How Flying With My Kids Improved My Opinion of Society

by farrah on November 23, 2014 · 12 comments

We might travel a lot, but the idea of flying with the kids stresses me out like nothing else. Usually we drive or take the train.  The biggest stressor for the longest time before this trip was the idea of flying with the kids. I was afraid other people would be mean to us. I was terrified that the boys would cry, scream, or be god awful and reinforce the stereotype of flying kids from hell. What happened could not have been any farther from the reality. This post I wrote last year does not apply any longer.

flying with kids

Netherlands to Detroit

We checked in at Schiphol and dropped off all five of our checked bags- which left us with us each having a roller carry-on. The boys were excited. We made our way to the gate and I started noticing that people were looking at us and smiling. Not scowling. Not looking us with dread. Once we got in security at the gate every agent was friendly to the boys. The people who had to wait behind us said things like ‘No hurry! We’re going to the same place!’ or ‘Your boys are so good.’ I was confused but starting to relax.

flying with kids

When they announced that people who needed extra help could board, fellow passengers ushered us through to the ramp. People were smiling. They said things like ‘So cute!’. I did not hear groans of dread. I did not hear anyone sigh with exasperation.

On the plane we sat quickly and were settled. C and I sat in the two seats on the left, my husband in the middle with B and L and there was another lady on the end. The boys didn’t make a peep. True, they didn’t sleep a wink for the entire 8 hours- thanks to the many movie options on the in flight tvs. My husband had people stop him and say how well-behaved they were. At one point C went to the bathroom by himself and a guy said ‘You go little man! Good job!’ Another guy stopped us  said he had the same ages are ours- and told us good job. Every flight attendant came by with a smile and treated them with respect and kindness.

We got off the plane and I had a lady stop me in the immigration line to say she didn’t even know kids were on her flight. She said how proud I should be and that they were going to grow up and be wonderful travelers.

The immigration agent was kind-  and at security everyone would usher us through a special family gate and allow us the time we needed and keep us together. People were patient. They gave them wings. They made my kids feel like they weren’t burdens and that they were people too.

On our connecting flight to South Carolina a couple of hours later went the same way. Everyone had nice things to say to us in the airport and on the flight. Once we arrived in SC, a stranger helped me get the boys in the rental car while my husband loaded the luggage. After two flights over 10 hours they were still smiling and I credit it to the fact that they (and we) were all treated like human beings with respect.

My solo flight to DTW

After an absolutely insane couple of days in SC, it was time for me to fly with the boys by myself back to Detroit while my husband drove the U-haul. Honestly, I wasn’t nearly as terrified. We had just made a giant trip and this was only 2 more hours. My husband dropped us off at the airport, I met with a friend to catch up and let the boys run off some steam.

flying with kids

People again smiled at us as they expertly rolled their carryons to our gate. We were very early (which made me comfortable) and stopped for a snack (i.e. I needed a beer). We all went down to the gate at GSP (which, by the way is probably my most favorite airport on earth when it comes to easy navigation) and took some seats. People sat around us while the boys chatted (it was around 6pm) and a gate attendant came over to give them coloring books. The boys immediately set up in a coloring frenzy. I sat back and wondered what planet I was on that this should all be so easy.

Once on board- I had another gate attendant approach me and say how well they colored together. The people sitting around us on the tiny plane didn’t look at us with disgust or disdain. They talked to my kids. I spoke to the man in front of B and assured him that I warned against kicking the seats but if he did- to not hesitate to say something. The gentleman said “It’s ok. I know he’s just a kid. But thank you.” As far as I know, B didn’t kick his seat.

flying with kids6My ‘magic potion‘: roll this under your nose and it’s a calming oil to smell. 

Since we had to sit with two in front of me, I trusted B to sit with C. I sat with L. There was a brief argument over who sat by the window- but I busted out my ‘magic flying potion’ and we all relaxed.  The flight took off. The flight attendant brought me free beer (!) because she said I deserved it. And that was that.

When this flight was over, the people around us congratulated me and the kids again- and I was thrilled. We made it. We did it. THEY did it.

I learned that

  • Not everyone thinks children shouldn’t fly
  • Not everyone automatically dreads kids on their plane
  • People genuinely want to be helpful
  • Treating people with respect (at any age) can result in respect in return
  • You do not have to bribe fellow passengers with insane ‘gift bags’

Of course this story does have a major bump- as at the end of that last flight the boys were OUT COLD when we landed. I couldn’t wake them up and we were the last people off the plane.

flying with kids I realize this is not the safest sleeping position.

The pilot came over and helped us get a gate checked bag and we trudged through DTW. But once again, people smiled at us and my entire faith in traveling humanity was restored. I forget sometimes that people are genuinely kind. Those horror stories we read and hear about are NOT the norm. I need to give others a break just as they have done for me and not expect the worst. It is not an us (family fliers) vs. them (people without kids).

Now. If only we can have a repeat of this going back……

Such a special thank you to the Delta staff, all of our fellow passengers and anyone else who gave us a smile instead of a frown. Not a single person made me feel  bad or uncomfortable.You all have brought me a long way from my days dreading flying with my kids. 

Nothing sponsored to disclose.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica November 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Wow! So glad the travels went smoothly! Are they also doing okay with jet lag?

I was also wondering how you arranged with the school for the boys to be gone for a while, NOT during a normal vacation time. The way I’ve heard it described is that due to the “leerplichting”, kids have to be in school for a certain number of hours and that it’s really hard to just take off for any reason other than the typical “excused absences” (sickness, death in the family, etc).

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2 farrah November 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

They did a better job with it than I did 🙂

As for B’s school (since he is 5 the twins were excused), we had to write a letter and fill out a form. I also spoke to the teacher, director and principal. Since our trip back is technically because we were staying 3 more years, they allowed it. But we have to be back on Monday come jet lag or not 😉

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3 Elizabeth November 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

So glad everyone was kind to you and yours. A little kindness in stressful times can make all the difference to someone.

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4 farrah November 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Yes! So very true. And I think my paranoia at what other people thought made things just as bad- I have to give others a chance as they give to us!

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5 Rach November 24, 2014 at 5:17 am

I loved reading this!! I hope your trip back is just as awesome and wonderful. Way to go, family!

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6 farrah November 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Thanks! I hope so. Currently we have one child down with a barfing bug… so, uh… let us pray, shall we?

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7 Leighann November 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm

This is such a feel good story. I’m so proud of your kids and you!! What a wonderful trip.

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8 farrah November 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thanks! I was so happy and thankful to everyone who was kind to us 🙂

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9 SJ @ Chasing the Donkey November 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Nawwww you did a good job Mama. You’ve raised those boys right – give yourself a little credit. I hope my flight next week goes just as smoothly. xx

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10 FlyingWithKids December 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm

What a great story! Your are so right, nobody takes the time to share about all the good things that happen, and how it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. You typically only see people writing about how things can go wrong. Thank you for giving the rest of us hope!

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