Monday, August 02, 2010

Traveling Blues Part 2: The Worst Kind of Laptop

As I mentioned earlier, kids are allowed to fly free in your lap until they're 2 years old — a policy I feel deeply conflicted about. Children that age are just too big to fit comfortably on anyone's lap, and yet they're too young to understand how to be calm and quiet.

It's especially bad when your kid is a bit large. From his towhead to his toes, Elliot is longer than the width of two airplane seats.

We took four cross-country flights this month, and three of them were completely full. That meant Kelly, Elliot and I had to share a three-seat row with a fourth person. I felt especially bad for the passenger who paid to get upgraded to Economy Plus, only to find himself next to us. He probably should have demanded a refund.

Elliot was good at times, and he charmed some of his fellow passengers. But he also thrashed around, wailed, spilled food and drinks, and kicked the seat in front of him. We did our best to control and discipline him, but it's harder when you can't plop him down in his own seat.

We also had to deal with the skepticism of flight attendants. On our trip to Atlanta, one of them looked at Elliot, narrowed her eyes and said, "How old is he?" We assured her that he was under 2 (and in fact, you have to show a birth certificate during check-in). On our latest trip, a flight attendant said, "Oh, is he going in your lap?" When we said yes, she said, "Uh...okay."

Hey, we didn't make this policy, lady!

Elliot let off some steam by walking up and down the center aisle, but this created its own problems. He would break free and run off. At one point, he poked a woman in the bottom. She jerked her head around and looked to see who had done it. When she saw Elliot, she said, "Oh, well thank God it was a little person." (I guess that does beat the alternative.)

Near the end of our last flight, our seatmate remarked that Elliot was well behaved. (This was pretty generous since Elliot had cried and writhed around for much of the trip.) Within minutes, Elliot showed his gratitude by throwing a PB&J sandwich at the man and engaging his parents in a round of slap-fighting.

Fortunately, we have no more flights scheduled...maybe ever.