I've always been a very apologetic parent, especially when I travel. I remember being the passenger dreading the possibility of sitting in front of a toddler who would kick my chair for 4 hours, blasting my I pod to muffle the piercing screams of a baby and /or praying that the mom traveling alone with a nine month old wouldn't sit next to me. Because I was that traveler, I find myself apologizing for even being on the plane with a baby.
Airlines and young passengers
"I'm sorry but my whole family lives in PR and I can't get there any other way."
"I have Benadryl and I'm not afraid to use it."
"Yes, I'll keep her away from you as much as I can."
But my fellow passengers and the airline policies have quickly turned me into a defensive parent. Amelia took her first plane trip when she was 2 and half months old. Our trip went very well, but I was shocked when I saw a father of 6, including a severely autistic boy who we could all see running up and down the gate at O'Hare, beg the airline person to allow them to board first and was denied his request. He explained that he just wanted to settle his children so that they could be out of the way of everyone else. The desk attendant replied: "It's a Christmas flight Sir. There are many families on this plane so it wouldn't make a difference." I could have sworn she said "Bah humbug", but I probably imagined it.
When I was growing up, I remember boarding the plane first with my Mom and Dad.
"Passengers who need special assistance, families traveling with children and first class passengers can board now."
Doesn't that make total sense? Parents with small children travel like gypsies. If you travel with a baby you probably have to bring the car seat on the plane with you. Isn't it better to get us out of the way by boarding first, rather than hurt other passengers with all our equipment?
I've had a few fellow passengers roll their eyes at the sight of my baby walking into the plane. Never the person sitting next to us, usually the guy annoyed that my child has to wait in line for the bathroom right in front of his seat and happens to smile at him and ask his name.
One lady took the cake as I wrote on the post Nasty, rude traveler and she wasn't in diapers. She will probably die alone.
Folks, don't you understand we have it the worst? We sit on the plane with the squirmy kid and then have to take him/her home with us. You get to escape as soon as we land!
Amelia has always been a fairly pleasant passenger; even takes her shoes off at the security line and puts them in a tray. I'm happy to report that this last trip we had a couple of pleasant surprises. On our way to PR we sat with another family. I'm not sure if the airline did it on purpose, but it was a brilliant tactic. We all helped each other keep the kids entertained and the rest of the plane could watch "Dinner with Schmucks" in peace.
On our way back, an angel was among us. A lady traveling alone with her husband sat next to 2 siblings under five years old. These kids were loud and whiny, but this woman found a way to entertain them and keep them calm most of the 4 hours and 45 minutes. My daughter was sleeping so I didn't need her services, but I appreciated every minute of it, because it could have easily been my child she was taking care of. She said she missed having little kids because her own children were all grown up now.
I don't expect angels in every flight (flight attendants are usually very friendly might I add), I don't expect extra special treatment, just know that parents are doing the best they can to share that ever shrinking space and that if you help us, we can all have a better flight. Ay Mama!