17 hours on a plane with three kids under six!

Does the thought of a long haul flight with young kids put you off even stepping out of your front door? Well to be honest it should, but the good news is, you WILL survive and have plenty of stories to tell long after the event, just like I am doing now.

Travelling from Auckland to Dubai on the 17 hour flight seems like a great idea right? Well it did to us. 'Let’s just get it over and done with as soon as possible' we said. 'It's a night flight, we'll get on the plane, have dinner and the kids will fall asleep for most of the flight' we said.’

It sounded easy, almost idyllic in our heads, the kids would go to sleep and we – the parents who barely get to finish a sentence without being interrupted could actually spend some ‘us’ time chatting and looking forward to the adventures ahead.

Once we checked in 7 bags, 2 bikes and three car seats, passed through two more queues via passport control and security we boarded the giant bird, with three excited, very tired and overly hungry little people – bear in mind it’s nearly 8pm by now.  We took off on time, around 8.30pm and once in the sky, dinner was served around 10pm – now I could go into detail about the kids meals and the fact that they missed one so there was a half hour wait for one of our babies to eat, but I won’t.  We all finished eating, dinner was cleared and the lights dimmed – so now around 11pm.  I put the girls into their PJ’s ready for ‘bed’ and they asked if they could go upstairs to bed.  The realisation of sleeping in their seats was a very strange concept to them.

Now, one of the things we didn’t recon upon was that we have three very different, very strong minded kids. Jacob (6) was determined to play every game and watch every movie and avoid sleeping at all times!  Lilly (4) wanted to sing every song from Frozen and Moana at the top of her lungs, and Scarlett (2) desperately wanted to sleep but if in her seat it was going to be sideways across three seats otherwise she was going to scream the place down.

You guessed it – we soon became ‘those parents’ with ‘those kids’.  After a big episode of tears and shouting, I got Scarlett to sleep, the cabin quietened then about an hour later she woke up screaming, for no apparent reason, screaming so loud that she will have no doubt woken up most of the people in our cabin, settled back down, finally, then an hour later the same exact thing happened.  This carried on for about 5 hours, so yes, we were most definitely ‘THOSE parents’ with ‘THOSE kids’.

We arrived at Dubai just as the sun was coming up, with just about enough energy to navigate around the biggest (well if it’s not it felt like it was) airport in the world.  5.30am and 36 degrees, we had one hour to get to the gate for our connecting flight. We had to go down one lift the size of a small bedroom, walked to the underground train, where we held on for sheer life as it sped around what felt like a giant circle, then up again in a giant lift where we had a short walk to our next gate.

Find out what we recommend as your essential survival kit to take on the plane in our next blog.

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