Allie Goes For A Plane Ride

This month we took a two-week family vacation to Maui – it was lovely there. Less so was the travel day on each end. Our flight to Maui was via Vancouver, taking us just over an hour to Vancouver and then another 5.5 hours to Maui. The flight home was (thankfully) direct and took just 6 hours. For those who don’t know my daughter, Allie is 18 months old, strong-willed, rambunctious, and vocal (like an air raid siren). The prospect of Allie in a sealed aluminum tube filled with people for 6 hours was, to say the least, worrying. Not to mention the fact that Dana is 4 months pregnant. So we brought toys, books, snacks, and an iPad loaded with games and movies to keep her occupied. Sigh. The best-laid plans of mice and men…

Our flights down were the day after Dana’s parents’ which meant it was just three of us for the hop to Vancouver and then onto Maui. You know it won’t be a good day when you have to wake your 18-month old at 4:30am. Allie did okay all things considered on the trip to the airport, through security (thanks to the Edmonton International Airport folks for fast-tracking us), and flying to Vancouver. The only trouble came as we landed and Allie couldn’t equalize the pressure in her ears; fortunately Dana’s quick-thinking got her to drink water out of a medicine dropper. Okay, phew, onto the next flight. But first a speed bump: the airline couldn’t find our bags and we almost missed our connecting flight while we waited for word that our bags had been transferred. We literally ran to the gate and boarded during final call (we were pleasantly surprised when our bags slid down onto the baggage carousel in Maui).

Now on the plane, we settled in and I was hoping Allie would grab a few hours of sleep after a quick lunch. Within 30 minutes of takeoff and little protest, Allie was out and Dana and I were looking forward to a few hours to rest as well. Allie made it 75 minutes. Seventy. Five. She would have gone longer but it was at that perfect moment when our over-exuberant flight attendant loudly announced that he knew people were trying to sleep and, oh, by the way, they’d start meal service shortly and, just one more thing…. Allie’s eyes popped open and she wailed to get out of her seat. Thank you, sir, thank you so very much. For the next four long hours she snacked, she played, she read, she watched the iPad for 39 second-intervals, she walked me up and down the aisle, she sat in her seat, she got out of her seat. Thankfully her ears didn’t bother her during landing and, with luggage in hand, we truly began our holiday.

Twelve days later, we left paradise behind as we boarded our six-hour flight home.

Allie was in much better spirits having been able to get a full night’s rest, a small nap, and a good meal leading up to our departure. Moving through the lines to check-in for the flight, go through security, and eventually board the plane were spent playing Pick Me Up, Put Me Down with Allie. When we left at 2:30pm (HAST) she was still doing well and we crossed our fingers that she’d go down for a nap about 30-60 minutes into the flight. Ha, silly parents, who are you kidding? We blew through that nap window and it was only a matter of time before Allie melted down. Fortunately, Dana’s parents were on the flight so we took turns playing a series of games with Allie: Pass The Lunatic, End-to-End Aisle Relay, Toy Toss, Hop on Pop, Writhe and Shriek, Stampa on Grandpa, and World’s Shortest Attention Span. At one point I was walking up and down the aisle and noticed a woman with her son who was OUT for the whole flight. Her secret: Gravol. We’d forgotten to try this with Allie before flying – next time, though, I’m going to be all over this.

Five hours into the flight it was Allie’s bedtime and she went into full-scale meltdown. I battled and bargained to get her into her car seat and was rewarded with a temporary hearing loss for my efforts. But for 60 minutes she slept. She even slept through the landing. It should come as no surprise that it was with great sadness when I saw her eyes open as we pulled up to the gate. Sigh. Okay, almost home. From the plane we made our way through Customs, walked up and down the stairs as we waited in the baggage claim area, and finally made it home to the comfort of our own beds. Victory! We’d successfully travelled to Maui and back with an 18-month old in tow.

Will I will fly again with young kids? Yes. Do I know how soon that will be? No. I need some time to recover first. Months of time. Maybe years.

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