One week ago, we took the world’s longest direct flight from Newark to Singapore with a 6 month old baby who had just started to crawl and a three and a half year old who was actually looking forward to the experience because we’ve convinced her that the iPad that contains downloaded episodes of Daniel Tiger only works on planes.
Having flown with Penny to New Zealand last year, I was less daunted by this undertaking than you might expect. On that trip, I was contending with horrible morning sickness. We had to take three separate consecutive flights, schlepping through four airports before we reached our destination. And we flew economy, though we sprung for the convertible seats on our longest Air New Zealand flight that allegedly turned into a bed. This upgrade was a bit of a bust because my recently concussed husband insisted on finding a way for all three of us to lay down, despite the directions clearly stating that only one adult and one child could safely – and comfortably fit. In short, doing that trip twice in two weeks left me feeling like I knew how grisly things could get and this would just have to be easier than that.
Yes, we have another kid now and no grandparents aboard to offer extra hands. But Penny is far more reasonable one full year of development later. And Harper still needs a nap every 2.5 hours. This was a one-way direct flight. Plus, it was Business Class.
We boarded the plane at 10am EST, with Harper fully ready for a nap. She nursed and slept through takeoff without issue. It was such a smooth start that I saw the man adjacent to us visibly relax. He had been torn between celebrating his luck in securing the bulkhead seat with extra leg room and cursing his luck because this placed him in close proximity to an infant for nearly an entire day.
A dozen rows back, Penny settled into her seat, which seemed ludicrously expansive for her pint size. Seb sat next to her, armed with aforementioned iPad and an entire bag of carefully wrapped plane bribes – sticker books, new storybooks, a headband decorating kit, Crayola Color Wonder pages featuring her favorite characters, new outfits for the baby doll she loves enough to stick in her carry-on. We also lucked out and a kind-hearted man at security opened her lunchbox of yogurt products and waved us through anyway, which meant she wouldn’t starve when her toddler tastebuds inevitably scoffed at the surprisingly sophisticated airline dining options.
After lunch, they immediately dimmed the cabin lights, and a shocking number of people went to sleep at what was essentially mid-day. This did not work on Penny. By the time she was ready to drift off, eight hours had passed since takeoff and the lights turned back on for the second meal service. Alas, this meant she was awake for all but three hours of the flight, a horrific amount of sleep for any human, but it ultimately served us well to get her settled once we landed. EST and Singapore are diametrically opposed – when it’s noon in the NYC, it’s midnight here, so when we had her in bed our first night at a time that should have felt like early morning, she was thankfully more than ready to crash hard.
Harper slept like a baby, which to me means she woke every 2-3 hours and I tried to keep her up for a bit between sleep cycles so she’d also need a consolidated sleep after we landed. She fussed a little here and there. Our feet wore treads in the aisle’s carpet, I experienced the bizarre sensation that accompanies bouncing a baby in mid-air several times. There’s something discomforting about essentially jumping downwards on a plane you need to remain in mid-air. But in all, she only lost her marbles upon landing, too full of milk to nurse and otherwise unable to sort out the pressure in her ears. At that point, everyone is so relieved to be descending that we didn’t even get a single dirty look.
The best part was that the flight clocked in at just about 18 hours, a ten percent discount I was all too happy to accept. I found the service and dining options to be incredible, though it was logistically hard to savor my high-brow wonton soup while holding an infant. My seat ostensibly came with a bassinet, though the reality was more like a cloth basket attached to the wall that zippered baby in like they are wearing a straight-jacket. Suffice to say, it served a purpose as a receptacle for Harper’s medley of teething rings,
Would I do it again? Sure, though I’m certainly happy our next trip across the world has yet to be booked. Not having to do the trip in reverse twelve days later made the whole thing much more tenable. We arrived haggard and tired but also exceptionally grateful that things went as smoothly as they did.
Checking in for our flight.
Lots of tummy time at the airport.
Some plane bribes, pre-wrapping.
Penny and her carry-on.
A “WE SURVIVED” selfie.
Trolly no longer optional. We had to take two cabs home.