Traveling with Little People
By: Heather Somaini
I’m about to go on a rant. Traveling with babies, toddlers, and kids is amazing and wonderful and super terrible all at the same time. We’ve had some very fun trips completely ruined by flight attendants and other passengers. Come to think of it actually – it’s always been flight attendants. Other passengers generally try to ignore you. Unless of course, they love kids, which is much more common than I realized. People love babies. They really love twin babies. And most of the time they’re confused by our family structure so they have questions. But generally people are pretty decent about kids. I mean, don’t get me wrong – strangers will kill themselves to help a pregnant woman but completely ignore a mom with three kids and a stroller that won’t fold up, but in general they’re at least not too terrible.
Flight attendants, on the other hand, are at either end of the spectrum – they either love or hate you. We’ve had flight attendants spend almost an entire flight with us wanting to hold the babies and chat endlessly. And then we’ve had the other kind…the ones that take one look at you coming on the plane and turn into Medusa.
We took our first flight with the babies when they were about two months old on a Southwest flight to Nashville, TN. Since Southwest doesn’t provide assigned seats, we rushed on to the plane with the babies in carriers attached to us and grabbed a window and an aisle seat with an empty one in between us. As the plane began to fill and they told us repeatedly that it was going to be a full flight, we eyed a handsome businessman and offered him the aisle seat. He quickly took it and Tere moved into the middle. All was well until about an hour before the plane landed when a flight attendant demanded to know if we had been sitting in those seats the entire flight and then yelled at us that we couldn’t do that! We sat there confused while she angrily explained that there is only one extra oxygen mask per set of seats so we couldn’t have more than one lap baby per row. How were we supposed to know that?!?! Somehow on our return flight, we snagged the only empty seat on the plane to be between us. But other than those two flights, we haven’t flown together since. Usually we sit a row in front of the other so we can pass baby necessities back and forth.
Another favorite complaint of flight attendants is portable DVD players. The same could be said for iPads, iPods, tablets, laptops…but basically, they are a godsend. They’re amazing and keep little kids occupied for tons of time especially when we ask them to sit still on a plane when they want to explore this new wonder. My problem is that I didn’t want to put headphones on the babies, it just seems wrong, and we have twins so they BOTH want to watch the same thing. I always figure that planes are loud anyway and if a fellow passenger could, in fact, actually hear something coming from our iPad that was better than a screaming child kicking at their seat. But funny enough, flight attendants are sticklers for rules. I’ve sat reading a magazine next to one of our playing machines that I can barely hear and they’ll still tell me to turn it down. I’ve asked all the passengers around us if it’s ok, and the flight attendant STILL wants us to turn the sound down, turn it off altogether, or use headphones. I once pointed out that putting headphones on a 2-year-old didn’t seem like a good idea. I was told people do it all the time. I’m guessing by now, you can imagine what my response was…it didn’t go over well.
Security – another pet peeve of mine. Those TSA folks couldn’t care less that your wife is standing in her stockinged feet holding two babies on the other side of a metal detector while your bags, shoes, and stroller are piling up a the end of the conveyor belt as they hold you captive because the underwire in your bra set the metal detector off. Nope. You’re going to get a pat down and by the way, we have to call over to another terminal to find a female agent. Oy!
At the end of the day, it’s just about getting from Point A to Point B and then enjoying the time you have when you get there but I have decided that bringing lots of food, toys, games, movies on your iPad, DVDs, Baby Tylenol, and a pleasant disposition is really the only way to go.
What’s your most outrageous travel story?