Recently, we have had a lot of travel discussion on this blog including travel tips from Pauline Frommer and some travel woes from a few of the dads in NYC Dads Group.
My wife & I embarked on a trip to Phoenix, Arizona this past week with our 16-month old son. I was so pleased with the service level on U.S. Airways that I have to share my positive experience. Most parents know that when your child is under the age of two, they are able to fly on your lap for FREE. Consequently, a five hour flight with a 26-pounder on my lap did not sound ideal, even though it results in a cost savings of $400. During check-in, we wanted to work the system to our advantage so our first question is always, “is it a full flight?” Once we learned there were some empty seats and that the service desk associate was a parent (displayed empathy towards us)- they tried to set us up with a window seat & aisle seat, with the middle seat unoccupied. This would enable us to have an extra seat so our son would not have to remain on our lap, and some extra room to spread out for books, toys, diaper changing, and nap time.
Initially, they were unable to accommodate us because all of the aisle & window seats were already spoken for on each row. Then, the service desk associate had another idea – she stated that she could page the gentleman in the aisle seat in row #18, and ask him to switch with our aisle seat in row #20. I was shocked that the U.S. Air associate suggested this, but I was certainly not going to argue with her plan. It worked & we were able to fly with the extra seat for our unpaid “lap child.” It made for a much more pleasurable flying experience!
Additionally, the boarding process with our kid was a breeze with U.S. Airways…unlike the stories I have heard about Delta Airlines. First, it was a luxury to pre-board with our child before the masses so we could set-up in our seats, and still have plenty of room in the overhead bins. Then, the gate associate did not give us a hard time as we trudged on with way more than your standard one carry on + one personal item. I would certainly recommend U.S. Airways as a partner for parents in the friendly skies!
Finally, a few tips learned from travel expert Pauline Frommer and some of the well traveled dads that worked for us for additional smooth flying with our son:
- Bring lots of books and read them several times each
- Bring lots of different food options in case your child refuses their usual meals
- Give your child milk or something to drink during take-off and landing to ease the air pressure and discomfort in their ears
- When our son got fussy and loud on board, I ignored the “looks” and “comments” from some of our unfriendly passenger neighbors – Frommer suggested “ignoring the other passengers because you should assume you will never see them again” – we certainly did!
- The window seat is the best seat in the house because your child can watch the other airplanes taking off (a bonus when your plane is delayed on the runway for 45 minutes) as well as providing at least 20 minutes of sheer enjoyment as your child opens and shuts the window shade. Great for you, but annoying to your neighbors.
Happy travels to all of the dads and parents during the holiday season!