We have just returned from our first family vacation and I think it is safe to say that the experience should be aptly renamed as simply our first family trip on an airplane. My definition of vacation implies an element of rest, relaxation and fun and this trip definitely had some snipets of that but overall it was rather stressful.
The one part of the experience that I dreaded the most that turned out to be really positive was the flying part. Prior to our trip my husband notified the airline we were travelling with (WestJet) that we were travelling with a special needs child. We had quite the positive experience from the moment we checked in, to going through Security, to getting onto the plane. The flight crew on our WestJet flight going there were particularly accommodating and helpful all around. We also had a very similar experience returning. From an accommodation perspective I would definitely give WestJet and the Airport Security at the Toronto Pearson and Calgary airport high marks for customer service. From this perspective I would not hesitate to fly again with a special needs child.
In reflecting on what made both legs of the trip successful for us, here is a summary list:
- Phone your airline ahead to indicate special need status and that we would have a stroller/wheelchair that we would need to check at the Gate (the airline had it ready for us as soon as we got off the plane)
- Chlorahydrate for Reilly on the way back (she swayed from intense high pitched excitement to irritation back and forth much to the dismay of everyone around). It worked well for all involved.
- Multitude of fulfilling snacks. The flight there was 4+ hours.
- Buying water once you pass through security.
- Earbud earphones as they can be used immediately upon boarding to landing (traditional headphones have to be removed during take-off and landing).
- Thank-you Treehouse (Children’s channel that is free onboard)
- Crayons/Coloring book (for London)
- Juice boxes/apple sauce – we were able to bring these through security after stipulating they were for medical/dietary purposes – big bonus for Reilly and us!!! We needed to give Reilly her regular meds and we need apple sauce for them.
The rest of the trip certainly had its ups and downs that it felt like we were on a one week roller coaster ride for so many different reasons. Will share some of those events in later postings.
On the way back, Mike took a few photos with our inexpensive camera and to our delight he got a couple of good ones. It is amazing to see the actual curvature of the earth in a couple of them.