The flight there was easy-peasy, the flight home we came out with battle wounds and illness. We flew Air France and cannot speak any higher of them. The crew went above and beyond to make our journeys as easy and comfortable as possible!
We were lucky enough to find a "flash sale" for $400 round trip tickets to Venice (it was $931 total, for the three of us including insurance, you have to pay taxes for a lap-child even though they fly for "Free), When we started second guessing having Bram be a lap-child I called Air France about two weeks later to see how much an extra ticket would be, they said it would $1,200 a ticket!!!!
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We flew out of Washington Dulles (IAD) at 6:10pm. When we were checking in, the agent said we would need to pay for Bram’s “baby ticket” which caused some confusion because I did pay for his taxes as a lap child when I did the reservation. I showed them my email confirmation and after a manager was called the issue was resolved, only took an extra 5-6 minutes thankfully. We had one suitcase to check, and 1 carseat. We each had a backpack, Lee’s had a cooler with Bram’s milk/bottle attached to it, and I had Bram’s little backpack filled with toys hooked onto mine with a clip. The milk was a sealed, clear container from the store, it only took a few extra minutes through TSA to get it checked out. Unfortunately Air France does not participate in TSA Precheck, so we had to go through the regular lines for screening, but it wasn’t terrible. At Dulles you have to take a tram to the terminals, which was so exciting for Bram! we sat him up on the ledge at the very front and he kept saying "woah!!"
We let Bram run around the terminal as much as he wanted, and we did not get on board until most of the other people had already boarded. We changed his diaper, and him into his airplane themed PJs just minutes before getting on board. Once on board, within minutes the crew quickly asked the lady in our row if she wouldn’t mind moving to another row to give us the extra space. We were SOOO THANKFUL for this!! Bram nursed during takeoff, watched a few videos on my phones and quickly fell asleep. Once we were at altitude meal service begin. Lee started to feel nauseous (we think from taking sleeping meds on an empty stomach, plus the stress of traveling) and ended up getting sick in the bathroom several times during the flight.
Luckily Bram slept on and off during most of the flight so I was able to let Lee rest and not need him to help parent much. I inquired about a kids meal for Bram and they said I was supposed to request one online when I booked but I didn’t remember seeing that option, I asked if we could get a regular adult meal for him, even if we had to pay for it. Once everyone else onboard got a meal, they had some left so they gave one to us for free. Bram stayed asleep though…so I ate all 3 of our meals!!!! They were actually pretty good! We got a snack/breakfast type meal right before landing too!
We had a “Kids First Class Pillow” that I had won in an Instagram contest but we decided not to use it. We really wanted him in between us and you have to use it on the window seat, plus hes little enough to sit sideways in the seat for now so we didn’t worry about it. I’m thinking it will come in more handy when he’s older. I didn’t’ have to use any of the toys I brought, other than a few videos I had downloaded onto my phone.
We had a connection in Paris (CDG), which is a very spread out airport. Once we landed, the plane taxied for another 15 minutes or so to the terminal, that’s how large it is! We had about 90 minutes to make the connection….the main issue is the terminals are all separate, and we had to exit the secure area take a train/shuttle, and go through passport control and security check again. Luckily Europe is so kid friendly they instantly would put us at the front of every line once they saw we had a kiddo. I’m honestly not sure how people make their connections without this. We all used the restroom, I changed Bram out of his Pjs and once we got to the terminal they were already boarding, but we let Bram play at the nearby kids areas (terminal M gates 24-26) to get out some energy! It was difficult to pry him away from I’m glad we let him play a bit.
This flight was full, and the guy in our row smelled like cigarettes so bad it gave me a headache, it made Lee get violently sick again, and the flight attendants let him sit in the rear jump seat the rest of the flight to be near the bathroom. Luckily it was only a 90 minute flight into Venice and Bram slept almost the entire flight.
We landed in Venice at 11:15am, easily got our luggage, and our friend was waiting for us in the car area. We were so proud of ourselves, although Lee was sick most of the flight we survived our first long haul trip with minimal issues!
Oh boy…the return flight was a whole different story. We left our Venice AirBB at 6:30am, walked 10 minutes through the silent alley ways with our luggage clicky clacking behind us..sorry!!! We boarded a new type of water taxi that goes to the airport (Alilaguna—don’t bother buying tickets online, just pay cash at the dock… we bought online late the night before, and the ticket office wasn’t open that early in the morning so it was null. The captain said it happens all the time, just email them for a refund, which we did, easy enough) and were at the airport by 7:15am. There was a long walk from the taxi dock to the actual airport terminal, then once inside, the airport was pretty confusing… Check in counters are upstairs--no signage! We found ours but it wasn’t set to open until 8:00am (2 hours before first flight). Waiting and standing or sitting still is not a skill Bram has mastered yet, so this was difficult for him. One of us waited in line while the other chased him around the area. After check in, security wasn’t too bad. Again with a child we were taken to the front of the line. I totally forgot to take out my small bag of liquids so they had to search my bag, and do testing on the offending liquids (ibuprofen we bought while in Venice). We were still at our terminal by 8:40am which was just a few steps inside security. I had to pull out toys to keep Bram entertained while sitting there, and I realized it it was probably going to be a rough day since he seemed incapable of being content. We had "tested" various toys during a recent 9 hour road trip and brought a majority of the same toys this time, but he wasn't having it. He wanted to run around, so we tried to let him as much as possible.
This flight was half empty so we got a row to ourselves, and it was a quick flight to Paris CDG (90 minutes), and Bram slept through most of it allowing both Lee and I to get a quick nap in.
Again the transfer in Paris was crazy. This time we didn’t leave the secure area somehow, but still did have to go through passport control, which again they opened the queue ropes and pushed us right to the front (seriously, gotta like European love of kids!). We took a bus shuttle to another terminal and Bram was pretty much hysterical being in the carrier, but the bus was jammed packed and I could even move to take him out of it. Luckily it was only 10 minutes or so. Once we got to the gate (we were seriously hauling ass to get there fast) they were already boarding, so we went to the bathroom, changed his diaper and got on board for the 7 hour flight to DC.
On board we found that we had 2 bulkhead seats which I was initially excited about, but I quickly realized that it was not ideal for us. The armrests don’t move, you have to store everything in the overhead so no quick access, and the tv is on a pull out arm which I know Bram would be way to interested in. THANKFULLY The flight attendants saw me panicking and said they are working on something. Within a few minutes they had an empty row for us, hallelujah! We got settled and Bram and Lee were both asleep before take off! Seriously AirFrance FTW!!
Bram slept for about 90 minutes, woke up hysterical and basically cried or slept on and off the rest of the flight. We had known he wasn’t feeling great the past few days but his only symptom was being very tired and a fever at night, we had visited a pharmacist and he said to give ibuprofen. It was during the flight that monster amounts of snot started… we went through an entire pack of boogie wipes and 2 travel packs of tissues during the flight. We continued giving him ibuprofen and Tylenol like we had been, but it didn’t seem to help. He would pull my hand wanting to get up from the seat, and eventually I gave in and tried to walk him around a bit, but he kept pulling like he wanted to leave the plane... poor guy. I tried every toy, every trick, watched funny puppy videos on the tv set, showed him all the buttons and knobs in the galley, had flight attendants play peek a boo with him. Everything.
My dear husband really did try to help but the little guy only wanted me. At one point I told my husband I NEEDED a break, I said “I’m going to go spend 10 minutes in an airplane bathroom, because I need a few minutes with no one touching me. I don’t care what you have to do or if he cries the whole time. I’m loosing it.” I’m not normally that cold, but I was also starting to not feel so great (thanks for sharing the germs kiddo!) and needed a break. Luckily the white noise in the plane is pretty good and after I got a few rows away I couldn't hear him anymore, so that was good to know we we're disturbing the entire plane.
During one of my rounds of walking through the airplane a flight attendant gave him a little pouch that they give to kids usually over 3, it had pencils, paper and little figurines. It helped for maybe 3 minutes, but hey thanks for trying! For the rest of the flight it was just survival 3 minutes at a time. He did whatever he wanted to do (except leave the plane). We gave him candy, let him walk around the aisles, whatever!
Once we landed I'm pretty sure I said "hallelujah" out loud. Unfortunately it took FOREVER to deplane and he had an epic meltdown where all I could do was hold him against his will until we got moving.
We had applied for TSA's Global Entry and were able to use one of the US Customs kiosks instead of waiting in another 100+ person line. It was VERY quick, but Bram got an X (no finger prints!) and the print out said to give to a guard, but the path we took to exit didn't go by a guard, so I got confused and wasn't sure what to do. I walked back in and stood there looking stupid and a guard asked "did you get an X?" and i nodded and he waved me over, he quickly stamped it, we left and got our luggage. Good to know next time!
Unfortunately on the way home from the airport we got stuck in DC traffic for nearly 2 hours. Bram fell asleep after some whining, but we didn't have any water left or tissues. I couldn't wait to get home. We got home Wednesday evening, and I had taken the rest of the week off from work because I wasn't sure how jetlag coming back would be for all of us. I'm glad I did that because I ended up getting VERY sick and was in bed through Sunday with a high fever.
Yes it was a ROUGH end to an amazing trip, but it didn't traumatize us too much! We're already thinking of what our next adventure with him will be.
Other Posts in this Series:
Now that our triangle family is complete, follow along as we live our "life after infertility." Our travels, our joys, our laughter & our sorrows of parenting.
Chrissy is a...
full time corporate world working somewhat crunchy mom, a loving wife, an MRKH Warrior, Infertility Advocate, support group leader & a bad ass breastfeeder. In her fleeting spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling, walking her pooch, sewing and watching funny or sappy TV shows.