Waiting to check in, let’s hope she stays like this!
I have had occasion to fly with both of my girls from a young age (in fact they both first flew at 9 weeks), either to visit family, on holidays or for work. Travelling long distances with babies and small children at any time can be stressful but especially within the confines of an aeroplane, surrounded by strangers, some of whom glared at you as you boarded with a babe in arms or toddler by the hand.
I know the pain of furiously trying to resettle a tired baby as she grumpily awoke from sleep and made her displeasure loudly known every forty minutes for the duration of a five hour night flight. I have eaten a meal within such a confined space that the tray table cannot even lay flat whilst the baby is sitting on my lap. I have changed the world’s worst nappy on the world’s tiniest baby change table. I have paced up and down the tiny space near the galley trying to settle a fractious toddler. I have struggled to juggle the baby and cabin bag as I attempt to stuff one of them into a tiny, awkward space in the overhead locker 😉
But I also have known the kindness of strangers. And it is this which can make all of the difference to parents travelling with small children.
Fortunately for me, I met quite a few kind strangers on a recent trip to Sydney, which was truly a blessing in disguise given that I was travelling and parenting solo with AJ. Although I am quite sure that they will never read this post today I want to say thank you to just a few of those strangers as I believe there are lessons we can all learn from their kind actions.
Thank you to the two kindest co-passengers I have ever known who found themselves as the bread in a mama and baby sandwich on our flight to Sydney. With no bassinet row on the plane and barely enough room for myself and a nine week old baby, these wonderful ladies did not hesitate to help get things out of the overhead lockers for me, offered for me to put my food and drinks (and even rubbish once I was done) on their tray tables as the space was so tight, were happy to hold the baby and chatted to me (might not seem a big thing but I usually sleep on flights which is hard to do with a small baby to watch over so it was nice to have lovely people to talk to).
Thank you to the lovely crew member on my return flight, Paola, who went out of her way to make arrangements for AJ and I to be moved to sit in the bassinet row (even though we had been told we were in the bassinet row prior to leaving home and at check in). And to the kind gentleman who agreed to swap seat with me so that I could be moved.
To Paola’s fellow crew members who did not hesitate to watch the baby so I could use the bathroom, were happy for me to pace their space near the galley so that I could resettle her and even snuck me a yummy treat towards the end of the flight. A kind crew can make all the difference to a mama’s (and therefore baby’s) stress levels and the crew on the flight over to Sydney were no where near as approachable.
Also to the kind security officer who empathised with me having to remove a sleeping AJ from the baby carrier for us to walk through the security scanner (what are those hand held scanning thingos for if not to swipe over mummas with babies in cloth baby carriers with metal rings???), who put out a padded baby change mat for her to lie on while I put the carrier back on and resettled AJ. His counterpart on the other end of our journey could not have been less interested in helping.
To fellow passengers who smiled warmly or chatted to us, offered for us to use the on board bathroom first or helped with cabin bags, thank you.
I don’t think travelling with babies and toddlers is ever really easy or stress free. And I for one can tell those fellow travellers who get frustrated with a crying baby or mischievous toddler, that it is likely that their parent is doing everything they can to keep their little one calm and settled!
Have you ever flown with a baby or young toddler? What made the experience easier (or harder) for you?