Flying with young children for new parents can be an anxiety filled experience that can raise stress levels to new heights (pun intended).
For us, family logistics necessitated a trip to Houston when my kids were 4 months old. My grandmother could not wait any longer to meet her great-grandchildren. Despite the days of pre-flight anxiety and planning, that flight was a pleasure, because the kids slept from take-off to landing. All the planning on how to manage the kids to minimize disruption to other passengers was shelved.
We strategically plotted the right time to feed them, give them their bottles, pacifiers, toys, etc. This very good experience gave me a false sense of confidence because, fast-forward eight months to our second trip to Houston, and I quickly realized that that earlier trip was an anomaly. This time around, Murphy’s Law reared his head and everything that could go wrong did.
Before we even got on the plane, we had made so many mistakes that helped elevate our stress, setting the stage for a really bad experience. The first trip went so well with the kids so we decided to do what we did last time regarding how many seats to purchase. That would be mistake number one. Simply because the airlines will allow you to hold your children under the age of two on your lap, does not mean it’s a good idea. The second mistake was assuming that MacArthur Airport was a hidden secret. My “everyone fly’s out of LaGuardia or JFK theory” was quickly debunked when we saw the lines to get through security.
Once we finally get on the plane, my son on my lap and my daughter with my wife, (not for long), the fun began. We proceeded to play musical kids for the duration, including a layover in Orlando. They both wanted the same parent at the same time despite all the treats and toy distractions we packed with us. They were loud, crying and making a mess all around us. For the sake of our fellow passengers, we tried to give them whatever they wanted. Not a shocking revelation to a level-headed parent, but to one on the edge of sanity at 30,000 feet, it was an aha moment. As you can imagine, I felt totally helpless to control a situation spiraling out of control. What I wasn’t taking into account was the fact that amongst the passengers in close proximity to us there is a good chance that many of them had children and could relate to my situation on some level.
Finally, we arrive in Houston and learned that our luggage did not, and would not for at least another 24 hours. Fast forwarding through the holidays, it was a great family trip. Before we knew it we were back at the airport for our return flight. Once we boarded the aircraft, we were told that we would be arriving back in New York sooner than expected. I gave an acknowledging look to my wife. That was to be the last time any of us would see a smile until we landed and got off of the airplane. Murphy’s Law was about to be introduced to Urban Legend. We were literally only seconds away from becoming every bit of “that family” that you only hear about.
(Editor's Note: Charlie Powell is currently a contributing columnist for Parents "R" Talking, Inc. The opinions in this article are those of Parents “R” Talking. The opinions are not medical advice. Always consult your pediatrician about any changes you are contemplating.)