My wife and I travel full-time with our daughter Zoe who is currently just short of a year old. We were traveling full-time pre-baby, paused to actually have our child and got back on the road when she was 5 months old. Since then we have been rapidly gaining experience flying with a young child. We have a few tips to share.
Bring lots of nappies, AKA diapers. Lots and lots of nappies. It sucks arriving after a long flight and having to immediately go shopping because you don't have enough to make it through the night. Ideally have enough to make it through at least the first 24 hours after your arrival.
Similarly, bring lots of snacks. You will want snacks that are as neat as possible to consume and which can survive without refrigeration. We have found that sachets of fruit puree are particularly handy to have tucked away. They are small, light, don't need to be refrigerated and always popular. As with nappies, bring enough of your various snacks to get you through at least the first 24 hours after you arrive.
Think about how you are going to transport your baby around the airport you are departing from. We have a very handy carry-on size pram/stroller/buggy but if you have to check your pram, are you going to be ok carrying your kid for the next however many hours? We leave Zoe in the pram as long as possible then fold up the pram and transfer her to a baby carrier. As soon as we are off the plane at our destination the pram gets set up.
Security is particularly fun with a baby. In addition to the usual rigmarole of taking out all of our electronics then having to repack them after clearing security we also have to remove the baby from the baby carrier. Typically one of us has to go through the metal detector alone then go back through, take the baby and then go through again with the baby. Once we are all through she can go back in the carrier. Expect the person wearing the baby carrier to attract extra attention from security, pat downs and such.
Your airline will most likely provide you with a bassinet onboard. The bassinet will attach securely to the front wall of the cabin so you will have to be in the first row of seats. This is no bad thing as that means extra leg room.
Depending on how active your baby is the bassinet can be hilariously dangerous. They are generally mounted quite high on the wall and are too shallow to contain a baby that is at all mobile. They have a strip of material you can zip over the baby that in no way impedes a determined baby. I am sure they are perfect if you have an extremely young baby or a baby that never ever moves.
The staff on the plane will most likely not understand your reluctance to put the baby in the bassinet even if you explain that your baby is completely capable of extracting itself from the shallow bassinet and flinging itself out.
You should still get a bassinet however as the bassinet does make a great place to store all of you baby stuff during the flight. Nappies, toys etc. Its your baby stuff shelf in the sky. Plus, that extra leg room.
Feed your baby during take off and landing if you can to help your little one's ears adjust to the pressure change. Try to wait until the very last minute to actually start feeding. We have been fooled on a flight where they closed the doors, pushed back, taxid out and then sat there for long enough for Zoe to finish her feed.
Don't expect much sleep. When baby sleeps it will most likely be on one of your laps which means that that person at least has to be awake. If you manage to get your baby to sleep in the bassinet one of you needs to remain awake anyway just in case they wake up and clamber out.
Just assume that neither of you will sleep at all and if you are able to get any sleep then you will be pleasantly surprised.
If you are breastfeeding make sure to drink lots and lots of non-alcoholic fluids during your flight. The air on planes is extremely dry and you tend to wind up somewhat dehydrated even under the best of circumstances. Letting yourself dehydrated and thus turning your tired baby into a tired hungry baby is just making life difficult for yourself.
Although you hear stories about complaining passengers we have never had any trouble with other passengers. It probably helps that Zoe rarely cries. She also smiles at pretty much everyone (and now tries to wave) so she tends to make a good impression.
Finally, just remember that you will get there eventually. You aren't going to be on that plane forever. Every passing moment brings you closer to your destination. You will be there soon 🙂