It’s been quite a week.
Aside from political drama, there have been a handful of random and interesting developments in our lives, all of which have stood in the way of me culling my thoughts on our recent travel experience, but I *finally* have a moment (knock on wood…er..granite counter) so here goes:
A few months ago, we traveled to Iowa (Abby’s first plane ride) and it went quite swimmingly. Armed with that experience, I was under the presumption that it would only go even more smoothly on a second voyage…
However, things were a little different this time. Since our last trip, Abby had moved to a convertible carseat, so I purchased a second one for our second vehicle + this plane ride + car trip (it was 2+ hours from Niagara Falls to Toronto, so even though she “fit” in her old infant seat, it didn’t seem like it’d be that comfortable). I checked to make sure her new seat was compliant (even confirmed with a car seat safety specialist), and practiced seatbelt install – so we would be prepared!
As far as luggage was concerned, we were able to stick to our two checked suitcases, two carry ons (I had a tote, hubs had a backpack, and I had Abby’s diaper bag) plus our gate check stroller (which can accommodate the stroller, as we pushed it up to the plane) and we had zero issues to that point.
However, the trouble began right after boarding. We had been assigned a back row seat, which, inspected visually, did not seem big enough for her seat (it’s not a big seat – Cosco Apt 4o). In fact, installed rear facing, it was not level enough, though the flight attendants didn’t seem concerned about this. Since the row in front of us was empty, we tested it there. It did yield more space, but due to “balancing issues” we were instructed not to move (annoyingly, after we took off, a random passenger moved there and prompty fell asleep across all three seats).
Still, we did our best to smoosh the seat down, and once Abby’s weight was in, the seat went down a little further, and she seemed more comfortable. It was annoying though…I mean, seriously. We paid for a seat for her and her carseat, and if it didn’t fit, we were just SOL? Blah. Plus side? Our flight attendant was very nice and gave Abby a free snack and her first pair of wings for her good behavior.
Following that experience, we thought, hey, even more experience = even smoother next time, right? Yeah, nope. Checking in at Niagara Falls Intl, the check-in attendants insisted we check the stroller there. When I explained that we had done gate check on the way over, it was to be used to push our car seat, and I was concerned about damage, the agent talked right over me, insisting that it was “safer” to do this, and since I was babywearing, why did I need the stroller anyway? Okay.
This irritated me because (a) yes, I was babywearing, but if hubs wasn’t with me, would I be expected to CARRY a carseat, plus my bag, diaper bag and child? (b) would she guarantee that my stroller wouldn’t be damaged?
I told her that I’d prefer to have the stroller with us, but she again cut me off, telling me that “less hands touch the stroller if it’s checked” which may or may not be true, but at that point, it was her insistence on not listening to my concern that was getting on my nerves.
So, we reluctantly checked the stroller, and I also let them know that we had once again been assigned the back row, and we had noticed online that the row in front of us was empty. I asked if we could be moved up, to accomodate our car seat. Now, the woman I was talking to started typing, as if she was checking, but then another agent talked over her:
“If you had just paid to pick your seat, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
I realize that we were flying a discount airline, but we are still paying customers. If a seat is EMPTY, let alone a whole row, us paying $30 per seat or whatever they were charging just seems silly. As it is, we already paid for Abby’s seat, when the airline allows lap children.
Thankfully, our agent moved the seat and I thanked her. Once aboard, we were able to settle Abby’s carseat a lot more comfortably (despite a flight attendant onboard suggesting we move her to the window seat, instead of the middle, where we had placed her on all previous flights, citing that I (Krissy) could be trapped in the event of an evacuation…never mind the fact that it would have been incredibly difficult to install the seatbelt through the path in that angle) and we had a safe trip home.
I felt I had to type out all these thoughts, not as a rant, but as a general reflection. I mean, we made this “harder” on ourselves by bringing our own gear…and upon reviewing the “Traveling with Children” on the airline page, there are inconsistencies on the flight crews info v. our experience v. our understanding, but it seems that by the time we fly again, it may be beneficial to invest in CARES system (since Abby will deficiently be big enough), or allowing her to be a lap child (which I had debated intensively for a long time before this) instead of the rigmarole of bringing our carseat onboard.
…phew…thanks for reading this far, if you did. And by some miracle, Abby is still napping. This could be a fresh new week after all!
What kind of fun travel drama, with or without kids, have you experienced lately? Thank goodness everything was on-time and smooth otherwise!