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SYD>SFO on United - get a seat for 15 mth old?

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#1 mandala

Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:04 AM

DH, DS and I are flying MEL>SYD>SFO>YYC on United in March. At the moment, we haven't booked a seat for DS, but I'm not sure we've made the right choice.

Has anyone tried booking the reserved seat for accompanied infant on one leg of a flight like that? If we do that for the SYD>SFO leg, do you think we could take his carseat as carry-on for the MEL>SYD leg? I know we change planes in SYD. Previously when we've flown United, it's been really empty, but I don't know if that's still the case.

We also have 9 hours in SFO - with all the messing around with immigration, customs etc, do you think it's worth trying to leave the airport? Is there a good place to get a dayroom? Can we leave luggage at the airport?

#2 Isolabella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:01 PM

Seat would be too big as cabin baggage.

As to whether it is worth it.... How much is $1.5k (just guessing cost of airfare) worth to you? Is is worth 15hrs of some pain or would you prefer to have day spa/massage / shopping while on holiday.

We have done EU and back three times with 15-24mo without seats, not fun, but better then spending $2-2.5k on a seat.

#3 mandala

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:16 PM

Sigh. Yeah, that's the question. It's around $1000 extra for him to have a seat the whole way through. I guess I just need to get on the phone to the airline to see if I can get it cheaper just for the long flight.

#4 Isolabella

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:22 PM

Look there are those who will say pay the money, but then again there are also those who travel business class and don't blink at spending the $$ for business class for the kids.

It is up to you with your monetary circumstances to decide if 15hrs of potential pain is worth that much money to YOU.

Yes I have family who fly EU and back business class with kids. Most recent trip they decided it was better to send kids economy with their Assistant and pay for assistant to have two weeks holiday then pay for three kids business class.

Me $2.5k is a big whack of our holiday budget so we have 21 mo on our lap.

#5 baddmammajamma

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

Will write more when I am not pressed for time...but in a nutshell:

* If you can afford to without breaking the bank, I would go with purchasing a seat.

* Re stop over in SFO -- it's a FABULOUS, kid friendly airport -- including the new aquarium in Terminal 1:


If you are keen to see a little slice of the City, take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) into the City -- not a cab or any other vehicle where you might get stuck in traffic. BART will take you right downtown to Union Square & a lot of activity.

Will pop back later with my "proud San Franciscan" hat on (it's my hometown).  original.gif

Calgary sounds like a great trip!

#6 mandala

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:12 AM

badmammajamma, I like San Francisco a lot! This will be our third visit, although I'm not sure 9 hours really counts as a visit. I'd love to get out of the airport, but I'm not sure it's really feasible with all the luggage, since I don't think we can check it in until three hours before our onward flight. Maybe on the way back we'll be delayed and have 24 hours to get out and look around again.

#7 kpingitquiet

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:20 AM

It was extremely worth it for us to buy a seat for kiddo on our ADL->SYD->LAX->SFO flights, last year. SO worth it. We took her car seat onboard and she slept very well in it. She was 15 months on the way there, 16mo on the way back.

#8 sjm218

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:31 AM

United flights are slam full these days. We fly with our family once a year and its been a long time since I have seen a lot of spare seats.

As for seats, it depends on the child, but personally I would book a seat for all flights. We have a bit of a rule of thumb, lap is ok until they are walking, then we pay. I think once they are walking they are more accustomed to having their own space if you know what I mean.

With 9 hours I would probably leave the airport. SFO has a family line through security which speeds up security checks and means you have less pressure trying to get through with all your stuff.

#9 baddmammajamma

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:46 AM

I've never done the Canada > U.S. > Australia combo, but since you are on United, can't you just checked your baggage all the way through to Melbourne? Or must you claim it in SFO first?

If you can't check your baggage all the way through, there is a baggage storage service:


Can you just tell how keen I'd be to actually get into the City for a few hours? wink.gif

If you remain at the airport, you won't lack for things to do -- take a shower, go to the aquarium, check out the play area...

Have a wonderful trip!

PS: My mom flies the SF > Australia (via LAX now) route all of the time on United. Per sjm, it has always been jam packed!

#10 greengoddess

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:54 AM

Pretty sure you'll need to collect it in SFO to go through customs, but as it's an ongoing flight, they'll recheck them as soon as you go through, so you won't have to deal with them. If you take the car seat, you'll have to store that, presumably.

I'd recommend a seat if you can afford it and particularly if you want to go into town for a few hours. I always find that flight pretty shattering, so not sure I'd be up for holding a child for that long on the flight and then sightseeing. I'd probably book a room to sleep!!

#11 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 19 January 2013 - 11:58 AM

QUOTE (sjm218 @ 19/01/2013, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
United flights are slam full these days. We fly with our family once a year and its been a long time since I have seen a lot of spare seats.

As for seats, it depends on the child, but personally I would book a seat for all flights. We have a bit of a rule of thumb, lap is ok until they are walking, then we pay. I think once they are walking they are more accustomed to having their own space if you know what I mean.

This has been my experience.  My last flight with DS (15mo) was a nightmare, he was kicking and trying to scratch me, and just wanted to sit on his own and play.  Up til that point he had been fine with sitting and sleeping on my lap.

#12 mandala

Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:35 PM

Okay, you're convincing me to book a seat for DS! I flew with him at 12 months, and it was a nightmare trying to keep him off the person next to me, even with him shared across me and DH. If United's that busy these days, it sounds like we might be stuck with 15 hours of that! He's a bad sleeper unless he's in a dark, quiet space by himself, so I'm not expecting much sleep.

On our last trip in 2008, we had to collect our luggage, go through immigration/customs/border controls and then recheck. That was at LAX, but I'd imagine SFO is the same.

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