Harry, air travel with kids is seldom fun, less so with kids that don’t sit still.
In the case of travel in general, I like to joke that the lower my expectations are, the less likely I’ll be disappointed. This little mantra is even more notable when travelling with you, it seems.
In the case of last week, while it could always have been worse, our trip to the east coast was an adventure I’d avoid in future.
Our Initial Let-down
Firstly, I hate the check in counter and going through security. These are both areas of travel I used to “fly” through. Now, with a toddler they’re filled with minefields, headaches, and extra steps and endless questions. You don’t understand the purpose of what we’re doing, why were not moving, and why so little is happening.
I get it, kid. It’s boring, dull and lame.
The only meltdowns we encountered occurred at such times, without fail, and typically at the climactic moment where we were being told bad news by a Southwest Airlines staff member. I’ve always had a suspicion you are slightly telepathic, Harry, and if so, you were most definitely channelling my frustrations with your outbursts (I’ll claim some jealousy that I couldn’t also throw myself to the ground in frustration or simply run away into a crowd).
Secondly, while I often fantasize about having a family member work in the airline industry (to access flight deals for me), If it should be you, I hope you don’t ever wind up being a frontline staff member, because it must absolutely suck.
My narrative starts with checking in at the airport in Spokane to find that our connecting flight to Laguardia Airport in New-York had been cancelled. We could get as far as Denver, arriving in LaGuardia 24 hours later, or to eliminate our time in NYC and go straight to Connecticut, our final destination. In the brief moment we took to discuss our options, the New York flight filled up- making the decision for us.
After check-in to a notably sketchy hotel in Denver, followed closely by a hasty check out and three very tired travellers, we found ourselves surrounded by expensive hotels. We hit a point of neediness where we just needed a place to stay, and in desperation went with a familiar chain, in an accessible location…putting a significant dent in our budget.
Here arose, however, a pleasant surprise.
We found our small-town selves upgraded to the presidential suite, a series of rooms we were informed, have in the past hosted such individuals as Mohammad Ali, and the Dalai Lama. We hosted a separate bedroom to put you to sleep (in a king size bed!), a room with an ensuite, and my personal favourite, a claw-foot tub.
Someday I will miss these magical times when you can fall asleep almost anywhere, because in the moment I describe, that’s what we were counting on. After settling into our “quarters” we put you to sleep in your stroller and walked short blocks away to find Mom and Auntie some food.
My present “delicate condition” eliminated the possibility of a cold beer for mama, which was so desired, but giant plates of pizza and pasta satisfied while you so graciously snoozed under the table.
Departure, Day 2
I have little to say about this day of travel other than pose this question:
If a destination is Hartford, Conneticut, and the origin Denver, Colorado, what makes a stopover in Florida a logical move?
To be honest, my little travel-rockstar, I’m not even sure what to call it. A layover indicates a break to stretch in the terminal and switch planes. A stopover: an extended layover. In this case, our plane and flight number stayed the same, and we were not able to leave the plane.
Some passengers got out in Tampa Bay, more got on bound for Hartford. Thus, this airline managed to combine three separate flights for all us weary peasants, and added three hours of flight time to our trip. We deduced this independently, lacking a courtesy heads up when being booked into it, further, a midnight arrival 24 hours later than originally planned.
We did it however, with two adults and a rather large lap-infant.
Two pieces of luggage, Two backpacks, a stroller, and a carseat.
On arrival, we had a blast, filled with family reunions, sightseeing, and some hockey, and the trials of our initial journey began to fade.
Homebound, we arrived to find our flight delayed, and once again an unplanned (and undesired) night in Denver Colorado.
Another stroller nap, more airport food.
The only good thing that came from waiting was the fact that LaGuardia had an actual kids zone. Harry, you spent the better part of an hour climbing on plastic planes, luggage carts, and a pretty cool interactive screen you missed the purpose of entirely.
I can only ask why more airports don’t supply places for kids, because logically, it would make everyones travel easier.
Kids get to move their bodies and burn energy before having to sit still on airplanes.
Parents get moments to check in on trip status and travel plans while sitting down and drinking a hot beverage.
EVERYONE else benefits from content, played-out kids ready to rest up while sitting on said planes.
I’m sure in future we will be able to look back on our travel misadventures with humour. I laugh at the creation of what’s probably now a lifelong association for you regarding air-travel and “appo-juice and petzels pease”. Regardless, you did well, and we sure had some fun little times amid the chaos.
Presently, I feel simply overwhelmed with the paperwork and follow-up after our adventures in cancelled flights, dodgy hotel rooms, and missed connections.
Heres hoping our trip interruption insurance is good to us.