Hell Air by Rhianon

[advert:mpu]I’m no rooky: flights with kids require precision planning at which I was arrogantly coming to consider myself a pass master. Me & Roy have even swapped tips. So my eternal gratitude goes out to Ryanair for my recent, humbling experience. This time - after the usual, enchanting queues at Stanstead (“Don’t put that in his ear. No, that’s not for climbing on. Put him down, his ankles are delicate. Be good now, the men with guns are watching us.”) – we boarded without being told there was a wait for take-off. Very cavalier, a cheerful guy sat next to me and the boys countering my protestations with, “Hey, that’s fine, I’ve got two of my own...” I think it’s safe to say he lived to regret that.

One hour passes. Ds1’s enjoying the clouds of dust he brings up by repeatedly bouncing on his seat, singing Frere Jacques over and over and over again. He’s pulled his fold down tray off, exhausted Where’s Wally and lost every other toy we packed for the journey. He’s tired and thirsty: they won’t give me any free water and I’ve run out of money to buy their dewy fresh spring water from Swindle Mountain (nice man next to me lends me the £2 for a bottle. We gulp carefully.) At the end of the first hour they say they will let us off the plane but we then forfeit our flight. Ds1 BEGS to go. I resist because I can’t see that trying to find a hotel at 10.30pm in Bishops Stortford would be any less torture.

Two hours pass. Still no word on when/ if we will leave. Captain evidently hasn’t a clue either. Rumours fly up and down the plane about what’s going on but I can see from my watch we’re getting near a midnight landing – the witching hour for Bremen airport - and I’m wondering how keen those German air traffic controllers will be to keep their runway open for us. Ds2 has developed diarrhoea and our steward is having to pump the other mums for spare nappies. Have also run out of snacks, patience and sanity.

We’re heading for a three hour marathon: both kids still awake and totally revved up. The guy next to me is quietly cursing himself for sitting there as they trample all over his suit, the baby smelling of nasty, viscous poo. When we finally get the word that we’re off, ds1 has lost it so badly he’s helpless with tears and the baby – bless him – is quietly patting his brother on the head in sympathy.

Then, with this glimpse of the end, things suddenly get a whole lot less hellish. The little bubbling falls asleep as soon as we take off. Ds1 snoozes and quietly looks out the window (still singing Frere Jacques... argh!) and the man next to me buys me a beer. We agree we did a fantastic job, all things considered, and are about to celebrate with our second beer when they announce landing. I have never, ever been so glad to see Bremen.

So let’s review lessons learnt, shall we readers? Remember to always pack for a 48 hour wilderness survival hike when next going on a one hour cheap flight. Action rhymes rock but the hardcore traveller-with-kids should invest in lightweight portable DVD players – that’s what credit is for. Don’t travel with your partner – strangers are much nicer to you. Oh, and upgrade where humanly possible.

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