Just to assure you, we really did have a great trip, and we are so glad we got to have this experience. Our kids did such a great job traveling. There are also serious things to share about our time, and I will get to that. Our family has laughed till we’ve cried over this story for two days in a row. I thought some of you would appreciate knowing the horror of our last flight.
The only trouble with traveling for two weeks in Europe with only backpacks (no checked bags) is the tiny fact that ALL of your belongings have to go through security on EVERY flight.
Thanks to the TSA security story that broke while we were visiting our missionaries in Albania, getting home through security was not the breeze it was on the way over.
On our last day of travel we had been rushing all day, a small flight, a train, a subway, with a sick child in tow…and now we were on the last leg of a very long trip. A 10 hour flight home to San Francisco. (Non-stop, thankfully.)
Security at Heathrow was not for the fainthearted, and it was unfortunate that not only were we running late, but I was so busy helping that sick child get through security, I had forgotten what I was suppose to do for myself. Things like take my belt off, take my shoes off, take the money out of my pocket, take the bottle of hand wash out of my purse, take the scissors out of my purse…
Yes you CAN travel with scissors, the blade just has to be four inches or less. (Cause a four inch scissor blade never hurt anyone, apparently.)
Anyway, they took one look at me and said “oh that woman travels with scissors, we’d better stick our hands down her pants”. So first they sent me back, cause, belt. Then the change in my pocket. Then frisk. Then check down my pants, cause that’s where all normal women keep scissors. I almost smacked the lady, I was so taken off guard, but I had the good sense to realize that if I did that, we would miss our flight.
So by the time they had pulled aside three of our five bags to inspect, I will admit that my patience was getting thin (long day, sick kid, just had a lady put her hands where they don’t belong) .
I arrived at the special desk where they search purses for scissors…oh. Scissors? Uh yeah. Oh, kids medicine that had made it through security for 7 OTHER flights? Nope, not today at Heathrow.
Him: “Uh ma’am, these are 118 ml bottles, and regulation is 100 ml, and my boss is standing right here…”
Excellent. I think I looked at him silently.
Him: “You can just go downstairs to the pharmacy and buy more”.
Me: “Um nope, late for my plane.”
Michael could see trouble brewing, and when he heard me say “nope”, he grabbed the bags and helped hurry us along. He’s a genius.
Boy was I glad to get on that plane. But not for long.
On that flight, Michael was able to get a seat in the exit row for all of his 6’6″ self, and I was in the middle row (four seats) with the kids a couple of rows back. I dosed everyone up on their Dramamine, and settled back in my seat.
The plane hadn’t even taken off yet, when I happened to look over at Alyssa, who was whacking at something between her and Joel’s seat with her notebook. I first thought spider, but Joel looked unconcerned, so I looked closer, and it was the foot of the person behind her that she was determinedly smacking. (!)
Whack. Whack. Whackety-whack.
Alyssa! I reprimanded her…but I was giggling so badly, I could hardly talk. She explained that they hadn’t moved their foot when she put her arm on her seat, so she had gone the notebook route.
The guy behind her was completely covered with a blanket…we had no idea what he looked like.
At that moment, the guy across the aisle from Alyssa took out a large bottle of whiskey and poured a considerable amount into a glass. Plane HASN’T EVEN TAKEN OFF YET.
A few minutes later, it looks like shes arm wrestling someone on the other side of her. Now the guy has his foot on the other side of her on the arm rest, and as hard as she was pushing, he wouldn’t budge.
Michael took that moment to wander over to see how we were getting on…and got the flight attendant to help with the arm wrestling.
I decided it was time for movies. That is one of the fantastic things about British Air, they had a TV screen in the back of each person’s seat, with a LOT of movie options, all free.
Later we’ve had movies and a meal, when the sickest kid starts having problems. A few hours later, I had just gotten that one feeling better when someone else looks at me, white lipped. Uh oh.
“MOM…I’m not feeling very well.” (Very well is one of my favorite understatements.)
So, bathroom, at the back of the plane cause they’re all full at the front, I have become a semi-experienced traveler by now and know that only zip-lock makes tough enough bags to puke your brains into on the plane. (After a leaky puke bag incident on our flight over.)
Naturally, child doesn’t want to be sick alone in the bathroom, so they want me to come in with them. Oh sure. I’ll just grab my shoe horn and fit your sick self, and myself in here.
Back to seats. Green child. Sit down.
Man across the aisle is still drinking whiskey.
Second child: “MOM…I’m not feeling very well” more pale lips. Same deal, only this child is bigger, so getting them down to the back of the plane and squeezing into the bathroom with them is getting significantly harder.
I get Michael from his blissful escape over in the emergency row.
We take turns taking sick children to the bathroom, tripping over other travelers.
Man across the aisle is meanwhile drinking a lot of whiskey and watching us intently.
One of the children has a giant hole in their sock, so we walk up and down aisles into bathrooms with their large toe sticking out of their sock until Michael can’t handle it anymore and wants to know where their shoes are. In the overhead bin, of course. On the other side of the plane.
Okay, so he leaves the bag in the overhead bin to start unloading shoes, because he’s Michael, and tall people can do stuff like that…
Only he drops several shoes on top of two SLEEPING people in front of us.
I was laughing so hard as I heard him in a HORRIFIED voice, saying over and over “oh, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”. He said they looked at him like he was the devil. Uh yeah. We’re lucky that’s all they did.
Our eyes are huge. When will this be over?
Still taking turns walking with sick children to the bathroom.
The flight attendants decide that now would be a fantastic time to serve pesto sandwiches. The plane reeks of pesto. I look up to see Michael happily eating his. I look at him like HOW CAN YOU EAT AT A TIME LIKE THIS, YOU OGRE?!!
Incidentally, it had become much harder to take children to the bathroom with the “trolley” in the way.
But we managed.
On our way over to Europe, our family had spilled three cups of liquids in the space of 10 minutes during the chaotic puking/landing the plane adventure, so I knew better than to let people have open cups of anything at this moment. The only “well” child looked at me like I was a lunatic for not letting them pass orange juice over my head 45 minutes before the plane landed.
The flight attendants must have thought I looked a bit addled, because four of them offered me “a bit of tea or coffee” on their way through. They weren’t quite as helpful as they imagined they were as I was juggling children and the cleanest zip-locks back and forth.
We’d mostly given up on any sense of propriety, and had taken to walking across seats to get to where we need to go. There was kleenex everywhere, because the originally sick child also had a runny nose, and another child was continuously sneezing for no good reason. I think they were avoiding the reality of also being sick, passing it off as “being allergic to Europe”. We even brought a box of kleenex with us to the airport.
It was bad, people.
Finally one of them fell asleep, and one of them puked.
Good old trusty, overpriced, zip-lock bags.
The plane finally had the decency to land, so the man put his whiskey away. He had watched us more than he had watched his TV. We must have been the on-flight entertainment.