Our worst flying experience with kids

Our family are currently on our next adventure; four fun-filled weeks traveling around Indonesia, Singapore & Malaysia; I look forward to sharing photos and stories when we return home!  

when the girls were little I loved bring their carseats on the plane...made it so much easier & more comfortable for them than the airline seat.

when the girls were little I loved to bring their carseats on the plane…made it so much easier for me & more comfortable for them than the airline seat.

This will be our first time in Indonesia and Singapore but not our first time to Malaysia where we spent some time in Kuala Lumpur 5 years ago.  Leading up I was super excited for this trip; traveling with my family is definitely my alltime favorite thing to do, however, memories of our first trip to Malaysia made me a little nervous. I knew we had learnt A LOT since then but I still felt the nerves creeping in.

It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy our time in Kuala Lumpur, the food was amazing, the people friendly, plenty of sights, even the miserable heat didn’t put us off, not completely anyway!  It was more the journey TO Malaysia that sucked. It sucked A LOT.  

watching planes at Sea-Tac Airport

watching planes at Sea-Tac Airport

It sucked so much that I actually contemplated moving to Kuala Lumpur simply because we did not want to get on another long haul flight with our adorable 11 month old. To say she did not fly well would be a complete understatement.

At the time we were living in England and in her 11 month life we had traveled to multiple places in Europe, even taken a trip to America but that was only a ‘short’ 8 hour flight MUCH more manageable than the 13 hours it took to get from London to KL. Although I was thankful for all those other trips with each bringing its own set of learning experiences nothing could have prepared us for this particular journey.

we purchased these kid sized headphones just prior to boarding our flight from UK - Japan (via USA) I am so pleased we did, makes it much more pleasant for all passengers so they don't have to listen to kid movies too!

we purchased these kid sized headphones just prior to boarding our flight from UK – Japan (via USA) I am so pleased we did, makes it much more pleasant for all passengers so they don’t have to listen to kid movies too!

Since she was under 2 years of age we didn’t bother purchasing her a seat but opted for the ‘sit on your lap’ method in order to save some cash. A method that we vowed never to be repeated again regardless of how much money we would save; of course this thinking only lasted until it was time to book our next flight and now that our kids aren’t able to sit on our lap I sure do miss the cost saving.

chilling at a hotel in London pre-flight

chilling at a hotel in London pre-flight

Our ‘perfect’ 13 hour a night sleeper [at home] slept at best 2 hours, and if you have kids you know what happens to an overtired child, it’s not pretty and I assure you it was SO not pretty. I am pretty certain the entire plane of passengers were pleased to get off the plane just to get away from us!

When we finally exited the airport we navigated our way using public transport and made it to our hotel where Matt & I were more than ready to crash and naively thought Eden would be too.  Unfortunately she was SO overtired by this point, she didn’t know if it was day or night, whether she wanted to eat or sleep. The sucky journey extended into a sucky stay.

killing time at a terminal in Japan

killing time at a terminal in Japan

After a couple of days we finally seemed to have recovered, well our days now started at 6am instead of 2 am so that was a win, however we were still incredibly anxious because we had an upcoming 10 hour flight to get to Auckland, New Zealand.  I remember Matt saying to me “New Zealand better be f’n awesome after this trip”…and he will be the first to tell you it absolutely is!

Thankfully this flight went a little smoother, not a lot but a little; again we didn’t purchase a seat for Eden who wanted to spend the entire flight standing up and looking at people behind her, virtually no sleep, a lot of tears etc etc.

We then had an incredible month or so tripping around New Zealand mostly seeing my family but also stopping off at some of my favorite places to show Matt.  

sleeping on the plane [in the row behind me]

sleeping on the plane [in the row behind me]

Matt returned back to England while Eden & I took a trip to Australia before returning to NZ where I learnt a BIG travel lesson here. Just because I may be a NZ citizen holding a NZ passport and able to travel freely between NZ & Australia, I forget to a) arrange an Australian visa for my non-NZ citizen daughter b) forget to bring her outbound tickets leaving NZ to England so they (Australia) will let you on your flight back to NZ and not think your 11 month old is going to become an overstayer…I cried. 

3 hour flight delay in Da Nang, Vietnam

3 hour flight delay in Da Nang, Vietnam

The lessons didn’t stop there however, I made a huge rookie mistake. When I booked my returning flight, I knew that it was going to be a total of 23 hours flying time which also required a plane change in the middle with a minimal layover, yet I decided to tackle it all in one go.  Worst flying decision I have ever made.

The first leg of the journey was the absolute worst; a packed flight, the lights remained on the entire time, I somehow landed a non-bulkhead seat sitting in the middle; seriously why didn’t they get me the requested aisle seat and Eden virtually cried the entire time and finally fell asleep with only 1 hour left until landing and that was after me nursing her for what felt like hours and ended in her biting me. I shed more tears.

the girls love these moving walkways at airports, hours of entertainment to be had!

the girls love these moving walkways at airports, hours of entertainment to be had!

When we did land in Kuala Lumpur we had a few hours to kill before the second leg, in which I used my time wisely by finding an internet cafe and emailing Matt something along these lines… “this time I AM moving to Kuala Lumpur, I refuse to get on the next flight, if you want us back in England come and get us”.

Naturally by the time it was time to board the final flight I had calmed down and we boarded. Amazingly although not really surprising considering how exhausted Eden was, she slept all but 2 hours, hallelujah!

Naha Airport, Okinawa

Naha Airport, Okinawa

To this day, no other flying experience has topped this particular one, even with a second child nothing has managed to come close to this trip, thank goodness.

I think traveling with children has its challenges and I think like so many other things practice makes perfect, well maybe not perfect but with experience you gain knowledge; like don’t do 2 long haul flights back to back with an infant who does not have their own seat.

What has been your worst flying experience with children?

[sad that I wasn’t able to share any photos from our Malaysia/New Zealand trip but all photos 2012 and prior are gone]

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3 responses to “Our worst flying experience with kids

  1. Traveled to a certain someone’s wedding in Italy and Lulu slept 1 hour of the overnight flight. She insisted on watching Dumbo over & over again. 😊

  2. Great story Hannah! I have to say, your husband and you are troopers for taking on these adventures with your little ones. I can’t imagine having to go through the airport with kids, I can barely keep track of myself!

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