Braden went to bed early at 6PM and we got him up at 5AM so he actually had a really good night's sleep. He drank his milk on the way to the airport, but he wasn't really hungry yet. I brought some instant oatmeal for us to make for him on the plane. We arrived at Calgary International Airport (YYC) at about 6:20 for our 8:10 flight. I was assured by many people that showing up 90 minutes before our flight, especially so early in the morning would be plenty sufficient. So we get there, it takes about the usual time to check-in...but then the line-up to get to customs was ATROCIOUS. I have travelled enough to know that this was not normal. Oh great. I thought. How are we going to entertain Braden in this ridiculously long line? We were supposed to eat breakfast, buy snacks for the plane, let the kids run around and watch all the cool airplanes take off...now what?!?
Jay and I took turns taking Braden up and down the escalator. Jay went and got us A&W breakfast and we ate in the line-up. This was a good plan until the line started moving and we couldn't do the escalator. Meltdown #1. There are only like 4 customs agents or so to get our whole flight through...and it's taking forever. Then security...then RUN YOU NEED TO BOARD THE PLANE!!! We had to haul Braden, our 3 carry on bags, and his car seat...but we made it. The Air Canada employee at the gate told me to "write a letter to the Calgary Airport Authority because this should not have taken so long. You didn't hear it from me, but customs has a stick up their ass!" Duly noted!
But you know what? We made it. I had enough time to change his diaper right after we got through customs on a bench in plain sight. Oh well. Thank you to my eBFF Marie for her advice on changing the diaper 1 more time before boarding, otherwise I probably would have waiting on the plane...and then had to wait even longer because of the no seatbelt sign. It's the little things I may not have thought of!!!
The flight was actually good! It was longer on the way there at about 7 hours. As you can see, he played with the iPad, even watched 2 shows that I rented on iTunes. That was worth the $5 each. It's nice that he's old enough to watch shows to entertain him. He even fell asleep for about an hour...which isn't much, but was an hour more than I thought he'd sleep. The only problem we had was every time we'd take him out of his seat to change his diaper, when we put him back in he'd cry for a minute...but that was it!
Getting off the plane was no problem, but then the poor guy had to wait to get the luggage, wait to catch the bus to the rental car, wait to get the rental car...and then another 45 minutes in the car to get to the condo. What a day!
Fast forward to our travel day home...
We thought we'd be super smart by getting there early, check our bags, take our time and have some supper, return the rental car and walk right onto the plane...easy peasy. Not so much.
We got there at 5PM for our flight that was to leave at 8PM. Huge line-up to check in. NOT MOVING. Turns out their computers are down, only 2 are working...and of course the executive class gets first priority. For a long time they were only moving executive and not giving the rest of us a chance. I was in that line for well over an hour, so Jay took Braden and dealt with the rental car. Came back...and thank GOD for iPads!
Keep in mind, my child loves to sleep. Bed time is 7PM. End of story. So the farther past 7 that we got...the less tolerant Braden was of the whole process. I won't bore you with ALL the details, but it went really well. We got on the plane, he happily played with the iPad for about 2 hours, then as soon as they turned off the cabin lights, he had a 3ish hour sleep for the rest of the flight. I'm so thankful for the earth's rotation and a shorter 5.5 hour flight home!
Then when we got back to YYC at 5 in the morning...Jay went to go get the vehicle from the park and jet...to discover a flat tire. Longer story short, I had to kill 2 more hours at YYC with a tired, cranky Braden...and we finally made it home sometime after 8. If that wasn't enough, poor Lukey got sick on the ride home. This is how we killed our time... Bow down to the monkey backpack/harness...seriously people. Seriously.
But we're here. We made it. We survived!!! Here are some more travelling tips that were given to me before we left...and some that I've learned on our journey:
- It may be a risk, but be there for your flight 90 minutes ahead vs. 2 hours. That extra 1/2 hour makes a big difference
- When they offer pre-boarding, if you are travelling with someone else, get them to go ahead and install the car seat and store the carry ons, much easier to do then when everyone else is boarding the plane, plus you can kill time running around with your toddler/child before everyone else boards so they have less time on the plane. Talk to the people at the boarding gates and let them know you want to be last on
- Take this time to change that diaper one more time
- BUY AN EXTRA SEAT AND BRING YOUR CAR SEAT. It's worth every penny, plus it's for their safety Braden knew he had to sit in his car seat and never whiney to escape (other than briefly after a diaper change).
- Snacks, snacks snacks. Toys, toys, toys. He was always entertained.
- Expect the unexpected. I planned to do the first 3 points, but with both boarding times...it just never worked out due to long customs lines and computers not working!
- Expect the worst and hope for the best! I did...it was much less stressful for me this way!