I had a horrible experience flying recently, and I want all you moms to know about it. I booked a flight for me and my 5 children, ages 8 and under, by calling the airline 800 number. Because it turns out, you can’t book online with that many children.
It seemed like a reasonable plan, just me and my 5 kids flying at 300 mph, for 1 hour. Not driving 80 mph, for 11 hours. Right?
We arrived at the airport with 5 backpacks, 4 car seats, and a double stroller. After rounds of goodbye hugs with Dad, we made our way to the gate and I checked the stroller into cargo.
Upon entering plane, I discovered our seats weren’t together. My 2-year-old was next to two strangers, who oddly enough wouldn’t move. My 4-year-old was also next to two strangers who, again, didn’t offer to move. My older boys and I were in a set of three seats together.
I tried to rearrange the seating, but struggled to get passengers to comply and flight attendants ignored me. Only one passenger moved, giving me a seat one row away from my kids. So, I seated 2 year-old with her brothers, and my oldest son had to sit by himself.
After 1.5 hours of sitting on the plane, they de-boarded due to mechanical issues. They de-boarded us, AND they did not get the cargo from underneath so I didn’t have my double stroller. The kids are immediately hungry. Burger King was delicious. Then they have to go to the bathroom. This means baby is seated on the bathroom floor while mommy uses the loo. After that, to make a long story a little less long, we were delayed for 7 more hours. This is the part that was fun. The kids and I actually had a good percentage of fun. I’d say, like 90/10.
We finally re-board at 9:30 p.m., this time seated together in one row at the back of the plane. Thank you, stranger passengers, for agreeing to new arrangements.
Again we sit 45 minutes. 2-year-old is screaming. Baby is screeeeaming. Everyone’s tired.
We finally take off and everyone falls asleep, and they are still sleeping when we land.
So, I request help from two flight attendants and this time they jumped up to help! I tell them that I am going to go and put the baby in the stroller, which has been brought up from cargo, and I’ll be right back.
I buckle baby in stroller, station oldest as Baby Guard, and go back on the plane—only to be stopped by the front flight attendant.
She says, (read in slow motion) “You can’t come back on the plane.”
I giggle and say, “Oh, my kids are in the back sleeping.”
She informs me it’s a federal regulation that once you leave the plane you can’t come back on.
I say, in a loud voice simmering with disdain, “My kids are in the back of this plane. I. Need. To. Get. My. Kids!”
She says no.
Flight attendants had to carry my sleeping children and all of our crap off the plane because the EMPLOYEES of the airline didn’t inform me that once I LEFT THE PLANE, I couldn’t RETURN TO THE PLANE!
That would’ve been some valuable information.
Granted, it’s midnight. I’m in tears. I’m tired. I’m ticked off. I just want to be home in the fetal position with a glass of wine. I packed up our double stroller and left.
And you know what happened then? Another passenger, a mother of one toddler, who I’d had a brief lovely conversation with earlier in the day, walked with me the entire way to baggage. At first, I vented to her with some choice words and held-back tears. But then we just walked in silence.
It was one of those moments, even though I didn’t know her from Eve, where just her presence helped me on the walk to baggage claim.
My mom and brother picked us up at midnight, and we were all up until 2:30 a.m. eating grilled cheese. And drinking wine, of course.
My questions are these: What would you have done? Do you have any travel mishap stories? How can I get over my fear of ever flying with the kids again? What advice do you have for traveling mothers? If hypothetically my 8-year old heard a few choice words flying out of his mom’s mouth, is he scarred forever?
Turns out I should have just asked to speak to the captain of the plane. A family member in the industry explained that the captain’s job is to use common sense in that type of situation.
I’ll bear that in mind if I’m ever brave enough to fly by myself with 5 kids again. Ha.
Follow Laura Wolf on Facebook at Lowcountry Luna.