Monday, May 25, 2015

Missing Buggy, Bugged toddler, 4 hours of Transit -You can't ask for more!

It is not new discovery that travelling alone with a toddler is not an easy job. So how do you go about it, you take advise from family and friends. Pack less hand-luggage. Keep enough food, toys, change of clothes, diapers, medicines, wet wipes, prescriptions ONLY in your hand-luggage. Wait I thought I could keep it light :( the spare clothes and diapers and snacks and toys...huh!

Right from the time of entering the airport gates the bawling had started, she did not want to sit in the buggy. This went on till we did our check-in, security check and finally after about 1 hour, I let her free at the boarding gate, and she was beginning to enjoy, when they announced that it was time to board the flight. In-spite of repeated requests that I need to get back the buggy at France airport, where I have a 4 hour transit, the Air France ground-staff (at the entrance of the air-bridge) told me to hand the buggy right there and that I can be assured to have it in France.

The whole 9 hour flight was not that great, she barely slept, but the good thing was she slept when they brought food and I gulped it quickly just for energy sake. The air-hostesses were very helpful, they gave her toys, tried to play and entertain her. I managed to take her near their bay to give her some 'on-the-feet time'. So far so good, we landed on time. A zillion thanks to this very helpful mom and daughter fellow passengers, who helped me with the hand-baggage and also with Avani as I was trying to figure out where to collect the buggy from. I got a shock, when I was told that I had handed it over before entering the Flight (to be precise on the air-bridge), and so will get it only at my final destination. The Air France staff assured me that I may get a buggy to use once I get the terminal. This meant walking the huge stretch with ample hand baggage and a toddler who just wanted to run around, after having restricted movement inside the flight. Woow, I knew this was going to fun!

The first hour and half went by smoothly as we sailed from one end of the airport to the other with me moving along the sign 10 steps, Avani moving backwards 5 steps and so on. She would happily find her way between the barricades and walk into restricted areas, and I kept wondering if I would get arrested for trespassing while trying to get her back on track. We tried to figure out the gate so that we could settle down near it, but 2.5 hours to go, so it was still too early. As luck would have it, all the buggies were in use and we had to continue the walk. All the walking had made her hungry so we both munched on some snacks, did a good round of walk and run around the empty set of chairs. All this was making us both tired. I wanted to figure out the gate again, and decided to go check at the counters. This meant taking the lift. She insisted on pressing the button, but I was too tired to have any more play and I refused. OMG what did I do, the tantrum alarm was set on. And she went on with her performance, with renewed energy thanks to the huge audience.

I could feel 3 kinds of eyes staring at me, first probably too young to have kids or those who have no experience with kids adjusting their headphones"Oh come on, I have seen enough crying babies for the day, not one more". The 2nd kind who have just been through this and with young kids themselves trying to tell me "Hold on, this phase will pass as well" and the 3rd who have probably forgotten how bad it was for them with their kids, ""What kind of a mother is she? Why does she not attend to the child?" I was almost in tears. I was trying to talk to her - No she would wail louder, lift her - No she would squirm her way down, give her juice- No, toys- No. There was no end to the tamasha.

I went to the counter tried to seek help with a buggy, I knew that she was sleepy and the buggy was the need of the hour. No help. I told them about the mistake with the check-in of her buggy, and the staff was rude enough to tell me "But that is not my problem". Honestly I would not recommend Air France to anyone travelling with kids next time, not for the in-flight service-they were no doubt at their best, but for the additional ground-staff services like mine.

Finally after about an hour, with just 40 minutes left for my next flight, the gates were announced. I had to take the same stupid lift down and this time I let her press the button. By now she was tired of all the crying and allowed me to carry her. In the next 10 minutes she was fast asleep, and she continued to do so till I boarded the next flight and was a good 1 hour on air. I was more relieved than happy to get her buggy back at Bologna airport and for the first time in the history of her buggy, she agreed to sit on it, while I collected the baggage :). I guess she was trying to make up for what I went through in those 4 hours.

I was relaxed the travel was done with. A word of caution for all mothers travelling alone, keep your hand baggage light as most of the stuff you need can be brought at the airport. 2 diapers may just be sufficient, the just-in-case makes the no of diapers 5-6 for a 12 hour journey. And it is not worth being physically exhausted when you need every drop of energy and calm to handle your toddler alone. Hope none of you go through this transit tantrum :)

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