With all the extra fees being added on to airline tickets these days, it seems that everyone is looking to get the best deal. (Aside from the fact that booking a lo-co ticket is always going to mean 'add-on' fees)
One area where this seems to be the case is parents travelling with babies. I was researching other subjects but came across some information which prompted me to write this post.
It seems that some parents are reluctant to cough up the extra cash to buy another seat and bring a baby seat on the plane with them. With airfares getting cheaper and cheaper, I just don't understand this. It's like saying, the baby seat weighs more so the car uses more petrol, let's not bother with that today'. If you wouldn't take your baby in the car unrestrained, then you definitely shouldn't be flying with it unrestrained, either.
In Australia, the laws require lap-held children up to the age of 2 years to make use of the infant seat belt. Parents may also take the option of buying another seat for a car seat for the child. There are certain devices out there, designed by US companies, for use in the United States, that can be used for older childen, or in once case used by babies as well. The thing to remember with these gadgets is, they may not be approved for use in countries outside of the US. For example, the Baby B'Air would not be allowed on Australian carriers, because the law mandates use of the infant seat belt. It doesn't matter that you prefer your own device, or that 'I can hold onto my baby'- the law says the seatbelt must be used, and baby could be on the ceiling before you even know there is turbulence! So it pays to check where your device can and can't be used.
(For the record, the CARES child restraint harness can be used on most Australian carriers)
Here's a few other "travel don'ts" when you're in the air with kids:
1. DON'T expect flight crew to babysit, clean up after or otherwise provide for your children. Most of the time, we're happy to help, but as a parent, your child is your responsibility. Have extra snacks on hand, just in case your child doesn't like the airline food. Bring plenty of milk or formula if that is what they drink- we have limited milk supplies and usually no formula on board and delays do happen.
I remember being extrememly disgusted with one father when he was more interested in finishing his Jack & Coke than cleaning up his daughter who had just vomited on herself. I literally had to tell him step by step to go get her some clean clothes and then I had to calm her down because she had cried so much she was sick again. If you want to travel with kids, don't expect anyone else to do your parenting for you. Be happy when you get help, but know that it can't (and won't) always be there.
2) We know you're exhausted, and you want to sleep, but NEVER put baby on the floor to sleep. If you must, take turns sleeping while the other looks after baby. If you're a single parent, consider having a friend accompany you. It is not safe to put children on the floor to sleep, and it is NOT fair to expect the flight crew to entertain & supervise your children while you knock yourself out with a Valium. (Not to mention completely impractical if an emergency happens- sorry but your kid is going to end up alone if there's a fire or other emergency)
3) You might think your kids are cute, but after 16 hours no-one else will. Staring games are fun for a few minutes, but know when to make them stop. If other passengers are happy to interact with your kids, great! But please don't take this as a sign to dump the kids with your newfound friends for half the flight. Flight attendants are not there to babysit, but we WILL ask you to keep a handle on your kids if they're getting rowdy & noisy, or bothering other people. And please don't get angry if they do so- it generally takes a lot for us to step in and ask you to parent.
4) "Please keep seatbelts fastened until the seatbelt sign has been switched off" means- seatbelts. All of them. Yes even the mini one that the baby is wearing. Yes even the one your five year old is screaming about wearing. And yes, even the one that holds the car seat on even though the seat weighs 50 kilos it can. still. move. without. a seatbelt.
So many parents roll their eyes and tell me that "nothing is going to happen". Like the time a baggage tug overturned and one of the carts went flying in front of our taxiing aircraft, the pilots hit the brakes and unrestrained toddler, standing on a seat, went flying into the galley and split her face open. Sure nothing's going to happen on the ground.
And to the lady in 16E yesterday, I saw you toss your 9 month old up in the air, playing 'catch'- while we were still on the runway after landing.