Traveling with Babies – Alaska Airlines Gets it…
Ok we went on a ten day work/family vacation.
All my life I have been a notorious control freakazoid when it comes to traveling. Nothing could’ve prepared me for our first international travel. Arriving back home I was so exhausted all I could do was drop the bags on the floor and crawl into bed and pass out. Hopefully I can help other parents avoid this.
The trip started at 5 am on October 28th with Alaska Flight 244 from Mexico City to LAX. I wanted to be there at 4 because the flight to the US left at 7:00. But 5 was acceptable. We waited in line and finally were at the Alaska ticketing booth by 5:45 am.
And…. we found out that my wife had forgotten our daughter’s birth certificate which was needed for her to travel as she is a dual citizen and this was the first time leaving Mexico. The guy told me that if we didn’t have the birth certificate we needed to see the immigration office and that the plane ticketing closed at 6:30 am (in 45 minutes).
I ran to immigration, it didn’t open til 7am. I had non-refundable tickets. I was not going to miss this flight. We live about 40 minutes from the airport which meant an hour and twenty minutes round trip. I panic’ed, told my wife to wait there. I flew down the stairs and found an airport taxi and told him that the plane closed in 45 minutes and I had to make the flight.
45 minutes, two changes of underwear and a $40 bribe later we arrived back to the airport. The guy at the Alaska counter had everything ready for us and checked us right through. We stumbled with all our carry on stuff (you need about 35 pounds of stuff for a 15 pound baby) through security. It was 7:00 am at this point.
My wife ran to the plane with our daughter while I got my immigration papers stamped. There was a 70 year old nun behind me in the line and after trying to mentally wrangle my conscious down, I had to let her go in front of me. My wife texted me over the phone that they were closing the plane door and only holding the plane for me.
I got my papers stamped and there was a security guard there waiting to take me to the right gate, I ran with him and all my gear, grabbed our daughter from my wife, boarded the plane, walked passed the first class passengers giving me disapproving looks and sat down with my wife in a state of semi-mental collapse.
They held the plane so we could make it. I couldn’t believe it. Granted we weren’t that late, but I’d had one other plane (of a Mexican airline) shut the door on me when I was only a couple minutes late and refuse to open it and I had to wait overnight at the airport on a bench to catch the flight the next day.
Yet, the airplane staff totally understood and were helpful the whole trip. If we needed something for the baby they totally accommodated.
And here’s where I really get sentimental:
My wife and I were exhausted beyond belief. My wife and baby had a flu for 3 days before we traveled which meant that none of us got any sleep for those 3 days.
Yet my daughter only stopped being upset when I would let her walk for most of the three and a half hour flight or if I would carry her while walking. I had to let my wife sleep because after all, I’m the man. I should be the tougher one right?
Anyways after about two and a half hours, my back was in agony (leftover injuries from a car crash a few years ago). One of the stewardesses saw this and told me she was a mother of two and offered to hold my daughter for a bit.
For the next 30 minutes she and another stewardess swapped holding my daughter until the muscle spasms in my back passed and I could hold my daughter again. We then went into landing at LAX and my wife woke up and fed our daughter while we landed.
Is that all?
Before you have kids you, like everyone else, irrationally stand up AS SOON AS the plane comes to a stop even though you can’t move for like another 15 minutes. After you have kids you stay seated until the plane is basically empty which we did and then the staff helped us carry our luggage down to the waiting bus.
And here I will comment that LAX security also gets it. Myself and one other family traveling with small children got ushered into the diplomatic immigration line so we didn’t have to wait behind 400 people standing in lines for immigration. Last ones off the plane, first ones through immigration.
It’s really these little courtesies that help make being a parent during this time that much more tolerable.
So to LAX security: you are awesome.
And to Alaska Airlines: I love you. I’ll be traveling with you on every trip to the US from here on out.