Annabelle was 14 weeks old when we took our first long haul flight. Finally the passport arrived, we got our exit permit (I can’t sing the praises of the FRRO enough! Believe it or not!) and we were on the next flight out of Bombay. It was the 2.30am British Airways flight direct to London Heathrow.
We bathed, fed and bedded Annabelle as normal at 7pm, then at 11pm we bundled her from her bed into the car. She stayed asleep until we reached the airport and then the commotion, lights and noise were all too much for her and she was awake from then on. My husband carried her in the Baby Bjorn and we checked the pram and baby seat onto the aircraft (it’s free to check these items in). I tried to keep Annabelle asleep for much of the waiting time as I didn’t want her to become over tired, it was pretty hard though. She was so alert. Perhaps as excited as us?
As soon as we boarded and belted up, just as we were taxi’ing I started to feed Annabelle. This had been my strategy. Let her have milk as soon as we are on board so that she is calm and quiet. It worked. She became sleepy and was put straight into the bassinet (on the bulk head seats). Annabelle slept for a good 5hrs of the 9hr flight. The other 4hrs was on and off. She became a little unsettled for the last 40 minutes, so I walked her around and shh’d her to sleep. Once again, I saved up some milk for the landing; we are requested to be seated and belted for 20 minutes before landing and I knew this would be a prime time for Annabelle to kick off.
Upon arriving at LHR we had a one hour transfer before our flight to Barcelona. We raced through the airport (thank goodness for the Baby Bjorn) and were queuing for boarding again before we knew it. I made a decision before we departed Mumbai that I would not pay any mind to other passengers if Annabelle was to kick off. Worrying about them would only make a potential hellish journey worse. As we boarded for Barcelona there were so many families, it was a day time flight and only 2 hours long. This helped considerably. Annabelle was pretty grizzly and fed up by now but luckily most people on board were relaxed and kind.
Ready for her Road Trip
When we landed in Barcelona we took a taxi to the villa, which was a 30-40minute drive away. The airline had left our pram and car seat at LHR so Annabelle sat on my lap. In fact I fed her in the car as well as she was pretty miserable by now. Once we arrived at the villa, Annabelle was snatched from my arms by loving aunties and not seen again for a good while. She did have one almighty break down. I have never seen her like it. Howling and howling and barely able to catch her breath. It was heartbreaking to witness, especially as nothing was soothing her, not rocking, cuddling or the boob. You know when the boob doesn’t work you’re in trouble!
My sister calmed Annabelle and she remained calm for the duration of the afternoon, but she wouldn’t sleep! She had been awake a good 5-6hrs (normally she can’t last over 2hrs). In the end my mum walked her into bright sunlight causing her to scrunch her eyes shut and finally she fell asleep!!
I was worried about the night time, but actually after a bath (in the sink) and a feed, we put her to bed and didn’t hear a peep out of her until 7am the following morning! That’s travelling East to West for you!
Returning from the UK I travelled alone, I was nervous but once again I made a decision to ignore the looks of disdain from other passengers. The air stewardess was so very helpful and I had a spare seat next to me, which was also a real help for just dumping things while I sorted out Annabelle. The flight took the same course as the previous one. She slept for a good 5hrs and then unsettled… Over all though I was pretty impressed with the ease of travelling alone. People are willing to help!
Shame the same can’t be said for people on trains. I took a 3 hour train journey, alone with Annabelle (is that an oxymoron?), from Oxford to Manchester. I had to stand in the vestibule for the first 2.5hrs. I wasn’t bothered that no-one offered their seat, (at least in the vestibule I was less concerned about Annabelle kicking off), because those people seated in the carriage probably didn’t know there was a lady with a baby out by the toilets. I did in fact have to squat down on the floor outside the loo and feed Annabelle. And who said motherhood wasn’t glamourous? I was pretty miffed to see that, when a seat became available (30minutes outside of Manchester) I spotted a man who had been standing in the vestibule with me for the majority of the journey. Pretty poor form that he didn’t offer a seat when it became available. But that whinging said, I preferred having the space of the vestibule and the fact that fewer people were out there to disturb.
On the train (still in her PJs!)
At the train station, ready for our journey
On the way back I had a seat reservation, and whilst boarding a train station representative said I could park the pram in first class and take a seat at the back of the carriage since it was so quiet. As I had just gotten myself sorted a Virgin representative came storming through all balshy saying you can’t sit here. I calmly said “oh it’s no problem I can manage standing, after all I had to stand all the way here”. I think she realised what she sounded like and then to give her her dues she couldn’t have been more helpful. But once again I was disappointed by the attitude of some of these people. Jobs worth. Haha
Anyway – my advice would be to walk on board with an attitude that’s ready to face anything. Don’t worry about what the other passengers think and don’t worry about how your baby behaves, just do what you can to get through the moment! Secondly, accept help. I found people were willing to help with the pram, my bag, this and that and it was very well received at my end.
We’re off to the South of India in a couple of weeks and back to the UK again in a few more weeks… let’s see how those flights go!