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Some lessons from flying

by Kerryn on November 23rd, 2010

Georgie and I have just taken our first two flights together and we had quite a mixed experience. Our first trip from Cape Town to Joburg was a bit of a disaster, mostly because I don’t think that our airports make it easy for moms (or dads) travelling on their own with a small baby. The trolleys don’t allow you to put a baby in them, like the supermarket trolleys do. The trolley stops unless you are pushing down on the handle, which is hard to do when you are readjusting a baby on your hip. The trolleys are also very difficult to steer with one hand! We stood in the check-in queue for ages, even though we got there early. Two out of three of the “moms and babies” bathrooms that I used (on both legs of our trip) didn’t contain a toilet, which meant that I had to take Georgie into the regular loos with me. Getting your pants back on whilst holding a baby is quite an acrobatic feat; especially if you are wearing jeans with a belt. The airline that we were flying on, SAA, make you strap your baby onto your seatbelt facing away from you. That means that you can’t breastfeed or even cuddle your baby on take off and landing. This was a major issue for us because I had to interrupt Georgie mid-feed and strap her in; which caused a period of hysterical crying. My biggest disappointment though was that no-one offered to help me at any stage of the first trip.

Anyway knowing all this did help me to be more prepared for our trip home, which was a much smoother and happier experience. My cousin told me that babies will fit sideways into the trolley, giving you both hands to push, what a difference that made! I was expecting that I’d have to strap Georgie in for take-off and landing, so I fed her prior to take off and gave her a dummy to suck and a toy to play with so that she didn’t cry. I forgot to use the toilet on the plane though, so still had a bit of acrobatics using the loo before picking up our bags. The best part about our trip home though was that people offered to help. The man that met us at the car rental agency saw that I had a small baby and drove us round to the airport entrance instead of us having to walk a long way through the parking garage. The lady checking us in offered to give me a bigger seat near the front of the plane, which made it so much easier to feed Georgie and to hold her while she slept. People offered to help with my luggage too. It all went a long way to make the whole trip a lot more pleasant.

I now know to call an airline ahead of time and ask what their policy is for restraining/holding a baby on take off and landing, instead of assuming that I can feed. I will definitely be quicker to ask for help if it isn’t offered too!

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