We’re parents to two young Zulu boys which means that we’ve done the flight from Cape Town International Airport to King Shaka International Airport twice as a family because our adoption journey meant flying across the country to meet our boys and bring them home. So when Travelstart asked me to share my experience of flying with kids, I could confidently say ‘been there, done that, got the giant sized Durban avo’.
Let me just say right from the start that I absolutely LOVE Durban – Ryan is from Durban and I did my Physio Community Service on the South Coast of KZN. It’s hands down one of the best places to go on holiday and walking out from the King Shaka airport and breathing in the humid coastal air gives me life. As a couple Ryan and I already felt deeply connected to Durban and so you can imagine how stoked we where when we got the call to say that we’d been matched – not to just any kid but a little Sharks supporter, like his dad.
As a mom who is adopting, it’s pretty tricky to book your maternity as you aren’t working with any finite dates – it can all be a bit up in the air. Looking back we got the call matching us with Ilan over four weeks before our court date was set. I spent one week of maternity leave relishing in the time off work and getting ready for the arrival of our first child but soon grew impatient and decided to rather hang out in Durban while we waited for that illusive court date. I got to visit Ilan daily for almost a month before Ryan flew up to join me.
The more I hung out with Ilan, the more concerned I became that the court trip and even more so, the flight home, would be overwhelming in every way for our boy. He had spent the first 11 months of his life in a small, safe and quiet environment with a few consistent caregivers and I was worried about his reaction to the crowds, noise and bright lights of ‘the outside world. Upon advice I invested in a small bottle of Rescue Remedy for the day that he’d make the trip to court with us. Although we dosed him up, he didn’t even bat an eyelid as we went to court, shopped at Pick n Pay and later flew to Cape Town. The Rescue Remedy came in handy for me, though, as I struggled to keep my emotions in check as we drove away from Ilan’s place of safety for the final time.
Thankfully the flight was uneventful, Ilan was chilled and we had his dummy and bottle on standby for the take off and landing as sucking helps relieve pressure in the little one’s ears. We had a stack of paperwork to prove that Ilan was in our care and although I tried my best to keep irrational thoughts at bay, I was truly concerned that we may have been stopped and questioned about why we were taking this cute little boy to Cape Town with us.
A mere three years later, we returned to Durban to meet our Judah but this time as a family of four about to become five. The second time around it was more of a mission to make the trip to King Sahka as we had more baggage and one kid in a seat and a wriggly little one on our laps. Although we took snacks and books and toys for the kids they didn’t hold their attention for long and so I was grateful that we had a window seat for Ilan so he could gaze at the clouds. Flying home with 3 kids was another story as we weren’t allowed to sit three in a row (something about the oxygen masks) and so had two kids on our laps and Ryan and I sat across the aisle from each other. This flight was definitely more eventful, but it was worth every second up in the air.
Here are some tips that Travelstart have put together about flying with kids. Number 3 is especially important to take note of for adoptive families who are flying before their child’s adoption is finalised. We had to take our kids’ original birth certificates and adoption order or paperwork from court indicating that they were placed in our care and flights were booked in their birth names.
And here’s how some other parents have managed to fly with kids:
This post was written in collaboration with Travelstart – check them out for Cheap Flights From Johannesburg To Cape Town