By far the toughest thing about flying to Australia with kids should be the 14-hours in an oversized tin flying above the Pacific. When you decide to take on this epic adventure to and from the land down under, it helps to accept what you can and can’t control. You can control planning and packing for the flight.
Other than what you planned for, you have no control of anything once the doors close.
For adventurous parents thinking of flying long distance, we have some insight from our 35-hour travel day that might help. Without prescribed or over-the-counter medicine, for either mom, dad or the kids, a casual and planned approach makes an almost 2-day journey easier than you might think.
One thing is for sure, for really anxious or “first-time” flying parents, we found that reading blogs about “flightmares” (do NOT read the link!) from other parents was counter productive. We needed to plan, and for our 5-year-old Landon and 3-year-old Jake, the flight was part of the adventure, not just a means to start an adventure.
After experience from flights to Spain and France plus 15-minutes of research, prepping for launch wasn’t all that stressful. A board game thrown in with some coloring books, Hot Wheels and “cuddle” toys and BOOM – kids carry-on packed (times two). But what about electronics?
We researched Qantas (an amazing customer service experience by the way*) and saw the airline had us covered besides our phone or iPad!
Personal screens at each seat were like having Redox on the plane. Once we found movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Frozen, Kung Fu Panda 3 and Peanuts Movie, we knew we could fly, and try to rest, easy.
We were as ready as we could plan for. Marty assigned a foolproof tactic to the LAX segment of our trip; let the kids nap on the way to Los Angeles then – KEEP THE KIDS AWAKE UNTIL the 14-HOUR FLIGHT!
But that plan went up in the clouds when we saw the dreadful DELAYED tag on Qantas Flight 18. New departure time would be 1:30 a.m. or as we knew it, 4:30 a.m. in Miami time.
So our plan was slightly modified. But the boys were still excited for the flight on the kangaroo plane.
Land LAX > kids run thru terminal and play on moving walkways > bribe kids to eat dinner with airport playground for dessert > eat airport dinner > play in airport playground > board plane > zzzzzzzz…
Land LAX > DELAYED, CRAP! > kids run thru terminal and play on moving walkways > QANTAS pays for free dinner, HOORAY! > bribe kids to eat dinner with airport playground for dessert > eat airport dinner > play in airport playground > FAMILY NAP AT GATE > board plane > zzzzzzzz…
The effort to postpone sleep proved to be too tiring once we faced our delay, but with dad as a sentinel, mom and the boys created a sleeping pile on the plush airport seats in the terminal. When you’re that tired, any seat is “plush,” especially for Jake who had Marty’s comfy “tushion cushions.”
Finally, after 15-hours of travel from Miami to Los Angeles, the exciting 14-hour flight was ahead. This was the part we had planned for. Darth Vader and Lightning McQueen carry-on bags filled with home-brought activities. Sleep-deprived children and parents. Plans to watch three episodes of Walking Dead as our boys slept. iPad loaded with kids apps and games. Books (for Danny, Last Child in the Woods and for Marty, Aviation Law after September 11th, 2nd edition) and magazines. Oh, and one backpack full of snacks that would eventually lead us to wait an extra 45-minutes to declare the nuts and fruits in our trail mix at Customs.
Alas, the kangaroo plane delivered beyond expectation and the flight was a blur…the kind of blur where you fall asleep and wake up only to fall back asleep and wake up again. In fact, the blur made watching Star Wars and 007 Spectre a 7-hour intermittent movie experience.
Oh yeah, about the kids. They didn’t touch a single thing we packed for them. Not one book, not one Hot Wheels car and not even the DVD player. Qantas surpassed our expectations. In-flight entertainment offered infinite on-demand options, seats were actually fairly roomie with good leg space where kids could roam for a minute or two and comfortable pillows that ended up being best friends with our sons’ heads as they nodded in and out of nap time and movie watching
There are so many things we learned on this 35-hour journey, summed up this way:
“Plan for what you expect and prepare for the unexpected. Come what may!”
From planning to embracing the good and bad along the journey, we were able to have a truly positive travel experience on the way to Australia. Let’s see what the 16-hour flight to Dallas has in store for us after 30 days of adventure! “Come what may!”
*Important note about flying with family on Qantas. Like our American carriers, they have monetized most every decision you make regarding your seat or luggage. Qantas charges for you to pre-select seats before the 24-hour period pre-flight, inconvenient and costly when traveling with family. As AAdvantage Members and having booked with American Airlines, we called AAdvantage Customer Service and they were able to reserve our seats without a problem.