A couple of weeks ago we flew to the States for Christmas. It was our first time flying with Freddy, which happened to be a long-haul transatlantic flight, followed by a couple domestic flights within the States.
I’m writing down my thoughts now, because I can’t wait to look back on this post in a couple of years time and shake-my-head. Oh, new mother. You have much to learn.
We flew with United because it was the least expensive direct flight. As much as I want to, and plan to, fly via Iceland one of these days, I didn’t want our first major trip to have lots of stops. We flew London Heathrow to Washington, D.C. and then onwards to Florida.
First things first. Packing. I was really proud of myself. You guys, we only had three suitcases. Two large and one smaller bag. We took the pram with us as well as the car seat, so that added a bit, but in terms of luggage…patting myself on the back on this one. Friends had told me to pack light, which I did for myself and Hugo. Let’s just say 1.5 of the three bags were Freddy’s things alone…\_(ツ)_/¯
Next up. The airport. We had a 4:20pm flight from Heathrow, with about an hour drive to the airport barring no traffic. To be on the safe side, we left the house at 11:0oam – yes, we are those people – and got to the airport at about 1:00pm. So traffic was bad to say the least.
Onto security. They searched our bag because I left an iPad inside, but otherwise no issue with all the baby stuff, including baby items over 100ml. I had decided to order Ready-to-Feed formula from the Boots airside, and I used the Heathrow Shopping Services ahead of time to place my order. When I got to the Boots, the staff seemed very confused and it took them quite a while to ‘find our order.’ I’m a little convinced that they had to make it up in the back. It was a bit stressful, but the Boots was well stocked with formula should we have needed to buy it from the shop.
By this time, it’s about 2:30pm, and boarding for our flight was about 3:50pm, so we had just enough time to grab some lunch and buy a couple of things from duty-free. We carried Freddy in a Baby Bjorn and pushed our bags around on the pram. Freddy loved the Baby Bjorn at the airport and found it all very exciting (as you do when you’re a baby!) Despite all our good timing, to our chagrin, we ended up being late to the gate because we had one of those marathon long walks through the terminal to get there, which meant we missed the pre-boarding for families, which then meant we struggled to find space in the overhead for our bags. Pro-tip: don’t be late for boarding when you have a small child and lots of carryon items.
Once we were on board, Freddy, I think a bit stunned by it all, was a little angel. Sat still (super rare), didn’t make a peep (really rare), and eventually fell asleep during take-off while having a bottle to help his ears. United provided a bassinet, but it was rubbish. It was really small and narrow, and my slightly large 5 month old almost couldn’t fit, even though he was well away from the weight limit. In the end, we had to hold him a lot because of turbulence.
Before take-off, I changed Freddy into his pyjamas and sleepbag to get him ready to sleep. In hindsight, I’d do this before we boarded the plane since the baby changing bathroom was still very, very small. We kept all of his things in a small suitcase, but realised, during the flight, that we needed a smaller bag that’s more accessible at our feet. We had bottles and muslins, etc rolling all over the place and it was such a challenge keeping it organised. It might seem obvious, but I just didn’t’ realise how much we’d need at our seats during take-off/landing/during turbulence and how unfriendly a small suitcase in overhead is!
Freddy was again really relaxed and well-behaved when we landed in DC and going through customs. He was even being so cute that a few Chinese tourists asked to take his photo! I wonder if his picture is floating around Webio now…
Once we got to DC, we had a few nights before we jetted off to Florida. For another post.
Here’s what we brought onto the first flight:
- Bottles + Formula (enough for at least six bottles)
- 2x change of clothes
- 2x pyjamas
- 3x blankets
- A few toys
- Saline noise drops and nose wipes
- Milton antibacterial wipes
- iPad with a few Peppa Pig episodes preloaded