In the end, it wasn't so bad. And it turns out many people are far more patient than I expected them to be.
We chose to drive to Heathrow to be able to use our own carseat for Emily. The baby equipment used on this trip was planned with military precision. David's parents managed to get their hands on not one, but TWO, carseats Malta-side for Emily so we only needed to take our own pushchair (and had we wanted, we had one of those in Malta too, we just chose to take our own for comfort's sake).
Now let me make one thing clear. Travel Systems are the very antithesis of travel systems. They make travel harder and do not, in the slightest way, deserve the name. We've come back from Malta researching strollers, but that's another story.
Our flights completely clashed with Emily's usual bedtime. We did as much as we could to keep to her routine and left the rest to chance. Come 7pm, of course, she wouldn't sleep. There was far too much going on in the exciting, lit-up ceilinged airport to want to sleep. So we got onto the flight at 9.15pm with a wide-eyed, grinning baby being cooed at by everyone who passed.
Then she realised she was overtired and disaster struck. All the cooers ate their words and turned to the heavens for divine intervention for a quiet flight. The stupid air hostess came over to me and asked me if she could do something to help with the baby. I passed a snarky comment which she completely didn't get. What did she expect to do? Knock Emily over the head with a lifejacket to make her sleep?
She did sleep eventually, about 10 minutes which felt like a lifetime later, as soon as the engines turned on (yes, that's right - we hadn't actually left yet!). And then she slept for the entire flight on David's deader-by-the-minute arm.
She slept through the
She eventually stirred when we got to the flat in Sliema and I transferred her to David, who gave her a quick bottle while I set up the travel cot, we laid her down and that was that. She got up at 7am the next morning.
All in all, I'd say it was a very good first experience!
Notes: I was very confused about how to take her feeds onto the plane, and was hugely reluctant to waste anything. I decided against taking cartons of ready made milk, instead taking a flask of boiled, cooled water, and powder in a dispenser. I'd heard so many "horror" stories about getting feeds past security, and official advice seems to change by the week. I only needed to take a small sip out of the flask and we were through.
However, should push come to shove, and you need to use shop-bought mineral water air-side, just try and ensure that the sodium (Na) level is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre, and the sulphate (SO or SO4) content is not higher than 250mg per litre. (more here)