Sorry for the delay in posting. We have been seeing friends and family and soaking up all the good California weather that’s been going on. (And obviously filling our bellies with so much Mexican food and sourdough bread. Hello!)
I thought I’d write a quick post about our flights out here, as I’m sure that anyone who has ever traveled with a child (especially a toddler) is wondering whether we’re currently banned from ever flying United Airlines again after our 20-hour ordeal. (We’re not.)
Here’s how it went down…
We left the house at 7:45am, as our flight was scheduled to leave just after 11am and I wanted to make sure we had ample time to get through security at Schiphol. If you have ever been to Schiphol (or pretty much any European airport) you’ll know that people traveling with children are not fast-tracked the way they often are in the states, and the whole, ahem, “efficiency” and “organization” thing is sort of generally lacking… Anyway, we breezed through checking our bags and getting through security, but then had to pass through passport control which was a veritable sh**show. It was basically a giant cluster of people unsure of where to line up with one worker casually pointing people to “EU” and “Non-EU” passport lines (I use the term “lines” loosely, because there was zero delineation of where these lines were or should be.)
We finally made it to the front of the “line” and passport control looked at our passports and then waved us through without a single word. I was fully expecting to have to provide documentation showing that KC knew we were leaving the country (as Dutch citizens have to provide all kinds of paperwork when one parent travels alone with a child — birth certificate, marriage certificate, consent form signed by both spouses, etc.), but nope — on we went.
We started the trek to our gate, which was apparently 40 miles away from where we came out of security. Luckily we had plenty of time, so we made a stop at Starbucks along the way to grab a bagel and a hot chocolate. Prim immediately had a huge meltdown while we were waiting in line, which I weathered by telling myself, “Well, at least we’re not on the plane!” Many bites of my bagel calmed her down and we made our way back to our gate.
I let Prim roam around the gate area and then spent a long time riding the moving sidewalk with her, attempting to tire her out before boarding. When boarding was about to begin we headed back to the gate area and Prim roamed around and made friends with many of the waiting passengers.
I waited to board until almost the end so that P would have less time waiting in her seat and then promptly dosed her with some Benadryl in the hopes that she would fall asleep after takeoff (since it was her usual naptime). I nursed her during takeoff and managed to get her to sleep (victory!) which lasted a mere 40 minutes (uggghhhh…) The remainder of the flight was spent watching bits and pieces of Tangled while the seatbelt sign was on and following Prim up and down the aisles of economy class, where she made friends with every single flight attendant and pretty much every person in an aisle seat. (In case you’re trying to do the math, yes, we spent a solid 5 or 6 hours walking the plane.)
We de-boarded in Chicago at 8pm Amsterdam time — Prim’s usual bedtime. I assumed she would conk out in the stroller, but no — the girl was still going strong. We cleared customs, grabbed our luggage, re-checked our luggage, boarded the tram to our next terminal and then made our way through security (yet again). Our gate was, again, in a land far, far away from security, so we strolled our way through most of O’Hare and down and then up every hidden elevator since that damn place is nothing but escalators.
We found our gate and I found a spot to charge the laptop (because God forbid we run out of batteries and can’t watch Tangled!) Prim found a small metal ring that she decided to throw and chase around the floor. I was too tired to worry too much about it, so when a very concerned gentleman came up to tell me that she was “playing with a piece of metal,” all I could say was, “I know,” like the #1 mom that I am.
We boarded the plane and took off at 11pm Amsterdam time. Prim got another dose of Benadryl (because she was still awake! How??) and I nursed her, hoping that she would sleep most of the flight. She ended up sleeping off and on for the first hour and a half, but was attached to me the entire time (because as soon as we detach, we wake up! Yay.) I finally gave in and let her be awake with 2.5 hours to go. These hours were spent watching portions of Tangled (yet again) and playing fun games like, “take all the candy out of the Ziplock and then put all of it back.”We arrived in San Francisco so tired at about 3:30am Amsterdam time, with Prim still going strong and refusing to sleep.
The day was exhausting and definitely a little nuts, but we managed to avoid meltdowns on both flights, which I’m calling a win.