Summer was approaching and we were all looking forward to our month long trip to Israel to visit my sister and her family and staying with my parents. Flying is always going to be a great joy with kids so I had blocked out the thought of the journey until a few days before hand. Having twins meant that I couldn't fly on my own as 1 adult is needed per baby. In the past I have flown out before dear husband and then he has joined us midway through our holiday. This time however, dear husband flew out with us for the weekend and then came home for 10 days and then returned for a 2 week holiday and then we would fly back together. Sounded simple!
I wouldn't say looking back any particular part of the journey was awful. Dear husband dropped me and the babies off at the terminal and then went to park the car and bring the luggage to the terminal. As we could no longer fit 6 of us and 3 suitcases in our car, eldest daughter and boy in the middle came with Grandma N. They didn't arrive at the airport for ages. Although we know she doesn't like to use the motorway to get to Luton we wondered how it could possibly be taking so long. When they did finally arrive boy in the middle was draped in her cardigan and his pants as he had been car sick on the way! We unpacked some shorts for him to wear from the suitcase and would have to try and buy him a sweater in the airport - first crisis averted.
We went to check in. Having refused to pay for speedy boarding but having checked in online we still had to wait to drop off our luggage. Holding one crying baby and boy in the middle who was looking a little pale we asked one of the staff if he could help and I think to get us out of the way he happily ushered us to the front of the queue - second hurdle achieved!
Upstairs in the departure hall I fed two babies, changed two babies, bought boy in the middle a rather expensive sweater from Monsoon, bought some water and then we headed off for the departure gate. On arriving at the alloted gate we were greeted by a flight of steps to go down and no lift. With the large amount of travel bags and carrier bags we had accumulated dear husband found a member of Easyjet to assist us in getting the babies (1 of whom was asleep) down the steps. 3rd challenge achieved.
At this point eldest daughter needed the toilet so I ran with her back up the stairs half way around the airport to the toilets and back again. We were then all checked through and filtered into the queue for those travelling with children. Challenge 4 - done!
The way Easyjet works is that there are no tickets so first come first served. On the day we travelled in early August it happened to be torrential rain. Once the plane was ready all those who had paid for speedy boarding went on first and made a dash to the plane in the rain. Then it was our turn. Now the only logical way really was for dear husband and I to each hold a baby, collapse the stroller, pick up all the bags including pulling boy in the middle on his trunki and head to the plane. However, due to the rain we decided against this. We decided that dear husband would take the older two onto the plane, get some seats and come back for me. We checked this with Easyjet groundcrew who agreed this would make sense. Little did they know that the staff on the plane wouldn't let dear husband off once they had checked him in.
I waited in the gate hoping the rain would stop as I had to leave the stroller under the plane and also so that the girls wouldn't get soaked getting to the plane. Gradually the passengers boarded the plane but there was no sign of dear husband returning. Finally I noticed a lady sitting reading her book in the hall. Sensibly knowing she would get a seat she had decided to board last as didn't want to rush. She took great pity on me and offered to help. So I put a coat on each girl, took all the bags off the back of the stroller, took the girls out of the stroller, collapsed it and loaded the bags on my back. I then left the stroller with the Easyjet crew and made him promise he would take it to the plane for me. Finally this kind lady ran with one of the girls and I followed. We made a dash up the stairs and onto the front of the plane. 5th major hurdle overcome!
Thanking this lady profusely she passed the baby over to one of the crew so she could find a seat. I spotted dear husband at the far end of the plane and then I stood with my head hanging out of the door waiting to check the stroller made it to the plane. The two guys sitting on the front row of the plane smiled up and me and said "We're twins - it's lots of fun". By this point I just wanted to sit down, dry off and reach our destination.
With the stroller added to the pile under the plane I headed down towards dear husband with the stewardess. Then it happened - the one thing I hadn't considered at all. Once dear husband was holding a baby and I was holding a baby we became completely and utterly helpless. Not realising how reliant I had become on my stroller it was a fun 5 hours. Every time we needed something from the overhead locker it entailed me holding both babies and dear husband getting stuff down, or dear husband passing one baby to the kind lady behind. When one of the other children needed to go to the toilet a baby had to go with or again be held by the lady behind.
Between the 6 of us we managed to cover the plane in fruit puree, drop crisps all over the floor, colour on the flip down table, crawl down the central aisle at a great speed and generally keep everyone else sitting near us wide awake.
The plane was on time and we were so relieved to land and reclaim our damp stroller as soon as we got off the plane. It was a long time to be away from the stroller but we had made it!
Our return flight was rather similar to our outbound flight but we were now wiser and packed our travel bag lighter. Why I had ever decided to put my own book in our rucksack on the outward flight was just wishful thinking on my part. Flying home at night meant that once both babies had been fed they actually each slept on us for most of the flight. Little did we know that the biggest struggle was yet to come.
We landed and waited until everyone else was off the plane as the babies were asleep. We both struggled to put a sling on to carry the babies in. We had one traditional sling which dear husband successfully wore and carried a baby in. I had the other type of sling which is a giant piece of stretchy material which you tie around your body and then pop the baby in. I wore this daily when boy in the middle was a baby and was rather proud of my ability with this. In order to put the sling on though you need rather a lot of room around you, not the few inches available on an Easyjet plane. I gave up and carried the baby with me thinking it was a short walk through to passport control. We had landed at 11pm in early September, and clearly another 10 planes had also landed. We stood in the queue to get through passport control for 1 hour! With no staff around to take pity on us we just had to stay in the queue and put up with it. Boy in the middle was pulled along on his trunki, and the rest of us were grumpy and complained. Finally when we were nearly at the front of the queue a member of staff saw us, and told us that we should have just come to the front with so many children!!
We handed over our passports, rushed through to claim our luggage and were relieved to finally be reunited with our unbroken still in one piece double stroller!
When we travel Easyjet again in December we will be so much wiser!