It was supposed to be an idyll. A tranquil flight in premium class on the famous Dreamliner chartered from the home carrier. Down below, beautiful views of Iceland, the ice-covered coast of Greenland, and the east coast of America. And there was no indication that those intoxicating 12 hours of flight would be disrupted until we learned that there would be 9 infants on the plane. This includes one of our own.
This flight was unique in many ways. It was our longest flight – we flew in further directions, but always with a connecting flight. This was the first time we had the opportunity to fly premium class. And finally, it was the first time we flew on an airplane in which there were not enough cradles for infants! There were 9 toddlers on board (under 2) plus several older children.
Behind us is a 12-hour (daily! because it’s important) airplane flight with a baby. Ahead of us is another one, this time a 13-hour one. We can’t hide the fact that it was the 12-hour flight that was our biggest concern, because we hadn’t flown that long with Olive before. Admittedly, we spent even more time on the road, but these were flights with connecting flights.
// See also our entry: First airplane flight with a baby!
You’ll find out how our flight to Mexico went (not just from the kids’ angle) in this post.
Table of contents
Why did we decide on Mexico?
Because there was an opportunity :) Yes, that’s one of the main factors why we decided to spend a week in the heat, when the temperature in Poland dropped well below zero (and that’s just the second reason ;-)). We wanted, on the one hand, to bask, and on the other hand, to be in a place where there is something to do in the area and you can organize day trips that will not be an ordeal for us and the baby (how it worked out in practice we will write in future posts ;) ).
What was the occasion? We paid £1,600 for a round-trip flight, direct from Warsaw, with checked baggage! It was a last minute price, we bought the tickets on Tuesday, and the departure was on Friday. It was this directness of the flight that was another reason we chose this direction rather than another. More comfortable, faster and cheaper.
We probably don’t need to mention the cultural aspects that prevailed that we decided on Mexico?
The flight to Cancun took 12 hours, and “only” 10 on the way back. Unfortunately, we did not have the option of taking a round-trip night flight. Instead, we had the opportunity to buy premium class one way at a good price, so we have a very fresh flight comparison: 12 hours in premium class during the day vs. 10 hours in economy class at night.
And do you know which flight went better for us? First! The one we feared more! And surprisingly, this was not just due to better seats and food.
Travel to Mexico: premium class
Premium class has a number of obvious advantages, which we were able to see for the first time, right on the flight to Mexico.
First of all, we have more legroom – with such long flights this really matters. In addition, we had a front-row seat with the option of a cradle (which we eventually gave up), so there was really plenty of room. We were able to quietly insert even a small suitcase on which we additionally rested our feet (yes, the footrest installed in the seat was insufficient).
Second, no one sat next to us, because there are only two seats in the rows under the windows – obviously wider and more comfortable. This gave us the added comfort that we wouldn’t disturb anyone, and Olive would have an easier time getting to the hallway.
The premium class is also said to have better food, but it didn’t suit us. Or put another way, we didn’t appreciate it until we were returning in economy class. And it’s not even about the quality of the food, but the quantity. We flew charter, which was governed by different rules than a cruise flight, so the mere fact that there was a meal is already something (it often happens that even on long charter flights there is no meal included in the ticket price). Unfortunately, two small meals for a 12-hour flight were not enough for us, especially since they were served one right after takeoff and another just before landing.
Of course, you can buy snacks on board during the flight, but it’s a good idea to bring your own food or buy at the airport. Unlike economy class, in premium class we had additional drinks plus spirits served with the meal.
Premium class also had some less obvious benefits: right in front of us was the aisle between premium and business class, with the plane door. It was an extra space where Olive could walk in peace, look through the windows and not disturb anyone. There were fewer passengers in this part, of the children only one little boy besides Olive. It was very quiet and peaceful.
In addition, we ended up with fantastic people around us who were very open and willing to talk. They approached the children with a smile, entertained and accosted them. The atmosphere was smug, and the flight passed very quickly.
Return trip: economy class
We had no concerns about the return trip. It was supposed to be shorter, an overnight flight, so there is a chance that everyone (including children) will sleep. Economy class was not the least problem for us, after all, we have flown this class more than once (even on the exact same model of plane – to Beijing).
After the first flight in premium class, the seats in economy class turned out to be somehow strangely cramped, and legroom something too little ;) It is known, a person gets easily attached to comfort. As soon as we took our seats, we looked around and found that Olive would have good company to play with – there were 4 children of similar age within the range of two seat governments.
We rejoiced, but our joy was not shared by the gentleman who came to sit next to us – seeing that he would be sitting next to a child (and actually between four children) he only rolled his eyes and muttered ‘Oh god!’ Yes, we heard it! ;)
We don’t need to say that there was no willingness to communicate from both sides? The flight passed us in stress and squeeze. Knowing and understanding that someone is disturbed by children, we tried to be the least problematic passengers possible. And while on the parents’ side it was an additional discomfort that we could control, how do we explain to the child that he should now sit on the seat and not come up and accost the gentleman sitting next to him? Olive could not even hope to reciprocate the smile.
Unfortunately, a child won’t sit still for a few hours, a child can’t always handle emotions and doesn’t understand why this Mr. or Mrs. won’t even look at them. And how do children deal with stress and problems? Well…
Nevertheless, for such a large number of toddlers, it was relatively quiet and we even managed to catch some sleep. It wasn’t as comfortable and convenient as the premium class, but the important thing was that we could relax for a while.
We managed to exchange a few words with other parents who took their toddlers on such a distant trip, and guess what? We were happy to see how rested and smiling they returned to their country! :)
These two flights have given us a lot to think about. And it’s not a question of whether or not it’s worth paying for the premium class. They made us realize how much we depend on the fellow passengers we are given to travel with. So far, we’ve always had seats next to people who don’t mind toddlers on board. They often puzzled and entertained, and as a result, the trip passed in a pleasant atmosphere.
And by no means do we expect strangers to start taking care of our toddler. We understand that not everyone wants or feels like it – we respect that, because we ourselves once did not know how to behave in such a situation, but one thing is important: one smile has not hurt anyone yet :) And also remember that parents traveling with children do not have bad intentions, they just need to go on vacation sometimes too :)
With this post, we begin a short series of posts about the Yucatan peninsula. First entries coming soon… :)
We also recommend a post about our flight to Beijing, also aboard the Dreamliner, and other texts:
– 9 non-obvious benefits of traveling with a toddler
– First airplane flight with a child
– Traveling with a baby through the eyes of a dad:)