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Our TCK thinks fraught plane trips are normal

We’re flying to Nairobi soon for a conference. Elliot’s been asking things like, “Will I be sick on the plane?” and “How do we know the plane will get there?”

International travel is always tiring and uncomfortable, and it’s even more complicated when you’ve got kids in tow, but as we recounted our various trips with Elliot, we worked out how many of our trips have had extra crises on top of the norm. So, with a little trepidation about our upcoming flight, and hopefully some sense of humour, I give you our international transits in the last five years!


  • January 2013
  • Present: Arthur, Tamie, Elliot (6mo), also our friends Brad and Joh and their two girls
  • Airline: Emirates, ADL => DXB => DAR
  • Issues encountered
    • Delayed for 12 hours in Dubai due to weather
    • No complimentary accommodation at the airport because they were apparently full (informed of this at multiple counters). Appeals on the basis of screaming babies were rebuffed.
    • Booked a place in Dubai instead. After 2 hours through customs and a ride in a taxi to a seedy part of town, discovered that local time had ticked over to the next day while we were booking: we had accidentally booked for tomorrow night.
    • After the manager had pity on us, we squeezed the 7 of us into a small room with 2 single beds before returning to the airport on 4 hours sleep.
    • Emirates later claimed they had accommodation for us but we didn’t show up.
  • Stress rating: Red


  • September 2015
  • Present: Tamie, Elliot (3yo), Callum (in utero)
  • Airline: South Africa Airways, DAR => JNB => PER => ADL
  • Issues encountered:
    • Told off by air hostess within 20 minutes of take off after Elliot spilled his drink.
    • Told off at periodic intervals for the rest of the flight when Elliot wouldn’t sit down in his seat. Seatbelt was way too big for him, no alternatives.
    • Informed meal service would be immediately after take off on second flight. 2 hours later, nothing. Elliot, several hours past bedtime, has a meltdown so I decide not to wait any longer and put him to sleep.
    • Plan to get him changed in nearby toilet thwarted by air hostess because it is for Business Class only. Chorus of, “Just let her!” from Business Class passengers falls on deaf ears. I take my kicking, screaming, biting child past 20 rows of passengers to get to the Economy bathrooms.
    • Meal service arrives just as I get Elliot to sleep. They inform me that I either wake Elliot for food, or he misses out.
  • Stress rating: Red


  • December 2015
  • Present: Arthur
  • Airline: South Africa Airways, DAR => JNB => PER => ADL
  • Issues encountered: none
  • Stress rating: Green


  • June 2016
  • Present: Arthur, Tamie, Elliot (4yo), Callum (4mo)
  • Airline: South Africa Airways, ADL => PER => JNB => DAR
  • Issues encountered:
    • Delayed check in because of a question about our visa. Solved during Perth layover.
    • Questioned before take off about the number of aerosols in one of our bags. Should have spread out the 3 years’ worth of hair product among our bags instead of putting them together.
    • Aforementioned bag does not make boarding. Picked up in Dar a week later.
  • Stress rating: Green


  • February 2017
  • Present: Tamie, Callum (1yo)
  • Airline: Emirates, DAR => DXB => ADL
  • Issues encountered:
    • Narrowly miss flight check-in because of multiple traffic jams in Dar. Allowed through because of white privilege.
    • Laptop stolen out of checked baggage
  • Stress rating: Orange


  • March 2017
  • Present: Arthur, Elliot (4yo)
  • Airline: South Africa Airways, DAR => JNB => PER => ADL
  • Issues encountered:
    • Landing in Johannesburg delayed by storm. Diverted to Botswana to re-fuel. Further delay when fuel tanker doesn’t have a working credit card facility for the aircraft to pay.
    • Narrowly miss connection when eventually land in Johannesburg. Put up in airport hotel to catch the next plane 24 hours later.
  • Stress rating: Orange


  • June 2017
  • Present: Arthur, Tamie, Elliot (4yo), Callum (15mo)
  • Airline: South Africa Airways, ADL => PER => JNB => DAR
  • Issues encountered:
    • Both children constantly vomiting. All changes of clothes of both children and adults covered in vomit before second layover.
  • Stress rating: Red


The flight to Nairobi is only 1.5 hours. What could possibly go wrong? Wish us luck!!

Categories: Bits Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

1 reply

  1. I hope you’ve forgotten all this in a few years. We certainly did, after most of the hassles that go with travelling with kids.

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