The Flight Across the Atlantic

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“Mommy…. I don’t want to go pee.”

“Mark… do you need to go pee?”


I sigh. Mark involuntarily masters the rhetoric art of litotes, he often states a negative to affirm a positive. I’m sure he needs to pee.

The Greyhound left the Ottawa station minutes ago and we are going full speed on the 417 to catch up for the fact we left late and that the bus is full of passengers to Montreal’s Trudeau Airport, on their way to exotic  journeys and time-sensitive check-in processes.

“He doesn’t need to go,” Feng assesses, always optimistic.

I’m the practical parent and I look at Mark again. Yes, he does need to go. Besides, we are an hour into a half-a-day long trip, this is not the right moment for an “accident”.

“Come on, let’s go to the bathroom inside the bus.”

“I’m gonna fall in the hole!”

“I’ll hold you.”

“Mommy why is the water black?”

“Because few brave souls use the toilet onboard Greyhound buses.”


“Never mind. Don’t look, don’t touch anything and pee. Lucky you, you’re a guy.”

I almost want to wash with hand sanitizer once we are done.

We walk back to our seats and once again, Mark is amazed by the fact that there are no seat belts. Me too. Safety rules in North America are puzzling. When you drive your own kid, you must strap him in an approved car seat, but when a stranger is at the wheel, apparently nothing can happen.

Mark rests his head against the window and watches the scenery going by. No pacifier, not a word. My little baby is grown up. He seems to enjoy the moment.

I close my eyes.

Suddenly, he grabs my hand, hugs me, kisses me and whispers: “I love you.”

“Me too,” I reply.

No one witnessed that perfect mother-and-son moment but I don’t care. It’s already stored into my forever-cool-moments-with-Mark database.

After a while, I grab my laptop and make him watch a documentary I wanted to see. Nope, I’m not playing Kung Fu Panda. My laptop, my rules. Then I play some music. You know what song sucks when you share earbuds with your kid? California Dreamin. I only hear the Papas, he only hears the Mamas.

“I like this song. What does he say?”

“Its… about drugs.”

“Oh,” he nods wisely. “And this one?”

“Generally? He is sad about life. Sometimes, music is sad, sometimes, it’s happy. How does it make you feel?”

“I like it.”

We finally arrive at Trudeau around 9:30 p.m. We are taking the last flight of the day and the airport is unusually empty. We get the boarding passes and realize there is a bit of a problem: the three of us have different seats, all over the aircraft. “Nothing we can do,” Air Transat staff shrug. “I don’t think anyone will want to parent a three-year-old for a six-hour flight,” I reply. “Isn’t it logical that when three members of a family, including a child, buy a ticket, we are seated together?” More French shrugs. “You should have shown up earlier.”

All the food options are closed at the boarding gate and the three of us are starving, including Mark who refused to eat before leaving Ottawa because “I want to eat in the plane!” I should have planned better, but it’s always hard to do so: flying always involves showing up at the airport early, waiting, etc. The last meal was hours ago. I’m not traveling with snacks.

There is a bit of drama at the gate: a family of three handed out passports and passes, but apparently one of the passports isn’t valid for three months beyond the length of stay as per Schengen requirements. I had the same problem a few years ago when I crossed from Costa Rica to Nicaragua but I bribed the official. This time, no such luck: the family argues but they aren’t allowed to board and all the bags must be taken off the plane to find their belongings. I feel sorry for them, it’s a genuine mistake anyone can make. I can’t believe the airline didn’t catch it before boarding!

We board, ask around to change seats but the flight is, in fact, half empty so we are able to move and get two rows for ourselves. Suddenly, our shitty situation turns into a super comfortable flight, although it’s freezing cold in the cabin and I soon realize that no meal will be served. Ooops. We flew Air Transat before but we flew so many airlines over the past few years and I regularly forget what perks they each offer. We make do with the small “complimentary sandwich” and give the one blanket we carry to Mark.

Feng and I watch Deadpool, a superhero movie that is refreshingly blunt and offensive. Mark watches cartoons and sleeps for a couple of hours. Next thing you know, we are landing in Nantes. I love direct flights.

Passport control is as relaxed as usual, luggage pickup is as chaotic too—French don’t like to queue. My parents are waiting in the arrival hall, behind the glass wall, and when Mark spots them we make funny faces. What a change compared to the previous trips… now he knows where we are, he understands the traveling process and he handles it well. It also helps that we don’t have to worry about diapers and milk bottles anymore.

I’m tired but I won’t waste a minute and by the look of him, neither will Mark.

Time to explore France again!

In the Greyhound bus to Montreal

In the Greyhound bus to Montreal

In the Air Transat flight to Nantes

In the Air Transat flight to Nantes

The empty Air Transat cabine

The empty Air Transat cabine

Taking off for Nantes

Taking off for Nantes

Mark sleeping on board

Mark sleeping on board


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Have fun and enjoy the sea!
    I’m surprised you’re mentionning that Transat doesn’t serve meals anymore. I’ve travelled with them quite a few times from Montréal to Lyon and I had the big meal+wine (of course, wine). Good to know!
    Je te fais un bécot, je pars moi même sur les routes françaises dans deux jours !

    • Bon voyage!

      Je me demande aussi pour Air Transat… je suis presque sûre que la dernière fois (il y a deux ou trois ans), ils servaient encore un repas chaud.

    • Yes, it was weird! I totally understand when no food is served on short flight, like two or three hours. But on overnight long-haul flights, they should serve a hot meal, it’s almost impossible to eat at the airport right before boarding and for most people, it’s a long travel day.

  2. Indonesian are bad at queuing as well even in Soekarno Hatta, the airport! Anyway, have a nice family reunion! I’m the one who is excited that Mark is seeing his grandparents!!!

  3. Weird, I fly air transat too and always had a hot meal. My in-laws are flying from Glasgow on Wednesday, it’ 10 hrs flight to Vancouver so hopefully they’ll get a meal! And when I fly / travel I always pack some snacks / food. For some reason travelling makes me hungry,
    I hear you on bus toilets ugh I used to travel with megabus a lot in the UK and I would often hold it in wishing I was a man. Same when we go hiking / camping in the wild here. I even considered getting a “she pee” haha
    Anyway, sounds like Mark is a seasoned traveler now! Enjoy France

    • I actually developed the useful skill of *almost” peeing like a guy. Bonus, you get a thighs workout 😆

      I hope they will get a meal, that’s a long long flight!

  4. I love hearing all the details. It’s often the little things that are the most entertaining, like going to a bus bathroom with a kid…

    Looking forward to reading about your French trip given that you’re from there and haven’t lived there for many years.

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