It’s definitely been a minute hasn’t it. Traveling back to India and settling in has been eventful, but we seem to be coming out the other side :). However, the journey back brought about some new challenges that I didn’t anticipate. So this is kind of in continuation to my previous blog post, when I traveled to the US with a 4 1/2 month Aisha. However, coming back two months later is a different beast altogether. Bigger baby, more aware, and a brand new set of challenges. Please keep in mind that I flew United Airlines-the direct flight from SFO to Delhi, and I was lucky to have a business class seat. So here are the challenges I encountered on the journey.
Baby needs a COVID Test: So the Indian government requires ALL passengers to have a negative COVID test before boarding the flight, and that includes babies. So while my husband and I had our results with us, we didn’t take a test for Aisha, but right before check-in we were told she had to have a negative test result too-otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed to board the flight! So at the SFO airport they had an emergency testing station where she got tested and we waited 1 hour for her result to come. So if you’re traveling to India anytime soon, get a negative test done for EVERYONE including the tiny ones.
Breastmilk/Formula Goes Through Extra Screening: Oh this was so annoying at airport security. So since we were traveling with a baby, there are exceptions on traveling with formula or breastmilk-basically there is no liquid limit. And when we traveled from Delhi to San Francisco, the security officer simply asked us to open the cooler and show us the breast milk and then we were on our way. Fairly straightforward. However, at San Francisco, the breastmilk had to go thru a separate scanning machine-I had 24 oz breast milk. On top of that, I was also traveling with readymade formula milk, which you just open and feed, which also had to be scanned. BUT, because it wasn’t a clear bottle, there was one of two options: either they open each bottle to scan the liquid-but that meant I couldn’t use the milk-or one of us gets a pat-down and extra scanning of all the belongings. We opted for the latter and my poor husband’s bag was opened with everything was scanned. So naturally that took a lot of time. With that and the extra hour for Aisha’s COVID test, we made to the gate barely 5 minutes before boarding.
Bassinets are Teeny Tiny: Finally, after take off and Aisha sleeping peacefully in my arms, I realized the bassinet was too small for her. So the bassinet in the flight was literally a tiny hard cubby. On the way to San Francisco, I softened it up with the Aisha’s blanket and swaddle. When I was traveling to San Francisco, Aisha fit in the bassinet just perfectly. However, by the time it came to traveling back, she was too big for it. Plus, the traveling sleeper that she is-she would’ve hated being in the bassinet anyways. So she and I shared my seat for 15.5 hours. Thankfully, I had a bigger seat, which became a bed. So both of us managed to get some sleep together on the flight. So if you’re traveling on a long flight with an older baby in the near future, consider a bigger seat option or get an extra seat for your little one. It’ll just help you spread yourself better.
So those are the biggest challenges I faced on traveling back to India with Aisha. I hope my story has helped at least someone!