First Published on 14/06/15 at Estate and Manor Magazine
You look at your colleague, “how long did you say the flight was?”
He looks at you nervously, six hours on the principal’s plane with his three primary aged children, the families’ friends and another bodyguard is not his idea of fun.
“It’s fine, relax. You sit at the back and watch a film. I’ll make sure the kids are fine.”
Maybe you are a recent addition to the household, you may still have to prove yourself in this area, luckily you will now become an expert. As every seasoned professional tutor will tell you there are some cardinal rules for a successful flight. Firstly forget that this is all supposed to be glamorous.
Drop your “excess baggage” before the flight…. A bit dramatic for the uninitiated, but there is a very good reason this is at number one. For the sake of your dignity and job security don’t stray into this potential minefield of humiliation. You will probably be on a Gulfstream, Bombardier, Challenger or similar, the toilet in all of these is small and the door is thin. It is positioned centrally at the back of the plane so everyone can see who is entering and leaving. Imagine your attached charge banging on that flimsy door proudly proclaiming to everyone that their beloved tutor or governess is doing a “big poo,” you meanwhile are crouched in a profoundly vulnerable position unable to intervene. If you are a guy and your bombs have the potential to waft, the thought of putting your employer in the embarrassing situation of pretending all is roses while children shriek and hold their noses is another severe dignity destroyer. Perhaps something goes wrong with the mechanism and, red faced, you try and have a quiet word with the single foreign stewardess, but…. she doesn’t understand, so half the staff try and help with the translation, sign language and noise effects included. It’s just not worth the risk, don’t do it!
Stuff your bag with entertainment… Children get bored, children get bored quick and if you are not prepared it will look very unprofessional. This could end in shouting or rough games with the “fun” bodyguard, all this at time when you are locked in a flying tube a mile or two above the earth with parents who, as it happens, also happen to pay you a lot of money. Although I prefer “unplugged’ children a flight is one of those times, where after a little bit of colouring, some origami or story telling, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to push play and sit back. Grab various favourite films if you have portable DVD players and make sure the iPad is charged to full. Private planes also never seem to have plain paper so if you are lacking this essential food-group you may end up with the back of a flight plan or something else scavenged from the cockpit. If your charges are more mature, chess or electronic versions of risk or monopoly are great, don’t take the hard copy as small pieces undoubtedly will cause chaos when coming in to land.
Get them in, seated and belted safely and quickly… If you are lucky enough to only have one child under your supervision get them out of the car and up the steps quickly, it’s dangerous outside the plane so hold their hand tightly and explain the drill to them. Your right hand to their right hand with them in front, then up the steps! Get them to the allocated seat, or if not known, to the back sitting down and comfortable. As a general rule the principal will sit close to the cockpit and will call for their child if they want to sit close together.
Don’t eat all the lobster… The plane will generally not carry enough of each dish so that everyone can have the same. Try and discreetly wait till the boss and the kids have made their decision before ordering your favourite. Nothing will feel more uncomfortable than tucking into a large lobster while your principal picks indignantly at a vegetarian lasagne…. Try and speak to the hostess to avoid this situation.
Hide the sweets… This tactic is to be used subtly and only if not instructed otherwise by the parents. Use common sense, try and signal the stewardess if she is about to pour four litres of sherbet into a trough and place it in front of your child. On the other hand if there is only a few chocolates and your child has already picked them up on radar don’t try and stuff them under your seat. Whatever scientists say about sweets not effecting a child’s mood, I can assure you they are wrong, gallons of sugar and colourings on a long flight is like taking a can of petrol into a hot banya.
Have a great flight!