I learned again how intransigent airline staff can be, even with kids and the elderly!
There's probably only one crowd I hate dealing with more than mobile phone companies, and that's airlines. You always hope when travelling with children that things are going to run smoothly. They never do. But when you're travelling with children and the elderly, you're down on your knees saying a Novena that you all get there in one piece.
To be fair it started to go horribly wrong before we got there when granny and grandad forgot their passports! Luckily enough they hadn't gotten very far so that situation was rescued by a quick-thinking sister-in-law.
On arrival in Dublin airport, the children were running around like little lunatics on speed. The father-in-law was hobbling around on his walking stick and mother-in-law was looking rather stressed. We get to the check-in desk and the sour-pussed young one behind the desk (who didn't even bother to see hello to us) told us there were no seats together left on the plane so we'd all have to sit separately.
'But we have two children. They can't sit on their own,' I implored. Secretly, I was a bit thrilled. Myself and Himself had already tossed for who was going to get stuck with them and their non-stop questions on the journey up to Dublin. I had lost so really the prospect of two hours with my book and a G&T was sounding rather attractive.
Except I do have some conscience and so I insisted that they sit with us. Miss No Personality 2013 merely shrugged her shoulders and told us to take it up with cabin crew. We could have paid €9 each for allocated seating, she told us. '€9 each to sit together? Are you mental? I don't want to sit with them that much!' Himself declared.
Meanwhile, the father-in-law was starting to wilt so we tried to fast track him through security. 'Look, he's an old man,' I said to the security guy. 'He can barely stand up. Could you not just let him slip through here.'
No can do.
Grand, says I walking away in a huff. Then Himself came up with the ingenious plan of robbing (well borrowing really) a wheelchair and putting the father-in-law in it. He collapsed into a heap whilst we pushed him around duty free buying him bottles of scotch to keep him quiet. It was brilliant. There we were, all the entourage right up the front, no queuing and first onto the plane.
However on boarding, cabin crew refused to budge on the seating arrangements. 'It's a full plane. We can't do anything about it.' Seething I sat down in a row behind the youngest. One kindly man took pity on us and offered to swap seats so I could sit with her.
Meanwhile the 11-year-old wasn't so lucky. He got stuck beside two middle-aged women who were langered before they got on the plane and almost stretchered off the other end after constantly swigging from their secret stash of booze.
As we disembarked I asked him was he alright. 'Well I've learnt several new curses,' he said. 'Did they talk to you?' I asked. 'Yeah they offered me a bottle of Heineken!'
Great! An 11-year-old in rehab would be all I need!