Three Into Four: Flying With A Two-Year-Old

23/10/2012 12:34 | Updated 22 May 2015
Three Into Four: Air Travel With a Two-Year-OldA Big-ger D hits NYC

I have good news: turns out that air travel gets easier with toddlers as they get older.

Unfortunately, this is partially related to parents being forced to purchase a full-priced plane ticket for their two-year-old, thereby allowing their squirming babe some space of their own on the flight but also bankrupting themselves in the process.

Daddy and I took D to my homeland last week – New York – for the third time. Scarily, it was our last time as a threesome (at 28 weeks, I've decided this is the last flight I'll be taking until post-arrival of baby number two).

Even though we have flown quite a few times before, there is always at least a six-month break between trips, which means Diana is at an entirely new stage of her development each time. So I am simultaneously experienced at travelling with babes and utterly clueless. Which is why I'm pleased to have picked up some useful pointers from this last trip.

Firstly, D loves luggage. It turns out the handbag obsession translates beautifully to large-scale suitcases, and she is particularly fascinated by wheeled trolleys – she insisted on wheeling our smallest one through JFK airport in New York and all over Heathrow when we landed (and managed to avoid a child labour scandal in the process).

Provided she isn't causing herself serious back problems, this was a big bonus for us since she was actually helpful, and provided some amusement for normally officious customs officers, who actually smiled, chatted to D as we passed through and didn't notice that our four overstuffed suitcases were about to burst from too much NYC sales shopping.

Secondly, moving walkways are your toddler's friend (provided you hold their hand and supervise them, of course!). D spent our pre-boarding time running back and forth from one to the next, which meant she was thoroughly exhausted by the time our flight took off (the 9pm flight time helped). Score: Diana slept for almost the entire flight!

Thirdly, travelling with two parents is not necessarily more helpful than being on your own. On the way to NYC, Daddy proved useful when it came to hauling luggage, but when asked to relinquish his iPad – which I had assumed was brought along to tame our two-year-old's mid-air tantrum – he refused because he was so enthralled with the book he was reading on it.

So I was the lucky person who spent two hours running up and down the limited economy aisle with D, who had insisted on putting on her jacket and was 'waiting for Bolshy' so they could go for their usual walk together 'OUTSIDE!' (she wasn't too impressed when she realised she wasn't going anywhere).


We returned to our seats to find Daddy grumbling and stressed out; apparently, he was vicariously parenting D from his seat and found it exhausting.


When he tried to explain to me that toddlers on planes were 'pure toil', I asked him how many pages he'd managed to read of his Game of Thrones book, and he mumbled something about 'only a couple of hundred.' At this point, I threw the tantrum, while Diana sat happily between us, watching Brave with no sound through broken headphones.

The most important lesson I learned that flight? If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: I slept through the entirety of the flight back while Daddy spent it propping up D's head with his arm, fearful that if he fell asleep and let D's head dip, she'd wake up. He slept a total of one hour, but did witness a rather epic commotion when a gentleman fell out of the toilet and the door came off its hinges (D and I allegedly didn't even stir).

All's fair in love and stressful-flying-with-a-toddler circumstances.

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