Last Friday, we were at a party where a friend casually asked if we were traveling at all this summer.
“Yes,” I replied, “We are off to Boston and then Copenhagen. My brother is getting married and then we’re going to see Kyle’s brother’s family in Denmark. Long flights, but….”
She looked at me aghast. “Isn’t Will about a year and a half old? You know that’s about the worst possible age to travel…” She then stopped herself, “Never mind, that was a terrible thing to say.”
“It’s fine,” I said, “I know. He isn’t a baby who I can just sleep and nurse, but he also doesn’t have the attention span to watch a movie for two hours.”
“Or the reasoning skills so that you can explain things to him,” she replied.
“Yup,” I replied matter of factly, “It’s going to suck, but it will be great once we get there.”
In preparation for the trip, I packed an entire backpack full of things to entertain Will: crayons, Highlights Hello Magazine (for toddlers), a Dress Me bear with zippers, pipe cleaners, fabric quiet books, etc. I also stuffed it to the brim with dried cherries, craisins, raisins, and applesauce pouches. “This should keep him entertained for awhile,” I thought to myself.
Our first flight was an hour long one from Dillingham to Anchorage. He was glued to the window watching other planes take off while we were on the tarmac, but as soon we we were at cruising altitude, he started to squirm. The toys started to come out. Each one lasted about 5 minutes before he started saying, “No” and shaking his head. “Uh oh, how are we going to manage a five hour flight?” I started to worry.
After a half hour in Anchorage we were on the three hour flight to Seattle. We ate some McDonald’s for dinner and then we tried putting Will to sleep. We tried laying him down on our laps. We tried reclining his seat. We tried getting him to use his Pooh Bear as a pillow. Our efforts were fruitless, our routine-loving toddler would not sleep. Instead, he pulled out his antics from our camping trip: crawling all over us, poking our faces, and throwing his Pooh Bear. Thankfully, he had a pacifier, so we were the only people bothered by this. After we realized it was hopeless, we pulled out the ipad. We gave Will his Pooh Bear, his blankie, and unlimited episodes of toddler television. He was blissfully happy for the rest of the flight.
As we arrived in Seattle at 10:30pm, I turned to Kyle and we started to map out the plan for the next day. Realizing that we needed to wake up at 4:30am for our 7am flight Kyle said, “Yikes, Will is going to be exhausted.”
“I agree. So you remember when I told you that we should check his car seat… I think I made the wrong decision there. He needs it for the Seattle to Boston flight. There’s no way he’ll sleep without it,” I explained. “When we get out, I’m going to check with the airline to see if they can get it for us.” Kyle concurred.
We got to the baggage area and I found a person to ask. She said, “Sure, we can definitely do that. It’ll just be about 20 minutes.” It was 10:45 by this point, so I sent Kyle and Will off to the hotel to get to bed. At 11:15, I went back to the baggage desk and said, “The lady earlier told me it would be 20 minutes, it’s now been 30, can you check on this for me?” She helpfully said sure and then disappeared for fifteen minutes. At 11:30 I went back to the baggage desk and said, “Can you check on my car seat?” The lady went to the back to check with the first lady and then returned to me, “Oh, they found it, it should be here quite soon.” Twiddling my thumbs, I sat back down on the baggage carousel and waited some more. When it still hadn’t shown up at 11:45, an hour after I initially asked, I started to use my stern teacher voice on the agent. She was apologetic, but didn’t actually do anything to retrieve the needed car seat. a One of the reasons we fly Alaska is because they have great customer service, but these agents apparently hadn’t gotten that memo. Finally, at 12:15 a baggage handler showed up with the car seat. I enthusiastically thanked him and headed to the hotel for a few hours of sleep.
After rising at 4:30 the next morning, we got to the airport, made it through security (TSA agent took Will’s pacifier while he went through the x-ray and he punished her by screaming), and got to the gate at 6am for our 7am flight. I handed the agent our boarding passes because we needed to get our seats changed and then went to sit down. Minutes later the agent made an announcement, “Due to air traffic control in Boston, this flight is now delayed until 9:50am.”
Not one to swear much, I swore then. The day just got a whole lot longer. If we had known earlier we could have slept, but no, we were stuck in the airport for an additional three hours.
Luckily, Seattle has a nice play area. Will really enjoyed playing there for about an hour. Then when he started to get tired I put him in his stroller, reclined it all the way back, and walked him until he fell asleep. He slept for a while and then we headed back to the gate to eat and watch planes.
Shortly after take off, when Will was strapped in his car seat he started to rub his eyes out of tiredness. We gave him his Pooh Bear, his monkey pacifier, his blankie, and crossed our fingers. Thankfully, he fell right asleep and slept for nearly two hours. We spent the rest of the flight snacking, watching tv, and playing. The time when he was awake was demanding, but there was really only a 20 minute period of time when I wanted to rip my hair out, so really it wasn’t too bad. We eventually (6:30pm Eastern time) landed in Boston, collected our bags, drove an hour to my parents house, ate quickly, and then all went to sleep.
Today, we all slept until 8:30 and woke up feeling refreshed. All in all, the flights went much better than I expected them to. The difficult parts became worth it today when I watched my brother feed Will yogurt and when I watched Will hold Grandpa’s hand as he walked.