Independent Families: 'Any tips for flying long-haul with a baby?'


Q. We are travelling to Sydney for a wedding in October with our 12-month-old daughter. We want to leave from Manchester and after the wedding go to New Zealand; we have four weeks. Do you advise having a stop-over, and if so, how long is beneficial? Where would be a good place to stop? And are there any airlines that are particularly good when travelling with a small child?


Sandra Chemney, by e-mail

A. Flying long-haul with tiny children is a modern form of torture. Who needs thumbscrews and racks when you and your baby can be strapped down in a narrow metal tube, surrounded by tutting non-parents, and then hurled through the stratosphere for 24 hours with nary a CBeebies or a ballpool in sight?

Having said that, there are ways to ease the pain, and choosing the right route is one of them. In my opinion you should try to get there with just one stop. From Manchester, two hubs allow you to reach Sydney with a single change of plane: via Dubai on Emirates or via Singapore on Singapore Airlines.

Think about time zones before you choose. Babies don't get jet-lag as such, but they can be very stubborn about adjusting their sleep patterns. So, bearing in mind that your final destination is a full nine hours ahead of BST, you'd be wise to allow for a week of disrupted nights. It may be easiest to get to Australia a week before the wedding, giving your daughter time to get used to this new, topsy-turvy world.

As a transit point, Dubai is better for camels than babies: the temperature in October can hit 104F. Naturally, all the luxury hotels and shopping malls are air-conditioned, but I would argue against a stop-over in the Middle East.

Singapore is a more pleasant and child-friendly proposition. Changi airport itself is a pleasure to visit, with six gardens, two play areas, a cinema and a rooftop swimming pool. If you fancy sleeping, a double room at Terminal 1's transit hotel costs S$64 (£22) for six hours; call 00 65 6542 5538 to book. Alternatively, the Premium lounge in Terminal 2 costs S$30 per adult (£10) for five hours, which gets you free showers, snacks and drinks. An extra S$30 buys three hours on its "napping couches"; under-twos are admitted free.

Singapore Airlines (0844 800 2380; www.singaporeair.co.uk) is one of the better airlines for small travellers. Like most long-haul carriers, it allows families with young children to board first, will warm bottles or baby food, lets you take buggies up to the plane, and provides cots if you are able to secure a bulkhead seat. More unusually, staff can supply toys, wipes and bottles, and are trained how to carry and soothe infants, change nappies and sterilise bottles. But where it really has the edge is the fact that you can you reserve cots and bulkhead seats when you book, rather than taking a chance on nabbing one at check-in.

Whichever airline you fly with, I strongly recommend that you pay the pricier child fare - rather than the sit-on-your-lap "baby" price - and so get an allocated seat. Bring or hire an approved car seat and you can strap your baby in comfortably. Regulations demand you move her onto your lap for take off and landing, but as suckling is the best way to relieve pain in a baby's ears, you'll probably want her there anyway.

Along with all the usual kit, bring a full change of clothing for yourself and your baby; snacks; small toys you can bring out one at a time; and a baby blanket or sheet for blocking out light. Make use of early boarding to set up camp and find out which of the toilets have changing facilities.

Flying with Singapore Airlines gives you the option of starting your return journey in Auckland, rather than returning to Sydney first. Return fares from Manchester to Sydney and returning from Auckland in October are £912 per adult, child £684, baby (without a seat) £91. You can travel across the Tasman between Sydney and Auckland on one of several airlines. Air New Zealand is offering a fare of A$324 (£140) for adults and A$21 (£8) for your daughter in October. This short hop takes just three hours; by then, you will be well used to being in the air. The flight from Manchester takes 13 hours, arriving at Singapore 6am local time, allowing for a sleep in the transit hotel before taking an 8.30pm flight to Sydney. This next leg lasts six hours, arriving at 5.30am - your daughter should still be wide awake then, and with plenty of exposure to daylight and a lunchtime nap, may be willing to go back to sleep by nightfall. Just make sure you avoid flying on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when an extra stop is made in Zurich - adding around two hours to your journey. Send your family travel queries to Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'