This is a post about my experience on traveling with an infant on Air India / Indian Airlines. We have traveled with a newborn on Air India, Jet Airways and Indigo Airlines. To read about everything you want to know before traveling with an infant, read my post about flying with a newborn 101.
REVIEW: Flying with an infant on Air India / Indian Airlines
This was the third time I was flying with an infant on Air India / Indian Airlines. The first time was when Mi was just 24 days old from Delhi – Bengaluru with her dad.
The second time I flew alone with her when she was barely 3 months old. And the third time was a week back when she had just turned 8 months. So this is going to be quite a comprehensive review of flying with an infant on Indian Airlines / Air India.
Online booking on AirIndia.com
The online booking system of AirIndia.in is pretty smooth and it allows you to book an infant ticket with your ticket. Air India also allows you to pay upfront at the airport booking counter for an infant in case you forgot to do so or you booked your ticket using Flying Returns where there is no option to book for an infant. Check my review of Flying Returns Loyalty Miles Program from Air India here.
You can also select seats (free) and choose a meal (free) for yourself while booking your flight online.
Infant Airline ticket cost on Air India: Flat Rs 1000 + taxes
PRO TIP: You can choose to book an extra seat for the infant if you would like to put your baby in a car seat next to you. Usually Air India always has some empty seats that you can request when in the flight except on some high traffic routes like Delhi – Jodhpur where more often than not, they are always overbooked. Read about my experience of the time when Air India overbooked their Delhi – Jodhpur flight and left me stranded in my 3rd month of pregnancy.
The check in is pretty smooth but can be dampened by the infamous ‘overbooking’ problem by Air India on specific routes! If you’re flying with an infant you can skip the long line of check ins and head straight to the business class or priority check in line.
Baggage limit and Infant Baggage allowance
The good thing about Air India is that it gives you 10 extra kgs of check in luggage on an infant ticket over and above the generous 25 Kgs of check in baggage limit in an adult ticket. Additionally, you can carry a car seat and stroller free of cost. You can check the car seat and the stroller on Air India as fragile baggage or choose to take it inside the aircraft and use the car seat if the seat next to you is vacant. The stroller will be taken away from you at the door of the aircraft and given back when you deboard the plane. If you know that the flight is full, you can also hand the car seat over to someone at the door of the aircraft or stewardess once you’re inside the plane and real sir there are no empty seats. The ground staff will hand over the car seat / stroller to you when you deboard the plane if you request for it or you will receive it at the belt as fragile items.
PRO TIP: At certain airports, like the DELHI T3 or IGI Airport, you have a separate counter designated for fragile items so don’t keep waiting at the belt expecting the car seat and stroller to make an appearance in the end.
The security check is usually a line I’ve never been able to skip but if you do have a security official in sight, just ask them to open the ribbons on the stands and give you a shorter way to enter the security or skip the long winding queue.
During the boarding as well, Air India staff calls business class members, people on wheelchair, senior citizens and parents traveling with infants to board first.
In case you miss the call or arrive late, just skip the queue and ask them to board you first. I generally apologize to the staff and others standing ahead of me to board and say, “I’m sorry I had to cut the queue but I’m travelling with a baby.” It’s quite effective and people won’t stare you down. I do it because I genuinely do not like to cut queues but if you don’t like to apologize, don’t because it’s your right to board first when traveling with an infant.
Car seat and / or stroller / travel system on a Air India flight
You are allowed to carry a car seat and / or stroller or a travel system free of cost over and above the 25 kg check in luggage + 7 kg hand baggage. You can choose to check in the stroller and car seat as a fragile item in the check in luggage or take it with you till the door of the aircraft where someone will take it from you and give it back to you when you deboard. If you want it back, you will have to inform the steward(ess) to inform the ground staff to get the stroller/ car seat when you deboard.
If the flight is not choc-a-bloc, you can carry the infant car seat inside the aircraft and use it on a vacant seat beside you.
Flying on Air India with an infant
I’ve never had to book an extra seat to keep my baby’s car seat on the seat next to me. The Air India flights are never really fully booked except some sectors like Delhi – Jodhpur in tourist seasons.
They always allow you to take the car seat inside the aircraft unlike other airlines where you have to hand it over to the staff at the door of the aircraft.
Air India serves complimentary snack (only vegetarian) for adults on flights shorter than 2 hours and complimentary food and tea/coffee on flights more than 2 hours (vegetarian and non vegetarian). They do not have an option on online booking for any baby food. I’ve never had a chance to ask them if they keep any baby food on the flight. My next flight is with Air India as well, maybe I’ll find out then.
I never had to change Mi’s diapers in flight when she was exclusively on breast milk but diaper changes are the ghost in the closet when traveling with a baby who has started solids.
After starting solids, babies tend to poop little ‘pooplets’ many times a day and man are they smelly ! The can make you uncomfortable because the baby is on your lap and you can smell it. It will also make you uncomfortably aware of your proximity with co passengers and that you are subjecting them to your baby’s poop bomb. It’s all the more annoying if the seat belt sign is on and you can’t go to the toilet to change dirty diapers.
Whatever you do, DO NOT change the diaper on the seat. The airlines authority would make it a crime if they could. The best is to wait for the seatbelt sign to go off and rush to the toilet or let the flight land and use the toilet in the aircraft to change the diaper. If the smell is bearable, you can choose to enter the airport and use the baby care room over there.
Air India has a diaper changing table in both toilets so no waiting there.