United Airlines Review: London LHR to Austin, Texas with a 9 mth old

Have you flown United Airlines recently?  How do they measure up in the family friendly stakes?  Super blogger Emma from Baby In My Backpack shares her recent flying experience with United.

Baby in my backpack - family picture

We flew from London to Austin, Texas with our 9 month old son for Christmas on United Airlines.  They are not known for being particularly family friendly but the staff onboard were helpful and accommodating.

At the airport
United have recently stopped offering pre-boarding for families with young children.  Although I think this is a terrible move that shows no respect for families, this actually didn’t bother us.  With a baby who loves to move and explore, the longer we could let him crawl round the gate the better.

I had called ahead to try to pre-book a bassinet but was told that this plane didn’t have any.  So we found ourselves in two cramped seats wondering how we would handle J for the next 10 hours. Luckily, once we had set off an air hostess came and asked us if we would like some more room.  Um, yes!

So we were moved to the bulkhead seats which was a godsend.  It meant we had three seats between us and enough room for J to wiggle around and play somewhere to keep him while we ate.  He was surprisingly well behaved for most of the flight.  I had packed lots of toys but he spent most of the time playing with a plastic cup and the man across the aisle!

Baby in my backpack - plane window

They also provided us with a bassinet.  Lo and behold, they did exist!  However it was so skinny we couldn’t use it.  It said for babies up to 22lb but J is only a slim 17lb and it wasn’t suitable.  He only slept twice through and was happy on my lap.

Houston Layover
We had an hour and a half between flights which we assumed would be plenty of time.  Never assume! We hit a massive line at immigration.  Then we had to collect our bags as we were changing from an international to domestic flight and recheck them.  Add on to this another line for customs, going back through security and taking a train to another terminal and yes, you’ve guessed it, we missed our flight.  It was nothing to do with having J in tow, there just wasn’t enough time to make it through the airport.

This was a stress we didn’t need after a 10 hour flight.  Unfortunately the next flight to Austin was fully booked so we ended up having an extra 4 hours to wait.

In good news, Houston airport has a lot of restaurants and we were able to pass some them eating but there were no play areas or facilities to keep children amused.

Houston-Austin Flight
By the time we boarded this flight J was tired and grumpy and I had been walking him up and down in the baby carrier – best kit I took.  He had finally fallen asleep but because of the inane FAA guidelines I was forced to take him out of the carrier for take off.  Someone, somewhere has decided that holding a baby in your lap is safer than having them attached to your body!

One the flight was in the air, it was almost time to land again as it is less than an hour, which was good as J was not enjoying it!

We arrived in Austin very tired and drained but luckily because we were now on a domestic flight, we just walked straight to baggage collection and did not have any further delays.


For more tips on how to fly with a baby, check out Emma’s post: http://babyinmybackpack.co.uk/7-secrets-flying-with-a-baby/

1 comment

  1. Wendy at Tots

    oh goodness, sounds like a nightmare… looking forward to our flight to Greece this Summer that lands at 3am and departs for return at 4am… am I mad?

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