Screaming On A Jet Plane…

1 May

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.

Little N: "Spot of tennis, anyone ?"

“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.

Little K: "Me and planes ? I just sleep..."

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.

Happy family: The day before heading home...and that nightmare flight

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…


5 Responses to “Screaming On A Jet Plane…”

  1. Tat May 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Screaming on the plane is not fun. I took my kids to Europe by myself last year (and my son twice before that) and I had to breastfeed my daughter to shut her up in front of a planeful of Middle Eastern people who probably found it very offensive… but hopefully less offensive than having to listen to her scream the whole way. Other than that my kids are pretty good travelers (maybe, because I prepare myself for the worst before the flight and then every thing else is an improvement). My worst flight was when I was pregnant and couldn’t stop throwing up, but even then my son coped well with no one to look after him 😉

  2. Jen May 2, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Well let me tell you some child vs plane stories!!! Joe is 9 years old. In that time he’s been to Japan and back 6 times, and to London and back via Singapore(plus a short return flight to France). Meg, aged six has done the London/France bit and 3 trips to Japan. And every flight has been different. When Joe was a toddler people told me Phenergen would knock him out for the trip – but it turns out he’s one of those “few” kids that go hypo on Phenergen, and the flight attendants gave him extra Caramello Koalas to keep him “happy” – aka high on sugar! Meg once went into spasms and screamed like she was being murdered when we made her sit still on my lap and put a seatbelt on her for landing. The flight attendant kindly said to me “do you think you could get her to be quiet? It’s upsetting some of the other passengers” “Really? Because it’s not upsetting me at all… I was making her scream and thrash like this on purpose!” And there’s the vomiting on rough flights – which usually includes me once I’ve finished holding their vomit bags. I can’t remember ever getting to the end of a flight without swearing I will never do that again. Thank goodness the fun when you get off the plane is worth the travel nightmare to get there.

    • mamagrace71 May 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      Ah, Jen…your stories crack me up ! I am in awe as to how parents do the overseas flights.
      I remember coming back from Bali (we had just gotten engaged, so well before twinlets) and there was this screaming baby on the flight.
      One irate passenger actually screamed out, “Oh, just throw it out the window already…”
      I felt so sorry for the parents.
      But yes, thank goodness the rest of the holiday is what we remember and cherish 🙂

  3. Xanga Connelley May 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Hi Grace,
    You’ve got some great stories here. You did well on the plane, never take children for granted, after many trips to England with 3 small girls everytime is different. You need so many forms of entertainment up your sleeve, I never got much sleep and the jetlag was the worst!
    I will see you at excercise when I return, I am having a yoga and alternative excerciese change for the moment. Xanga

    • mamagrace71 May 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

      Hi Xanga,

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂
      Our trip to Hobart is nowhere near in comparison to overseas trips like yours. So, in that respect, we had it a lot easier.

      Had a look at your blog earlier…love your pieces ! Didn’t realise how talented you are !
      Look forward to seeing you in our morning hour of torture soon 🙂


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