As we finally landed in Detroit, one of the flight attendants leaned over to me and said, “Your kids are wonderful. So well-behaved.”
“Oh thank you,” I said nonchalantly, as if this is a daily occurrence. And I looked over at Max, who was looked so angelic, so sweet, and was truly so well-behaved, as he slept
for the entire 2nd flight.
Obviously, I survived.
With Ella in the Baby Bjorn, Max in a carseat that converts to a stroller (or walking by my side..or “pushing” the stroller, or running ahead, or lagging behind), Cameron walking with us, pulling his back pack, and one more backpack containing all the necessities (like two portable DVD players so there’s no arguing), we made it. We also had a lot of help from the prayers of friends, the kindness of strangers and of course the Lord above, who granted me the strength and patience I didn’t know I had (especially during a longer than expected layover in Chicago, when I was in the middle of changing Ella’s diaper, and Max decided he was bored with throwing Cameron’s drawings around and decided to take off through the terminal).
Who was NOT helpful was American Airlines. They win the “Family Unfriendly” Award. Not only did they refuse to grant me a pass for my babysitter Sara to come back to the gate with me (when other airlines have freely offered when I had just 2 munchkins), they also booked us on seats not even in the same row, and then tried to say they couldn’t change them there…I had to wait until I was in Chicago. After pressing the issue further, the lady at the ticket counter finally did change our seats so we could be together, but she still refused to offer us a pass for Sara. Telling her I was traveling for a funeral didn’t work, shedding the tears in frustration didn’t work. All she did was print off a copy of their policy for me, and sent me on my way. They also tried to tell me the one suitcase I was checking was overweight by 3 pounds, and I would have to pay an extra $25 dollars per their policy. I simply handed the lady my credit card, and she looked at me in disbelief that I would pay such an amount, “Don’t you want to take a few things out and put them in other bags so you don’t have to pay this?” Losing my patience I said quite tersely, “Now how am I supposed to do that? I have only one suitcase Where am I supposed to put the stuff? In my backpacks? Which are already too full and too heavy? Plus I have my 3 kids. So now what do you suggest I do?” Realizing how her airline continued to screw me over, she finally just put a “heavy” tag on the bag and didn’t charge me anything.
Luckily the man checking IDs at Security had a little more common sense, and he even commented that he couldn’t believe they didn’t provide us with a pass. Realizing we were no threat to national security, he at least let Sara past his “post” to help us load everything into the x-ray machine, but she couldn’t join us on the other side. Luckily, a nice lady offered to help hold Ella while I reorganized everything in order to head to the plane.
And even at the gate, American Airlines did nothing to accommodate families. They did not offer any kind of preboarding for “those traveling with small children.” Incidentally, my kids, my backpack, the carseat, bumped, banged and sometimes slammed into everyone and everything around us as we tried to get it all settled in our row on an overly crowded plane. The flight attendants were no help on my first flight, but were helpful on the others.
Ultimately, it was not easy. But we did it.
And we did it all….drug free!!!! (I medicated
myself later that evening).