January 12th 2012 was a big day in our little family’s history……………… it was the day we boarded the long flight home.
We arrived at Brisbane Airport very early……………too early really but our shuttle, (which J pointed out was nothing like a shuttle because it was a mini bus and so it was very silly for us to call it a shuttle LOL), had a pick up time of 9am, so off we went. Our first flight wasn’t until late afternoon so we quickly checked our luggage in, one of the pros of arriving so early before our flights was there was no queue for J to have to wait in After checking our luggage in we discovered J had taken a liking to the luggage carousels, he was fascinated and quite happy to sit in a fairly empty part of the airport watching it go around and around. So Hubby and I grabbed a coffee and claimed a bench. About an hour later it began to get a little more crowded and so rather than have to queue at the security checkpoints we decided to move on to the departure area. It’s a good job we went through the security area early, beating the crowd because Hubby got pulled to the side for an explosives security check. He was carrying J’s Pokemon Rucksack with his toys in and when asked if he had packed his bag himself he replied “no, it’s my son’s bag, he packed it” and pointed to J. With this they decided that it was obviously a suspect bag, but after a quick check everyone will be pleased to know that none of J’s Mario figures contained any traces of explosives LOL
Once at the departure area we grabbed a small bite to eat in the “cleanest” cafe we could find and then went to find our departure gate. J watched our first plane land and then watched as it got loaded up, he was convinced that he had seen his suitcase with his mario tags (that I had made especially for our journey), and played with his IPad for a couple of long hours. Eventually we waved goodbye to Brisbane and walked through the tunnel to the plane. Our first flight was with Virgin and even before we boarded the plane they couldn’t have been more helpful. They allowed us to board first and asked if there was anything they could do to help. Once aboard they gave him J friendly snacks to eat and asked if he wanted anything else etc, just very friendly and helpful…………..very impressed!
Once we’d found our seats, which were near the rear of the plane so that J had less people “looking at him”, (something he doesn’t like), panic suddenly hit us! J froze and refused to sit on his seat because he thought it was “dirty”! After abit of negotiation we managed to convince him that the cleaners had just finished cleaning the plane and the “marks” that he could see were simply the pattern on the seat……………PHEW!
We arrived at Melbourne 2 and a half hours later. We had planned our flights so that we had very quick changes at each airport, less time for J to get bored, stressed etc. We quickly checked in at the international departures desk, unfortunately we did have to wait in a small queue which did begin to get J a little anxious, but no huge meltdowns, Well Done J! Once through check in we made our way through the security, only to be stopped once again, this time at passport control. J had a new passport and I hadn’t thought to bring his old, expired passport with us………….ofcourse it was the old passport that had his visa in. After explaining our situation the security staff made a quick call to immigration before allowing us to leave Australia.
By the time our second flight left it was after 11pm and J was shattered, falling asleep before the plane had taken off. We then had almost 6 hrs of peace whilst he slept, I took the opportunity to grab a couple of hrs myself. The second flight was a very long 14 hrs! I’m relieved that I had remembered to pack a few J friendly snacks because the child’s meal that we had booked for him never arrived and there wasn’t a chance on this planet that he was even going to try the meal he was given. He spent the remainder of the flight playing on his DS and IPod (both batteries were exhausted, the IPad battery had already given up). The whole plane had a little giggle when we landed and J yelled “WOOHOO! Yes we landed ok!” LOL
We were a little late landing at Abu Dhabi and only had 30 minutes to make from our arrival gate to departure gate, with a toilet break on the way, J had not wanted to use the toilet on the aeroplane and so was pretty desperate bless him. When we arrived at the security check area our hearts sunk……………..I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people in one place at the same time! I could see the panic on J’s face and quickly found a member of staff. I explained that J had Autism and there would be no way t all that he would be able to wait his turn in the ocean of people, he was very understanding and guided us through the crowd, straight to the front of the queue. Once again we were stopped, this time I beeped as I walked through the detectors! So I was taken into a small room and quickly checked by a female member of staff and then we were off on the final part of our journey.
Our final flight was bringing us “home”. This time J’s child meal arrived (I had complained during the second flight), so J happily sat and ate a small box of Frosties, without milk ofcourse. He wouldn’t sleep during the final flight at all, despite being tired and starting to feel a little grumpy. With all of his gadgets having exhausted batteries we set about finding a game that he enjoyed with the in flight entertainment. I think he played on each and every computer game available but thankfully was entertained for most of the flight. Towards the end of the flight he had become quite grumpy, I think just simply a result of tiredness, boredom and needing to move. He didn’t enjoy the landing, it hurt his ears and declared that he never wanted to go on another aeroplane again but overall again he surprised us and we had a reasonably good journey.
Once in London we collected our luggage, the Mario tags that I had made for each piece of luggage had done the trick, they were easy to find and J having to find Mario on the luggage carousel gave him something to do.
Overall it was a very long and tiring journey but I’m proud to say Well Done my little soldier you did a fab job!
We had made it…………….we were home …………………