1) When we made the initial reservations, bulkhead seats (bassinet seats) were already taken much to my dismay. However, upon check-in, we asked again and lo and behold, there was a bulkhead seat available. I ended up sitting in it with only one other person, not a parent, so I got the bassinet! Or rather, Charlie got the bassinet. She was able to sleep for most of the 6 hour flight from Addis to Amsterdam. Definitely ask. Ask at reservation time. Ask at check in. Ask the flight attendants when boarding.
(Caveat: Although the bassinet could be a God Send for the teeny babies, if your infant can crawl, just know you can't get any sleep as there are no straps and Charlie got up several times on her own and wanted to get out. Had I been asleep that would have been bad. On the other hand, having her sleep somewhere other than my arms for 6 hours was great!)
2) Infant Tylenol. I'm not a doctor so I'm not telling you what to do, but this advice came from another parent who was flying with a silent baby: Give your infant a drop of Tylenol 30 minutes before take off, and then have a bottle ready for the ascent and descent. The Tylenol will help their ears not expand, and the bottle will help them equalize their ears in case they still do expand a little. It worked! Charlie was quiet amongst the wails of 50 other infants when we took off.
3) Have several bottles ready for takeoff... sometimes the takeoff is delayed even after the plane has started moving! And I don't know about your infant, but Charlie doesn't like having her bottle taken away once she's started it. She was finished with her first bottle before the wheels left the ground.
4) Ask for an upgrade to business class. It ALMOST worked for us. It doesn't hurt to ask.
5) Don't wear jewelry. The machines are very sensitive. You'll have to take it on and off several times as there are several security points. Along the same lines, use an Ergo without metal, so you and the baby can walk through the metal detector without having to unstrap, unload, reload, etc.
6) In Addis, have your passport easily available in the parking lot, as you will have to show it to even enter the airport at all.
7) If you travel via Amsterdam, Schipol airport has a baby lounge. The lounge has individual "pods" with curtains, a bathing area, diaper changing station, etc. It's quite pleasant depending on the time of day. I was there twice. On the way to Addis, mid-afternoon, it was peaceful and quiet. On the way back, early morning, it was full of screaming babies and mothers trying to cram their own long bodies into the cribs (!). Hardly a place for a rest.
8) Your child does not need a visa for Holland if you are staying in Schipol airport during your connection.
9) I used an Ergo carrier and didn't bring an umbrella stroller. It was helpful to have an extra set of hands. Also, Schipol has the perfect size carts (free!) for carrying an infant.We had 6 hours to kill before our connecting flight, so this cart came in super handy. Plus Charlie enjoyed riding around the airport, gathering attention from all passerby.
So that was the trip. We landed safely after 28 hours of non-stop travel, and three seperate flights, exhausted, to be welcomed home by Opa. After a week in D.C., we made the long drive to where I live, and we've been here for a week now.