So, 36 hours straight of travel with a 15 month old…… crazy, right? Pretty much!
Not sure whose idea it was. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We booked the trip when she was 8 months old, and not running around and chatting non-stop. Fast-forward to 15 months old, and we were very worried about a small hyperactive person in an enclosed space for that amount of time. Oh well, no backing out. Two adults and 1 baby, how bad could it be?
Thankfully she was actually pretty good. We are here, in Paris, and we survived the epic journey in one piece. The same can’t be said for our luggage though. We had originally thought of splitting the journey and staying a few days in Singapore and/or London on the way here, but because we booked the flights using frequent flyer points we didn’t really have that option without using a whole truck load more points. We also thought we should just get it over with in one hit. About half-way through the Singapore – London leg we thought that may have been a mistake, when we had a very awake baby and the ‘time remaining on flight tracker’ was permanently stuck (or so it seemed) on 8 hours!!
Tuesday 8 October: so we finally got away from home about 11.30am. The animals were all looking a bit suspicious about the bags and activities and by now have probably figured out they were right to be suspicious. Lucky they like Uncle Mikl looking after them.
Leg 1 – Canberra to Sydney: A surprisingly helpful Qantas check-in person checked all our bags through to Paris for us, even though the last leg was ticketed separately. Yay, no lugging bags through Heathrow! We were somewhat skeptical that all bags would make it through 4 connections. Turns out we were right. We killed some time and energy in Qantas club. The flight was on time and Missy was really well behaved and entertained herself playing peek-a-boo with the flight attendant. Her mood was extremely jovial considering she had no day sleep. We feared what was to come given her current good mood and impending tiredness.
Leg 2 -Sydney to Singapore Our transfer to the International terminal in Sydney took forever. It left us with not a huge amount of time to kill once we got through security. Of course Miss A fell asleep in the ergo just as we got to Qantas club and about 20 mins before boarding commenced. Meaning we didn’t get to participate in the lovely gelato we saw there. We let her sleep on me since it had already been a long day. I did not achieve the parenting holy grail of managing to go to the toilet with her still asleep in the ergo. Obviously need to practice that one!
We boarded our 747 at around 4.30pm and prepared for our first long haul flight with a baby. We were in Premium Economy all the way to London and had read mixed reviews on whether or not it was worthwhile. We were pleasantly surprised. It was pretty much equivalent to domestic Business class as far as the seats and leg room went. We were in a bulkhead and could stretch our legs all the way out and the seats were also fairly comfy, despite not laying back far enough for our liking. The cabin is only 32 seats and is sandwiched between First and Business so is very quiet (they velvet rope you off from First) and has it’s own hostie and toilet. There were only about 10 in the cabin on the leg into Singapore so it was very quiet.
Miss Astrid was good on take-off and played a bit once we got to altitude. She had room at our feet in the bulkhead so that kept her entertained. Of course despite ringing and booking her a toddler meal, we discovered no meals had been ordered for her at all. For the entire trip. NOT HAPPY! Luckily she eats pretty much anything so was happy to share ours. The food is pretty decent as it’s the same as Business Class. Thankyou Heston Blumenthal for making some improvements to BA airline food! Still aeroplane food but not too bad. After some food and playing we convinced Astrid it was time for milk and a sleep and got her off to sleep in the bassinet. The BA bassinets are rocker style and fit bigger babies. She took some convincing but was asleep by about 8pm. She then slept most of the trip until they turned the lights on 2 hours prior to landing, to serve more food. Yay food at midnight!
The 7 hour flight pretty much flew by and despite Astrid sleeping but us not getting more than a few dozes it didn’t seem too bad, and we felt OK about the next leg.
Leg 3 – Singapore to London. We arrived into Singapore in the middle of the night Aussie time. It was quite a walk down to Qantas club but we enjoyed the leg stretch. We were all rugged up for the plane and it was a bit warm. Astrid amused her self by running around Qantas club in a furry suit, stealing biscuits and eating cheese. She got the undivided attention of every local and our trip through security was amusing as 30 people stop what they were doing to fawn over her. Back on the plane for the killer leg.
The nice British gentleman who was in the middle section in the bulkhead near us on the first leg, kindly offered to swap seats for this leg so we had 4 seats between us and more room to spread our junk. Again the cabin was only partially full, about 20ish people, and everyone gave us a wide berth 🙂 We got through take-off with only minimal whinging considering she had been woken and dragged around in the middle of the night. After about an hour we got the munchkin off to sleep in her bassinet. She was looking pretty shattered and slept through the middle of the night ‘dinner’.
We managed to get a few hours sleep out of her (and a small nap for us) before she decided it was 7am in Australia, time to get up! Here commenced a tough few hours while the rest of the plane slept and someone wanted breakfast and to run around. The lack of meals was a problem since we had to scrounge up some fruit and biscuits for her. Later (about 6 hours) they found me some cereal, would have been better earlier. We shuffled her between us for a few hours and distracted her with books and tv. We eventually tried getting her back to sleep as she was starting to lose it but every time we got her in the bassinet we hit turbulence and had to get her back out. That part of the flight really dragged. It had been dark for about 12 hours and we still had 5-6 hours to go, were tired and really wanted off the plane.
We eventually got her back to sleep and had a bit of a doze ourselves. Every time we woke up we would realise we still had hours to go. I swear the clock was moving backwards. Some middle of the night coffee and bikkies and movies helped pass the time. Miss A slept pretty well until they turned the lights on 2 hours before Heathrow and someone demolished a whole croissant and 2 tubs of yoghurt off her parents breaky. We were delayed on this leg by horrid headwinds and it ended up being close to 14 hours straight. Given we were only off the plane for about 1 hr 20 mins in Singapore, it was almost 24 hours straight on a plane with a small person.
Leg 4 – London to Paris. Very weary we trudged through a dark pre-dawn Heathrow terminal 3. I swear we walked 3km’s just to get to the long bus transfer to terminal 5. Which again was enormous. They are not joking about that airport being huge. It just kept going and going…. Security was being a pain and held us up testing Astrid’s water.
We eventually got out of there and negotiated about 7 escalators to find the BA lounge where we welcomed coffee (or a bottle of milk if you are Astrid) and a hot shower. We watched the sun come up over London and Astrid also discovered another few croissants and made a mess of the kids area but had a good run around. In typical Heathrow style the gate number for our flight only went up 30 mins before the flight at which point we had a nappy explosion issue and realised we had to run to the other end of the terminal to make the flight. Running was not appreciated by our weary bodies at this point but we made it in time.
The flight was short and served the best meal of the whole trip. Shame we were so not hungry! Astrid was losing the plot but nothing you wouldn’t expect from a 15 month old who was exhausted and very over travelling. We kept her from full melt down mode but only just, and were thankful to arrive in Paris, to a very grey and damp day. Yet another airport bus transfer and then through the very efficient immigration and the long wait for our bags. Final verdict was our large suitcase missing along with the stroller. The good news was that BA knew where they were, in theory at least.
Immigration was extremely efficient and customs non-existent so we made it to our transfer pretty quickly. We then commenced the hour long commute to our apartment. Despite the GPS our driver did circles for what seemed like forever due to the street our apartment is on being a) hard to find and b) not for cars. We eventually got there, even though it involved a walk down the street in the rain with a mountain of bags. Luckily Astrid had napped in the car and then fell back asleep in the ergo, so was non-plussed by the half hour wait in the drizzle for the person to let us in the apartment.
Finally in, we were relieved to see it did look like the pictures and was what we were expecting. We were less impressed that there was no cot, despite specifically booking one and confirming before we left. When we asked about the baby cot, he just shrugged and left. Very French, but not very helpful.
It was now only minutes shy of 36 hours since we left home. We were all very weary so grabbed some food from one of the many places literally on the door step and tried to get some sleep. A very over-tired baby did not want to sleep but we eventually got a few hours rest before heading out to find some dinner. It ended up being 10pm before we got Astrid back sleep (again in our bed due to lack of a cot) and she was up and ready to party at 1am. Still working on Aussie time! This made for a long first night. Anto and Astrid went for a walk around the streets at 3am. Anto did want to take her to a park but I thought it was a bit adventurous for a 3am jaunt. We finally got her back to sleep a bit before 5am and had another couple of hours rest.
All in all the 48 hours since we left home have been tiring but nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Astrid coped very well with the whole situation and we had not too many tears considering she had maybe 10 hours sleep in the 36 hours we were travelling. Well short of her normal 14-15 hours in 24. She did consume about a million biscuits and I’m very sick of hearing ‘bisc, peese, peese!’ (biscuit, please) non stop. We are glad we don’t have to do the big trek home for a couple of months. We will worry about that one another day!