Freshly returning from our family adventures in Tassie, I couldn’t help but giggle when I read a newspaper article the other day regarding flying with children.
It seems that the onus is actually on the airline to guarantee smooth family travel.
This information is all well and good, but let’s face the realities: The child and plane combination is always unpredictable.
Granted, my experience is limited with only one Sydney – Hobart return 2 hour flight. However, when you have twins and you witness their different reactions on each journey, I am confident enough to say that every individual flight will always be a case of: “Suck it up and see…”
We boarded the plane, armed with a few essentials: pacifier, redundant pacifier, iPhone and iPad. Both devices well-equipped with toddler games and blessed “Wiggles” shows.
I was “assigned” with Little N, who is usually a little more placid and can sit still in one spot for a longer period of time.
On his first ever flight, he stayed true to his character. Little N busily played with the channel and volume buttons on the side. Then his attention turned to the window and the little orange lever in front of him. Moments when the emergency iPad was necessary were rare and brief. Happily sucking on his pacifier the entire time, I was impressed.
“Yay,” I thought. “I have an offspring who’s a born traveller…”
As Hubby was with Little K in a seat designated three rows back, I kept looking back trying to see if the situation was just as good.
Unlike his older twin brother, Little K is more active. He needs to move. He likes to go places.
As we were on an A280 with 3 seater rows, we were designated separate seating. Reason ? There are four oxygen masks per row and if both parents are seated with their children along another passenger…then in the “unlikely event of an emergency”, one would miss out on a mask. Hence, a family of four is usually separated on a flight. Well, that’s what the lady at the check-in counter told us.
As ashamed as I am to admit it, I was positive throughout the entire journey that I had the dream twin. Secretly, I wanted to show-off how well-behaved Little N had been. Upon reuniting on the tarmac, I discovered that Litttle K had pretty much slept the whole way.
When it was time to head back to Sydney, I was confident that Little N would again be no trouble.
How wrong could I be ?
It was like a storm brewing. For the first hour, he was restless. But manageable. Luckily, the lady sitting next to me had five young nieces and nephews and assured me she was up for the challenge as well.
She didn’t know what she was in for. Then again, neither did I.
About 30 minutes before we were started to descend, the nightmare started. Restlessness turned into grumpiness. There were a few opportune moments when the seat belt sign was off and I frantically paced up and down the aisle. But this was all a temporary solution. As soon as I had to return to my seat, there were full blown tears followed by a helpless fight to try and keep him seated.
The glances and the stares of pity from the other passengers were, to say the least, memorable.
By the time we had landed, I had become completely humbled.
Never again would I assume anything about my children when it came to flying.
There are no tricks or anecdotes.
You just get on that plane, buckle up and take a deep breath.
Then, when the flight is over – if the situation calls for it – apologise profusely to all passengers who were in a three row radius to you and your beloved child.
What are your nightmare traveling stories ? Do tell…