September 19, 2019
On the way back we had the privilege to travel via Dar Es Salaam’s new international airport.
There were a few eyebrow raising moments (like the lady who instead of showing us the bay changing room decided to take us in there to stand and watch) but all in all I was impressed by the standard. Passport checks were quite time consuming, security was fine no problems whatsoever but with time to spare we were surprised to be called to the gate early for final checks (plane was full apparently so they wanted to get everyone in early)
Boarding was class and then zone based but families were largely ignored which we went to inquire about. On a 3rd attempt when it was our zone (f) Pooja convinced them that it was common to let families in first and they agreed so on we went.
The flight from there to Dubai was better this time than when we arrived. We sat near the back exit but front row in the middle of 4 seats. Our neighbouring 2 were an African mother and her super cute infant daughter - both pretty relaxed and speaking English and we helped each other at times (a light that wouldn’t led ther infant sleep and sharing the seats in the middle).
We were all a bit sad to be leaving (even Arnav was looking around a bit) though the stewards came around to try and cheer us with a Polaroid photo which only helped a little.
We got the bassinet this time and sensed Arnav was getting sleepy around 5:30pm so we took him to the bulkhead seat on our left which had plenty of room and one guy who didn’t mind as we stood and rocked him to sleep there (taking turns to in between to eat our meal).
Funny incident number #1 - whilst getting our carry on bag together I must have spilled the beaker of water on my seat. Of course I didn’t realise this at the time - I found out a few hours later with a completely wet backside but I was thankful and very happy as it could have been something else :)
Arnav transferred into the bassinet well If a little bit of a snug fit. But literally on putting him down there And thinking we could get some rest, turbulence started on the plane and the 2nd male steward told us we couldn’t keep him there so we had to take him out.
Pooja held him at first to ensure he wasn’t restless and the other passenger shared her daughters seat with us lifitng up the arm rest.
Arnav slept pretty well and eventually we transferred him back but took turns to keep an eye on him and though he’s usually a solid sleeper he can be woken easily in the bassinet e.g. dropping altitude or loud noises. But it was a great help and we used carry on bags to reduce.
All in all it was a good flight (again no movies, we probably won’t be doing that until arnav is older).
The iPad and usual Disney videos we had saved was brought out for distracting him on takeoff or landing as needed.
In Dubai things were a little more chaotic however at least on arrival.
Once we got off the plane we looked for a baby stroller again and to our amazement there was one in the rack. But we quickly realised it was there for a reason as it was broken we left it there and moved through the crowd to connections.
Unfortunately ours was the one with the long queue shaped like a snake and Some rude tired, people that don’t care that you are carrying a child and still want to push past you. Because the screens announcing the gate is in the Middle of the queue you get a small amount of time to read what your gate is and Pooja got it as B32.
We got though security (Tip. laptops only need to come out not tablets / iPads) just fine and I took over Arnav but as we were tired Pooja we looked for a trolley instead and picked one up eventually off of an escalator. Arnav was pleased as it had wheels and things were fine only for us to find we couldn’t take it past a point 5 minutes later. There was a special assistance buggy and we managed to get one as she was tired from her stitches / surgery area.
They took us on a nice tour and we then realised how much further we’d have to had walked had we walked it instead.
So at Gate B23 we got off and relaxed, fed and changed Arnav and took him for a walk around the shops taking turns. Dubai airport always surprises my how larger it is but also seems to have all kinds of shops from H&M, McDonalds, a Nutella stand (I’ll come to to this later) and a climbing wall. Luckily Pooja checked with someone on her trip around with Arnav (as it was an hour from our supposed flight) only to be told and confirm herself that ours was Gate B32 not Gate B23.
We walked no special assistance buggy this time to the real gate and found all seats taken and not a single person willing to lift their bags up (due to family members sitting there apparently).
We made the most of it and found some seats nearby and - as if it were a sign - a soft play area for kids. Pooja rested and I took Arnav through there though it was dominated by slightly older Kids (toddlers) so I had to be there to protect him from them running into him - but also tired parents living down. The fake grass was of familiarity to Arnav and we did have a go at some supervised slide fun.
I saw Pooja was tired and realised we hadn;’t taken any food or snacks in a while. I forgot we were carrying some and didn’t want to ask for her dollars so I went with Arnav and my Great British Pounds (for the taxi home i could get more money from there) too the Nutella stand. Whilst queueing I looked back several times and I’m glad I did people were standing up but not going through the gate. Reluctantly I headed back checked with Pooja and went to the stand to ask. They would be boarding in 2 minutes.
Since she was sat far away in the only available seat I couldn’t signal to her otherwise we might have been front in the queue (to spite those people that didn’t let us sit down with our baby). I went back to her to help with the bags also and the gate opened and everyone got up to form a disorderly queue. There was no room to even ask if families would be allowed on after first and business class let alone stand.
At this point Arnav was hyped up from his playtime adventures (or being awake so late) but instead of crying it was squealing shouting and laughing. A yound Australian pair a couple (I think) behind us had fun with him playing peekaboo. In a crowd of subdued, quiet tired adults and some distressed children too - Arnav was the loudest but was making people laugh with his giggles and chuckles.
We made our way through the final seating area downstairs and waited to be called up by zone again (this time we were zone B). He was hungry so I Was about to make some milk but bad timing again as they announced the boarding and we got through but took our time. We tried to find a position through the mob and asked a few people who did let us through as Pooja rocked Arnav this time to sleep. We also asked a few people mostly men and boys to be careful as they more often than not bumped into arnav’s feet and we didnt want to wake him (again no priority for babies)
We took the lift (elevator) Instead of escalator down and boarded the plane.
We were on the top deck for the first time - but storage was a surprise a small overahead compartment that barely fit his backpack due also to a musical instrument kept in its case kept there. I spoke to an assistant but they said to find what you can so I went down a few seats to store both Arnav and many backpack (whilst Pooja held Arnav who was still gently sleeping). Pooja - who I was keeping an eye on from the middle of the plane as I stored luggage - waved me back discovered we had storage compartment on our left side wall too on this deck (sort of like a bin). We prepared our carryon bag for Arnav and squeezed and squashed our backpacks into there. Phew.
Staff were super helpful on this flight and we were sat together in a row of 2 with privacy we wanted. Bassinet came after take off and we put Arnav in there except for turbulence later as we now came to expect. It was late we were hungry and they did bring something a cheese sandwich. Since the sandwich cold I asked for tea and convince Pooja to do the same. We ate some and got some rest taking turns to keep an eye on Arnav.
I changed Arnav one last time before take off in a last minute run with him the toilets.
Since there was turbulence but also people coming past the curtain nearby for the toilets we had to be alert they didn’t knock into his overhanging feet. He stirred from this so we took turns to hold him.
He slept through the entire flight / night until early morning (with one change in our seats when he stirred but we didnt want to wake him). He fed only once during the night but that was our mistake we forget to fill the thermos and so I ran to the back to get some water for him and fill up whilst he screamed whilst the plan was sleeping. Other than that he was fine. I took the main shift this time to hold him due to turbulence as Pooja did a lot last flight when he was unsettled. We switched seats so she was on the wall side not aisle side (no windows on upper deck) as now it was her turn to have a wet seat presumably from the beaker (Tip. we now store the beaker in a ziplock bag).
Late into the night I felt some cramps in my tummy wher Arnav was laying on me. I managed to ignore it so Pooja and Arnav could sleep (I tried not to sleep like the last flight but I also fell asleep for a few hours). In the early morning Pooja and I woke slowly and I felt the cramps again. I told her it was fine but he moved suddenly and all of a sudden it wasn’t fine for me. I carefully transferred Arnav to her still asleep and ran to the bathroom. I was first for having trapped gas and unfortunately some diarrhoea (maybe it was the sandwich or Arnav resting on me I dont know). I went back to my seat worried the whole that Pooja was on her own with him but he was still sleeping but soon after it was her turn to feel the effects of gas / trapped wind on a flight.
I took Arnav back and they brought breakfast out (hers first as it was a special meal and then mine). Pooja was too queasy to eat but we took her meal tray and later mine too and put them in the unused bassinet. I didn’t get to eat mine for a while as I didnt want to wake him or trouble her and was also in doubts. We ended up sharing my breakfast passing fork between to feed each other without him grabbing it. We gave him some milk and snacks and prepared for descent.
He was noisy at this point so I took him for a stroll / walk down the aisle now he’s awake. I went to where the steward area and he said hello and becomes his charming self with new people. I didn’t know whilst they were asking me that he was over my shoulder causing trouble. A stewardess changed facial expression from smiling to angst at me. I turned around and saw him pulling and reaching towards the “emergency do not press button” and strings at the bulkhead where I was standing. Arnav was too eager to get home it seems or cause trouble likely. The worst thing is I told him no and he still went for it (!)
We landed singing old McDonald the entire time to him as he was noisy and chatty and eager to get up and about by the looks of it. As soon as seatbelt signs came off we got up, as I turned around expecting passengers to give us horrible looks (I don’t care) I was astonished that they instead smiled (hard to be angry at a child making noise in the night when he smiles at you) and congratulate us and Pooja especially (from the woman directly behind us). Flight attendants gave Pooja a surprise gift as we left (a toiletries bag from business class) for a being “a super mum” the entire flight.
We exited slowly whilst the attendants got some cuddles from Arnav and made our way through immigration in the family line for the first time. It was straight forward no issues with new passport or suspicious questions (very friendly). Luggage collections is now a bit different for us. We got some change to get a trolly (Tip. Take a pound coin when arriving anywhere you need trolly in the UK). We took turns to look four luggage eventually Pooja finding it (I come to realise I rely on her too much for this) but getting someone to help her lift it.
The taxi driver was a few minutes late so we waited outside Costa until he parked, changed Arnav’s nappy and picked up some drink and snacks . We loaded Arnav into the car seat with a fresh nappy Son and soon Mum both fell asleep in the ride home.
We made it home, Arnav’s first international trip complete ✅
Written by Shagun Madhikarmi