Welcome to budget travel kiddos

We’re on a little getaway right now, and so this post is coming from sunny England – and I’m not joking, it’s so sunny that the whole country and his dog appeared to be out walking in the forest today.

We took a bit of a winding route to get here, spending a few days with the in-laws in Cyprus first – which gave me the opportunity to introduce the children to something they’ve escaped until now: the delights of budget travel.

Spring has definitely sprung in Cyprus
Spring flowers: Cyprus was in bloom

Yes, it’s no secret that the children of airline pilots are rather spoilt when it comes to air travel. It was high time they went on easyJet, an airline I remember fondly for its mysterious delays and the strangest noise on arrival at Gatwick, like someone’s sawing off a wing. (Happy to report that both these things still apply.) I even managed to throw in a flight on Ryan Air too, out of Athens. What could possibly go wrong?

I always knew the lack of TVs would come as a shock to the boys – and sure enough, to my amusement, Son2 starts looking everywhere for his screen. In the arm rest, under the seat. “It’s got to be somewhere,” he’s thinking. He even tries tapping the safety picture nailed to the back of the seat to see if that would make it change channel. “No really, there’s no TV,” I say.

What I hadn’t bargained on was the rapturous applause and loud cheer that erupted spontaneously, like a Mexican wave, when we landed in Cyprus; it was a stormy, low cloud sort of evening, and the rain was spitting meanly against the windows. It was a good touch down in bad conditions, following what I can only describe as a mile-high shopping experience (scratch cards, drinks, microwave meals, duty free). But someone told me the passengers always clap on landing, whatever the weather. Very funny.

The thing I’ll remember most about our travels, though, was coming through immigration at Gatwick, and meeting Mr Nice Passport Man (a rare creature indeed). I’m dragging the children behind me, and he starts tapping away at his computer. “Let’s just see if you’re on the Easter Bunny’s naughty or nice list,” he tells my younger son. Son2’s eyes widen like saucers – he’s REALLY worried! “It’s ok – you’re on the good list,” says the official and in we skip.

A welcome like that really does put the spring in your step.