We have just returned home from an amazing 20 day holiday in the USA. Are we crazy? I hear yourself ask. What would possess you to take your twin toddlers on a nine and half hour flight? Well my youngest brother was marrying his American bride and we weren’t going to miss it!
I have to admit that, for me, the most terrifying aspect of our holiday was the flights. Not because I’m a nervous flyer, quite the opposite. I love everything about flying right down to the food they serve you (sad I know!). But because we were travelling with two children under two and a four year old. If you are unaware you do not need to pay for a seat for a child under two (just the taxes) as they are expected to sit on your lap. This sounds fab in theory: cheaper flights as we only need to pay for 3 seats. Reality not so much. I had spent a lot of time researching which airline to fly with. In the end I chose British Airways (BA). They offered a few special toddler seats on the flight, early boarding for those with kids, the ability to choose your seats at no extra cost and the twins even had their own baggage allowance. Score!
I had travelled domestically with the twins (and Finlay) before. So I knew you were allowed to take your buggy right to the gate. But I was not aware that if we wanted our buggy returned to us in London before boarding our Orlando flight we would need to collect it from luggage reclaim and go back through security. We (stupidly) decided against this and instead chose to say goodbye to our buggies at the gate in Glasgow to be reunited in baggage reclaim in Orlando. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
We arrived in London: David and I carrying a twin and rucksack each, my sister holding finlay’s hand as he dragged his suitcase behind him. I also had a snack bag over my shoulder and David was juggling two small rucksacks belonging to the twins. We looked like a family of hillbillies! We shook our heads as we passed baggage reclaim and entered security again. If only this had been explained to us we would have opted to collect our buggies. We struggled as we had to unpack everything from our bags while juggling the twins who were perched on the worktop beside the plastic trays. We then had to usher them through the “X-ray” machine while we waddled behind hoping it didn’t buzz. Well of course it buzzed on David, my sister, Isaac and Finlay. So I was left at the other end with a crabby Autumn and 6 bags to repack!
We left security and fortunately stumbled upon a soft play for kids. We let the kids run free in there and sat back to rearrange everything before we boarded our next flight. Once at the gate for our nine hour flight, we were fortunately called to board first. Finlay took one look at the First Class seats as he walked on the plane and exclaimed: ” This plane is amazing you get a bed!” I had to let him down gently and explain our seats were further back!
I had reserved the seats with space for a toddler car seat. This meant we had extra leg room. For take off and landing (and when the seatbelt sign was on) the twins had to sit on our knees with a baby lap belt. During the flight they were allowed to sit in a baby bouncer chair. A table flips down and they strap the chair onto it. This was amazing for David and I as it meant our hands were free to eat our dinner or read a book.
My high hopes of the twins sleeping for most of the flight were shattered when they awoke from their nap 20 minutes later. They powered through and managed to make it to America without anymore naps. They did however spend most of the flight strapped in their special chairs. They shared Finlay’s meal as they were not provided with their own one and munched on the various snacks I had taken as back up. When the screaming got too much to bear we let them out and they walked between the aisle hugging and kissing each other.
Nappy changes were also an experience. If you’ve been inside a plane toilet you will know how tiny the space is. I had never noticed it before, but above the toilet is a latch. Pull on it and down folds a table which is for baby changing. Neither of the twins enjoyed this experience and both began screaming when the toilet was flushed!
On reflection the flight to America was much better than the flight home. No amount of being organised would have helped on the way home. We were flying through the night so I (foolishly) thought the twins would sleep – insert face slapping emoji here!
This time round they were adamant they would not sit in the bouncer seats. They spent most of the night screaming and nothing we did or gave them would calm them down. And when Isaac did fall asleep the seatbelt sign was switched on which meant I had to take him out of the chair. But the worst by far was when we arrived at the gate in Gatwick for our Glasgow flight. Without any warning Isaac starting vomiting. Bits of half digested fruit were flying everywhere. I did what any mother would do and started catching it in my hand. David had to wipe him down with only baby wipes and change his clothes, while I ran to the nearest loo to wash my hands. Drama over… till we boarded and he puked again all over David’s clothes and trainers.
Needless to say we have decided to delay anymore long haul flights till the twins are at least six or seven! But saying that the twins and Finlay did exceptionally well on the holiday. They coped with the heat and challenges to routine really well and seemed to enjoy all that America had to offer. It has definitely made me more confident to holiday with our gang again. So much so we have just put a deposit on our summer holiday for next year… Eurocamp in France and this time we are driving!