our big trip - day 3: Flying to Europe

Thursday, 7 February 2013

I haven't flown directly to Europe for twenty years. I had forgotten what a marathon it is. Toss in two kids and my oh my - what were we thinking?

Our flight was on time but packed to capacity. It was one of those flights where you quite literally have an inch between your knees and the back of the seat in front of you. You know those - where if the person in front puts their seat back, you go cross-eyed because the TV screen is too close?

Great start to a nine-hour flight.

Of course, none of us really slept. Husband doesn't even try - he just watches movies all night while I grapple with the various yoga positions the kids need to perform in order to achieve an angle that might entice sleep. I, hence, got about 20 minutes sleep on that flight. Ella collectively achieved about an hour, Riley maybe two hours.

Watching my daughter sitting upright with a neck pillow around her head, unable to sleep, tears silently rolling down her face - agony.

Hoping to inject some much-needed energy into my children, I encouraged them to gobble down breakfast, around two hours before touch down. Both did so reluctantly - and no wonder. I'm so over Children's Meals on flights. They are usually packed with crap {why!? is there a presumption kids only eat crap? do children really eat chocolate for breakfast and chicken nuggets for dinner by default? ugh}. Never again.

Forty minutes from touch-down, Riley brought that delightful breakfast up, and onto the tray table in front of him. He brought up about a week's worth of meals, I'm sure of it. Worse - the vacant, wide-eyed *flight attendant I hailed to help me with wet towels and sick bags nearly earned herself a smack in the mouth.

ME: {pressing call bell urgently - it took five calls*}

FA: Can I help you? {Riley throwing up next to me}

ME: My son is vomiting - I need some towels and sick bags! {Riley throwing up next to me}

FA: Pardon? {Riley throwing up next to me}

ME: My son - he's sick! I need towels and sick bags! {Riley throwing up next to me}

FA: Pardon? I can't hear you. {Riley throwing up next to me}

ME: MY SON IS SICK!!!!!!! {the entire cabin heard this one}

FA: Yes...? {with bitchy look on face while Riley continues to throw up next to me}

ME: What is your name?

FA: {insert name here}

Cabin Manager arrives 30 seconds later, along with a helper armed with towels and sick bags - and they are truly divine. Insert Name Here avoids me for the rest of the flight. Insert Name Here really needed a smack in the mouth.

*Thai Airways, in case you're interested.

But wait. There's more. It's called an eight-hour layover in Bangkok.

Above is a picture of some coffee and tea we ordered at a cafe at Suvarnabhumi Airport. By the time we left this cafe, these cups were still untouched. 

We disembarked Nightmare Flight and the first thing we did was find a chemist to buy some electrolyte powder for Riley. Next was the almost equally-important task of seeking coffee. Riley had already thrown up in the aerobridge and once on the way to the cafe. 

Desperate for sleep, Husband went in search of the airport day hotel to see if he could get us a room. He was gone for at least 40 minutes and in that time, Riley began heaving his guts out in the cafe, right alongside people eating their breakfast.

To say I was mortified - both for Riley and for them - is an understatement. And of course, I couldn't move. I was cradling Riley like a baby {who was quite unable to move} and had all our bags with us. And Ella was too busy running around the airport looking for Dad. I developed a permanent crook in my neck from peering over my shoulder, hoping to see my husband on the horizon - but he took forever and ever.

When he got back, he informed me he'd been to the Qantas Lounge but that it didn't open till 3pm. I could have smacked him over the head with the two filled-to-capacity vomit bags, I was so enraged. I shoved Riley in his arms, apologised profusely to my fellow breakfast eaters, tossed the vomit bags {in a bin!} and charged off towards the day hotel, handed over the credit card, put Riley to bed, Ella into the shower and into bed, and me in the third bed.

Yep, only three single beds per room. Groan. Husband voluntarily {and he was also in the dog house, anyway, dear love him} spent the next four hours napping on one of the mega lounges in the airport proper. He woke us around 4 hours later and Riley was feeling so much better. He even said he could devour some sausages! so I was thrilled.

Breakfast is included at the Day Hotel {but don't get too excited} and we gobbled down some toast and cereal. Moments later, Riley felt like this:

Up came breakfast.

I think he threw up three times on the way to the gate for our flight to London, and just before we got the gate, Ella said "where's Riley's watch?"

Back at the day hotel, of course. Husband puts his rollerskates on and back he goes to the hotel {this airport is BIG!} and the three of us continued on to the gate. Riley became even sicker and we were now out of sick bags, so he was heaving into garbage bins on the airport concourse. As we approached the gate, I turned to Ella and said, with horror rising in my chest. "Where is the Country Road bag?"

It was missing. It contained our pillows for the next flight and my Nikon D90 SLR. Now it was my turn to vomit. I plonked Riley on the floor, looked at Ella and said "watch him" then ran. I sprinted up that concourse and saw a security officer speaking into a walkie-talkie. I ran up to her and said "I've lost a bag! Where is lost property?!" She slowly turned and pointed at a bag in the middle of the concourse, with another security guard blocking people from walking too close to it.

I burst into tears. I mean BURST. Hysterical. She smiled and said "go get your bag".

Dragging the bag back to the kids, I managed to get them to the gate where airline staff treated us so utterly kindly, the waterworks started again. Husband was still nowhere to be found, but we were brought wet towels, sick bags, and even had the offer of a doctor.

I knew Riley was vomiting from sheer exhaustion {and quite possibly airline food} and lack of sleep. He didn't have a fever and had no other symptoms, so thankfully the staff were still happy for him to fly. The flight was mercifully empty so the staff blocked out two entire rows of four seats for us and Riley was able to lie down the moment we were at cruise level, and he slept for around 7 hours of the 12 hour flight {see top picture}.

When he woke, he was well and stayed well. Sleep cures so much.

Into London at 7.30pm on Sunday night, I was so relieved to get through Immigration and baggage claim easily. We had booked a driver through the Australian Embassy who took our luggage trolley from us the moment we came through the gates, walked us to a van only 2 minutes away, drove us to our apartment in Pimlico in record time and even took our bags upstairs for us. He was not cheap but was worth every single British penny.

More on our apartment soon, but let me tell you, a bed never felt so good as it did that night. We kept the kids awake until 11pm London time, then Husband and I took melatonin and we all had the very best of sleeps, waking around 9am for our very first day in one of my very favourite cities in the world.

distance travelled: 17,676km

our big trip - days 1 + 2: Melbourne
our big trip - day 4: London
our big trip - day 5: London
our big trip - day 6: London
our big trip - day 7: London
our big trip - day 8: London
our big trip - day 9: Leyland
our big trip - day 10: London
our big trip - day 11: Paris
our big trip - day 12: Paris
our big trip - day 13: Paris
our big trip - day 14: Bruges
our big trip - day 15: Bruges 
our big trip - day 16: Bruges and The Hague
our big trip - day 17: The Hague
our big trip - day 18: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 19: Amsterdam
our big trip - day 20: The Hague
our big trip - days 21 + 22: Brussels
Two days lost with travel and travelling east
our big trip - days 25 + 26: Bangkok
our big trip - day 27: Kanchanaburi
our big trip - days 28 - 32: Cha Am Resort
our big trip - day 33: Hua Hin
our big trip - days 34 + 35: Coming Home


Dani said...

Oh sweet Jesus.........I mean SERIOUSLY, Sweet Jesus! If my 7 hr overnight flight tonight is anything like that I am going to drown myself in free vodka. I love people that say "travelling with kids is such a breeze, hasn't changed our travel habits at all" I call B******t on that one. By all means, lets continue to travel but lets take off the rose coloured glasses, it can be bloody hard work. Rewarding and amazing but bloody hard work.

Tania McCartney said...

SO agree, Dan! I went into this trip knowing there would be moments of difficulty and my mantra for the entire time was KEEP CALM, NO MATTER WHAT.

Honestly, other than that temporarily-lost bag/camera incident - my mantra remained true the entire time we were away. So happy to report that things only got better from London onwards!

tiarastantrums said...

oh Poor little lad! I can only recall those lovely moments(ie: flight to china) w/ little ones in tow. We flew to Hawaii when Mason was 1 AND he was a dream! Literally a dream! China - not so much. All our flights now are pretty good - like really! Except - I've not had sick children, which is in itself, an entirely different task on hand! Poor Riley!! Poor Ella on the sleep!!!

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