This article was written in 2011 for my Balancing Act column. I thought I’d uploaded it … but it turns out I didn’t. It is all true … and we still fight over who has to sit next to Music Man when we fly.

After a whirlwind visit to family in the Eastern States, there were mixed emotions. A touch of sadness, a niggling (unwelcome) reminder of the impending return to ordinary life, relief that before long we would be in our own beds and, for the kids, excitement about their pre-prepared goody bags and free inflight entertainment.

I did not imagine that during the flight our family of six would become THAT family – the one everyone on the plane could not wait to get rid of and made heavily punctuated Facebook statuses about.

“OMG, the family from hell was on the flight home!! OMG, they were soooo annoying!!!”

Mildly annoying were the bellows of laughter from Miss Attitude as she watched Hannah Montana on the tiny screen. Slightly more annoying was Music Man and Monkey’s inclination to press the buttons for the inflight entertainment system over and over…and over and over.

But when Music Man complained of feeling sick as the plane ascended (probably from diving into his goody bag too quickly), things degenerated rapidly from annoying to awful.

Blue Eyes was quick to pass Music Man a paper bag when it became apparent that the retching sounds were only the warm up to the big event. We looked on in horror as the bag filled …and filled … how could one child vomit so much?

Monkey and Bear raised their eyebrows and shifted as far as they could away, while Miss Attitude continued guffawing, oblivious to the unfolding events. Meanwhile, the ever-so-helpful flight attendant refused to take the bag because she was serving food and suggested Blue Eyes take it to the toilet. Unfortunately, another trolley was blocking the way, so he sat down grumpily, or as we Aussies put it, “spewing”.

And that’s when it happened. Just as I was about to show Blue Eyes a bag of chips that was about to burst open because of the air pressure, something else exploded. Well, two things actually.

First, the bag of vomit exploded all over Blue Eyes, dripping down his shirt, onto his lap and through to the seat. That was followed by an even louder explosion.

“Sugar, Honey, Iced Tea*,” he yelled, followed by “Fudge**! This is fudging*** disgusting!”.

The good people of the plane covered their noses and meditated on nicer smells, while the flight attendant said “Oh dear” and called for back-up. I jumped up to help; covering up a nervous laugh with fake retching that soon turned into real retching, and grabbed the nearest thing at hand to mop up the mess … my new jumper.

Another flight attendant appeared, and passed out reams of paper wipes and a jumbo tin of disinfecting wipes. He discreetly sprayed the air to tone down the offending smell, all the while offering soothing remarks like, “There, there”, while I mopped, retched and coughed. Blue Eyes simmered as he mopped, muttering “This is fudging, fudging revolting” under his breath.

Bear and Monkey focused on their laptops and Miss Attitude had no idea what was going, bless her.

An hour later, Blue Eyes had been given a blanket and some nice perfumed toiletries as a “sick as” consolation prize. I had the sickening feeling that I might need a paper bag next, but luckily it turned out to be a false alarm.

Music Man was most put out when we said he could most definitely not eat his Krispy Kreme donut and was banned from food until we got home, poor soul. He didn’t push it though. He could see his dad was still spewing.

By the time we drove home from the airport we saw the funny side and allowed ourselves some feeble sick jokes – thanks to my Facebook friends who didn’t see the serious side at all. It wasn’t them in the hot seat, I suppose.

I never saw my jumper again. It was chucked up. I mean chucked out.

* He didn’t really say Sugar, Honey, Iced Tea.

** Or Fudge.

** Or Fudging.



Picture of Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

5 Responses

  1. That really is the flight from hell! I’m glad you could laugh about it soon afterwards.

    That danged* air steward—couldn’t possible interrupt serving food to dispose of a vomit bag!

    *I didn’t really say ‘danged’ either.

  2. I sympathise. We had a similar event on our last trip back from Adelaide to Perth but luckily the sickness for Mr 6 happened on descent, not ascent… and a plug where it’s due, the Qantas staff were wonderful. We never got near the sick bag tho… no warning, no time.

  3. Oh. My. Gawd. That must have been excruciating. Kudos to you for being able to write about it with humor and grace! But no, I don’t think I’d want to ever get on a plane again if I’d lived through that experience.

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