Air travel with an infant

Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
My wife and I and our newborn son will be traveling to Hong Kong to visit family in July or August.
I am completely terrified at the prospect of traveling an ultra-long-haul flight with what will be an 8 or 9 month old.

Question 1: Do we pony up for business class? Most articles I've read about this seem to say it will make your life better.

Question 2: Do we take the Cathay Pacific Boston - Hong Kong direct (15.5hrs), or do we try and break it up with something like SFO-HK or Toronto-HK. There are myriad flight options to get to HK, its just a question of what will be best with a baby, and of course, every baby is different.
 

Devil's Advocate

⠀⠀⠀
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,630
Location
⠀⠀⠀TX
My wife and I and our newborn son will be traveling to Hong Kong to visit family in July or August. I am completely terrified at the prospect of traveling an ultra-long-haul flight with what will be an 8 or 9 month old.
Did your parents fly you to Asia as an infant? Why can't your family come to you instead? You could fly several people in coach for the cost of taking a baby into business class. Your child will never remember this trip and other passengers will wish they could forget it.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
Did your parents fly you to Asia as an infant? Why can't your family come to you instead? You could fly several people in coach for the cost of taking a baby into business class. Your child will never remember this trip and other passengers will wish they could forget it.
This is getting into questions I did not ask, but we have a tea ceremony to do with her family, as well as see 90 yr old grandparents who are too old to fly, so yes, this is necessary.

We wouldn't make the trip if it weren't absolutely necessary.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
25,402
Location
Austin Texas
Did your parents fly you to Asia as an infant? Why can't your family come to you instead? You could fly several people in coach for the cost of taking a baby into business class. Your child will never remember this trip and other passengers will wish they could forget it.
Worth considering, I'd save the trip across the Pacific till the baby is old enough to enjoy/remember it!
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
AU Supporting Member
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
25,402
Location
Austin Texas
Not an option.
Just saw your reply re family obligations.

Nice trip! 😎

For what Biz Class costs, I think yall would be better off to just buy 3 Coach tickets and take the direct flight.

Perhaps the Airline will work with yall on having seats with more room since yall have the baby, but in any event the infant ( and hopefully yall) will sleep well during the flight.
 

flitcraft

Conductor
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
1,357
Call the airline to arrange for the bulkhead seats where a bassinet can be attached. I think international longhaul carriers still have these. They are limited to two on most planes, so I would call to confirm availability. As of the Before Times, there was no charge for the bassinet.

If you can afford a third seat, it is so much easier wrangling the baby for changes of clothing and so forth! And if you bring one of the airline approved carseats, you can strap the baby in, allowing you to get a little shut eye during the flight.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,463
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Call the airline to arrange for the bulkhead seats where a bassinet can be attached. I think international longhaul carriers still have these. They are limited to two on most planes, so I would call to confirm availability. As of the Before Times, there was no charge for the bassinet.

If you can afford a third seat, it is so much easier wrangling the baby for changes of clothing and so forth! And if you bring one of the airline approved carseats, you can strap the baby in, allowing you to get a little shut eye during the flight.
Good advice here on both points, and consider Premium Economy to get both a bassinet and extra room without shelling out for Business. Cathay usually flies 777-300s on the routes you've mentioned and they feature several bassinet locations in all classes, as shown here: SeatGuru Seat Map Cathay Pacific

Be aware that there are several versions of aircraft but you should be able to find the one you need by toggling through them from the link above. Do the direct flight if you can. Keep it simple. The last thing you need in the current climate is the hassle of changing planes anywhere - especially Toronto where you would have to clear Customs, re-clear security and so on.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Good advice here on both points, and consider Premium Economy to get both a bassinet and extra room without shelling out for Business. Cathay usually flies 777-300s on the routes you've mentioned and they feature several bassinet locations in all classes, as shown here: SeatGuru Seat Map Cathay Pacific

Be aware that there are several versions of aircraft but you should be able to find the one you need by toggling through them from the link above. Do the direct flight if you can. Keep it simple. The last thing you need in the current climate is the hassle of changing planes anywhere - especially Toronto where you would have to clear Customs, re-clear security and so on.
I agree with all the sage advice above.

One more thing about Seatguru. You can also find out which specific version of an aircraft will be used on the specific flight. This is usually mostly correct, though for various reasons things can change.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
4,110
Location
Los Angeles
Much appreciated for all of this advice! Sounds like nonstop is the way to go.
From what I've seen at Logan over the years, the 777-300 seems pretty steady for CP. Seems like Premium Economy the way to go, and I will ask about the bassinet.
Good advice was posted. I think you’ll be fine. A 8-9 month old child‘s care is mostly routine at that age and it sounds like the trip is a big deal for all involved. Enjoy the experience.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,408
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
Don't forget to deal with pressure changes in the aircraft. Give the baby a pacifier, nurse him, or give a bottle frequently. The sucking motion will help the ears to adjust to the pressure changes. (I worked several years in Taiwan and a couple in Hong Kong. The people moaning about a crying baby ruining their vacation really bug me. They seem to think that people are traveling across the Pacific with babies for the fun of it. No, it is usually for family reasons, or home leave or something else other than just for the fun of it.) Quite a few of the trips back and forth had infants on board. Some people could never figure out why their child was screaming. Duhh. If your ears are popping, the baby's need to also.

For your primary questions:

1. Unless you are really flush with cash, is 12 to 15 hours in a larger seat really worth a couple thousand dollars more to you? For us, the answer was no. I would rather be stiff from a crowded seat and have the money for other purposes. Likewise concerning buying an extra seat for the baby.

2. Definitely take the direct flight. The fewer going through an airport cycles you have to do, the better. Far more so with a baby than if only yourselves. Obviously, you will not be the only person getting stiff and sore, and everyone will have to make a restroom trip or two during the flight, so sometimes just to get up and walk around is acceptable and not thought to be strange.

Other thoughts: TSA sillies. Be certain on the limits of liquids for baby formula, etc., and normal other liquids. It can be most frustrating, to say the least, to have to throw away some things you really need to have because of TSA paranoia.

If your wife breast feeds relax and do it. She should dress for the sake of not being overly obvious or exposed, and carry some form of light blanket for covering if desired. If your seat mate (presuming 3 or 4 seats in the row) or someone else does not like her doing it, they can get over it. Do NOT let the crew insist she go to the toilet area to breast feed your baby. US law, at least in every state I know anything about has in their varying laws concerning the subject, say that demanding that you go to a toilet stall or room to nurse your baby is not permitted. They may need reminding of this. Breastfeeding also reduces the formula liquid issue. At least TSA, so far, has not found a way to object to a nursing mother's breasts being full.
 

AmtrakBlue

Engineer
Gathering Team Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
14,585
Location
Delaware
I, too, was thinking about the pressure adjustment. Hopefully the baby will suck on something to alleviate the pressure in the ears.
My one year old grandson was fussy on our 2+ hour flights in October. He would not suck on anything. I know my daughter felt bad, but it happens. Babies are not going to fuss just to aggravate the other passengers.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Fortunately on a long flight on a modern jet, most of the pressure change will be during ascent and descent. Once at flying altitude pressure will remain the same for many many hours. At least that is my experience on the 17 hour flights to India. Of course the 787s and A350s are a little better than the 777s and A330s.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,463
Location
Somewhere in Southern Ontario
Fortunately on a long flight on a modern jet, most of the pressure change will be during ascent and descent. Once at flying altitude pressure will remain the same for many many hours.
What he said, and yet another reason to keep the "up and down" cycles to a minimum. Without looking it up I'd bet the CX direct flight is trans-polar (while carefully avoiding Russian airspace). Definitely one to add to your bucket list.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
The people moaning about a crying baby ruining their vacation really bug me. They seem to think that people are traveling across the Pacific with babies for the fun of it. No, it is usually for family reasons, or home leave or something else other than just for the fun of it.)
I thought this went without saying, but for some of our friends, evidently not.

What he said, and yet another reason to keep the "up and down" cycles to a minimum. Without looking it up I'd bet the CX direct flight is trans-polar (while carefully avoiding Russian airspace). Definitely one to add to your bucket list.
Definitely! Seems like the CX nonstop is a bird in the hand.

All of this advice from everyone is much appreciated. I was aware of breastfeeding during takeoff and landing to alleviate pressure change, but it never hurts to be reminded of it given how crucial it seems it is.

Other thoughts: TSA sillies. Be certain on the limits of liquids for baby formula, etc., and normal other liquids. It can be most frustrating, to say the least, to have to throw away some things you really need to have because of TSA paranoia.

If your wife breast feeds relax and do it. She should dress for the sake of not being overly obvious or exposed, and carry some form of light blanket for covering if desired. If your seat mate (presuming 3 or 4 seats in the row) or someone else does not like her doing it, they can get over it. Do NOT let the crew insist she go to the toilet area to breast feed your baby. US law, at least in every state I know anything about has in their varying laws concerning the subject, say that demanding that you go to a toilet stall or room to nurse your baby is not permitted. They may need reminding of this. Breastfeeding also reduces the formula liquid issue. At least TSA, so far, has not found a way to object to a nursing mother's breasts being full.
VERY good to know. This was my second set of questions.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,408
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
Without looking it up I'd bet the CX direct flight is trans-polar (while carefully avoiding Russian airspace). Definitely one to add to your bucket list.
On one of ours, and, sorry, I have forgotten the end points of the flight, we got a good view of central Alaska, the Bering Strait, and quite a bit of the Siberian coast. Large areas virtually untouched by the hand of mankind. Awesome sights. This was going westbound and being on the right side of the plane. It could have been a Cathy Pacific to Hong Kong flight. Since westbound you are following the sun, if you have a morning departure from the US, the flight will be almost entirely in daylight, although thanks to the International Date line it will be the next day when you get there. As to the Russian airspace, several years ago, well before the current political situation began, my son made a trip to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. I don't recall the US origin point, but it could well have been Boston or New York. In that flight they made a stop in Moscow on the way. Whether that was a passenger stop or just a service stop, I do not know, but the flight obviously went across Russia.

As to the travel with baby and nursing issue, our daughter made the trip Taipei to Memphis with an under one year old. It was on either most likely on Northwest or else on Eva, can't remember which. No issues with any of it. That was a few years back. Said baby is now 24.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
926
Location
Boston
What he said, and yet another reason to keep the "up and down" cycles to a minimum. Without looking it up I'd bet the CX direct flight is trans-polar (while carefully avoiding Russian airspace). Definitely one to add to your bucket list.
I'm really excited for that aspect of the flight.
When I was younger, my family spent some time in Singapore for my dad's work, and I remember waking up mid flight on a NWA 747-400 to Tokyo looking over the pole. It was a memory I won't forget.

Definitely will look forward to it this summer.
As to the Russian airspace, several years ago, well before the current political situation began, my son made a trip to Singapore on Singapore Airlines. I don't recall the US origin point, but it could well have been Boston or New York. In that flight they made a stop in Moscow on the way. Whether that was a passenger stop or just a service stop, I do not know, but the flight obviously went across Russia.
Probably Newark, as they were running an A340-500 on that flight (the world's longest at the time). Occasionally, they made service stops when they took an eastward route.
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
AU Supporting Member
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
35,192
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Probably Newark, as they were running an A340-500 on that flight (the world's longest at the time). Occasionally, they made service stops when they took an eastward route.
Yes. It was from Newark. I flew on that flight several times. Whether it flew over the Pole or east over Europe and then over the Stans and then across India depended on how the wind was blowing that day. I flew both routes on different days.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,408
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
Think it would be a good idea to get a written copy of the TSA limits on things for two reasons: First to make sure you comply with them. Second to have with you in case they try to make an issue with something that should be acceptable. They don't necessarily know their own rules as well as they should. Don't try any humor with these guys. Any sense of humor they may have had previously has been surgically removed using a dull spoon and without anesthesia prior to taking the job.
 

Devil's Advocate

⠀⠀⠀
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,630
Location
⠀⠀⠀TX
Question 1: Do we pony up for business class? Most articles I've read about this seem to say it will make your life better.
In my view the main benefit for business class is that a large flat seat with better separation from the nearest neighbor is much more conducive to sleeping through the flight. In the case of a bringing an infant it seems unlikely you’ll be sleeping through the entire flight and if you’re going to be up a lot anyway it might not be worth the extra money. Meals are also better quality but the difference seems to be shrinking over time. Contrary to many trip reports I have not found airport lounges to be a big benefit due to a factor I call the lounge paradox.¹ Modern airports often provide family restrooms for tasks like changing and cleaning up. Older model aircraft had larger restrooms in the front but now they seem to be the same size in all cabins. If there is a difference in size it’s no longer obvious to me.

Question 2: Do we take the Cathay Pacific Boston - Hong Kong direct (15.5hrs), or do we try and break it up with something like SFO-HK or Toronto-HK. There are myriad flight options to get to HK, its just a question of what will be best with a baby, and of course, every baby is different.
I’ve flown Cathay Pacific in every cabin except PE and out of dozens of airlines they were my favorite.² Their biggest competitor is probably Singapore Airlines, which is another great product (and possibly better for first time travelers), but for me Cathay Pacific’s friendly but slightly more reserved approach was a little more conducive to a restful and relaxing flight. Singapore staff are constantly checking to make sure everyone is alright whereas Cathay staff give you a little more space while still being at your service whenever you need them. On one flight I was feeling sick and exhausted over the Pacific Ocean and the way the CX staff took care of me was quite simply unparalleled.

The last thing you need in the current climate is the hassle of changing planes anywhere - especially Toronto where you would have to clear Customs, re-clear security and so on.
I have no idea what North America's problem is with making basic border tasks such a PITA but most connections in Asia (Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc.) were usually just a quick passport check and bag scan. Exception: MNL (avoid).

-------------------------

¹ Lounge Paradox: Poorly maintained airports tend to have poorly maintained lounges while airports with good lounges tend to have well maintained and perfectly adequate public areas. The best food in the lounge is rarely the best food in the airport while the worst food in a lounge is almost always the worst food in the airport. The moment I most want a lounge is to get cleaned up on arrival from a long overseas flight, which is not how most lounges or lounge access is setup, somewhat defeating the purpose of having a lounge.

² I say “were” because my flights on Cathay Pacific occurred before the top brass were forced out and staff let go after they protested changes to extradition proceedings. In addition the pandemic seems to have ravaged much of the service culture for which top Asian airlines were once famous. Some things are slowly returning to a new normal but it’s just not the same as it once was.
 

George Harris

Engineer
Joined
Apr 6, 2006
Messages
5,408
Location
finally! Back in Mississippi
I have no idea what North America's problem is with making basic border tasks such a PITA but most connections in Asia (Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, etc.) were usually just a quick passport check and bag scan. Exception: MNL (avoid).
Has likewise been my experience, and i have in fact made trips between or to/from all your listed places. You also get or did, since our last trip on that basis was in 2007, "special" treatment on the US end if you have an overseas originating ticket. Plus getting special treatment if your overseas originating ticket is one way, and that with being US born citizens. We made something like 20 round trips plus the original one way out and one way back over 17 years, and that has been consistent. Our consistent worst experiences were going through Seattle. Best I recall, Detroit was about the easiest. Our other transition points were SFO and LAX. In my first set of contracts, all our trips were on Northwest, which meant a change of planes in Tokyo. The Japanese ran you through their clearance checks as if you were entering Japan. It appears they took no one else's word for doing it properly, but again it was simpler and easier than entering the US.

I had one, shall we say, interesting Taipei to Manila trip, but it is too long and off the subject for here.

It may have already been said, as I did not go back and read through the posts, make your currency conversions on the far end, not the US end. You will, in our experience, always get a better rate that way, in both directions.
 
Top