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Long haul travel with toddler?!

Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
It seemed like a good idea at the time... she was such a peaceful, almost inanimate infant that the idea of taking her to see her relatives on the other side of the world was quite attractive (particularly as I had enough reward points to get my flight for free and she's young enough to fly for free)..

So we made a booking a few months ago (to ensure cheapest possible cost of flight for my wife who needed to actually purchase a ticket in the traditional way)..
10Hr Brisbane - Hong Kong on a Qantas A330
5Hr transit in Hong Kong
12Hr Hong Kong - London on a B.A. 747

The airlines suggest that infant bassinettes **may** be available for children under 11kg (which she will *just* be [even if she has to STARVE for a week beforehand!] )

Of course now that all the flights for my wife, daughter and I are booked and locked-in, my daughter is starting to "awaken" and is becoming more and more adventurous and loud! - Meal times are becoming increasingly frantic and messy and the concept of sitting on a plane with a wriggling 12 month old on our lap for 24 hours is quite frankly terrifying!

Are we mad? Can we use sedatives? (on her or me?) Will we drive our fellow pasengers insane? Will Qantas/BA allow us some degree of sanity and give her a bassinette - or will they refuse saying she's too heavy?!

..The trip is still 2 months away and already I'm dreading it!!!

Marilyn de Queiroz

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9059
Is it an overnight flight? That helps.

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present." Eleanor Roosevelt
Mehul Sanghvi
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Joined: Feb 04, 2002
Posts: 134
Hi Adrain,

Dont worry about the baby..!
Let her be as loud as she wants to be.
Just see to it that all her needs are taken care of.. meaning that she is well fed & slept during the flight. Keep few of her toys handy and think of things that can hold her attention.
Even after doing all this, if she wishes to cry and be loud, let her be!
Dont be embarassed for that.

Do not forget to put cotton in her ears while take off and landing. Even after putting cotton, babies do cry during take off and landing due to changing pressure, but thats oks.

All the best!

Marilyn de Queiroz

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9059
It is also helpful if the baby is eating/drinking/chewing/swollowing something during take-off and landing. I was once on a flight where a woman passed out lollipops to each child on the plane before take-off. It seemed to work well. Also nursing works well if that is something your wife would be comfortable with (and the child is not too old). Gum works for older children, but is not recommended for very young children.
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Originally posted by Marilyn de Queiroz:
Is it an overnight flight? That helps.

"Overnight" is a fairly meaningless concept when such distances and so many timezones are involved, but...

Roughly speaking we leave Brisbane at 11am and arrive 10 hours later at 6pm in Hong Kong and then leave HongKong at 11pm getting into London 12 hours later at 5am

So I suppose its one long afternoon flight followed by a monumentaly stretched night.

Once we arrive its all up to my parents (who will have loved driving in to pick us up from Heathrow at 5am on a Sunday!) to deal with any screaming tantrums while my wife and I just recover for a few days!
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 14, 2004
Posts: 305
Sometimes it is the change in pressure that hurts their little ears.

Some adults have trouble with this too. The ideas about chewing gum or nursing, etc. will help with this. Sometimes it is just the strange environment or being cooped up in the travel seat. My son, at that age, absolutely hated being strapped down. They are newly mobile and want to go-go-go.

Planes are tough because you have little control. Car travel, you can stop more often, let the kid(s) out to run around a little, burn off some energy. On a plane, while it may be a little annoying to the other passengers, get up and walk around. Take the little one around a bit, if possible. That would certianly be less annoying than constant crying.

They don't call them the terrible twos for nothing! Ahh... the good old days!
Marilyn de Queiroz

Joined: Jul 22, 2000
Posts: 9059
It's definitely harder flying east/west than north/south. However, I have flown US/Brazil (5 hour time change) and US/London (7 hour time change) with toddlers. Flying close to their usual bedtime is usually easier on the parents. If the flight isn't too crowded, you may be able to lay him/her down on the floor next to your feet or even perhaps on an empty neighboring seat. The vibration of the plane also sometimes helps make them sleepy, kind of like riding in a car. Looking out of the window during the day helps. Toys for the appropriate age helps. Try to get bulkhead seats even if you can't get a bassinet.
Kris Reid
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Joined: Jan 05, 2005
Posts: 247
A friend of mine recently did a simalar trip with his little girl.
Before he left he took heaps of video footage of her playing. She was very content watching that for almost the whole flight.
Angela Poynton
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Joined: Mar 02, 2000
Posts: 3143
I have just one word for you


Pounding at a thick stone wall won't move it, sometimes, you need to step back to see the way around.
Scott William Sinclair

Joined: Oct 12, 2004
Posts: 8
If the planes are a good size then there is a good chance that there will be other toddlers or babys on the flight, which makes things a bit easier.

Maybe you could take sleeping blanket onto the plane, or maybe you could even buy a pair of baby earmufs (the big furry kind) which would muffle some of the background noise for when the wee one want's to sleep. But to be honest I don't know if you can get them.

How about a refresher driving course!
David O'Meara

Joined: Mar 06, 2001
Posts: 13459

Mid year my wife and I flew Perth to London and back with a (then) 15 month old. Maybe you'll have a different experience, but I give this advice: Pray.

Rely on the cabin staff, make sure only one of you is looking after the child at a time while the other rests and steal spare chairs/rows if they are available. Don't bother with the baby crib (it was too small for us), but definitely book that row early for the extra leg room, and there's room for a child to play on the floor.

My son barely slept the entire trip, and usually just before take-off or landing Book into the airport hotel in HK, you can get a room by the hour and you'll appreciate the shower and ability to let the little one have some nappy-free time. Ours #1's and #2's twice each on the floor while we were trying to clean the previous mess! I'd warn you of the room number but I can't remember.

We spoke to a few doctors about sedatives and they all warned us off. The other danger is an overdose generally makes them a stimulant. You can get glycerin drops to put in their ears which numbs them, but always have a bottle ready.

As long as it doesn't inconvenience the other passengers, let the child do what they want. A quiet but exhausted child is better than a screaming exhausted child. We saw the strangest behaviour in my son: when he passes the exhaustion stage to complete zombie, he cleans. A fifteen month old in his hands and knees scrubbing the carpet with a face cloth is a site to see.

We also ignored timezones such as when you should and shouldn't sleep. Just get the flight out of the way and worry about the lag after.

Still keen?
Alan Wanwierd
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Joined: Jun 30, 2004
Posts: 624
Journey now complete!!!

Actually it wasnt too bad Take off and landings all happened without her being in the slighest bit phased. Cabin crew were helpful on all flights and we managed to get bulkhead-bassinet seats for all flights. Fellow passengers seemed quite congratulatory after the flights with terms like "little angel" and "didnt hear a thing" being banded about freely!

On the way out from Brisbane to HongKong she didnt sleep at all - but since we left at 10am that wasnt too much of a problem - there was no screaming or wailing, just lots of curious wandering around and every time we attempted to put her in the bassinet she just stood up precariously and grinned at everyone. Fortunately the flight was quite empty and we had the entire bulkhead row of 4 seats to ourselves(3 of us) so we managed to keep her entertained.

HK Airport was too loud and interesting for her to sleep and we didnt get to the hotel - but she did at least get a chance to explore without being restrained too much.

On the long leg(13hr) from HK to london she was so exhusted that she fell asleep straight after takeoff (in the infant bassinet) and slept for 6 hours and the rest of the flight she was happy sitting with me peacfully in the galley watching people pop-in every now and then to get drinks (if I tried to stay in the darkened cabin she just went bersurk due to boredum).

On arrival in the UK we got to my parents place and she spent the first 3 hours WALKING around the house (something she had never done back home!) - After sleeping and recovering she gave up walking again - so it seems the 30ish hours of sleep deprivation had a bizare positive effect!

Return journey was easier, we worked out a way to cover the bassinet with a blanket (in a weird tent-like way) to cut down on visual stimulous and she slept for about 15 of the 25 hours!

All in all the trip was well worthwhile... so anyone else considering it - go for it!! dont be scared!
John Dunn
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Joined: Jan 30, 2003
Posts: 1108
Great news. I go to Hawaii, (from NY), with a 13 month old next month, so I'm very glad to hear a positive story.


"No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does."
Aj Mathia
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Joined: Apr 11, 2003
Posts: 478
Originally posted by Adrian Wallace:
Journey now complete!!!
All in all the trip was well worthwhile... so anyone else considering it - go for it!! dont be scared!

Thats fantastic Adrian.
I got a flight out of canberra next months with a 23 yr old baby. problem is since shes around 45 kgs the bassinet will not be available

You think you know me .... You will never know me ... You know only what I let you know ... You are just a puppet ... --CMG
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