I felt as ready as possible. We had turned over the keys to the house the night before, and our careful planning and packing were all set. During Christmas I had carefully stashed away gifts just for travel and arrival days. Anne, Rex, and Becky cared for the kids so Matt and I could spend the morning finalizing travel & packing details. As our family drove together to the airport we sang with enthusiasm and nostalgia, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go . . . . I'm leaving on a jet plane. Don't know when I'll be back again."
Yes, Abby and James had woke up with minor colds and James had a tooth coming in. And Kaylee had a meltdown at minute 1 at the airport (as seen in this photo). But it was finally moving day! Let's do this!
We got to the airport 4.5 hours early and were first in line for when they would open up the check in counter. With 8 checked bags, 4 carry-ons, 3 backpacks, 2 strollers, and 2 car seats, we did not want to leave room for error. The British Airway people at the counter were helpful and patient, and the kids played nicely while they waited for us to get everything checked in.
With two hours left to wait, we were happy to have access to the lounge courtesy of Matt's research and preparation. Unlimited snacks, wifi, surprise gifts to unwrap from Aunt Anne, and being able to spread out a bit made the wait much more bearable.
It was finally time to board the plane, and we were all smiles. Time to go to London! Such excitement and enthusiasm!!!
And then the flight started. Despite Amazon paying for James' to have his own seat, we were told upon departure (not earlier at the check in gate mind you) that his seat was not airline approved so he would not be able to use his car seat for take off and landing. Or if there was turbulance. This meant that on multiple occasions when he was fast asleep in his seat I had to wake him and take him out so he could be safely held. I do not understand the logic in this, but I suppose I don't know much about airliner safety . . . nonetheless it was a discouraging beginning. The kids cheerfully watched shows and sort of ate the dinner provided. But then the pain started.
Head colds and air travel do not go hand in hand. Especially when you are 3 years old, or 6 months old, and cannot articulate just how much the air pressure is hurting your congested little head. So for about 70% of the flight either Abby or James was screaming in pain. Matt was able to sooth James by rocking him in his car seat when the seatbelt sign was not on (thankfully much of the flight), but poor Abby was just a wreck. She couldn't get comfortable and just flailed on my lap (or Matt's). Eventually she settled down when I made a little makeshift bed on the ground. At one point she started coughing so hard that she threw up though.
Luckily Danny and Kaylee did fall asleep pretty well, though Danny would wake up every 30-40 minutes and ask how much longer until we landed. In this shot you can see where Matt finally sat down to sleep for a bit (he was standing and rocking James probably 4+ hours) and Danny passed out.
The breakfast boxes they brought us just a bit before landing were charming. The kids were so exhausted that none could even eat a bite though.
At the end of the worst flight in the history of the Hong family, we awaited our strollers. And waited. And waited. Finally after waiting 15-20 minutes at the end of the gate one of the flight crew told us they must have made a mistake and taken it to the baggage claim. Which is not a big deal at all unless you've been waiting 20 minutes and now have to carry a sick, exhausted 3 year old through the passport line. Fortunately by the time we got to baggage claim all our luggage was ready to go, and our stroller was there rather than lost.
We took a couple taxis to our Air BnB, which is truly lovely. Nonetheless I'm sure as the owner walked us through, it was with great trepidation since we all looked like zombies and several of us cried the entire time. Matt helpfully went out and bought some late lunch for us, then discovered none of the children really like mixed mayo sandwiches (ie chicken salad or egg salad) so they ate leftover fruit snacks and fish crackers for lunch. We got some medicine down James and Abby, and then rallied to take the whole family over to our new house. Abby Jo's ibuprofen seemed to kick in right when we arrived, and there were some blissful moments of hide and seek and exploring our new home while Matt did a walk through with the agent. We had finally arrived.
That night we opted for a safer option for dinner - we ate at Pizza Express. The kids were thrilled. Matt literally fell asleep during the meal we were so exhausted. We were all asleep in bed by 7:30 that night. Unfortunately the rest of the night went about as well as the airplane ride with more wailing then sleeping. . . but we survived and we are in London!