Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trip to USA - getting there

I'll be posting about our trip to USA in bits and bobs, this is the first instalment - on getting there.

I wanted to fly business and even got the agent to reserve tickets for us but after Richard pointed out that the cost would pay for a good portion of Ryan's education, I gladly agreed to fly economy. We decided to fly with Singapore Airlines, via Frankfurt.

When we flew to Sydney last year, we were allocated the bassinet seats, which was great because there was extra leg room. So this time, we were actually hoping for the seats with the bassinet, although we weren't intending on using the bassinet, we were just aiming for the extra leg room. We didn't get the seats - they were taken up by passengers who actually needed the bassinet - so we got the usual three seats at the side. 

Changi airport
This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the armrests can be raised (the armrests at the bassinet seats are fixed because the tray tables are stored in the armrests). Once we raised the armrests, the space became a large couch for the three of us. Ryan sat between us and insisted on leaning on one of us when he was seated, so the extra seat space was much more practical and useful compared to extra leg room. Ryan could also walk about on the seats and I was also able to curl up and lie down with Ryan to sleep with my head in Richard's lap. When we flew to Sydney, the fixed armrests were not a problem because Ryan was still so small-sized (plus he wasn't walking yet) so, when he wasn't in the bassinet, he and I could sit comfortably in one seat. So it was definitely a fortunate turn of events for us (not to mention a good travel tip to bear in mind!)

Our flight left Changi airport at 11.50 pm on Friday 29 April, scheduled to arrive in New York (JFK) at 10.55 am on Saturday 30 April. With a two-hour stopover in Frankfurt, this meant that we would be in the air for a total of 21 hours and 5 mins (the flight back to Singapore was shorter at 19 hours 45 mins).

We armed ourselves for the long flight with the quiet book and a colouring pad and the crew gave us the usual children's pack as well. As it turned out, all three of us managed to fall asleep on the flight to Frankfurt so that leg of the journey was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Frankfurt waiting lounge. Nursing Ryan and catching up on reading.
Panoramic photo taken by Richard on iPhone 4, stitched together using Photosynth.
Frankfurt was a good chance to get out and stretch our legs. From Frankfurt to New York, Ryan was in good spirits. He played with the quiet book, did some doodling, tried some airline food, nursed and napped when he felt like it, sang some songs, and generally just chilled. He didn't fuss at all. 

I was pretty stoked that the quiet book worked. I was a little worried that it would have been a wasted effort so I was very relieved and very happy that Ryan played with it and enjoyed it. In addition, one of the reasons for making the quiet book was that I didn't want to resort to the iPad or the iPhone to entertain Ryan on the flight, and I'm happy to say that we didn't.

We arrived on time but it took us ages to clear immigration because the queue was so long. The immigration officers were very nice though. Having Ryan with us was the key. He got lots of compliments and even some chocolate! The interesting thing was that everyone knew Ryan is a boy. When I mentioned that everyone back in Singapore thinks he's a girl, one officer shook her head and said, "No, he's very handsome and you're going to have to get a broom to beat the girls off". That was a nice note on which to start our trip.

After collecting our luggage, we managed to book a limo service from the airport to our hotel in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which took about an hour plus. We planned to stay there for two nights, during which we would visit Sesame Place (just opposite the hotel) and Please Touch Museum (in nearby Philadelphia city).

By the time we checked into our hotel, Sheraton, it was late afternoon and we had been on the move for a day and a half already. We briefly considered looking for some dinner but we were just too tired, so we crawled into bed and slept till early next morning.

Next instalment - Sesame Place!


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