Parenting at 32,000 Feet
Parenting at 32,000 Feet
Ply them with chocolate, remember to reseal the sippy cup once the cabin pressure stabilizes and other lessons learned by a mom in-flight.
I admit it—I used to be That Person.
You know, the person who boards your flight, gets one look at your kid, and rolls her eyes aaalll the way back into her head.
Before I got pregnant, my husband and I flew to London every summer to visit his mother and stepfather, who were living in England at the time. On one particularly crowded flight, an Irish family with four kids sat right behind us and for seven very long hours proceeded to kick, scream, cry and fight with each other and everyone around them.
I cursed them—silently, of course—and vowed that when we had kids they’d sit quietly, hands folded in their laps, watching the in-flight movie or reading their books.
Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait.
Fast forward to role reversal
In 2006, my husband came home and announced we were moving from Western New York to Central Illinois so he could pursue doctoral studies. Now that we’re 700 miles from our extended family and friends, we spend a lot of time on airplanes. With a 2-year-old.
Yeah. Now I’m that other person. The one holding the screaming baby.
On my first solo flight back East, I started apologizing before I even boarded the plane. Cringing as Emmeline stood up and patted the head of the man seated in front of us, I pulled her back into my lap.
“Sit down, baby,” I hissed. “That man doesn’t want you to touch his head.”
I was equally apprehensive about the cabin crew. “I’m so sorry,” I said, as I pushed past the drink cart on my way back to the restroom with my toddler in my arms.
Since then I’ve learned a thing or two about flying:
- always remember to reseal your sippy cup once the cabin pressure has equalized;
- don’t bring the entire toy box in your backpack; and
- some airlines let you gate-check your stroller at the end of the jet-bridge while others ask you to leave it at the gate.
I’ve also learned that the cabin crew can be a parent’s best ally. Because dude, sometimes you need apple juice, like, right now.
Family travel tips from a flight attendant
Kim Kelley is not only a veteran flight attendant—she’s worked for American Airlines for the past 15 years—she is also the mother of two kids, ages 5 and 2.
Kelley points out that typical flight attendants are naturally outgoing and friendly. The crew is there to help, and introducing yourself and your child can go a long way toward ensuring that your family has a comfortable flight.
“Always try to say hello to the flight attendants, and let us know if you have any special needs or requests as soon as possible,” she says.