17 July 2011

Singapore to Rome with a 2.5 yo and 16 hours flight

Okay, so there’s a little anticipation and nervousness regarding flying from Singapore to Rome as a solo parent with an under 3yo child for 16 hours for the first time. How will she travel? Will she have a tantrum on the plane? Will she manage to have some sleep? Will she get bored? These are just some of the questions floating in my head as we head towards Changi Airport, Singapore at 7.30am.

Check-in takes 10 minutes, the coffee is divine this time round and daddy is wondering how he will fill in the time for the next four weeks whilst his wife and child are gallivanting in Rome and visiting Aunty.

Clearing customs is swift and Trini can barely wait to get near the windows to see the plane. With camera in hand she snaps off a few photos that are quite impressive given her age.

Once boarded and seated, we await departure. Unfortunately it’s a busy morning at Changi airport and our take-off is delayed by an hour. Not so bad for me as it reduces our transit time in Dubai and alleviates some of the potential boredom arising from waiting for the next flight.

As lunch is served, I wonder if 11.30am is too early to start with a white wine. Of course it is only a passing thought since I request a small bottle anyway. The coffee follows suit which I am pleased to report is neither burnt nor bitter as experienced on other flights and yes, I have gone back for seconds.

The inflight entertainment collection is substantial but sadly most of the movies that would have been of interest, I had already seen. So I switched to comedy sitcoms and we busied ourselves with colouring in Cinderella until nap time. 

Trini awakens from a 90 minutes nap just prior to landing and a promise of ice cream raises her from a drowsy state and circumvents a whinging session which is typical of her when she just wakes up.

After 20 minutes of searching the enormous airport, I nearly despair in finding an ice cream vendor when in the distance Haagen Dazs presents itself in all its splendour. Relieved that I found it and it serves coffee, we settle ourselves with a serving of choc chip chocolate ice cream and a cappuccino.

The mere 1.5 hours that we had to wait here between flights went quickly and shortly thereafter we were seated and ready for our second leg of the trip. Trini full of beans and rested from her nap is ready for more Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland and Finding Nemo. Tangled gets some air time too and throughout it all Trini just simply loved the fact that she had her very own child headset. She stuffs herself silly with dinner and Milo and finishes off with a Kit Kat all over her face. The slight mishap with the pineapple juice was not too impressive since Trini ends up soaked and so does her seat. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a spare change of clothes, two blankets placed over the wet seat and another wine (keep mummy's disposition bright and all is good).

Time and kilometres are accumulating whilst our Singaporean body clock is nearing midnight and fatigue is setting in. A bit more coffee, a bit more wine, a bit more colouring and negotiations are commencing in order to keep Trini awake, calm and relaxed. Not surprising since with the exception of the 90 minutes nap she has been going for 17 hours and we are at least another two hours away from the nearest bed.

Sure enough 10 minutes prior to landing in Rome, Trini gives up the ghost and drops into a deep sleep. Needless to say waking her up was tough and found myself carrying my overhead luggage, a handbag, laptop bag and Trini with all of her 16 kgs. A quick monorail trip to the luggage belt and a ride on top of the trolley was all that was needed to liven her up again and within half an hour we were off the plane, luggage collected and through customs.

So, was the anticipation and nervousness justified? Not at all. This child was a breeze to travel with. She endured the length of the trip with little complaint. Of course the ice cream assisted immensely in Dubai and so did the doting air-hostesses.

We passed the time with eating, drinking, colouring, iPadding, movie watching, caffeinating and playing with toys. The hours melted away, we had quite a bit of fun and the mother-daughter flight became memorable.

Following 22 hours of being awake, I eventually surrendered to my bed, curled up to my already snoozing girl and succumbed to sleep with minimum struggle.