Fight or Flight

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So we just arrived home from Kansas (well, "just" two days ago - but at like 1:30am, so yesterday didn't really account for anything more than "waking up") and I've concluded that traveling via plane with children is as close as I'm going to get to actually running a marathon. I mean, I've never ran a marathon (and don't ever, ever plan to), but trust me - traveling with a toddler and a baby is just as exerting as running a marathon...underwater...while carrying two children...and luggage.
Why is this so difficult?
Is it the grossly underestimated expectation I have about my children? or the actual task of traveling? or the insanity of TSA? Where have I gone wrong in my thinking that this should be something that normal, average, capable and educated human beings should be able to take on????
Not that the airlines help at all. (AT. ALL.)
I guess I always figured that if a normal person saw another person in need and was able to easily do something about it, they would most likely go out of their way to help. HAHAhahaha.....ahem. Ah, naivety. No. Not if they work, board, or are in any way associated with United Airlines, apparently.

We had a stop in Denver both ways on our way to Kansas over the Thanksgiving (count em) that's 4 actual flights in total...with two babies, three carry-ons, a backpack, and a partridge in a pear tree somewhere in there, I'm sure. I won't get into the toddler-melt-down-ness that was Matilda...there's been plenty said about her wonderful love of flying on previous posts . No, this time I (let's be honest here) want to complain about the airline. Sigh....
One of the flights we boarded, both girls had just fallen asleep prior to boarding. I reach the doorway of the plane where two flight attendants are standing as we board.
"Both our babies just fell asleep," I say as I motion back to Josh holding the weary Matilda (granted we are lugging all our luggage as carry ons aboard), "could you please help us put our luggage up so we don't have to wake them?"
The flight attendant looks us up and down and says "No. We don't do that anymore. We don't lift luggage for you."
Um. What? I honestly thought he was pulling my leg. They don't do that anymore? Seriously? I basically told him then that they were going to have to choose between helping us find a place to put the luggage or have a screaming child (and potentially frantic mother) on their hands. They found a place in a closet up front for our stuff pretty quickly after that.
Then, twice on two different flights, we got to experience the fine character (sense the facetious tone) that airline passengers bring aboard with them. We weren't going to be able to sit in the same row together - we were going to be split up across the aisle - so, naturally, I ask the person in the window seat if they would possibly be willing to switch. I get it - the window seat is nice and all - so I said it like this: " you like, really love the window seat? Or, see, I have these two babies - would it be possible if we swapped with you so we could sit together as a family and our kid wouldn't have to bug you the whole flight?"
The first guy actually said "Um no. I'm a comedian, so your kid won't bug me. She'll just give me more material for my act." (My first thought was - oh, I'm so blogging about you and your stupid window seat.)
The second person was a smug, emo girl in her early twenties who just glared at me and shook her head no. "Okaaaay," I warned her. And, as harsh as it may sound, I didn't feel too sorry for her when Matilda screamed for the first half hour of the flight.
Do these people seriously think I just want to snag their position on the plane so my comfort is heightened or something? Do they not realize that it is to benefit the stress (and hearing) levels of everyone aboard so I can attend to the needs of the screaming banshee (I mean child) I brought with us? HELP ME HELP YOU, people!
That being said. If a family boards a plane and looks at you with hopeful pity in their eyes and asks if you would ever be so kind as to sit somewhere else to accommodate them.....Do it. Please. For heaven sakes. Just give them your precious window seat (it was nighttime, by the way, what exactly is there to look at?) and be done with it.
Anyway. We made it. I hope we don't have to fly again any time soon. Even without children, the whole "hop on a plane and travel" thing has truly gone down hill through the years. When I was a kid, flying on a plane wasn't "new" by any means- but there was still a fun thrill about it. Free peanuts! Soda in a little cup on a little tray! Tiny bathrooms! And voila - we're there in a flash - hooray!
No more. Now, they should just rename all brands of airlines to "Hell or High Water Airlines" at least there is a reasonable expectation of what is in store when you tell your relatives "Yes, I will be coming to the family reunion, come Hell or High Water! You can pick me up at Terminal 666."
For as much as the cost of flights is going up, up and away, you'd think they would try harder to make the journey merely tolerable for the passengers. Instead, they pack the passengers in like sardines, tell them to fit all their belongings in a fanny pack, and charge you $9 for a snack you will regret the rest of the day. Everyone is on edge when they travel today - not just us insane parents trying to keep our toddlers out of the "is-your-carry-on-the-right-size" display bin. Everyone is antsy all the time. People are either eager to check in, in a rush to board, or in a hurry to deplane. How can this many people be late for everything? Where are we all headed here?
In a way, I felt like Matilda was the only reasonable person on the flights. At least she was expressing all the distress we were all feeling! Looking around at scary strangers, funky smells and eerie sounds, being totally confined and asked to sit and be still when every instinct is telling you to run far far away from this scene and never return. This is your inner voice telling you to seek haven. And instead, you're forced to buckle up and enjoy the ride? Something's gotta give. Either the cost or the experience needs to change here, folks. What's to be done?
Perhaps a road trip is in our future. Not that the idea of strapping down a toddler in a car for hours on end is appealing in the least. Certainly the ends justify the means when it comes to traveling with kids. I mean, we had an awesome time seeing family and friends while we were in Kansas, don't get me wrong...I'm glad we went...but, man, the whole airplane thing is just ridiculous.
Who wants to start an airline with me? You're only allowed if you're willing to give up your window seat. And help me with my luggage.

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