Travelling on a plane with a child - What is it really like?

Some of you may look at my instagram (if you don’t you are missing a visual delight…), but just in case you missed my last few weeks, we took Max abroad for the first time. I can safely say, without bashing the little man too much, I will be using the term holiday fairly loosely from now on.

You see taking a child abroad is a whole new ball game, some of our friends did it when they were super young but we waited until he was slightly older and supposedly slightly better at being distracted.

To be perfectly honest I’ve 100% been the person on the flight thinking, “why did they have to bring a child?” or “I’m going to be stuck X amount of feet up in the air with no safe escape route!”. But like most things in life, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Why should I miss out on going abroad because I’ve got a child, that is surely just as unfair?

So we did it, we booked a Scandinavian adventure that started as all good holidays do with a delayed flight. Obviously, we had planned Max’s sleep around the flight times so panic soon set in when he started getting more than a little antsy before we had even left the departure lounge. Once we had made it on the plane the next hiccup happened. We had settled in and been made to strap the little man to Nikki who was primed with toys, snacks and her boobs if needed (not a weird statement, she breastfeeds). The lovely pilot let us know that whilst we all had to stay seated the plane couldn’t technically take off for another hour. At this point, I was contemplating deploying the emergency shoots and exiting the plane, but we persevered and battled through the odd tantrums and we weren’t alone as it turns out.  A fair few children who we hadn’t seen get on the flight took this moment to collectively support Max with their lovely loud voices too. I have to say there is nothing sweeter than when you baby isn’t the only one crying, especially on a delayed flight that still hasn’t taken off.

Then came the moment I had been waiting for, an angry passenger who had had enough of my little boy. It came from the lady behind but in the strangest form imaginable. This lady had got out her phone, disabled airplane mode, logged into Facetime (it could have been skype or hangouts or what not, I didn’t look) and then had a very loud chat about the poor conditions, screaming baby in front (Max) and behind (unknown baby) and just for good measure the people in her row who were “speaking Spanish very loudly”. In fairness, I had expected some kind of confrontation but the whole situation was rather diffused by the fact it wasn’t directly at me.

I’ve learnt a fair amount this past year or so, and one of the biggest is definitely that parents are forever trying to keep control of their children and never want them to be annoying to others. I actually help other parents more and more now that I am one myself and having actively rude people doesn’t really help anyone.

Once the plane had finally taken off we entertained Max as best we could with every snack you can imagine and several toys that we weren’t that bothered if he lost.

My biggest tip about the whole experience is, do not open your child's sucky water bottle at altitude. Trust me it will soak you and your aisle. The bonus, however, is that if people have been unnecessarily rude about you during the flight it annoys them even more.

One thing that has struck me about my whole journey is the lack of child-friendly stuff. By stuff I mean that no one wants to be stuck on a flight with screaming children, so why not have family friendly flights? At least you know what you are getting yourself into that way. I’d pay a little extra for a bit more room, maybe a little play area or some kids TV; anything to get them through the flight really.

So if you don’t have a child yet and are stuck on a plane with one and wonder why it has happened to, stop and think that the parents are probably having a worse time and they will have to listen to those screams way-way after the flight has ended. So cut them some slack and if you can help out I am sure it will be appreciated.

You got this parents on a plane, stay strong.


Simon WheeldonComment