Travel, lifestyle, family.

Flying mom 101. Frequently asked questions.

08 November, 2019
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If you are anything like me, congratulations, you must be a typical Type-A traveler! Wanting to have all the details of your trip sorted before departure becomes your #1 priority. You’re worrying about every single small thing that can go wrong and google millions of questions. Personally, my biggest issues always revolve around airports – check-in, customs clearance, departure… I’ve decided to gather questions that made me freak out the most, and provide you with some answers! Everything I write below is based either on my personal experiences or on information provided by the airline or customs authorities. “A cousin of my husband’s friend’s wife told me…” doesn’t count as a verified source of information. πŸ™‚

Let’s get started…

Can I fly when I’m pregnant?

Yes, you can! I did that a lot. πŸ™‚ However, there are always some limitations. As each airline has its own policies regarding pregnant travelers, it’s best to check with them before you travel. A general rule is that for a single, uncomplicated pregnancy you can travel up to (and including) 28th week, without having to provide any special paperwork. Sometimes you won’t be asked any questions regarding your pregnancy, sometimes you will. This is why it is always recommended to carry a certificate from your doctor stating how far along are you, or at least a report from your latest check-up. Like this, the airport staff has proof that you’re eligible to travel and will wave you through without issues.

If you want to travel later in your pregnancy, you can still do that (usually up to 36th week), but in most cases, you’ll be required to submit some extra paperwork.

Can I fly alone with two small children?

Not necessarily. Here, you need to ask yourself some additional questions. The most basic one is, of course: are they YOUR children? πŸ™‚ If not, you’ll usually require written consent from their legal guardian. If you’ve established that the kids are yours, there are some other things that need to be considered. What’s important is that you won’t be allowed to travel with more than 1 infant on your ticket, which means that if both kids are below 2, you’ll need to give the airline a call to establish what can be done in your situation. Also, if your kids’ last names are different than yours, you should carry proof that you’re related (such as copies of their birth certificates).

You should also note that even if the airline doesn’t oblige you to produce any documents, you can still be asked for them by the immigration officers.

I am aware that in some cases you won’t be asked to present any paperwork even if the situation is not entirely clear. If that’s the case – good for you! Less hassle is always a good thing πŸ™‚ However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so I carry around a lot of papers even if I don’t necessarily need them!

Do I need my husband’s approval to take our kids out of the country?

In most cases, it won’t be necessary. I carried it, just in case, when I was traveling out of Qatar with my son, because we are both on my husband’s sponsorship. However, nobody asked me to present it.

I want to take a baby stroller with me! How does it work?

Good news here! Usually, you’ll be able to take the stroller up until the boarding gate (unless, of course, you choose to check it in). At the gate, leave the stroller with the ground crew. They’ll wrap it up and load it into the luggage hold. In such a case, you can later collect the stroller from a luggage belt at the destination airport. Some strollers can be folded to fit in the overhead compartment inside the cabin and, in such case, you can take them on board with you (the most popular example of such stroller is the famous Babyzen Yoyo).

I’ve booked a connecting flight. How can I make sure in advance that my luggage will be sent to the final destination airport?

That’s a flying mama question that made me the most anxious! It’s because once it almost made me miss a flight! You can, of course, call the airline and ask. πŸ˜€ There’s also another way if you don’t like to spend half of your day waiting to be connected to the operator. Visit the Skyscanner website and search for your flight. If there’s a “self-transfer” remark next to your flight details, your bags will be offloaded at the transfer airport and you’ll have to check them in again.

Connecting flight again! How much time is enough for the airport transfer?

One of the most frequent questions and, unfortunately, one that I’m not able to answer directly. In short, it will mostly depend on:

— the size of the transfer airport (for example, Frankfurt airport is literally THE WORST when it comes to transferring times!),

— whether you’re connecting to a flight that will require you to pass through an additional security check. For example, transfer from a domestic flight to a flight outside of a Schengen zone,

— if both planes will be connected to the terminal, or you’ll have to take a bus,

— whether you will be able to check in your luggage directly to your final destination.

Personally, I would always leave between 2 and 4 hours to transfer. Anything less than 2h is risky, anything more than 4h is a long wait πŸ™‚

Traveling with an infant. How can I make sure to have the bassinet seat booked? I can’t do it online!

I’ve only ever booked bassinet seats with Qatar Airways, so I can tell you how it works there. After you purchase your tickets, visit the airline’s office or call their customer service center. They will do it for you. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I ask to book it over the phone, it takes a longer time to confirm the seat for another passenger, if there’s someone else traveling with you. For example, I recently got an immediate confirmation that the seat is booked for me and the baby, but had to wait a couple of hours for a confirmation that my 5-year-old’s seat is booked next to mine.

My baby is formula fed – can I take a thermos with water on board? What about baby food pouches?

Yes, you can! Baby food (and drinks) are excluded from the strict rules at the airport security check. Please remember to remove any liquid or semi-liquid items (water, mousse, pureed food) from the bag and notify the staff at the security check about them. They’ll either just wave you through (hello, Doha airport πŸ™‚ ) or they will take the liquids for an additional scan. Personally, I’ve never faced any issues in this department.

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I hope you found this FAQ post useful! I know that I would love to stumble across an article like this in the past when I was about to become a “flying mama”.

As always, you’re more than welcome to ask more questions! Just drop me an email at joanna@mamaintransit.com!

P.S. To make your life easier, don’t forget to check out my post about packing for a family vacation, HERE.

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