Travelling with an eight-and-a-half-month-old is very different to travelling with a five-month-old. For a start, Elijah decided that planes are not for sleeping. He fed on take off, but then preferred to look around and play musical parents than settle down for a nap. Then on the descent, he refused to feed altogether. I was concerned about the pressure on his ears, but there were no complaints from the boy at all. In fact, as we came in for the landing and things got super-loud, he looked out the window and jumped up and down on my lap, as if to say, "Again! Again!". Maybe a career as a pilot looms? He's definitely an adrenalin junkie.
Of course, this meant that he was totally hyped up by the time we got to Elijah's Nan and Pop's house and didn't go to bed until very late.
There is an art to transporting huge amounts of luggage when you have a baby. The first rule is don't put the baby in the pram. Why use up all that space, plus two hands to push the pram, when it would be better put to use transporting two pieces of luggage (one in the seat, one balanced on the foot rest) and the baby car seat (upside down on top of the hood)? Elijah was carried in the sling, I wore him and his backpack of essentials and pushed the pram and his Daddy wore our carry-on on his back and hauled the other two suitcases behind him. We got some strange looks, but at least we did it all without needing a luggage trolley.
However, in Brisbane, we discovered, to our anger and dismay, that one of the wheels on our pram was busted in transit. It's not as if it was flimsy either: it's a solid aluminium spoke that had been cracked. Here's a photo:
You can see the crack in the spoke, right near the hub, that rendered the wheel unstable and unsafe. What did the baggage handlers do? Drop it out of the plane before it landed? I was prepared to get on my high horse when I called the Virgin customer care number, but luckily for them, they were very concerned about the whole situation and told me that we'd most likely be reimbursed for repair or replacement. When they called us back, this was confirmed. All we needed was a quote and they would transfer the money.
So at least the staff were prompt and courteous when fixing the incompetence of the baggage handlers, and we were reassured that both airports would be informed of the damage caused so that more care would be taken in future.
Happily, there were no real problems (apart from a smashed present that was securely packed, but probably wasn't appropriate for this form of transport anyway) on the way back home.
Bugalugs was even more excited about flying on the return leg. While we were waiting on the tarmac, he was looking out the window at the other planes and the people walking around and started complaining because he wanted to go outside to have a closer look! Yet again, he fed on take-off and refused to settle for a nap. This time, however, he discovered that there were people behind us with whom he could flirt, as long as he climbed the ladder that is Mummy to look over the top of the seats. There was also a fascinating pocket in the back of the seat in front, which was fun to pull and hold while jumping on the floor of the plane. It also had menus that could be pulled out. Hours of entertainment! We drew the line at his ambitions to crawl up and down the aisle of the plane.
As we started the descent, I offered him a feed and he accepted. Elijah remained true to form and promptly fell asleep five minutes before arriving at a destination, irrespective of how long the actual journey was. Instead of rushing to collect our overhead luggage and impatiently waiting in the aisle for the doors to open like 95% of all airline passengers, we stayed on the plane for as long as we could after landing, to prolong the nap. It had been such an exhausting three weeks and if we have learned one thing over that period of time, it is take your rest where you can find it.