We rose early on Tuesday morning and piled cases, wheelchairs and bodies into the car bound for Dublin airport. Once parked and in the airport, we'd only a short wait to drop of our bags then through security. So far, so fantastic. Duncan used his wheelchair (occasionally recreationally- see video!) though he did jump out every so often before sprinting after whatever took his fancy. No doubt folk observing were wondering what we were about, but sure, we're used to that!
We were delighted to spot my sister at the departure gate. Now we had the full crew the holiday really was on course. When the plane was ready we were allowed to board early. Duncan sat at the window, me to his right, his dad and Thomas in front (in case he kicked the seat!) and Lady and my sister across the aisle from me. It was just right. Best of all each passenger had a personal entertainment system in the seat back. Duncan started to watch Disney films straight off, with his ear defenders over the ear phones.
The Aer Lingus crew were fantastic. After take off we were told that the empty bulkhead seats were ours for the taking if we wanted them. We decided to stay put, even though they had more leg room, since it wasn't worth disrupting what was working so far.
Before long Duncan opted to simply listen to children's TV theme tunes and soon after that he set his screen to show the route map which he followed for hours! The journey took over 9 hours and in all that time he was just as perfect as I could possibly have hoped for. As always, Thomas and Lady were helpful and relaxed, and enjoyed the films and games on offer.
Just one incident marred the experience. Sitting behind me were 2 elderly men whom I presume from their accents were from the USA. They both slept for a few hours. Unfortunately I was assaulted at regular intervals by the most foul stench of someone's intestinal gases escaping and the pungency and direction of the attack strongly suggested one or both of these dudes was the culprit. But hey, when you're on an aeroplane you have to put up with whatever you're next to so I set the air blower things in my row to maximum and tried to breathe through my mouth. Then a couple of hours before landing Duncan started to move the window shutter next to him. He put it up, then a minute later shut it, and for a while he played at opening and closing it. He wasn't making much noise and the shutter wasn't shared with another row. He wasn't causing any harm and I was keeping a close eye to see if I needed to move him on to something else. Then I heard the men behind us talking and they were complaining to each other about the shutter thing, saying they wished he'd make up his mind and leave it alone. I was a bit surprised and caught my sister's eye. She sighed and rolled her eyes at the cranky old guys. Then I heard something I couldn't ignore. The one behind Duncan said (and I didn't catch it all exactly) "...I'd choke him..." and I knew he was referring to Duncan. I said to my sister who looked outraged, "did I just hear that right?!" She said that yes, she'd heard him too. I turned around and looked him in the eye, "excuse me, what was that you just said about my son?" He wasn't so forthright when he was challenged; "oh, nothing...I was just talking about the light. It's OK."
"You were talking about my son. He is disabled, he is autistic and he is doing the best he can. In fact, he is being bloody fantastic."
"Yes, yes. It's OK."
I wanted to say something to the crew but since I wasn't sure what else he's said, besides I'd choke him which I'd heard loud and clear, I left it. But I was a bit shaken. It was extra nice when a few minutes later another old Irish man who was queuing next to our seat for the sandwich sale, started chatting and asked about Duncan saying what a great boy he was. Better yet, 2 of the crew approached me to chat and commended Duncan in the most complimentary way saying he had been just wonderful and he was such a credit to us and what a lovely, happy child he is and it was a pleasure having us on board. Mr Nasty can't help but have heard.
My sister told me later that she'd heard the whole thing clearly. He'd said, "if he was my son I'd have choked him by now." Cruel sod. I pity the children he may have had and hope karma bites him hard on the ass.
But onwards. The descent was hard on Duncan. His ears hurt and despite our best efforts (together with kind offers of sweets and olbas oil drops from the crew and other, nicer passengers sitting close) he couldn't or wouldn't take anything. I just held him and whispered comforting words and he cried until he were almost down. But this too passed. We disembarked and were able to go follow airport staff through the disabled passengers' line at immigration. We even had a friendly immigration officer! We were all tired out but managed to keep it together until we'd got our cases (both times) and picked up the hire car.
We'd more than survived the journey, we'd enjoyed it.