Long-haul Flying with a toddler!


16 hours – that’s how long it took me and The Choune (aka Thea, the 21-month old terror tot) to get from London Heathrow to Singapore Changi.

We went via Frankfurt because it was the cheapest option but unfortunately our Luthansa connection from FRA to SIN was cancelled due to some selfish-bastard pilot strike so we were slightly delayed and ended up on a Singapore Airways flight.

Actually this was probably a bit of a blessing as the Singapore Airlines flight was lovely. I had a bulkhead seat and a bassinet for the Choune, the food was good and the entertainment choice was fabulous. Plus they had HD screens – a definite improvement to the Tokyo flight on Virgin where every film was as grainy and distorted as if I was watching it on some illegal foreign channel on a 1980s “portable” TV!

We started well. The first flight was at 6pm and Thea was delightful and cute and everyone loved her.

Our layover in Frankfurt was fine – because of the strike the airport was eerily quiet but Thea liked the freedom of pelting about and lying on the floor for no reason – it took us almost three quarters an hour to get from one terminal to the next!

But then it all went wrong. Though Thea was cute and well behaved for the first hour, by that time it was 10pm she was utterly wired. I had hoped she’d sleep but no luck. The crying began at 11pm and it escalated and escalated as she got more and more tired.

I tried everything to calm her down: stories, milk, food, games, stickers, CBeebies magazine… I had quite a bit of success with Pepa Pig on the iPad but she doesn’t switch off when she watches TV so in the end it just made things worse!

Eventually at midnight she reached a crescendo of absolute beside-herself-full-on-melt-down wailing. I stood at the front of the economy section – essentially a stage – holding a screaming, thrashing toddler with an audience of a hundred scornful, disgusted, angry German and Singaporian faces glaring at me. No-one was sympathetic. Thea was the only baby in our section and I could feel everyone wishing they’d got a seat in another section without the wailing child… Me included! Just kill me now!!

Finally, finally, fin-a-ly, she went to sleep/passed out as I rocked her back and forth, my arms screaming with lactic acid build up. I gently lowered her into the bassinet. I’d tried before and triggered an apocalyptic response so this time I went slower than drying paint – I was actually surprised the flight wasn’t over by the time I got her in and my arms out from under her!

The hostess bought my meal back (as everyone else finished off their post-meal coffees) and I finally “relaxed” – ever ready to swoop in at the slightest hint of wakefulness.

Stupidly I decided to watch The Hobbit part II which is about 1,000,000-hours long! I was so exhausted but I just didn’t want to waste the minuscule bit of me time I might get. I had a wine and got “comfy” and when it was (finally) over I tried to sleep.

I am worse than useless at sleeping on planes. There is no sleeping spot I find less comfortable than an airline seat… Maybe a coach seat and in close second the Eurostar seats?? I would rather be given a bed of nails. At least it would be flat!

Fortunately Thea slept for five hours (I know because I watched them slowly tick by between snatches of exhausted unconsciousness) and woke in a relatively good mood.

She watched downloaded episodes of Mr Tumble on my lap while over her head I watched The Long Walk to Freedom and tucked into noodles for breakfast.

All was forgiven.

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