In real terms, three hours isn’t actually that long when it comes to flying, but kids have this incredible ability to bend time. A day feels like a year, a year feels like a day and what should be a quick zip over to Fiji can feel like a lifetime.
This was all because Max, my toddler son, was hellbent on getting a sultana accepted by his mid-air neighbour. Each rebuttal further fuelled this crazy obsession and for three long hours he constantly escaped my grip to prod and poke the man in question.
In any other environment it would be cute, right? Some pudgy little hand coming at you with a sultana slick with saliva. But something happens when we step into that sardine can of an aeroplane. Kids just aren’t that cute anymore.
And I get it. Even as a mum of two angel-faced beings, there’s only one thing more traumatic than being trapped thousand upon thousands of kilometres in the sky with young children – and that’s when they’re yours and you’re sat next to someone who legitimately hates children.
You can spot them as soon as they board. They check their boarding pass, look for their seat and as their gaze lowers to check out their enforced flying companion there’s a subtle change in body language.
The jaw tightens, the shoulders hunch over and their legs start to drag a little, as if the slower they get to their seat the less time they have to share air with your spawn. It’s like the evolution of man but in reverse.
Then us mammas do something that’s even more exhausting than travelling with kids – we apologise. A relentless rendition of what I call the sorry symphony. And it’s just so monotonous it fades into the background like elevator music.
But could the answer to these travel tribulations be eased with a little thing called transparency? Well, Japan Airlines have started putting a smiling (who are they kidding?) baby face on their online seat map to indicate when a seat is taken by a parent with a child under two.