Saturday, 3 October 2015

Day 3: Getting there

We don't travel light when we go to Mauritius...

I have travelled to Mauritius five times and managed to experience different airlines. This is my ranking from worst to best:

4- Air France

Does it really come as a surprise? I don't think so. Maybe we were just unlucky between delays, no leg room in the plane, no personal screen at the back of the seat, unfriendly airport staff, lost suitcases, I don't know.

I remember coming back to Dublin a few years ago, after 2 weeks holidays. We were waiting for our suitcases in the arrival hall, and I don't know if that ever happened to you, but when you see people picking up their suitcase one after the other, and there's still no sign of yours, the tension starts mounting, you start sweating, your heart is racing and then there's that defining moment when you realise you won't get your suitcase. That moment is when the belt stops, and you're still waiting. Our luggage missed the connection in Paris, and we only got our stuff back two days later.

All I can say is if you can avoid Air France,do.

3- British Airways

In terms of comfort, punctuality and friendliness of the staff, I have nothing bad to say. The only pain is the airport in itself. Security was extremely high each time. I had to taste my kid's milk and fruit puree to make sure it wasn't dangerous - yet they serve your meal in the plane with real forks and knives, go figure...

The other downside is when Fabrice got stuck in Mauritius when they refused to embark him on the plane due to his passport only being valid for 5 months instead of 6. We take full responsibility for this (although they didn't say anything in Dublin when we flew over...) but, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

2- Air Mauritius

If you're travelling with babies, you're in for a treat. They are very family friendly, helpful and you'll even get a little bag (it's so pretty you can use as a make-up bag afterwards) with all the essentials: spare nappies, cream, wipes and so on. The plane is beyond comfortable, and I couldn't praise the staff enough.

The only downside with flying Air Mauritius is the price (they are a lot more expensive than Emirates) and the fact that you'll have to transit via Charles de Gaulle, enough said...

1- Emirates Airlines 

Comfortable, luxurious, and most of all expensive. This is how I imagined Emirates before we booked our tickets a couple of years ago. So I didn't think when comparing airlines that our flight would cost a 1000 euros less than with Air France or BA! And  I have to say, the "Emirates Experience" really exceeded our expectations.

The baggage allowance is particularly generous: 46 kg per adult and 23 kg per child. And unlike with Air France, our luggage arrived with us and in good condition.

The only difference with  the other trips is that we stopped in Dubai instead of Paris or London, and so we took two 7 hours flights. It worried me a lot, because travelling with a child under 2 is not easy. Well I'm not gonna lie, CiarĂ¡n (5 years old at the time) was great, but Ethan (21 months) didn't sleep at all.

Fortunately the staff was fantastic. Children's well-being is a priority with Emirates. On each flight, the kids received  an activity book, a small magnetic tablet, and a fleece blanket (We still have them after 2 years!). We also got a package of baby essentials. And the children's menu was so good I wanted to eat my children's food.

The stopover in Dubai lasted three hours. The airport is huge, but everything is well signposted so we didn't get lost. The airport provides free pushchairs for children, and only that in itself was a lifesaver! There is a large choice of restaurants, but since our budget was limited we stuck with McDonald's.Yet, eating a "chicken MacArabia" was an interesting experience! 

Travelling to far away destinations is never easy, especially with children, and yes, you'll be tired when you arrive, no matter how organised you are. I've always dreaded long flights with children, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about it (except winning the lotto and travelling first class). So I think my main advice, whatever airline you choose, and whatever you're flying on your own or with kids, is "stay calm, breathe, it only lasts a day"...