First Long Haul Flight with Baby – Buying Tickets, What to Pack
Now that jet lag is wearing off and baby is slowly returning to her regular schedule (though it seems like she’s teething), I have time to write about our first international flight together. Disclaimer: This post is neither sponsored by nor endorsed by nor affiliated with American Express or All Nippon Airways.
Being the researcher that I am, I did months of reading preparation and created a special folder in my bookmarks bar that I referred to constantly in the weeks leading up to our big day. One site that I frequented was Travel Zoo and its article Flying with Young Kids? A Mom Reveals Her Top 23 Survival Tips.
Because I was traveling without my husband, I also filled out a written consent to travel with a minor in order to avoid any trouble or confusion when making my way through US immigration.
Flying while pregnant and flying with a baby have their own set of challenges, as I have discovered.
When I was pregnant, I went to Taiwan (except I didn’t know I was pregnant at the time!). I had a land-sea-air adventure in Scandinavia when I was 5, 6 months pregnant.
The highlight of my Scandinavia trip was feeling baby move for the very first time! We on a train bound for Copenhagen and I nodded off, watching the countryside with my hands folded in my lap. I suddenly I felt something touch my wrist! It was shocking when I figured out it was actually baby!
I read somewhere that feeling the baby move when you are barely showing is like having a secret friend, and I couldn’t agree more! Having an extra travel companion was fun, even though she gave me such terrible heartburn.
I had no reservations about traveling when pregnant and wanted to squeeze in as much as possible before giving birth. Due to concerns about the Zika virus, I unfortunately had to cancel some travels. They were a summer trip to Vietnam with my husband and a December cruise with my mom and sister.
This time around things were very different – my secret friend was no longer a secret!
Ticket Booking & ANA Mileage Club
A bit of a backstory: I first came to Japan as study abroad student. I liked it so much that I continued to make visits during winter vacation. If you’d like a time frame, this was back before Continental and United merged. I used Continental for my once a year trip to Japan, and I remember that their service was great. It’s hard to tell if my opinion of the service was based on being an unseasoned traveler with no other airline experience to compare to or if the service was indeed excellent. Then again, this was ten years ago, so perhaps customer service on American carriers was something better than what it is now.
I looked forward to going home with my daughter. When I was on maternity leave and reading everything I could about my pregnancy and preparing for baby, I read フランス人ママ記者、東京で子育てする, a book written by a French national married to a Japanese man and living in Japan
In her book, she recounts her time taking her son to France to meet family. She recommend using ANA and described their customer service support at the airport and in the air. It motivated me to fly ANA back to the States.
However, Japanese airline tickets are expensive, even for economy class, but I think the experience of having excellent customer service on long haul flight with a choice of on flight entertainment, tasty food, plenty of drinks/alcohol and a snack bar makes up for it.
Two years ago my husband and I found an incredible deal on American Airlines. The price for both of us was the price of one ticket on ANA. The offer was too irresistible and we took the bait. The saying, “If it’s too good to be true…” sums up that flight experience.
When I worked fashion retail, my travels were few and far in between. Apart from my yearly trip to the US where I stayed for a month to refresh, I was limited by both time and money to an occasional trip to Guam and Saipan. This was when the Yen to Dollar exchange rate was amazing, something around 96-98 yen to the Dollar. I especially looked forward to those three day trips to Guam and Saipan for relaxation and shopping.
After a career change, I had the time and funds to travel. I signed up for an ANA branded credit card. In order to take advantage of it, I started using ANA as my airline of choice. Being a credit card holding ANA Milage Club Member, it was very easy to accumulate miles through traveling, daily spending, and monthly charges.
I’m always planning my travels in advance so I can get the best possible deals. But this time, I didn’t have to worry about the cost as I had plenty of American Express Membership Rewards points, which were transferred to my ANA account as miles. The miles were used to get an award ticket. I paid 17,000-ish yen for issuing the ticket, not bad considering that a round trip flight was ten times that amount at the time I wanted to book.
After I booked my reward ticket, I called ANA to book baby’s ticket. As lap infant, her ticket was ten percent of the current price of an adult fare. I paid about 17,000 yen for her ticket as well.
Then, I had to call another number to book ANA’s Airport Support and to reserve a bassinet and stroller to be used inside Narita Airport.
What to pack when flying with a baby? I have three diaper bags that I rotate but chose the blue dot Longchamp since it’s lightweight and in a fun color.
I thankfully did not have much to pack, especially since I have clothes at home. Still, I prepared for airplane delays and lost luggage. I already asked my mother to pick up a package of diapers and wipes for baby’s extended stay. Were my flight to be delayed in Washington DC, I wouldn’t know where to begin to look for diapers. Just to be on the safe side, I packed extra items to go in the carry on.
I decided to use two carry ons. A big tote for all of our things, as well as a small tote. It was easy access diaper bag in the airport and on the plane.
In the large diaper bag went two storage pouches. One pouch, clear to meet TSA regulations, contained my tissues, makeup, hand sanitizer, sheet masks for keeping my skin hydrated in the airplane, leg cooling pads, and toothbrush sets.
Another pouch had my slippers, several sets of underwear for myself, spare sets of clothes and extra diapers for baby. I also added a full package of wipes, plenty of one use bibs for baby and nursing pads for myself.
Lastly, I packed the passport case, wallet, and electronics. I also brought a portable battery, just in case I ran out of juice.
Seems like a bit, but for first flight with baby, I decided to play it safe. I wanted to be as self-reliant as possible.
First Long Haul Flight with Baby – Buying Tickets, What to Pack
Check out how to get a Japanese passport for baby:
How to Get a Japanese Passport for Baby
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