I have to admit that my biggest apprehension about our recent Christchurch getaway was how CJ would function on the plane. He is an active wee button and having to sit still for long periods of time is not one of his virtues. I figured my best would be to give him as much information as possible so as soon as I purchased tickets for him, I started talking about going on a plane and about friends of his that had going on planes. A couple of weeks before we flew, we went out to the airport to look at planes taking off and landing and talked about what would happen. We even snuck down a side road and managed to see a plane up close in a maintenance hanger – that, I think, was his favourite part.
We also watched the heck out of an episode of Bubble Guppies called Gup, Gup and Away:
CJ is very picky about his TV watching and is really only into watching four children’s shows – Bubble Guppies being the only one with a plane episode. We’d watch it at least a couple of times a week and talk a lot about how they had to sit in their seats with the seat belt on for the plane to take off – “wow, look at them all being patient and sitting in their seats!”.
Being newbies to flying with kids ourselves, we arrived at the airport early-ish. We checked in at the kiosk and then took our car-seat and stroller down to the oversized/fragile baggage area. Having one person in charge of CJ and one in charge of the admin was hugely helpful! It was then off to the food court for a quick fuel up before going through security. In the interests of efficiency I wore CJ through the metal detectors – as you can see he was not particularly rapt about that situation.
Once through security we let CJ have a bit of a run around. I was a little disappointed that the gate lounges seemed to have very little in the way of keeping kids occupied – Auckland’s International Terminal has fun puzzles on the wall but there was no such luck at the domestic terminal. The JetStar gates weren’t in use so we let him run wild in that waiting area. Then it was plane time!
The Air New Zealand flight staff were super helpful at getting us sorted on the plane. CJ, once he’d decided to sit on daddy for the duration of the flight, was pretty awesome. He had a new Paw Patrol toy that he drove all over the tray tables and demolished his way through the in-flight snack of cassava crisps. The only tears we had was when we said we didn’t want any drinks and then the guy next to us got a water – someone was very upset that we hadn’t asked him if he wanted a water! He really did handle the whole situation like a pro and we even had some fellow passengers comment on how well he’d flown as we landed in Christchurch.
Flying back, CJ had the start of a cold and we were a little worried that things weren’t going to flow so smoothly. We stopped for Coffee Culture coffees (my can’t-miss in Christchurch) at the terminal and were delighted to find that they have a kids playroom attached complete with little peepholes through to the check in area – we’ll definitely be utilising that again in future. Through security, the waiting area was also very kid friendly with rocking horses and big cushy ottomans for kids to clamber all over. We got to walk out on the runway to board the plane which was so awesome that CJ’s eyes were practically bugging out of his head. And then completely worn out from all that fun, CJ slept all the way home.
I know that we probably won’t always be this lucky but it’s awesome to have had this experience straight out of the gate. Papa M and I love to travel and it will be a big part of CJ’s life too – especially now that this has gone well. Next leap will be international flights and we can only hope that it goes as swimmingly as this did! Some may think that I excessively prepared CJ for this travel experience but I think it’s only fair to give him all the information so he can be prepared for new experiences – I know that I feel much more at ease if I do.
Do you have any tricks for flying with little people? I’d love to hear them.