“Are we going to crash, Mummy? Is that why we have to wear a seatbelt? Is it because we’re going to crash? Do you think we’re going to crash?” said H with glee as he buckled himself into his seat.
It’s usually 2 year old J who is the issue on an aeroplane. My husband and I divide the flight into 30 minute segments, as we’ve discovered that that is as long as any sane adult can try to keep a very active 2 year old in an aeroplane seat without deciding it’s time for a spot of unscheduled wing-walking. J didn’t disappoint (we’re not going near an aeroplane again until we can plug him into a gameboy and not see the whites of his eyes again until landing), but this time 4 year old H decided to join in.
After the ‘crash’ conversation he settled down for a little while until we started the approach to Heathrow.
“Look, there’s a fighter jet!” he shouted, kneeling up at the window. I whipped round and fixed my husband with a glare.
“Are we being escorted by a fighter jet?” I said, trying to keep my voice at a normal pitch. It wasn’t the most ridiculous question. We were flying Pakistan International Airlines from Islamabad to London, having embarked at Benazir Bhutto airport which has the slackest security I’ve ever seen.
“Mummy, I saw a fighter jet out of the window!” H said, again, in a voice which easily carried across the cabin.
By this point my eyes were burrowing into my husband’s and out of the back of his head.
“No, it wasn’t a fighter jet,” he reassured, “but there was another aeroplane out of the window.”
Aah – the joys of flying into Heathrow, rather than the much quieter Birmingham airport. I settled back into my seat.
And then H pulled his last joker out of the bag. This was the act which means that there is now a queue of people at the PIA desk asking who that family are and could they please pay much, much more if it means they never have to travel with them again. Think of the very last thing you’d want to hear as you came into land. You’re feeling a bit nervous. It might even be your first time flying. What do you really, really not want to hear shouted across the cabin? Could it be something like this:
“WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIIIIIIE!!!!!!!”
As I said, no more flights for us for a very, very long time.