Here's Wren enjoying the wait to board (and what grown-ups enjoy this part???)
And here she is landing in Kansas City. So stressful!!!
REDS, have you had good experiences flying with children? And what about flying with other people's children? There's a thing going around on the Internet suggesting that parents of infants take goody bags to mollify other passengers, but I think that's a bit much. You shouldn't have to apologize for flying with a baby. I always offer to help, especially if mothers are flying alone with infants and toddlers. A little good will does go a long way, however.
What do you think about the goody bags for other passengers? A fun idea or not?
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I never even thought of goody bags.... Yes, it's hard to travel with a baby/todder, especially when they are sleep-deprived, which seems unavoidable sometimes with travel. But most of my memories are really good, with lovely people stopping to smile and flight attendants giving us special attention (and handing out plastic pilot "wings" and letting Kiddo see the cockpit —after landing, of course).
I remember being held on the tarmac at one point, when Kiddo was about 18 months, and he just screamed and screamed — yes, he was "that baby" — and I remember smiling sheepishly and trying to apologize to those around us. And a woman, a nun, I believe, said, "Well, he's just doing what we all wish we could do. Good for him!"
RHYS BOWEN: I used to be an expert at flying with children. When my four were small I took them to England at least once a year. John was with an airline and we also took them to New Zealand and other parts of the world. Goody bag were a godsend. I made one for each child. Inside were small wrapped gifts and they could open one every half hour. Age appropriate things--crayons and small coloring book, beads to thread, a puzzle, sewing kits, cards, a small book--oh and candy surprises too. They played, they traded. I don't remember any of them acting up on a plane. and I feel so sorry for kids who are just expected to sit there or stare at an iPad for ten hours.
Actually Dominic did have a melt-down once. But that was when we were off-loaded in New York (always traveled standby on a staff ticket) and had to wait a day and a half to get out. Poor kid was eight months old. I ran out of diapers for him. He wasn't on much solid food but had just stopped nursing. He couldn't sleep in a motel bed and he just lost it. I finally was boarded to first class with a screaming infant. The first thing the flight attendant did was to press a glass of champagne into my hand. The engines started and Dominic fell asleep. Bliss.
HALLIE EPHRON: I read the goody-bag article -- the idea is, if YOU HAVE an infant who you are afraid is going to cry and torture your neighbor, deliver a preemptive strike by bringing goody bags (include a set of earplugs) to distribute to your neighbors, make them your 'friend'/sympathetic before your kid erupts.)
We traveled with babies a lot, and most of the time they were fine. It's so much easier now if you have a computer or iPad to entertain them.
We went to Guadaloupe when Naomi, my #2, was almost two. The flight home was delayed, a lot (six hours as I recall). And we were all wiped out when we finally arrived at Logan. Bleary-eyed, we waited for our luggage to show up and somehow missed the fact that Naomi had slipped out of her stroller and taken off all her clothes. We noticed when she started streaking, starkers, up and back through baggage claim screaming MY BODY, MY BODY! She did have a delicious little body.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hallie, I bet you could have, as we like to say, eaten her with a spoon.
I've done plenty of traveling with kids and babies over the years. Once they're old enough to play games or read, it's SO much easier. We flew from Boston to Honolulu when the Smithie was 7 and the Sailor was 6. We got them their first-ever Gameboys for the flight, and a bunch of little-kid-suitable games. Easiest long distance flight ever. We kept on using that trick - in our house, the ONLY time you could play an electronic game was while traveling by car or train or plane.
Ross and I flew from Portland to Cancun with three-month-old Baby Smithie. I know, it was insane, but my father-in-law had a fantastic condo on the beach, and once we got there, we had built-in babysitting. Emphasis on ONCE we got there. We were delayed in Boston, rerouted through Charlotte, and had to wait in the terminal for what felt like hours. Baby Smithie got more and more agitated until we finally sat down in our seats, which was her cue to start wailing. We passed her back and forth, I nursed her, we swaddle wrapped her, change her diaper - everything that was in our meager new-parents arsenal.
Finally, she fell asleep. We landed, with her still asleep, and sat in our seats to let the rest of the plane (whom I was sure loathed all three of us) debark. Amazement! So many people, as they passed, said, "What a good baby," or sympathized with us. Truly an example of the kindness of strangers. Now, as an old hand at parenthood, I always try to acknowledge young parents traveling with their kids. Although I still pray I'm not the one seated by the baby...
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So you have heard about, right, the fabulous Jet Blue (I think it was) solution to the baby dilemma? As I heard the story, on one particularly crowded airplane, the flight attendant announced over the PA system something like: We have a lot of babies on this flight. But here's the deal: If four babies cry on this flight, Jet Blue will give every passenger a free ticket anywhere we fly.
So of course, every time a baby cried, people were thrilled and delighted.
Is that not BRILLIANT?
If have no idea of the rest of the story. But I love it! It's all about perception.
Oh--one more hilarious thing. I was on a Southwest flight once--you know how their pre-flight announcements are sometimes funny--and this flight attendant got to the part about the oxygen. He said: "In case of a loss in pressure, oxygen masks will drop from above. First, stop screaming. Then, put the mask over your nose and mouth, and breathe normally. If you are traveling with small children: what were you THINKING? But anyway. cover your own nose and mouth first...."
It was so funny...
DEBS: Hank, we flew Southwest and they were terrific!
LUCY BURDETTE: No, have not flown with children but have taken many long car trips with our kids pre-ipad era where we came close to imploding along the way. The ice and snow storms on the way to Vermont did not lighten the mood. Rhys, I'm so impressed with your planning those bags for four kids!
Of course my parents drove across country with four kids and a German shepherd, and took many smaller trips too. My sister and I would read, or else torture the younger two by "distributing" houses as we passed them, giving ourselves all the nice ones and the other kids an occasional shack. My brother finally melted down one day.
My mother, "oh for goodness sake girls, will you give him a nice house?"
DEBS: I don't think we needed goody bags for the other passengers. Here's Wren enjoying our descent into Dallas on the return flight.
(Although she did have a little melt down once we were on the ground. And I don't blame her. I hate the waiting to de-plane part, too...)
I think this girl is going to be a world-class traveler!
Our seatmates were very nice on both flights, and, honestly, the planes are so loud, and so many people are wearing headphones, that you might only want a goody bag for the person next to the baby.
Rhys, we never did the kind of flying you did, and then with only one child. We took Kayti to England for the first time when she was six, and we packed a goody bag for her just like you did for your kids, with books and puzzles and toys. She weathered the flight better than the grown-ups...
READERS, do you/did you travel with infants? And would you appreciate a goody bag from a traveling parent?
And if anyone suspects that I wanted an excuse to post pics of my adorable granddaughter, I plead guilty...)