It was a smooth take-off for the 10+ hour flight on which my family had been split into two separate rows by the airline. The baby and I sat in our window seat on the bulkhead row, where a bassinet could later be mounted, while an eastern European couple returning from their honeymoon occupied the two seats beside us. Things were already a little awkward on our row as I nursed to keep the baby comfortable during the rapid change in altitude, but we gave each other polite smiles, looked in opposite directions, and pretended we were all somewhere else for a little while.
Then the baby threw up.
There are reasons I recommend parents bring a change of clothes for themselves as well as for their infants and young children when undertaking long flights, and this moment—and the second round that began later that flight—top the list. Thankfully, the flight attendants were very supportive and helpful, and although the flight was completely booked—in coach that is, the horrified honeymooners were reseated in business class.
As a result, the barfing baby and I gained the two freshly vacated seats for the duration of our overseas flight in addition to our own less-than-fresh one, and I couldn’t help but think how well it worked out for everyone. Other than having to wear lavatory-rinsed, wet clothing for the rest of the flight.
Naturally, there are also a multitude of other offenses these tiny travelers may commit while airborne. If you’ve spent any amount of time in their presence, particularly during or shortly after meals, I’m sure you catch my drift (and perhaps a little of the banana puree).
Frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more minimum age restrictions imposed by airlines offering exclusive classes of service and special amenities for business travelers. Though it seems to me priority to baby-free travel would fall to the section labeled “business class,” rather than “first.” Regardless, when consumers have a choice between airlines they should choose wisely, especially those traveling with a baby or young child—and those who would prefer to travel without.
Everyone offering harsh criticism of Malaysia Airlines this week should take note that not only do they offer virtually all of the above to travelers with infants, but they have also demonstrated an appreciation of their family travelers by continuing to offer family preboarding (even before first- and business-class travelers, unlike many other airlines), and have created children’s play areas and private baby care and lactation facilities in many airports that they serve.
Now, on the off chance that any other airlines are looking for ideas on how to improve the customer experience for those traveling with or without babies, I hope they’ll consider my suggestions in: “Five Ways Airlines Can Make Happier Travelers of us All.” And remember, there are also numerous tips to help you keep that baby, toddler, and preschooler quiet and content on that next flight in Take-Along Travels with Baby, so do keep it handy. And in case you’ll be flying without an infant of your own in first class on any other airline, you may want bring a copy as well. We know how you value your sleep.
Related posts and pages:
Five ways airlines can make happier travelers of us all
What ever happened to family preboarding?
Tips for long-haul and overseas flights with a baby
The real reason babies and toddlers need ID for domestic flights
Cost-saving tips for families packing checked baggage
See more on air travel in FAQs and Popular Topics
All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli