Airplane travel with a toddler

Mike and I used to travel a bunch in our life sans kids. We met in Scotland and went back there to get married. We both thoroughly believe in the idea of experiencing other cultures and want to kick our kids out of the house to study abroad when they're older. We also had this idea that we could totally take our kids to Europe. Soon.

Collin at five could do the plane trip. I have no problem with his mind rotting for hours watching the iPad if it means sanity. However, Milo is another story.

We recently went to California. First to Disneyland and then the Bay area. We had about six or seven adult family members for two days to help us out at the happiest place on earth. Without that help, Disney would not have been happy. It would have been hell. But I digress.

The plane ride back was only about ninety minutes. That should be nothing right? Shorter than most movies. But this is how it went:

First we were all tired from wandering around San Francisco for about four hours before we had to get to the airport. When we got there, I had to find food for the kids because bagels and pastrami from like the most awesome deli ever in the Mission were not satisfactory. Collin was pretty pissed at me because I forgot to tell them not to put cream cheese on his bagel which might as well have been arsenic.  However by that time I wasn't waiting in line again for 20 minutes and we had to leave.

So I spent about $15 for hummus and a banana. Collin took about three bites and was done and Milo took gobs of it and threw it on the floor.

We waited around at the ugly outdated Alaska terminal complete with mediocre food and news stands. Then finally boarded.  Side note: Hey SFO, take a hint from PDX and get a better airport, thanks. 

Boarding passes checked out, we shuffled on board. We were the annoying family with a ridiculous amount of stuff for two kids. Stroller, car seats, the works. At least we didn't lug the pack and play this time.

Our seats were not next to each other in a row of three. No big deal. Mike sat right in front and took Milo on his lap. Collin sat next to me.

An older grandmotherly type came to sit and said she was supposed to have the aisle.

 "Oh sorry," I said, having no idea where I put my boarding pass to verify. I took her word for it and Collin and I moved over.

Then another woman stood in our aisle and looked down at her ticket. She looked at me, looked down at her ticket, looked again. "I think that's my seat."


Mike looked at me with his eyes raised. "Where's your boarding pass?"

"Ummm." I fumbled through my bag.

Meanwhile, Collin asked the same question over and over.

"Can I play the iPad?"

"Just a minute, I'm trying to find this thing."

"But mom." Louder now. "I want to play the iPad."

The grandma lady smiled at Collin. "Your mommy is trying to find something sweetie."

Collin sunk in his seat a little and grabbed my arm.

A line of people were now behind the lady trying to get to her seat. A flight attendant walked over and didn't even pretend to like her job. She just looked angry. "Is there a problem?"

"I'm just trying to find my boarding pass," I said. My face was hot and and I cursed Alaska for not putting us in a goddamn row of seats.

I also kept apologizing.

Finally, Mike grabbed my bag, dumped everything out and found it.

Turns out next to him in the middle was our assigned seat.

"Collin go with dad, you can watch the iPad soon," I said.

"But I don't want to."

"Just go," I hissed.

The lady waiting got her window seat and Collin sat next to Mike.

Then I took Milo. He didn't care about seat belt signs. He was getting antsy and tried to launch himself off of me. He also started shrieking.

A woman came down the aisle and tapped on the grandma ladies shoulder. "Would you like to trade me for my first class seat? I don't feel like sitting there anymore."

Milo still shrieked.

Grandma lady looked around like she was on a hidden camera show. "Yes, okay."

She swapped seats and the first class lady sat down next to me. Her (husband,partner,whatever) looked back from first class with confusion.

There's got to be a lot of drama if you're willing to swap first class to sit next to a screaming baby.

I continued to try and calm Milo while the plane took off.

Maybe he was thirsty.

Mike took him while I opened up the overhead to get out his water bottle. I flipped the cap up and then like a fountain, water shot up straight in the air. It hit the ceiling and a row of passengers.

I immediately responded with, "It's just water, it's just water. Sorry!"

People wiped their faces and I was half hysteric. But at least it wasn't pee. Or vomit.

Milo's water bottle was now almost empty and he thew it when I tried to hand it to him.

The rest of the flight was exorcist baby. Poor Milo was tomato red with fists clenched and screams followed by breathy gulps, followed by screams. Mike and I switched off walking up and down the aisle. Some passengers gave us sympathetic smiles. Most tried to ignore him with their headphones and faux sleep. Others just looked like they wanted to get the hell off this plane.

The first class lady next to me tried to be helpful. She kept patting my arm and rubbing my shoulders. I realized this was probably an attempt to sympathize but as Milo pulled at my hair and left scratches on my neck I wasn't really in the mood for human contact. Especially from a stranger.

Then she gave me advice like, "Are you you still breastfeeding him?" And "Do you have any homeopathic pills? I can see he's in pain."

Thanks I hadn't thought of that.

I kept the snarky comments to myself and just shook my head.

"I can see you're really trying. He's really loved," She said. And rubbed my arm.


We survived. The plane landed. I half expected an applause when we walked off. I knew most people understood and sympathized at how stressed we felt. That Milo was pissed and his ears hurt or he was hungry and tired, or some combination, and that was the only way he knew how to say it.

We got home, went to bed and both Mike and I agreed Europe would not be happening for a while.


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