For those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, going abroad with a toddler is definitely an experience… At times, it can feel more stressful that you could imagine! But sometimes, it can be the most enjoyable thing you’ve ever done! This was the case when we flew out to Primorsko, Bulgaria to spend a week with the in-laws.
We were flying from Luton Airpot to Burgas using Wizz Air. The flight was in the early morning, so when we got to the airport, it was largely empty except for a few people asleep on the floor and chairs. There were no shops open, and it was so quite… Dare I say it was boring? Especially for a toddler who had been woken up really early, and then not fallen asleep again during the 2.5 hour drive to the airport.
Perhaps it was this lack of people that made it so easy to park? You see, every time we’ve flown over there before, we would leave the car at my half-sister’s house and pay for a taxi to the airport, thinking it would be cheaper than parking at the airport itself.
Well, here’s my advice! Don’t be stupid like we were! You see, a taxi from central Luton to the airport costs £30 – 35, depending on the size of taxi that you need. So, for a return trip from your car to the airport, you’re looking at £60 – 70…
Well, this time we decided to pay for parking in the new multi-storey car park at the airpot. That way, we’d be able to avoid the hassle of moving our baggage, the little princess and her pushchair from one car to another, just to get to the airport. Instead, we were able to just drive up to the car park, which read our number plate and printed out our parking ticket automatically because of our pre-booking. Then we found a space within about 2 minutes, got out and walked all of 5 minutes to the check-in area!
And guess what? It cost us £70 for a week… So yeah… It ended up being the same as getting a taxi, but without the stress. If you’re going away for just a week, I would definitely recommend just parking at Luton Airport! You can find out more about their parking options on the Luton Airport site.
However, what I wouldn’t recommend is going with Wizz Air, if you can avoid it. The main reason for this is because, as a budget airline, you really do get what you pay for! Check In was supposed to open 2 hours before take off, but it actually opened half an hour late.
And I know it wasn’t because of the airport itself, as planes taking off after ours opened their check-in desks on time. All I do know if that, when the staff came to the desks, they looked very much half-asleep. But anyway, the worst part about the check-in experience is that they mark out two lanes for you to queue in but, what you don’t realise until you get to the front, is that those two lanes just merge in to one at the end, with no structure. So people just sort of push passed you if you’re not quick enough!
Now I know that’s more a fault with the passengers, but it would have been simple enough to just keep the two lanes separate, wouldn’t it? That way, people wouldn’t have been pushing my daughter’s pushchair out of their way as they forced themselves in front of us… Now, keep in mind that my daughter was in the pushchair at the time. I did get very, very angry about this…
And, to be honest, it wasn’t much better at the gate.
Here’s a lesson we had learnt a couple of years before my daughter was born; if traveling with Wizz Air, don’t bother paying the extra for priority boarding! Well, this year we got to see another family learn that lesson.
At the gate, there are two lanes; one for Priority and one for us common peasants. However, whilst they do let the Priority passengers through the gate first, it’s only about 15 seconds after that the rest of us go through. And then you have to get on a bus to the plane anyway, and you all get on the same bus! So, you get to find a seat on the bus first… Or you get to stand in the centre of the bus. But then, when you get to the plane, you’re actually going to be the last ones off the bus (or at least, one of the last ones) and so, you end up at the back of the queue to board!
The only time I’ve seen it done right was, funnily enough, in Bulgaria itself – Priority boarding passengers and families with pushchairs get to go through the gate first, and on to a different bus that goes to the plane first. However, this is all management by the Burgas Airport staff, and not the Wizz Air staff (who don’t appear at the Gate at all in Burgas).
Now, this was actually the bit I was dreading most… How on Earth would we keep the princess happy and entertained for 3.5 hours on a plane? Well, it turns out that our ideas worked really well! She was calm, happy and giggly the entire flight! Well, at least until the last 30 minutes of the flight, where she was tired and moody – she fell asleep on the other half’s lap eventually.
So, how did we do it? How did we keep a 2 year old from screaming to high heaven out of boredom? Here’s how:
- We brought a bunch of finger food, especially a few bags of Heinz Banana Biscotti, for her to play with and snack on.
- We brought some of her toddler books for her to look at.
- We bought a Kindle Fire Tablet with a Kid’s Case, so that she could watch My Little Pony.
- We installed the Tiny Pop app onto the Kindle, so she could play games
- We brought a few of her heavier duty toys along, so that she could play with them (aka bash Daddy in the head with them)
All of this was more than enough to keep her entertained and happy throughout the flight! In fact, it was one of the least stressful flights I’ve ever been on, because of her! Her giggling and smiling just made it all that much more bearable, sitting in those tiny seats for 3.5 hours.
However, again, if I were you I would avoid Wizz Air if possible! At someone who is 6 foot, I’d say I am pretty average height… Yet I had to sit in the aisle seat, just so I could put my legs out to the side! The leg room you get, even at the back of the place, is really tight! On top of that, there’s no actual built-in entertainment, like radio or a screen. So whilst the princess was busy enjoying herself, my other half and I were bored out of our minds…
If you are going to fly with Wizz Air, definitely bring a book, MP3 player or something that can keep you entertained as well! Oh, and I would also recommend doing what we did when it comes to food!
Obviously you cannot bring drinks through the security check, so you’ll need to buy it afterwards, which is expensive. We bought 2 meal deals and some snacks from WH Smith in the Departure Lounge for £18! But you know what, it was worth it! We looked at the prices for the same amount of stuff on the plane, and it was going to be about £30!
So, you can definitely save some money by stocking up on food in the Departure Lounge, putting it in your hand luggage, and then eating that instead of the food on the plane!
And That’s All Folks (For Now)
That’s the end of part 1 of our family trip to Primorsko! In the next post, I’ll be covering the hotel, the actual holiday and our little adventure trying to get the princess to play on the beach!
Have you flown with Wizz Air before? Or do you often use Luton Airport? Have any tips for families flying with toddlers? Let me know in the comments below!