Here is this week’s “guest blog” post by NYC Dads Group member David M. This caring dad describes his recent travel success and woes…
At last week’s SAHD’s meetup, a somewhat spontaneous conversation arose — about traveling with our young kids. As a new dad with a 7-month old daughter and close relatives and friends across the globe, I was interested in hearing about other experiences and sharing my own. Luckily, our daughter is a terrific air traveler (so far) and on her three flights to date she has been a pleasure for us to deal with. On our most recent flight in fact, other passengers were shocked to see her as they walked by us to depart – she hadn’t made a peep the entire way back from Grandma and Grandpa in Florida. But I learned something very important on tat trip – in the current air travel climate of service cuts and no-frills, not all airlines are equal in how they treat young children and their parents.
I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing the joy of becoming a dad – but there were also moments I looked forward to as part of the rights of passage of a parent. Frankly, some of these carried with them years of built up anticipation and perhaps even some resentment from waiting on the sidelines as I watched parents and young children receive “special treatment.”
I say this tongue in cheek, but truly, I was excited to travel with our daughter and be able to board the plane first, calmly check our stroller and car seat at the bottom of the ramp and settle into our seats without having to inconvenience fellow travelers too much. Well, much to my surprise, it seems that Delta Airlines no longer offers that service to families traveling with young children. When I asked the gate agent about it, she informed me that they had put the question to their frequent flyers, who in turn had voted to stop this process.
So here we were, stroller, car seat, diaper bag, carry-ons and 7-month old daughter in hand at an overcrowded Delta terminal at LaGuardia on a Friday morning in August and we had to wait to board the plane. Once we got on, we struggled around seated passengers, and already-filled overhead compartments and settled in. I should say that we had wonderfully friendly seat neighbors on the flight and that made it all fine – but the Delta staff was completely unhelpful.
On our return flight, now prepared for the general boarding policy, my partner boarded first to secure seats and overhead storage and I followed later with the stroller, car seat and our daughter – but even then, my partner was stopped by the ticket agent because he had an “extra” carry-on (the diaper bag) and we had to prove that we were in fact traveling with a child.
Needless to say, we’ll do our best to avoid Delta flights with the little one in the future. Our other flight with or daughter was when she was merely 3-days old and we were bringing her home from Nashville where she was born. We flew American Airlines then and it was a terrific experience – everyone was very helpful and attentive – something very much appreciated by brand new parents.
So it seems there’s a new parental “right of passage” in which I now find myself engaged. I not only shop for the best airline fairs, but I find myself calling the airlines and pouring over their websites to check on their policies for traveling with small children. But the best help has been from talking with other parents and finding out their tricks for traveling – so thanks in advance to all the dads’ who’ll be part of those discussions.
And in case you’re wondering, when we travel to Brazil to visit our daughter’s other grandparents for the holidays, we’ll be flying American.
It would truly be helpful to get some advice from a travel expert on best practices of flying with your kids. Parents, feel free to share suggestions or tricks of the trade for successful travel with the little ones, especially as we head into the holiday travel season.