince Henry that it wasn’t the middle of the day and hence wasn’t a good time to practise bar gymnastics on our bed. This morning he’s too tired to do anything but sleep, but only if I’m holding him. It’s going to be one of Those Days, I suspect, and you know exactly Which Days I’m talking about.