If you are a parent who has traveled with a young child, you have probably had one: THE FLIGHT FROM H–L! (Since this is a family-friendly blog, I’ll avoid the more colorful description, but you get the picture). This is the flight that you look back on and cry, cringe, or perhaps laugh hysterically because you now finally have perspective years later.
My family has had its share of heckish moments in our many travels, but we do have one flight that has been officially coined the “flight from h–l” in our household. Our daughter was 17 months old, which is not a great age to fly. We had taken a three day weekend to fly from San Francisco to North Carolina for a family wedding, and everyone in our family was worn out after such a short trip with such an active toddler.
On our return flight, nothing major went wrong, but truly every moment was stressful and exhausting. Our daughter was beyond cranky, having missed naps and having been thrown off schedule by two three hour time changes in just 72 hours. We had brought her bucket carseat for her to nap, but she wasn’t having it. To make matters worse, we found that on this particular plane, the carseat prevented the man in front of her from reclining his seat. We had never had this problem before with this carseat, but seat pitch must have been particularly tight on this airline (I again blame YOU, USAirways). The man in the seat in front of our daughter pitched an absolute fit about the situation, so we found ourselves suddenly dealing with a tantruming toddler and a tantruming adult. When we at one point got up to change our daughter’s diaper in the bathroom, we returned to find that he had passive-aggresssively reclined his seat, tipping her carseat into a completely unusable position. We had to ask him to put his seat up, at which point additional confrontation ensued. We arrived late into SFO, harried and exhausted, wondering if we’d ever travel again!
If you aren’t a frequent traveler and you happen to encounter your own personal flight early in your travel with kids experience, it could naturally make you gun-shy about family travel in the future. I hope not! Travel is wonderful and I wish parents would be more adventurous in this country. Sure, you will have stressful moments, but nothing beats seeing family in distant locales or taking your child to a special place. I’m here to give my testimony to those of you who have had a flight from heck that it does get better! My daughter is about to take her 20th round trip and has easily been on more than 50 flights, but we have only truly had that one flight from heck. If you happen to have a bad flight or two, keep trying again. Every age and child is different and you will find your travel rhythm.