In October, Baby M and I went to the United States, just the two of us (“we can make it if we try!”). The first flight was at the crack of bum from our small airport in Calabria (Lamezia Terme, airport code SUF for the curious among you) to Rome (FCO) on RyanAir. Despite being woken up at three a.m., bundled up, and shuttled into her least favorite spot in the world (car seat in a car…on a plane is a different story altogether, apparently, which we’ll get to in a bit), she was quite pleasant waiting for the flight.
She munched on a banana and attempted to crawl around on the filthy floor at the gate, trying desperately to corral all of the empty and half-empty water plastic water bottles that littered the terminal. The floor seriously looked like there had been a water bottle war and many, many plastic little lives were lost.
And then came the flight. M slept for the entire one-hour experience.
It was, in a word, fabulous.
At Rome Fiumicino, we got the Royal Treatment by the US Airways staff—not even being sarcastic here. It didn’t hurt that an Italian woman on the shuttle bus between terminals had befriended me; she happened to be on my flight to Philadelphia and was flying Business Class, so she marched me right up to the check-in desk with her and the US Airways folk took it from there.
They were *awesome,* literally escorting me and carrying my “oh-my-god-how-are-you-going-to-manage-that-ginormous-thing” car seat from check-in to the nursery (who knew there was one?), which was actually quite close to my gate.
The nursery at Rome Fiumicino, by the way, was a small room tucked back in a corner with one chair, a counter with a changing table, and a very tall, colorful stack of blocks, but hey, it was private and it kept M calm and happy and not overstimulated by the gazillion well-meaning people who wanted to coo over her (which happened later at the gate).
A few hours later, we boarded the transatlantic flight, armed with snacks, toys, and more than a little trepidation. That last part was just me. M was pretty cool about the whole thing until I had to make her stop playing in her car seat in order for us to, yanno, board the plane. Then she became a screaming banshee and the object of many a rolling eye that pleaded silently, “Please don’t let that miserable baby be sitting near me!”
In my pre-flight prep, I’d read that calm babies at the gate become terrors on planes and vice versa, so I was hoping upon hope that the old adage held true for M.
Oh, and yes, I did purchase a seat for her even though I didn’t technically have to for a child under two years old.
Hats off to parents who enjoy having their baby/toddler in their lap for ten hours, but I wasn’t about to even attempt that.
And as it turns out, this was a wise decision as the “fasten seat belts” sign was lit for the ENTIRE FLIGHT across the Atlantic, which mean that every time M would so much as stick her little nose into the aisle, I got either a hairy eyeball or an actual verbal reprimand from a flight attendant about how “Ma’am, she can’t stay there….”
As if M had been planning on staying in any one spot for more than three seconds anyway.
Yes, I know the kind flight attendants were only doing their jobs, but there didn’t end up being any noticeable turbulence. At all. I mean, not that I was hoping for any because we know that babies can become pint-sized missiles in the case of turbulence. Did I mention I read *a lot* of information pre-flight?
Figuring they couldn’t really yell at me for having to pee and/or change a diaper, M and I made a lot of trips to the bathroom (a whole two rows behind us) and back. And forth. And back. And forth.
So that was awesome.
Luckily the only people between us and the bathroom was an elderly (late 80s?) Italian couple who spoke English as well; the male was on the outside and quickly became M’s airplane nonno, as I called him, i.e., one of the five people you meet on a transatlantic flight with an 11-month-old. Or at least we did.
Leave them wanting more, they say. So until next time….