With Nutella for breakfast and fondue for lunch, accompanied by a snowy scenic drive through the Swiss Alps, we were in a relaxed frame of mind and looking forward to our flight home from Switzerland. We had spent a lovely few days visiting friends and their new baby and the mountain air, snowy scenery and gluhwein had left us feeling festive.
After a panicked last-minute nappy change, we were first to board the 16.05 flight from Zürich to Heathrow, along with a Mum of three travelling alone. What struck me first about this lady was her immaculate blow dry and effortless style, accompanied by three very well behaved children. She was rocking leisure wear in a way that made her look catwalk ready. No snotty nose stains on this lady!
We settled into our seats and as we watched our fellow passengers board, it became apparent that we were surrounded by the kind of businessmen that preferred to pass on Patek Phillipe watches to kids rather than spend any time with them. They looked at us in horror as our soon to be one year old was writhing and wriggling, as he realised that crawling was not an option for the foreseeable future.
The passenger in front of us was a very tall, serious looking man with hair just long enough that it poked temptingly above the headrest. For the duration of the flight I repeatedly told my one year old to “not pull the nice man’s hair”. The volume of screaming that ensued probably had the Captain tapping and adjusting his headset. At one point, said passenger had his fingers in his ears.
Meanwhile, Immaculate Mum behind us was chatting away to her three children and her only slight raise of voice was to ask her 5 year old son not to put tomato sauce on his “M&S On Board” ham sandwich.
The relentless screaming continued. My husband decided to take Henry on a walk up and down the aisle to calm him down. One nearby businessman had tried to extract himself from the 1 hour 30 min screamathon, by donning his full over-ear Bose Sound Isolating headphones and closing his eyes. Not wanting anyone to feel left out, Henry gave him a writhing, double footed boot in the face as he passed by.
After exhausting our toy supply, reading and re-reading ‘Spot goes on Holiday’ (no tantrums for Spot!) and demolishing our snack supply (no quick clean and turn-around for this plane), we arrived with a sigh of relief at Heathrow. By now I was (even more) dishevelled, sweaty from stress and my already snot stained clothing was accompanied by a particularly attractive organic carrot Wotsit that had been crushed at nipple height into my jumper.
We did the walk of shame as we disembarked the plane and waited for our pushchair to be delivered, along with Immaculate Mum (who of course was still immaculate). We waited, and waited some more for our pushchairs in the little holding area at the end of the jetty, with Immaculate Mum’s ketchup-loving son announcing that “we normally fly club”. After 15 mins, we were told by irate airport staff that our pushchairs had already been delivered to the terminal.
Thankfully, the transfer bus full of passengers had kindly waited for us on the cold, dank runway during pushchair-gate. No one returned our apologetic smiles as we boarded the bus. Henry then became enamoured by the red shiny ‘STOP’ button and again, for what felt like the umptieth time that day, had a tantrum as we tried to stop his sticky little fingers from pushing it.
Tired, weary, and feeling like flawed parents, we waited next to Immaculate Mum for our luggage. “Go on”, I asked her despondently, “What’s your secret to making it all look so effortless?”. Without taking a breath, she opened her hand-bag and revealed a giant sized, now nearly empty bag of Percy Pigs.
What relief I felt as I sipped my much needed g&t later that night… those pink foamy faces will be accompanying us on every future flight! Thanks Immaculate Mum 🙂