There is nothing like the first day of holiday: the wall of heat which greets you as you step out of the plane, the unfamiliar scenery, people and food, the excitement when arriving at your accommodation and that first taste of
cocktail/beer/champagne/wine an alcoholic beverage on foreign soil – looking forward to the rest of your holiday – the end of which seems far, far away. On this holiday to the Greek island of Mykonos, we learnt that getting an early morning flight and travelling on a budget airline with a baby helps make these small pleasures even more enjoyable.
Our last trip on a budget airline with Mrs T was to Portugal when she was just nine weeks old. Now she is nine MONTHS old and since that jaunt she has become more alert and restless and Easyjet has introduced allocated seating. Although initially optimistic about the change in policy thinking ‘no more bun fight’, having tried it out, we can conclude that the practice does not work in favour of families.
With the previous ‘first come, first served policy’, we would have been first to embark (families get that privilege) and choose our seats. This meant fellow passengers who aren’t mad about kids, could chose to give the family with young children a wide berth and swiftly make their way to the back of the aircraft. On many occasions, this leaves an empty seat next to the family so they can spread out, give the child some space who is in turn is less likely to become agitated – everybody is happy!
Now though, after negotiating the snaking queue of British holiday-makers at check-in, who are gradually getting more and more irate at the wait, we were plonked in two aisle seats. They may be opposite each other but they did not, as we were told by the lady at the check-in desk, have a spare seat next to us. So, not only are we separated from each other without even the luxury of two seats together, to let Mrs T lie down, one of us is also stuck next to a young, preened couple, who look ready for a night out rather than a flight cattle class. For instance, the girl had her false eyelashes on and kept reapplying her lip gloss while the topic of conversation revolved around what he would be wearing to Ascot the following week. Before they sat down, Cal noticed the girl scornfully commenting “can’t believe we’re stuck next to a baby”. That did not go down well with him!
Thankfully, there was also a really lovely couple on board, sitting a few rows down from us. Seeing we were having difficulty mid flight getting Mrs T to sleep crammed on a aisle seat, they very kindly gave up their row (they did have a spare seat next to them). After constructing a makeshift tent with my nursing blanket, the seat arms and food tray, Mrs T finally gave the aircraft some peace. If we could have got a flight to Greece which didn’t clash with her naps, we would. There is far too much going on on a flight for a nosy lady like ours to easily sleep.
Some suggestions for flying on a budget airline
1. Choose and book your seats well in advance so you are seated together (Easyjet charge for this but worth it).
2. Pay extra for speedy boarding when you book
3. Be patient- you will be tested
4. Pack sensibly and take hand luggage (which fits the airline’s size criteria- Rucksacks are ideal as no hands required) with some space. I managed to avoid a £22 hit for being 2kg over by taking out a book and two items of clothing.
5. Make sure you eat before your embark (we didn’t have time so were subjected to mediocre coffee and soggy sandwiches).
6. This one from Cal: “Don’t bother”.
Some suggestions for Easyjet’s allocated seat trial
1. Sit the families together, towards the back of the aircraft (Easyjet retain the front seats for premium pricing).
2. If it is not a full flight, give those with children under 2 (who don’t have their own seat) a spare seat next to them
3. Continue to allow families to board first to get settled
4. Allow passengers (particularly those with kids) to buy speedy boarding at the airport (or even let them go in the queue anyway). We would have happily paid if it had been possible to avoid the huge queue at the check in desks.
Anyway, it was only three and a half hours out of my life and now we are here in the scorching heat and staying at a fantastic hotel (one good thing about having a baby is we always seem to get an upgrade- we were given a bigger room which has a jacuzzi on the balcony!!). You know you are staying somewhere decent when you are lying around the pool and a staff member offers to clean your sunglasses for you! Mrs T is also a HUGE hit with the staff and other hotel residents. They LOVE her.