The thought of long haul travel with kids can be very daunting. The most difficult decision when booking this holiday to Mauritius was whether to book a direct 12 hour flight or to break the journey up with an indirect flight from London Heathrow via Dubai. When we’ve previously had conversations about this, we’ve always said that we would go direct but when it actually came to booking we opted for an indirect flight for two reasons.
Firstly, if the boys were being difficult on the flight, it would be tough to get through 12 straight hours of it. Secondly, we really wanted to fly with Emirates as we’ve had a really good experience with them previously. Also, the stop in Dubai was only for a hour so just long enough for them to stretch their legs and have a walk. There is also a financial incentive to book an indirect flight, but this wasn’t the deciding factor for us personally.
The evening before we flew, we settled the boys down and although we had planned an early night for them, they had different ideas, so they stayed up late and watched movies. The following morning, they woke up quite late for them, around 9am and had their haircuts at home at 10am. The morning ran pretty swiftly with them having baths and lunch before we left at 1pm. As they woke late, they didn’t nap, so the plan was to keep them awake until we boarded the flight.
Check in was quick and easy and then we went and enjoyed the airport lounge. We have access to No1 airport lounges as part of the bank account Kam holds, which makes those couple of hours at the airport between check in and actually boarding the flight that much easier. We enjoyed some refreshments and the boys were happy enough in the cinema room. They weren’t too keen on the snacks available and we wanted them to eat before the flight, which was just before 5pm, especially because we knew they wouldn’t eat on board and we wanted them to have nice full bellies so that they would sleep on the flight. I ventured on a hunt for “mozerella and pesto paninis”……the kind that Costa do….apart there was no Costa airside….but I managed to find a good alternative.
From the moment we boarded the flight, we were so impressed with the Emirates service. I had made an activity pack for each of the boys and we had downloaded Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly amongst some other of their favourite TV programmes, on to the iPads. But it wasn’t really needed because they were given the cutest little bags with pencil crayons, activity books as well and stickers. The movie selection was great too….for both adults and children. They had their own headphones but they were also given a pair on board. I usually find that they are too big for children but these actually adjusted to the boys’ size really well.
Rhys fell asleep a couple of hours into the flight but Maice only slept for an hour and a half of the 6.5 hour flight. We had the four seats in the middle so they were both able to lie flat and have a comfortable sleep. They were both as good as gold. The hour for the connecting flight was a bit touch and go….at one point we were concerned we were going to miss the flight as getting through security took a little while and then we needed to get the shuttle service, which actually didn’t take very long. Anyway, we made it on time and we’d probably do the same again.
The boys were given more goodies for the second leg of the journey – cuddly little rucksacks with blankets inside them. Another lovely touch by Emirates. It didn’t take the boys long to fall asleep….it was maybe 30 minutes into the flight and they were out like a light.
We didn’t wake them to eat as we had plenty of snacks if they woke up and were hungry. But the childrens’ breakfast of pancakes, Lotus biscuits and lots of other yummy treats was fab…in fact it was even better than the adults breakfast! I’m not going to lie…..I definitely took the Lotus spread from Rhys’s tray and had it with my croissant! All in all, all of the meals were great….I had the chicken biryani for dinner on the first flight and it was delicious (I’m not exaggerating!).
The cabin crew were also great. They were very pleasant and friendly and made our flight out stress free. In all honesty, the boys probably would have been fine on a direct flight as they would have slept through and even if they didn’t, they would have been happy enough with the movies, their iPads and the activity packs, which would have kept them entertained.
However, I still think we made the right decision by taking an indirect flight because of how great the Emirates flight was. Also, they were fine with waking up and taking the walk to our connecting flight, which saved us the money of booking a direct flight.
- Book with an airline you are happy with or if it’s your first time flying, read lots of blogs to see what other people’s experiences have been
- Look at what is provided for children and if there aren’t any activity packs, pop into a pound store and pick up some crayons, paper pads and whatever else you think will keep your little one occupied. Stickers are always a hit with my two!
- It may well be worth booking an evening or night flight depending on what your children are like with travelling. Ours are used to sitting for long periods of time as we’re always up and down the motorway visiting my parents. They tend to fall a sleep on long car journeys as well, rather than becoming irritable.
- Take lots of snacks in case they don’t eat well before or during the flight. Breakfast bars are a good idea. We also took crisps, biscuits and the small individual packets of breadsticks.
- Request children’s meals when you do the online check in. With Emirates it had been pre selected but we have flown with an airline where we presumed they would have provided children’s meals but they didn’t have any because we didn’t specifically select them! Seems a bit odd really but best just to check to be sure.
- Try to figure out how best to prepare your children for the flight. We kept ours awake and avoided naps but some children may get restless and irritable without their naps, which will probably stress both them and you out on the flight.
- Select your seats for the flight when online check in opens (usually 48 hours prior to your flight) to ensure you are sitting together. A lot of airlines now charge to preselect your seats even when you have young children.
- Also, try to keep away from seats that are too close to toilets, as the opening and closing of doors may disturb your little ones sleep.
Our flight back involves a 3-4 hour stop in Dubai so we have opted to stay in Dubai overnight and travel the next day, as I’m pretty sure that this would be way too long for my boys. I hope to write another post of how this works out for us.
There’s no right or wrong answer as to which type of flight to book. This was just our experience and I’ve included these tips as you may find them useful. We’ve also taken direct flights with the boys, including Mexico, which is where we went last year. Click here to read my blog.