Thanks to the previously long distance nature of my relationship with TH - I have become almost pro at flying with children. In fact; tomorrow's flight will be the children's fourth in just a little over two weeks! And eighth in two years. It has taken some planning and I guess I'm lucky - but every time I have flown with the children so far it has been (mostly) a doddle.
Of course there have been moments where things haven't gone quite right or to plan, but in hindsight, I would call every one of our trips a success - especially when I think about it could have gone.
Some observations I have made over our years of flying have really helped to get it right the next time. It doesn't mean every trip has been perfect; but it helps to alleviate the stress I always find myself in when in transit with the little monkeys.
Know that security will spot check your child
Taking the children through security for the first time was not my definition of fun. There was a group of suspect looking youths right behind us, all clad in hoodies, but who got spot checked and frisked? Mini Man. He was four at the time, and why they thought he might be harbouring illicit goods on his person - I have no idea.
He co-operated fantastically though, once he realised his teddy was going to be returned to him. In the trips since; we have been able to clear security like a boss. He even relinquishes his blanket - a grey worn piece of fabric that is the ghost of what once was a baby's cot duvet.
Today it was Emma's turn to get frisked, as we went through at Guernsey Airport. I guess that sometimes your child will be spot checked, and that's just the way it is.
Put your liquids in your checked bag
Of course, this won't be possible if you are traveling with babies who need various lotions and potions. But; if you can really get away with not having any liquids in your carry on - it saves a small portion of your sanity when you are focusing your attention on what your little cherubs are up to. Trust me: I've forgotten to remove the liquids in the past - and it makes for more time spent juggling, while the TSA checks your bag thoroughly.
This tip has worked the last couple of flights but just a quick aside. Today I had my dove deodorant stick loose in my bag. It's a solid. It's classed as such - but the scanner sees a shape, and doesn't distinguish. Yep - I got asked to stop so they could check my bag. Next time I'll bag it anyway, just to save time and hassle.
"Busy Kits" won't keep them busy
The first time I flew with the Miniatures, I was crapping myself. I researched the internet endlessly for tips and tricks. I bought various activities to hold their attention on the flight, and covered every possible eventuality. This was definitely a mistake. I spent more time picking up the crap from their "busy" kits than them actually using it.
By all means if they have a favourite blanket, or toy - bring that, and if you're lucky enough to get individual in-flight entertainment screens, utilise them. Even Mini Man is happy to just stare at the moving screen. Plus there are other bits and bobs for them to look at and fiddle with. Both Miniatures really don't like having their seatbelt off -.which I can only count as a win.
Position yourselves practically
Sorry to break it to you, but if you like the window seat, it will be long time before you will be allowed to sit there again. Up until now it's been just the three of us flying, and I've developed a (so far) foolproof plan of where to sit.
All of the airplanes I have traveled on have typically had a 2:4:2 seating ratio. The bonus to being an autism mum is: we get to choose our seats before the rush at check in. In order to avoid my two little darlings annoying anybody but each other, I always seat them next to each other in the window, and aisle seat.
Then, to prevent bickering about who sits in the window, I swap them over during the flight so one gets to see out going up, and the other gets to see out coming down. It's worked so far.
Also, it might not be the most pleasant - or first choice of seating - but try to get as near to the bathroom as possible. I couldn't tell you how many times I have head: "Mummy, I need a wee wee!" during one flight, but - if I had a dollar for every time, I could happily introduce the little blighters to business class to annoy the elite.
I don't understand first class travel - I mean: It's way more expensive, doesn't leave any faster, and gets you to the same place? I can think of many greater things to use that cash on, so I don't think I would use those extra dollars for that after all...
Bring lots! Flying long haul, I've taken to packing a couple of ziploc bags each with animal crackers (the non chocolate kind) and raisins. It's guaranteed that the airplane food isn't going to appeal to your little darling. So they might get a bit peckish.
In actual fact - if you are a little adverse to the use of mushrooms (I'm allergic) - I'd suggest you pack a shitload of snacks for you too, because the slimy little poison bearers seem to be in every dish on the menu!
Smile helplessly, don't be afraid to clown around in the the security queue in the name of attempted entertainment, and do expect to be a human yoyo, as you tend to their every demand.
Keep your cool as you hear the sentence: "Are we nearly there yet?" uttered for the 60th time in as many minutes, when your only an hour into your eight hour flight. You can do this! It won't be forever, just make sure you don't clock watch!
Our trip to the UK is at an end, and tomorrow The Miniatures and I are flying back to Chicago. I'm going to try and remember the positivity of this post. Fingers crossed they behave themselves again!
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