Friday, November 25, 2011

A House Divided: Is It Wrong to Sit Apart From Your Kids?

While we miss Kelly's relatives in Atlanta, I was grateful not to have to get the kids onto an airplane this year (we drove down to Santa Cruz instead for Thanksgiving with my family).

But somehow our children managed to make an 80-minute drive almost as grueling an ordeal as a cross-country flight. We had to stop three times along the way: once for Elliot to go to the bathroom in a derelict part of Oakland, once to eat, and once for Alice to turn a McDonald's restroom into a Superfund site.

When we dressed Alice for Thanksgiving dinner, she was wearing a pretty dress and tights. By the time she actually got to the table, she had on old pair of boy's pajamas.

Now I'm wondering if flying would have been better.

In that vein: Here's something that could be good or bad news, depending on your view.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that many families are struggling to get seat assignments together when they fly.
Several factors are at play. First, many seats on flights are reserved for elite-level frequent fliers or full-fare business travelers. Routinely full flights have less seat-assignment flexibility. Also, airlines are increasingly selling choice seat assignments for extra fees, an expensive option for families. And bulkhead rows at the front of coach cabins that used to be ideal for traveling with infants, offering more privacy for diaper changes and more space for restless toddlers, now have to be reserved for passengers with disabilities. As a result, families often end up separated or at the back of the plane.... 
Baltimore mom Teresa Toth-Fejel flies AirTran occasionally and has been told by airline agents that if she wants seats together with her kids — ages 1, 2 and 6 — she should pay extra for reserved seat assignments. She sets alarms for 24 hours before departure to check-in online. "I'm so freakishly worried about it," she said.
I can speak to this issue firsthand. When we flew back from North Carolina, the airline put Elliot all by himself.

The idea of forcing a stranger to answer all his questions for a five-hour flight appealed to me enormously. (Kelly, however, intervened.)