Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adventures in flying solo with a toddler

Posted by Heather at Thursday, October 20, 2011
As most parents know, children under the age of two fly for free on most major airlines. Ted and I have taken every advantage of this "perk" (they are so few and far between in the airline industry, these days, aren't they?) and Lil' Miss Katy is a well seasoned traveler with at least a dozen one-way flights under her belt and she's not yet two.

Since Elizabeth, the girl I take care of during the week, was spending time in Washington D.C., this week, I decided to fly to to Florida to visit the 'rents for a long weekend. We got to the airport with no problems and we were actually a little early. I attempted to check-in online, but for some reason it wouldn't let me print the boarding passes so I ended up having to wait in line at the ticket desk, anyway (with a toddler!).

It's a good thing I went to the ticket desk because they needed to print out an "infant in arms" ticket for Katy. Having flown with Katy multiple times, I've always carried her birth certificate with me, just in case anybody asked for it (even though I still believe that Katy is my little mini-me and there is no denying her). Do you know that nobody has ever asked to see it?! That is, until yesterday. The woman behind the desk asked for Katy's I.D. and I was able to hand over Katy's freshly-minted U.S. passport (in preparation for the Petruzzi Family cruise, next year- woo hoo!). As I'm handing over Katy's passport and the ticketing agent is reviewing the contents (more like scrutinizing every little detail), Katy starts saying, "Mine! Mine passport!" The longer it takes the lady to hand over the passport, the louder Katy's cries get, "Mine! MINE! MINE PASSPORT!"

Finally, we get our tickets and we are on our way to security. Now, I know I've said it before, but I hate how just because you have a child in your arms automatically pigeon-holes me for the uber-slow, don't-know-what-they-are-doing, clueless line. Just because I'm flying with a kid doesn't mean I don't know how to get through security. Not to float my own boat, but I know what I'm doing when I'm flying and because I'm ultra-sensitive to other passengers' perceptions of parents flying with children, I make it a point to be fast and efficient while flying and adhering to TSA rules and regulations. Into this slow line I go. I take off my shoes, I take out the liquids, I put everything in the bins and on the conveyor belt- all while holding Katy and getting her ready to go. I'm done it five seconds while I wait for the gentleman in front of me to struggle to take off his belt and then ask the TSA official if he should take the change out of his pockets. *sigh*

We walk through the scanner- no problems. Our bags- not so lucky. TSA pulls out our bags and begin searching. They take everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) out of them (and I had everything packed so neatly and in a specific order). They begin examining the contents. Turns out that the magnetic stylus to Katy's Magna Doodle looked threatening. Everything is run through the machine again and we are free to go- mess and all. While attempting to quickly shove everything back into my bag, another official comes up to me and tells me that I can't be standing in that exact position and I must move over there- way over there to the bench- to repack my bag. Then, he proceeds to ask me if I'm done with the plastic bin all of my stuff is haphazardly strewn in because they are low on the other side of the line. I flash him a look and he walks away.

We get to our gate with plenty of time and we start to wander the terminal. I let Katy run around and get some energy out. She charms the pants off of anybody willing to give her a couple of seconds to flash a winsome smile and say something cute. We walk. We run. We squeal. We attempt to take every key chain off of the rack at airport store. We walk. We run. Repeat.

Our incoming flight is late, so we are delayed. More walking and running...

Our flight is finally ready to board (about thirty minutes late). We board early since we are traveling with a young child. We are lucky enough to get a seat near the bathrooms (only lucky when traveling with a potty-training toddler), next to the window. We wait and wait and wait until everybody is seated. Next to us, is seated a businessman. He's about late forties or early fifties, I'd say. The whole cabin is seated and boarded, the doors shut. Then, Katy pulls on my shirt and says, "Potty." She says it again and again- each time with increasing volume. The businessman next to me is mortified. Then, Katy starts saying, "Eww! Ewww!" as the smells begin to waft. There is nothing I can do because the doors are shut and we can't get up.

As soon as the pilot turns off the "fasten seat belt" sign, the businessman next to me jumps up (without any prompting from me), practically bowls over the woman sitting on the other side of him to make room for me to make a mad dash to the bathroom.

We freshen up in the bathroom and return to our seat. I've come prepared with toys, books and snacks. Katy attempts to share her veggie sticks with the businessman next to us. He wants no part of our "tea party." His head is buried in his laptop.

Drinks are served. The businessman next to us receives his drink and Katy proceeds to try and clink glasses with him and say, "Cheers!" The businessman is not amused. He is ignoring Katy in the hopes that she will stop. What he doesn't know is that the more Katy is ignored, the louder and more persistent she gets. Katy is still saying, "Cheers!" so that the whole cabin can hear her, when I finally distract her enough with the lights outside of our window seat, to stop bothering the man next to us.

We land. We taxi to the gate. We are finally off the plane. All in all, Katy has been wonderful and a perfect traveling partner. Yes, there were some loud moments ("Cheers!"), and there were some stinky ones, too. However, Katy was well behaved and never had a meltdown. For a toddler, I'd say that is pretty darn good!


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