I got back two weeks ago from traveling alone with K-Pants on three flights. I get very anxious flying with Mr. Pants. Packing a toddler on your lap for hours and hoping he’ll be saintly is a bad wager. But you know what I realized? The toddler is not the bad part of flying: Flying is. (Especially since I give Mr. Pants a little something to make him sleep most of the way.)
K-Pants is simply the bellwether that exposes the ugly state of air travel.
Like the Terminix guy. We know termites are bad. But we don’t fully understand how horrible they are until the Terminix guy comes to unveil the rotted out house.
K-Pants is my Terminix guy.
Pre-Pants, I could get on a plane with a book and some headphones, pop a sleeping pill, and write off the whole experience as a bad nap. Not anymore. Now I have to travel with my eyes open.
And what I’ve discovered is that the stress on airline workers is so great that many rely on badgering the innocent to let off some steam. I don’t really blame them. Air travel sucks. But I’m a little tired of the maltreatment.
For instance, pregnant and with a toddler in a baby carrier on my front, I wandered up to the boarding gate of my first flight…
- Excuse me. Will you be boarding families with young children first?
- The attendant’s eyes popped out of her head: We don’t do THAT.
- I shifted to show her that I was actually pregnant AND carrying a toddler and a diaper bag and a carry on. That’s about 60 lbs. of human and miscellaneous cargo.
- She raised her eyebrows with an expression that said, You chose to procreate. We don’t have to cater to your whims.
At least, I reassured myself, I was seated at the back. They board the back first—after the platinum-silver-copper-chrome-varnished-opal members. But I looked at my boarding pass and I was in group 4: code for “steerage.”
Apparently United now boards window seats first, then middle seats, then aisle seats. Right-e-o. So if you’re trying to be a considerate parent and sit on the aisle so you have a quick escape in case of outbursts, you are punished with steerage boarding.
- Isn’t there anything you can do to help us? I asked another attendant.
- Well next time you can buy a window seat.
I would love to do that except that next time you’ll be boarding by color-coordination and ambidexterity. None of this makes any sense!
Some very funny blogging friends and I posted tips on surviving air travel with kids a little while ago. And while I do follow the advice, I think the best dictum I can give right now is just stay at home.