Thursday, December 10, 2009

Air travel with kids

I've just about had it with people who glare at parents with crying babies on airplanes. There are a few things I would like to say to these people. Specifically, there are a few things I would have liked to say to these people yesterday, when that mom with a crying baby was ME (and the baby was 16-month-old Magdalena) (and I hereby declare16 months to be the worst age to be flying on an airplane).

-Listen, pal, we got up for the day at 4.15 this morning and faced a blinding snowstorm on our way to the airport. Then our flight was delayed almost 3 hours, which fact we couldn't know until we were actually taking off, because until that point, all the airline people would tell us was that we could be cleared to leave at any moment so we needed to stay in the gate area.

-Lest you think I am one of those parents who thinks my kids will magically behave in stressful situations all on their own initiative, please know that I packed plenty of snacks and activities for my two children to enjoy on the three flights we would be taking today. But due to the unforeseen delays, I exhausted every single one of them before we even boarded one plane. PITY ME.

-As hard as it must be for you to occasionally hear my child squawk and fuss from the distance you are keeping in the boarding area, or from your far-away seat on the airplane, just know that it's worse for me. I promise you, it is worse for me. You see, you just have to roll your eyes and grimace about that baby crying. But that baby is mine, and I have to take care of her, all while knowing that it is annoying and distressing to everyone on board the airplane.

-Plus, if you think you have it bad having to share one flight with my crying baby, just imagine my terror: I have two more flights to go.

-And seriously, what's with the glare? I KNOW MY KID IS CRYING BECAUSE SHE IS DOING IT RIGHT IN MY FACE.

All of my feelings could be summarized less angrily with the simple mantra: I am doing my best. Really, I am.

Anyway, as bad as we thought we had it yesterday with three flights, all of which were delayed, and two missed connections, we encountered someone in the re-booking line in Detroit who had it worse. We left the house with our two kids before five o'clock in the morning; he left with his two kids before four o'clock. We were stranded in the terminal for three hours; he was stranded on the plane for four hours. Jeremy and I had each other to help; this guy was traveling by himself. Because his wife is in the army. And she's deployed. IN AFGHANISTAN.

So yeah, you think you have it bad but there is always someone who has it worse. Which is exactly what I am using this post to try to explain to the dude in 18C who kept giving Magdalena the stink-eye.

(In case your head hasn't exploded yet, read this article, especially if you've ever flown with kids. I have a lot to say about it but this post is long enough already.)

(And we reached our destination eventually even if it was much later than anticipated.)


Eevi said...

Ahh, I hope i wont have a terrible story to add to this in a week when we fly to Finland with Saku. We are flying from Phoenix to London and London to Helsinki. We chose a night flight so hopefully Saku will sleep through it; HOWEVER, can you imagine how annoyed people will be if he keeps crying when it is THEIR time to sleep:) But like you said, at least I will have Troy to help me!

Eevi said...

OH dude, I just read the article. Unbelievable! If that would happen to us, I think Troy would officially lose it in a serious red head tempered way;)

Liz Johnson said...

AMEN SISTER. A-FREAKING-MEN. I'm sorry, author of that (INFURIATING) LA Times article, but by going out in public, you choose to interact with other people. Not all of them will be exactly like you. You might like some of them, you might not. But by leaving your house and boarding an airplane (or subway or sidewalk or WHATEVER), you made a conscious choice to mingle with other members of society. AND CHILDREN ARE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY. If you don't like it, STAY HOME.

Really, what would be nice for everybody - OFFER TO HELP. Buy the kid a treat. Offer to help the mom with her bags. Offer a sympathetic smile. Glaring and/or whining just makes you more annoying than the screaming child.

Sometimes I want to throw people off bridges for being stupid. This would be one of those times. SOLIDARITY.

Bridget said...

Liz, I no longer need to write a blog post because you just said it better than I ever could.

I will add that I couldn't believe she suggested we NOT travel to go see grandparents, or just drive. Who is this lady?!?

Eevi, Saku is at a great age for travel. 16 months is so bad because they just want to be down and running, and they are not easily distracted. In a few months, Magdalena will be able to sit still better. And a few months ago she would have been subject to distraction better. At this exact age, not so much.

Amanda said...

We've been really lucky when it comes to air travel. Maybe because I've never flown with a 16 month old, but our flights have never been seriously delayed and my kids have always been relatively good and I always seem to run into helpful people who want to put my stroller through the x-ray machine for me. After I read that LA Times article, all I could think was, "wow lady, you're an awful person."

Bridget said...

Yeah, I've flown with kids tons and never had a terrible experience until yesterday. Usually I get those nice people, too. And to be fair, there were nice people on the flights yesterday. Especially the flight crews. They were all wonderful.

I also want to point out that I am totally aware that there is a line between normal kid fussiness and bratty kid fussiness. I wouldn't stand for much of the latter in a public place. But kids are kids and the younger ones are especially irrational. Sometimes they fuss and in the confines of your 18-inch-wide airplane seat, there is very, very little you can do about it.

Merkley Jiating said...

That article was ridiculous. Does the author not realize that she used to scream in public too?

Bridget said...

Apparently she NEVER misbehaved in public: "As a child, I was convinced that I could flap my arms and fly, but the idea that I could ever be loud in a public place that wasn't a playground simply did not exist for me."

We should ask her parents about that.

Aimee said...

I agree with you that 16-months is an awful time to fly. I will even go so far as to say 12-18 months was pretty difficult for us, luckily I was still nursing, so if all else failed I had that.

I am sorry that 18C was a jerk. I have no problem standing there glaring right back at anyone giving me the stink-eye, with my kid crying. Fortunately, Jameson has only had one major meltdown on a plane. It lasted ten minutes then he was out cold!

Lindsay said...

Grrrrr... I just read the article and my mouth was open from shock literally the whole time. This lady has some issues. Major issues. I haven't flown on a plane with kids since Courtney was almost 2, but I really want to book a flight now and let my kids go crazy the whole time just for fun - I hope she is on my flight. :)

There was the super fun time when Courtney was 5 months old and had an ear infectioon that I didn't find out about until a few days later ... but, she was probably just screaming because I am a bad parent.

And I agree - Chase is 15 months old now and I can think of nothing worse that flying on a plane and trying to keep him content/happy/quiet/still while sitting on my lap for that long. Ugh.

Kristen Sheranian said...

Wow what a story. I am so worried about flying with a baby. I know Canon is still so young, but you never know what to expect. We leave in a less than a week and a half. I have never traveled with kids, but at least I know what I am in for. Glad you made it.

Aimee said...

Oooh, and after reading the article I have decided that this is the same lady that would be very bothered by my nursing a baby/toddler, even if it kept him quiet. To all those folks out there I say: You can't have it both ways, either I am inconveniencing you nursing and making you uncomfortable or my kid cries. You can't have it both ways. Pick your poison.

Amber said...

Yikes. I was nervous about flying with Cy at 3 months, but I know realize that the horror is yet to come! There isn't much else I can say about that article that hasn't already been said, but wow. I agree with Liz whole-heartedly!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The author of the article should be the one who drives her car rather than fly. How dare she think she can be in a public place and expect everyone to behave within the boundaries she defines. Just not realistic.

The other thing that irked me about the article was that she seems to mix up misbehaving children who are either old enough to know better or whose parents are just being lazy, with crying babies and toddlers who are tired/hungry/uncomfortable/etc. Big difference. A parent can do something about the one category but not so much about the other.

Fromagette said...

Note to self: never read the comments to articles like that. I'm not sure if I more mad at the author or at the people who agreed with her.

I'll be flying in February with my 16 month old and 3 year old and it should be very interesting. Oh, but wait. Maybe I shouldn't go because my parents aren't dying.

Hilary said...

Flew cross country (and back) with a 15 month old. That sucked. The crying was awful, and I'd purposefully kept nursing 'til 15 months JUST so I'd be able to nurse and calm her down on the flight, and of course she wanted nothing to do with it on the plane. We tried EVERYTHING, yet for about an hour on all four flights she just freaked out. Sigh. I had one guy behind us 'nicely' suggest we take her to the back of the plane (like the people at the back of the plane deserve to hear it more?!), then ended up kind of apologizing, and saying he had kids too and could sympathize. It was awful.
Like 99% of parents traveling with kids aren't already concerned enough with keeping them quiet and well behaved in tight quarters -- rude comments, critical glares and all that DON'T help!

Jennifer said...

Yep, we flew to Hawaii with Ellen when she was 16 months. The flights were awful! However, it was just one, on time flight, so you definitely had it worse! I'm glad you arrived in one piece! That article was amazing...I had no idea people had the guts to feel that way--and then to express it publicly!

Laura said...

Traveling with kids is stressful. I traveled a couple of months ago with Lily by myself. Luckily I had nice people around me. But I was so tired and stressed by the time we got to our destination. I am sorry that you had a bad experience.

Nancy said...

When we were gassing up our car on a road trip, I had to adjust the car seat, which meant that my brother had to hold my screaming (and sick, although we didn't know that at the time) toddler.

She was having a complete meltdown.

Then this older man walked up to us and handed Rachel an activity pack he had purchased in the gas station store--a book, colouring book, and pack of crayons.

She calmed down and said thank you and that was her favorite thing for our whole journey.

That man would have been a lifesaver to sit next to on a plane!


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