If there's anything worse than enduring a long-haul flight in economy class, surely it's the addition of the infant or toddler of a stranger nearby. Many a traveller must have rolled their eyes in anticipation of the worst when they found they were seated next to a babe in arms (or a basket attached to the bulkhead). I've endured this many times, so it's only natural that now, when I board a plane with my 18-month-old son, I feel a twinge of revenge for all those disturbed hours in flight. However, 'payback time' has been hampered by the fact that direct flights to Britain always leave Hong Kong close to midnight - well after the wee lad's bedtime. So, instead of wreaking the sort of havoc that might redress the balance of many flights suffered by his father, Joshua is usually carried aboard asleep. He remains so for at least two-thirds of the flight. The return journey from London, leaving a few hours earlier, involves a similar tale. Last year, when he was five months old, Joshua slept for even longer - which meant my wife and I could get some shut-eye. This year, despite requesting a bulkhead basket several weeks before departure, priority was given to very young infants, so we were denied what we'd paid for, and instead acted as mattresses for him. There were nine babies (aged under two) on our flight. And it wasn't without a certain amount of cursing - at the lack of 'revenge noise' - and then gloating that I noticed Joshua was probably the quietest of the lot. The worst screamers were a couple of toddlers. Before I became a dad, I didn't even differentiate between toddler and infant. Airlines make it easy: toddlers are aged over two and get their own seat. And their tickets cost a lot more than the infants'. And it's really the toddlers - who can walk and talk, and don't want to be restricted - who are to be avoided. Within six months, I'll be the owner of one and will finally get that chance to wreak revenge. However, there can be worse than this to endure. Once, when I treated myself to something above cattle class, wanting nothing more than to enjoy reclining in the extra space with bubbly in hand, making good use of 'privileged' audio-visual entertainment, I got lumbered with Mr Chatterbox for 13 hours. And I have it on good authority from at least one female traveller that groping isn't uncommon. So, bear that in mind and don't necessarily bank on a great flight when you next board a plane and smile with relief as you realise the nearest baby or toddler is 16 rows away.