I discovered a while ago that the A380 is the best plane to fly on with children, not just because there’s more space to move around, but because there’s even a staircase you could use as a naughty step.
Whenever we fly back to London for our annual leave, I always make sure we’re booked on a superjumbo, and it definitely helps the ole pre-flight nerves to know that the boys and I will be able to have a little wander around after hours of being wedged into our seats.
Of course, as all mums who have to fly solo with their kids know, there are other things that would help too – like a third or even fourth arm to carry all the luggage; the physical stamina of a pack mule; a basic aviation knowledge (so as to answer questions such as How does the wind move?); and double-jointedness to make assisting a child in the bathroom easier.
But, the single most important thing, I now realise, that makes a big difference is the passage of time. And by that, I don’t mean the slow, ticking of time that extends every drawn-out minute on the actual flight. I mean your children getting older – and easier to fly with.
While queuing at security, I got chatting to a mum with a seven-month-old baby, and as she struggled with all the baby paraphernalia, juggled her little one, took her belt and shoes off, then, at the other side of the x-ray machine, pulled it all together again like a 100-piece jigsaw puzzle, I have to admit I felt like punching the air with joy that I’ve left that stage well and truly behind.
This flight, I didn’t even have the usual two-tonne carry-on luggage – my laptop case, filled with my MacBook, an iPad, a DS machine and a Kindle, sufficed. And saw us through the flight. Just.
What I hadn’t bargained on, though, was the overexcited, unsuppressable second wind that my boys would enjoy on their jet-charged arrival. At 10pm (1am Dubai time), and after a 12-hour journey from door-to-door without a wink of sleep, they were almost impossible to get to bed (“But it’s still light outside Mummy!”)
Thank goodness for grandparents, who like highly trained reinforcements, had taken over well before I hit the wall.