- Joe slept no more than 4 hours at a stretch on the overnight flight from AKL to SFO (San Francisco). This was in part due to strange surroundings, but wasn’t helped any by the passenger sitting next to me who kept flipping on the light, sneezing (she must have had allergies), and watching the in-flight movies and music videos so loudly that we could hear it through the headphones. Her baby was sound asleep, naturally.
- About 3 hours into our overnight flight, I realized that the reason why the person sitting next to me looked so familiar was because they were a former patient.
- The airline lost 1 bag and our car seat. We got the bag the next day. The car seat came 3 days later. Thankfully, the airline gave us a loner car seat. The loner looked like it was being held together with cheap toothpaste, and it was the best of the bunch. I know, because I walked back into the storeroom to see for myself.
- We had 35 minutes to get from the check-in desk in SFO (where our flights were re-routed and consequently bumped up), through security, and to our departure gate. Doing this with a 5 month old, an overloaded nappy bag, a wheelie carry-on suitcase, a stroller, and Chris’ giant backpack took some doing. At one point, I was actually nursing Joe while walking and I did a nappy change in about a minute flat. That’s gotta be a record.
- One of our gates was surrounded by the biggest snarl of people that I’d seen at an airport. Of course, we had to get to the gate desk because when they’d re-routed our flights, they’d forgotten to print us an infant ticket. Getting through that mass of people was ridiculous, especially considering all of our gear. No one wanted to move and Chris is too polite, so I just said, “Excuse me! Coming through!” and
pushedmaneuvered my way through the throng.
- Joe had a screaming fit while waiting to board one of our flights. We were standing at the gate and the flight attendant called for “Elite boarding pass only!” for about 15 minutes. After awhile, no one was in the line so other people started to line up. She started announcing, “If your pass doesn’t say ‘Elite’, I don’t want to see you in my line!” Joe, meanwhile, was shrieking at the top of his lungs, I was near tears, and other passengers were trying to convince the airline attendants to let us board. I think that everyone wanted us to try to settle Joe so that, hopefully, they wouldn’t have to listen to him on the flight. They wouldn’t let us board, though. I don’t have a sense of entitlement when it comes to flying with a baby – I’m happy to wait with everyone else – but when someone, anyone is that upset, I’m happy to give up my place in line if it means that they’ll feel better. I wish that the airline would have done that for us.
- On our last flight from Houston (or was it Dallas…?) to Indy, Joe decided he’d had enough and began to cry and cry and cry. For 20 minutes straight. This was all while we were seated and waiting for the plane to pull away from the gate. It kept being delayed, the captain and flight attendants kept making in-flight announcements which freaked out Joe, and of course the lights were on in full force. I was exhausted from not having any sleep over the last 36+ hours, was burning up because of the close, cramped quarters and lack of air circulation, and utterly dehydrated from having nursed Joe so much (seriously – I don’t think that I needed to use the bathroom more than once in our entire trip… that can’t be healthy. and that was with me practically lunging for the water whenever the flight attendants passed by). I tried every trick in the book to get Joe to calm but it wasn’t working. The woman seated directly in front of us turned around rather violently and said something to Chris. I couldn’t hear what she said, but I could hear him and thought, “Wow – Chris sounds upset”, which for him means that he sounded very firm and direct.
- Joe eventually quieted, nursed, and slept for the final 2 hours of our flight. When we deplaned, I asked Chris what had gone on between him and that woman (who at the end of the flight turned around and was very syrupy-sweet to me and Joe). He said that she had turned to him and said, “Why don’t you try something?”, to which he responded, “She’s better at this than I am.” She said, “Well, obviously not. She must be doing something wrong to make him cry like that” (as though I were the reason why Joe was crying). Chris replied, “She knows what she’s doing – he’s just exhausted.” She huffed at him and said, “She clearly doesn’t have a clue about how to quiet a crying baby – if she did, he would have stopped crying by now.” This was when Chris used his firm tone of voice and said, “She knows what she’s doing. We’ve been traveling for nearly 24 hours. Our day started out in New Zealand and he’s just plain worn out!” She glared at Chris, harrumphed, and sat down with a ‘bang’ into her seat.
- All in all, every passenger that we encountered was kind, patient, and understanding if not thrilled about the fact that Joe was distressed. There were even a few people who came up to us (after the Air NZ flight and the flight from SFO to Texas) to tell us how impressed they were with Joe and that he must be a very relaxed baby to have traveled so well. It was just the time before boarding our second-to-last flight and the first 20 minutes of our last flight that were so frazzling.
I learned some things from this. I believe that the next time we attempt a cross-global flight, I’ll lobby for a stopover with hotel stay when we arrive in California. I also realized that packing certain things was ridiculous. We were so rushed the entire time, and when we were on flights I didn’t want to move for fear of waking Joe, so that getting anything out of our bags such as my Kindle or iPod wasn’t possible. I’ll also pack earplugs and a sleep mask. The last Air NZ flight I was on, these items were provided and I (mistakenly) assumed that they would be again. I really wished that I’d had them!
But, all’s well that ends well. We’re here, we’re happy, we’re healthy, all of our gear showed up, and we’re spending time with family. I’m dreading the return trip 6 weeks from now, but I won’t think about that until I have to.