Our bitter-sweet flight with UIA

Last weekend I had a look at a post on one Facebook group related to flight tickets. A young woman has found an inexpensive ticket Istanbul-Warsaw led by Ukrainian International Airlines with a short transfer in Kyiv. It caused a big discussion, because many members strongly advised against this travel option. Others, however, said, this flight is pretty fair and they have good memories. They gave other air carriers, which, according to them, are much worse than Ukrainian airlines.

Lot UIA

I reminded myself our last flight from Istanbul to Warsaw, we just experienced with МАУ (ukr. Міжнародні Авіалінії України). The journey wasn’t without adventures 🙂 It took place this year, on Tuesday 19th September. That month, beside urgent flight to Poland, we had plenty of expenses. We had to consider lower prices. Ukrainian Airlines seemed to be the most logical choice for us – one-way ticket for three people (me, Bibi and my Husband) with checked luggages up to 23kg costed us not much above 250 EUR and the waiting wime in Kyiv was less than three hours. Here I will write my thoughts from the young mom’s point of view.

7:30 AM – we are waiting in a big queue for check-in at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. The customer service is asking how old our daughter is. Bibi was already after her 1st birthday, so the man is informing us, the stroller will be waiting for us in Warsaw and we don’t have to take it in Kyiv. Boarding passes are given to us, label hanged on a seat-stroller… They just didn’t give us the confirmation with the stroller’s number we used to receive on previous journeys.

9:35 AM – we’re departing on time. When we are in the sky, I want to change Bibi’s diaper in the restroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t wash my hands, because there was no running water at the tap. I needed to use antibacterial gel 🙂 Stewardesses are diverse – mostly kind and helpful  (especially mrs Olena I wanted to send warm greetings to 🙂 ), just one of them was a shrew. Fortunately, Bibi falls sleep straight after toilet, because it’s tight between the seats. She sleeps the whole flight. The only thing from „catering” involved in the price of ticket is a water (my Husband is adding, they’re giving chocolates on Vallentines ). The cup of tea costs 2 euro, and sandwiches 5-6€.

11:50 AM – we’re at the BORYSPIL AIRPORT IN KYIV. Just in case, we had a look at the jet bridge to check if our stroller isn’t there. Probably the staff of Ataturk airport was right and we are really going to receive it in Warsaw. Ukrainian airport made a very good impression on us and I can admit, this place is friendly to parents. There is a playground full of pillows, there’s a TV with cartoons, there are cafes with delicious desserts (in one of them I heated the jar for Bibi), but I liked the most the nursery room 🙂 Look how cozy!

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Furthermore, we took a part in a competition for Ukrainian-speaking passengers organized by Tickets.ua. I needed to answer three questions related to travels (eg. What would you take going to uninhabited island?), take a photo from a machine and then put on FB with a proper hashtag. The main prize was 3000UAH for any flight ticket. We didn’t win anything, but anyway it’s a nice initiative 😉

ticketsua

More facilities of the airport you can find on their official webpage.

2:50 PM – we’re flying from Kyiv to Warsaw. Bibi sleeps the whole journey again. Everything is the same as the flight from Istanbul. The only difference – clogging ears are more and more disturbing me. As we can see, my Husband (who already has an experience with this airline) didn’t exaggerate saying, in case of UIA pressure changes are more acute, than in other airlines. We’re landing in Poland on time.

4:00 PM – Chopin Airport in Warsaw. We want to take stroller and get into passport control as soon as possible. We’re looking at the jet bridge – there’s only navy blue seat stroller which doesn’t belong to us! We’re reporting problem to kind stewardesses, who are asking the baggage officer to check, if the lost item isn’t inside the plane. Unfortunately, he didn’t find. We’re passing through passport control quickly (comparing to previous ones, in an express way ) and we’re going to the luggage belt – as the cabin crew recommended. Luggages came, stroller didn’t. We’re looking at the tape with excess baggage – baby car didn’t appear. When Kyiv disappears from the screen, we’re going to report the problem to the complaint office. The employee, although he’s surprised, doesn’t make problems due to the lack of a trolley order number. He’s giving a form to us – we must write our personal data, weight and a visual description of our Bibi’s vehicle. He’s also saying, it’s been already the third problem, reported by the passengers of  МАУ.  This is the end of search and the journey! We’re coming back home.

Fortunately, our stroller has been found in Kyiv the very next day 🙂 On Thursday morning it came home by courier.

TO SUM UP:

 

Who is Ukrainian International Airlines for?:
+ For Parents, who have at least crawling babies. The airport in Kyiv is very well adapted for infants in this age. Only a few of these facilities are useful for newborns, who are much less tolerant of air pressure changes (in case of babies younger than 6 months old I definitely prefer direct flights).
+ For people living in Ukraine. UIA has a big offer of inexpensive direct flights to many destinations in the world.
+ For passengers, who need to concern on price while booking and they take a checked luggage.

What should you pay attention to?:
– Unfortunately, the opinions of passengers about the frequent loss of luggage is true. The way from airport to car with two suitcases, baby’s bag and infant on your arm is more than challenging.
– Cabin crew from our flights didn’t speak English fluently. There was even one stewardess communicating only in Russian! (sic)
– It’s not the airline for exclusively breastfeeding moms. Firstly, these women need valuable food and at least one hot meal per day (I’m talking about the comments, that they can make sandwiches for themselves before journey). A transfer flight may be inconvenient for them, because brunches and lunches at this airline are small and quite expensive. Secondly, narrow spaces make a childcare (such as breastfeeding in a sling or changing clothes) even more difficult. In this case, I have better experience with Greek or Serbian airlines.

What is your experience with Ukrainian Airlines? Share your thoughts in a comment 🙂

Polski

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Preparations for Holiday – packing

Hello again!

As I’ve promised before, now I’m gonna write what to pack into the bag of our Toddler for the best preparation for a flight and not only. Remember, the price of ticket for the child under the age of two often involves the additional checked luggage up to 10 kg.

But now let’s  concern on the hand luggage for our Baby. I will divide its potential content for three cathegories: documents, must have things and additional useful stuffs.

1) DOCUMENTS:
Here the preface is probably unnecessary – if you take your ID card and driving licence with you automatically, the more we need to have the necessary documents during a vacation trip:

a) Passports of you and your Children (or ID cards for EU citizens travelling in Schengen area) – these are the first documents you HAVE TO pack! As I mentioned before, in most of countries we can’t add children in our passports anymore – they need to have their separate travel documents. You can ask your local office about the principles of making toddler’s passport.

b) Multilingual Birth Certificate – as I’ve written in the previous post, border guards don’t have to ask you for this paper, but it’s good to have it anyway. Just in case.

c) Personal Child Health Record and other medical documents – it is also worthy to make International Certificates of Vaccination I mentioned in the previous post. And be sure to print out the confirmation of the insurance you have purchased or (in case of EU countries) take the EHIC card

d) Printed boarding pass – I know, I know… In most cases passport is enough during check in. However, many absurdities already took place in the airport (such as lack of reservation in the electronic database), so have this paper just in case. Maybe you and your Toddler will avoid additional stress because of it.

 

2) MUST HAVE!!!
Some time ago we could hear about mom-celebrities, who complained on their blogs and Instagram profiles, that one totally expensive airline didn’t give them wipes/diapers/sleepers, while another one (as expensive as previous airline) already gave them that. Well, I confirm, that AEGEAN provides pocket wipes for toddlers and Turkish Airlines used to give baby meals or coloring books. However, they’re bonuses, not top-down guidelines 🙂 Must have in the hand-bag of Baby:

a) Diapers – quantity depends on the duration. For three-hour flight I used to pack around 10 pieces.

b) Wipes – I don’t know what about you, but I always take one-two packs of pocket handkerchiefs (up to 15 pieces) and standard one (between 60 and 90 pieces) into checked luggage – they will be useful for the first days as well. It’s a good idea to buy a package with a plastic closure – wipes will stay wet for longer 😉

c) Baby Changing Pads and diaper bags – usually you can buy them in popular drugstores.

d) First aid kit – with bandages and currently needed medicines (eg. against teething or colics) if they don’t cross 100ml. Note: to take syringes and prescription medicines into hand luggage you will need a certificate from a doctor.

e) Water bottle – drinking water from bottle brings relief to baby during takeoff and landing (air pressure increase). YOU CAN take on board: bottles with water, milk or baby porridge and also jars with soups / purées. Moreover, you can ask stewardess for pouring water into the bottle.

f) Food (if you aren’t exclusively breastfeeding)  – depending on the current baby’s nutrition, it’s good to take baby porridge, modified milk or baby jars. You can take those stuffs on board – I had 190g meal a’la Gerber in my hand-luggage and I crossed the control without any problems 🙂 You can ask cabin crew for heating a jar for your Toddler. I also recommend to hide some favorite baby soups into checked-luggage. Firstly, on holiday you won’t be always in a mood for cooking 😉 Secondly, the choice of flavors abroad may be different than in your homeland. I realized it during my stay in Turkey, but I’ll write about it in separate post.

g) A set of clothes for a change

 

3) USEFUL THINGS: 

a) Toys – they’re useful, when a child needs to divert attention from pressure changes during takeoff and landing. Furthermore, wouldn’t you get bored sitting a few hours in the same place? However, don’t be surprised when your Toddler will consider booklets as more interesting 🙂

b) Pacifier and pendant – pacifier works here like a chewing gum – helps to unclog baby’s ears. However, I added it to „useful things” list, because not all parents use this type of sedatives. I recommend to buy pendant – pacifier won’t fall down with this.

c) Nursing sling – it was often useful for me. Nursery rooms may be occupated while your Baby is hungry/has clogged ears/ needs closeness and immediately wants your breast. I don’t think, any of you would like to show your  bust in public place 😉 This item will provide you the minimum discretion (doesn’t concern infants after the 7th month – then sling gives the opposite result 😉 ).

d) Bibs – preferably cotton ones, with a foil cover underneath. Then the food won’t leak and won’t stain the clothes 🙂

e) Measuring spoon and a baby teaspoon

What would you like to add? Share your experiences in a comment 🙂

Polski