Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Baby Magee's first flying for free for my Birthday
Charlotte got her first taste of the flying for free magee lifestyle a few weekends ago when we went to Birmingham, Alabama for my birthday. I would have preferred an international location per my yearly birthday travel traditions but since my dad and brothers had not met the baby we decided to make the trip there. Should you be traveling with a six week old in the near future I have some advice for you – Don’t Do It!
Just don’t even think about it.
Ok you are ignoring me and are going to travel anyway I know. You are probably smarter than me for starters and wouldn’t dream of attempting to fly stand-by. However, I am a flight attendant and this is a “perk” of my job so stubborn me wanted to attempt the trip without buying confirmed plane tickets. Wisely my friend Jessica suggested we bring our stroller even though my mom had one in Birmingham. The stroller is only a pain in the ass when it comes to going through security. In fact, you just have to get over yourself and know that now you are THOSE people going through security. You know the ones holding up the line with tons of bags and cannot get through the line fast enough to the distain of those behind them. Chad and I use to breeze past those people. Literally I would cut in line ahead of them (bad habit from my job I know). I cannot have imagined doing it without Chad because it takes more hands than I own to pull off this feat. Not having traveled with an infant before I also realized that I had no clue where the elevators were located which are key for getting you to the lower levels with a stroller. TSA was surprisingly helpful however and we were able to make it on our way to the gate with time to spare.
Boarding the plane presented a new set of challenges. Charlotte had slept through most of the activity and it was my plan to feed her on the plane so her ears would pop. Chad and I weren’t sitting together of course so we had to ask people to switch which was a hassle because we were last on the plane. Not only that but the seats we switched to were at the front of the plane so we had to put all our bags in the bin above us which of course was full. I put Charlotte down in the seat to help Chad and she started to fuss to which the guy behind us says, “Oh great we haven’t even taken off yet and that baby is crying.”
Let me tell you when you fly, people are assholes on the plane to you when you have a baby. Another thing I had to get over. Oh sure, I was that person at one time, rolling my eyes and sighing loudly and making it a point to plug head phones in my ears. Karma has come back around though because now I am that undesirable person with the baby that everyone cringes when they see you heading down the aisle. Well get over yourself no one wants to sit next to you either.
Our trip to Birmingham was wonderful because we had so many hands to help hold and entertain Charlotte. No wonder people live close to their families after they have kids. My mom even babysat while Chad and I could go out for a nice dinner for my birthday. You take for granted having an uninterrupted dinner let me tell you – one where one of you doesn’t have to shove food in their mouth as fast as they can so they can calm the crying baby. We went to have beers at Avondale Brewery and then to the Veranda on the Highlands. I will say we ended up talking about Charlotte the majority of the time we were away from her…
Flying home from Birmingham was a whole different ball game. We couldn’t get on the flight out Sunday so my mom had to come pick us back up and take us home. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge cause for concern but when you pack everything up to head to the airport and go through the task of going through security etc with a baby only to have to leave again…well its pretty defeating. Since we had not planned on staying an extra day I had not brought a lot of extra outfits and Charlotte (and us) were running low. Make sure when traveling with a baby you not only pack plenty of diapers, wipes and clothing for the baby but for all the shirts they will ruin of yours as well.
After having an extra night in Birmingham we were ready to fly home the next day. I loved seeing my family for the extra time but our cat was locked in the house and someone was watching our dog so it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and went for round two at the airport only to watch another direct flight take off without us on it. Flying stand-by is bad enough, add a baby in to the mix and its extra stress. I looked up flights and saw we could hop on Southwest and so we went to the gate and got our boarding passes for the 5pm flight. What we didn’t realize was that this flight was not direct it actually had a stop over in New Orleans. From Birmingham to New Orleans the flight was wide open but once we landed in New Orleans the flight attendant made an announcement, “Magee party of two please bring your stuff to the front!”
Surely the gate agent in Birmingham wouldn’t have cleared us for the initial flight had she known we would be stuck in New Orleans. She saw we had a baby right? Right?!
The flight from New Orleans to Denver was oversold and now here we were dumped in another city and stranded for the night. I lost it when the gate agent told me they may not be able to bring my stroller up. I was bawling so hard I couldn’t contain myself from the stress of traveling with a baby and the feeling that we were never going to make it home. Needless to say, someone fetched my stroller. We had to get a hotel room for the night in New Orleans and proceed to buy plane tickets home because it was the only way we were going to get anywhere. Fortunately my best friend Casey lives in New Orleans so the next day prior to flying out was not a total loss.
Chad bought us tickets on Air Tran and we thought we were home free the next day. What we didn’t count on was a ground delay as we taxied out resulting in a 45 minute delay on the ground in New Orleans. When we landed in Atlanta we had to sprint from the D to C concourse in hopes that our plane, which we only had an hour connection for was still there. You haven’t lived until you have sprinted through the airport with a baby strapped to your chest following your husband who is carrying your luggage in both hands. Needless to say had Chad not been there I would not have even bothered because I couldn’t have made it. This is why it pays to be in shape after you have a baby should you choose to travel.
Upon arriving at the gate in Atlanta they told us that the flight was closed and they had given our seats away because we were not there. I think my look must have been one of utter defeat because the gate agent told the other guy working the flight to pull the volunteers off the plane for us. Here is where it paid to have a baby with us because I firmly believe they would not have put us on the flight had we not had a child. I must say Charlotte had done wonderful up until this point. She traveled better than we did all things considered. After a one hour flight and one hour delay and sprinting from gate to gate however, she desperately needed a diaper change. A diaper change that I could not accomplish because once we were in the air they promptly parked the cart by our row and moved slow as molasses serving drinks. Let me tell you, everything is ten times more annoying when you have a baby. When they start crying and you know what they need you want to give it to them instantly to make them happy…especially when you are in a pressurized tube full of onlookers. I have come to realize after our adventure that it was usually women who were the most helpful and looked at Charlotte (and us) with the most thoughtfulness. It was the men who were always first to make rude snippy comments such as, “Oh GREAT another baby” or roll their eyes at me when Charlotte would cry while I was waiting for the restroom. Men out there – get over yourselves. You were once a baby and I’m sure your mom had to leave the house with you from time to time so quit with the rude comments and looks when you see a woman with a crying baby. 99% of the time she’s doing the best she can.
Here was my biggest lesson from traveling with an infant – that children will do what they want and parents are just trying to do the best they can. If you think a baby is crying loudly believe me to those parents she is crying ten times louder. Traveling with children is a means to an end and something not many of us choose to do if we can help it. However there will come a day when you need to leave on vacation or to visit family or friends and these little extensions of you must come with. If you are a person who does not like small children around you then consider driving your own car or chartering your own mode of transportation.
I can hardly believe I myself have been on this earth 32 years. I really did not give much consideration to my birthday this year because I have been so focused on Charlotte. I guess part of being a parent is giving up being selfish. No longer is everything about me, it’s about her. I will say that these past two weekends of celebrations the greatest gifts have been being around friends and family and just having someone else to hold Charlotte to give me a break. I cherish my time with her but it is nice to see others hold and interact with her. I want her to be comfortable with others and outgoing and well adjusted and the time starts now.
My next trip around the sun I have another traveling companion with me and I couldn’t be more excited for all our adventures together. While traveling with a child has its moments of frustration I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world nor have I ever found a better seat mate….