Have you ever taken a 9-hour flight with your 1-year old? Nobody told me it would be as difficult as it was. Oh my God!!!
My daughter is usually playful and always refuses to stay in a spot for a long time. She hates to be stationary, always on the move and she has this unbelievable swagger for a 1-year old. 13 months after she was born, my wife and I decided to take a vacation to the UK via Tripoli. We were really looking forward toward seeing my senior brother and his family that we did not give enough thoughts to how sitting on the plane (sitting still for a period) would affect our playful 1-year old.
Lagos to Tripoli trip was crazy. It started as soon as the cabin crew asked the passengers to belt up. My daughter dislikes restriction and she considered the seat belt a restriction. She shouted at the top of her voice as if the pilot would come and save her.
As an infant, she had no seat and had to sit on my laps. The 5-hour trip felt like 20 hours for me; Kate constituted so much nuisance to everyone on board. Many eyes were fixed on us as if we were pinching her. Some passengers could not believe that a child would be crying that badly except she was being beaten; welcome to my world. Kate does not ask for too much; she just likes to play.
All she was asking for was a little freedom to move around in the plane, notwithstanding that the flight was bumpy. The embarrassment was crazy. It was a night flight and because of my family, most passengers could not sleep in the economy class where we were. Funnily, even till date I cannot remember if foods or drinks were served in that flight; I was probably too troubled to remember.
Tripoli to London flight was great for the other passengers. Kate slept all through the 3-hour flight. Did I enjoy the flight? Partially. At this point in the journey, I was feeling irritated as my clothes were really dirty. I felt I needed a warm bath and change of clothing but we were at least 6-hours away from respite as our final destination was Birmingham.
Then Gatwick Airport. The plane landed, I carried Kate delicately so that she would not wake up. At the Customs post, the queue was long. Apparently, about 4 airplanes landed at the same time and we all had to go through the same terminal.
Kate woke up and wanted to go up and down the long queue unimpeded. Initially, I obliged and would walk with her down the line and back. We spent over an hour on the long customs queue before we even got into the main hall. By this time, madam Kate was feeling tired and irritated that even with all my perseverance, she had started crying. Initially the crying was mild, then she gradually upped the ante until the whole place became unbearable.
There were still at least 20 people ahead of us when the Custom officer at one of the desks called out to us. The lady stood up, pointed at us where we were on the queue and asked the Airport security to allow us jump the queue. Apparently, Kate’s noise got to her and she could not bear it again. We passed through immigration and off to Birmingham we went.
My wife and I enjoyed the vacation until we had one week left. Our discussions for the remaining week was basically centred on how we would cope on the return flights. The anticipation of the ordeal to come was scary but surprisingly, it went really well. There was a 2-hour flight delay at Gatwick on our return; trust my daughter, she played really had at Gatwick that she virtually slept all through the flight till we got to Lagos.
Okay, a little confession. Kate had mild cough during our stay in the UK and was given a cough syrup that made her sleepy. By the time we were returning, the cough had subsided and she had stopped using the syrup. Did I really consider giving her a dosage before the trip? You bet yah. But did I? Nope. All I did was pray and God heard me.
A piece of advice; if you are travelling with a small kid, try and avoid connecting flight if possible. Wear clothes & colours that can accommodate dirt and get yourself ready mentally….my 2 cents.