Okay, it was hard. It was also easy in parts, but overall, it was really really hard. But don’t let that put you off – I think the potential good days were the days we couldn’t fly, as our cab to Gatwick was cancelled, and we got the train – all three cases, plus one stroller, one toddler, two change bags and one extra suitcase all made our way to Victoria to find the Gatwick Express wasn’t running either. Good old British weather…. oh and the car seat, too. We eventually got a flight out three days later once Gatwick reopened – so by that point were relieved to get on the plane.
First off, we thought it’d be easy with us flying in the evening – which overall it was, but once you’ve had your meal and settled down (and that includes a very awake H) you only really have four hours to sleep. I think that’s mistake #1 – while flying with Emirates was a good idea as they’re child friendly, we’d have been better having a long first leg overnight, with a shorter second one – which is what we’ve got on the way back but hey.
The best thing we did was to take the car seat – she could sit on our knees (and had to for takeoff and landing) but could also sit in her own chair. We don’t really sit her in front of the tv, so had to start doing it a bit, which meant even though she didn’t want to put headphones on (our request for some child ones didn’t surface), she was quite happy to watch Zingzillas – the only Cbeebies programme on their in-flight. Fortunately she did sleep and nap in there, but oh, when she woke up she made sure you knew.
On the plus side she did sleep through two landings, being taken out of her car seat and onto our laps. I have to say, those seatbelts don’t feel as safe as her being in the seat, but regulations state you have to do that.
Shaun worked out she probably slept for half of the flight time, which isn’t bad going (bar the jetlag now), but on the longest leg of the journey she was waking every couple of hours and having really awful overtired screaming fits. Fortunately most people didn’t seem to care. Fortunately I didn’t care whether anyone cared anyway.. it’s funy how you just get on with it all – and it’s what I was dreading the most. Even breastfeeding on the plane gave me the fear, but needs must… and I just got on with it.
We had new books and stickers – she’s still a bit too young to really get excited about it, but it did kill an hour with her stickering things – and Emirates gave a free magazine and a hand puppet which amused for a while (the book more than the puppet).
As we did Baby Led Weaning, we ordered H a child meal, which when it came and included a snack box had chocolate in it. Crisps and chocolate… I was a bit “eeehhhh…?!” about it, as it’s not really something we’d give H. The only other option was mush which was offered at the start, but we turned it down. You got a nice little pack of wipes and bags to put nappies in (only 2 though! Although I didn’t realise that’s what they were until we got home, and used my own bags).
Yes, we changed a nappy on the plane. It wasn’t too bad – small space, but do-able. A lovely pooey nappy too, the kind of thing you’d dread on a plane, but I coped just fine. She laid still (she’s just started wanting to move around again when you change her) which was probably a good thing as there’s a bit of a drop. It’s small enough to get stuff done without you feeling too claustrophobic. I think only a few loos had the changing table though.
The stewards and stewardesses were all helpful – on the way out steward man did keep forgetting things we’d ask nicely if he could do (like some warm cows milk for her bottle) which was a bit annoying, as she’s not going to wait… but the second lot were great (possibly parents themselves?). One weird bit, they got a polaroid camera, took a photo of H, but didn’t ask my permission, then handed me a signed photo of my moody daughter asleep, signed from the cabin crew. I’m sure it’s meant to be nice and all that, and I’m not ungrateful, but I wish they’d asked. I didn’t have the guts (I was so tired) to ask what they were doing and I’d rather have waited until she was awake!
The downside of her having her own seat meant we didn’t qualify for bassinet seats despite her being 15 months, which was a bit annoying. Having said that, I think they were all taken by families – but had there been ones with regular passengers in, I’d have been a bit cross. We could have used that extra space, but there’s no way she’d have fitted in a cot. If any future babies come along I’ve already said we’re flying when baby is six months, then they can sleep, and H will be older, so it’ll be a repeat of this but with a sleepy baby. But anyway, that might not happen.
There were complimentary strollers at Dubai, but you had to walk around to find them – a heavy toddler too tired to walk, the heat and empty stroller stands… lovely. We did find them eventually, but it took a while. OH and add to that all the baby changing rooms were badly marked – it took ages to find one men could go into – most were right inside the ladies – fine, but if you’re a man travelling with a baby you’re a bit screwed.
Fortunately at the end most people were kind with us when they saw a sleepy toddler (maybe they were sat near us, and witnessed one of the eight H explosions) and we had no hassles, and got through customs fine at the end (I’d declared some rice cakes and biscuits), so we were out of there fairly quickly. Australia’s strict on all that, so that was a relief – I did make a point of not taking any dried fruit snacks though.
Oh yes, snacks. Take rice cakes. Life saving stuff, as there will come a point that little one will be hungry and the crew can’t get a meal to you. Same goes for oat biscuits/cakes sort of things too. Oh, and water too, though we had to tip it out at Gatwick, and get it refilled at Costa Coffee.
I didn;t get to watch any in-flight entertainment at all – I was stuck on the plane map (on purpose) – it was out of choice, and it was only later on I realised the clock was on GMT, so I could have followed H’s routine to some point – as I had lost track of the time completely. So that’s my fault there, but I’d advise keeping an eye on routine time as it’ll help…
I think that’s all really – it’s hard work, and oh thank god we’re there, the way back should be interesting.. which routine to follow on the way back…. H has a cold, so she’s dosed up with nuofen tonight in the hope she’ll get a good nights sleep, and adjust to the time difference. We’ll see…