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I recently returned from a trip back home (yes, still feels like home even after all these years) but it’s the journey that has affected me the most. Airports and planes are interesting places where you can see various types of people. In fact, it’s the best place for people-watching, if that is a thing I mean. I used to love gazing at people and learning the little snippets of their lives like that one person who will always stroll impatiently in the waiting area, the one person who will be rude inside the flight, the one person who will constantly nag the air-hostess.
Travelers can be classified into groups. Those people who sit in business class to make you feel that you can never be them (why does economy class even have to pass by them to get to their seats? Unfair, I say), those people who sleep immediately through the entire flight, those people who listen to music, eat their food and watch movies (in short, they enjoy) and those people who travel with kids.
Now, there are two groups here too. People whose kids will remain in their seats or babies that sleep in the bassinet and won’t peek at all. And there are those people like me, who have kids that will scream their lungs out, making everybody wish we weren’t inside the flight at all.
We took three flights to reach home. My 4-year-old has recently discovered the joy of sitting near the window where he can get a view of the wings. When he didn’t get his desired seats in any of the flights, he spent the first 30 minutes screaming because clearly it was the biggest shock of his life.
My baby, who seemed reasonably calm, decided to play her fair part. She loved being inside the bassinet but couldn’t understand why she couldn’t crawl out of it. She has mastered the art of crawling and wants to try it out everywhere. But plane floors are hardly the perfect area for baby arts.
We still had five hours left in the last leg of the flight. By then, both of my children had lost it and needed to get off the plane right away. When that didn’t happen, they did what they knew better. Scream! My husband and I got these glances from people that seemed to tell – c’mon, do something and get that child to shut up! Trying to get some sleep here.
But inside the flight, you are helpless and there is only so much you can do. The flight attendant also seemed distressed by all the noise that he actually gave five extra goodies for the children, emptying the entire tray into my bag, begging my kids to play. But they didn’t want to play, they wanted to get out!
And when I finally got the baby to sleep in my arms, there is another baby from my neighbor’s seat that woke up with a scream. That’s what happened the rest of the flight, all babies woke each other at regular intervals making it futile to even make them sleep. But what’s most annoying is when people look at you and rub your shoulder gently and tell – aww, poor you. (because they are glad, they aren’t you).
But there are a few things that help on long haul flights – a baby carrier does wonders, carrying extra toys and snacks, letting the baby move her legs on the changing table, being extra friendly with the flight attendant, being courteous with fellow passengers because you need their help, learning to ignore mean glances from other passengers (it’s very rare though but just in case).
Pssst, I flew Qatar and Emirates. Both were extremely courteous and helpful with parents flying with kids thought I would rate Qatar more. One attendant even took my 4-year-old on a tour and spent time playing with him.
If you are travelling with little kids, there is only one advice – travel light. Seriously, don’t load up!