Hell hath no fury like a mammy on a plane

Queuing for the night flight from Heathrow to Dubai with three kids, four hand luggage items, I get a growing sinking feeling about the availability of the inadequate bassinette. Far from considering myself a seasoned traveler however, I have had of recent years intensive and extensive experience in travelling with children both old and young over the past few years, I have adopted a certain persona when travelling long haul, keep calm, be organized, keep calm. This sense of calm is hard work and can be fractured easily, any hitch can cause a crack resulting in the shattering of same, not a pretty picture and one I try to keep to the back of my mind, but that was three years ago, on a ninety minute with a no frills airline and if I didn’t smack her, someone else would have! Ironically travelling with an Arabian airline on an eight hour flight from London with young kids is a walk in the park compared to domestic travelling within Europe. Service, attention to detail and all the spirits you can drink all make long haul travelling almost easier that short trips. So boarding the flight and taking our seating positions in front of the baby’s cot, which is a cardboard box strapped onto a plastic shelf all seemed rosy. For the third time in recent months I had lied about my baby’s weight, I looked straight into the eyes of the air hostess and told her he was just under 10kgs (the weight restriction for the bassinette) I could see the doubt in eyes casting a shadow on my integrity as she looked at my little darling whose fat legs were wedged between the armrest and the seat as he struggled to fish the last few Monster Munch from the torn packet, in that moment he looked all of his 14.5kg’s, but I had to weigh up the options, being honest with the tiny Thai airhostess or sit with baby on my lap and get a numb arm for six hours, feeling a little bit of a bully as I stood taller and broader than she but it was no competition, I continued the lie, it was down to a battle of wills, I won. I nestled into my seat with smug satisfaction and started my babies bedtime routine. Two spoons of calpol and a severe lack of eye contact he was asleep within five minutes. Me- time was here, I took to the shopping magazine and kicked off my shoes. Calm didn’t last long as the contrary of the seasoned traveler fumbled in beside me, a couple of holidaymakers with their knackered two year old, who was holding a stuffed camel half her own height and possibly twice her waifish weight. The accoutrements didn’t stop there, as they took out her flight pillow, portable dvd player, various sippy cups and enough snack packs to feed a crèche. My calm was ruffled but in-tact. Five long minutes later the overprotective Mommy continued to dole out sucky sweet, hand-cream, reading material and every other kind of on-board assessory you can imagine. Their excitement about their two week holiday to Dubai was palpable and highly annoying. My calm was showing signs of strain. Breaking point came when the plane was taking off and Mommy produced a book titled, My First Flight to little Izzy. The over-stimulated toddler continued to get more and more excited and the risk that she would wake my sedated sweetheart was becoming a real worry. Minutes later my calm ruptured as the happy family started signing, “we’re all going on a summer holiday”, exactly the kind of enthusiastic attitude I hate. My body temperature along with my sauv blanc were both getting warm and my baby, packed tightly into the bassinette was beginning to stir, to say no wriggle room, would be an understatement. “Please may we move seats, there are three seats in a row back there, can my baby and me take them?” “Ma’am, I am sorry for restriction for baby to have own seat is 14kgs, but as your baby is not even ten, this is not possible”, I stared deep into her eyes, with that look of, “hell hath no fury like a mammy on a plane” she said no more, just helped me move.

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