My good friend Matthew Klint and I were talking the other day about horror stories of traveling with kids. Matthew has a young one and mine have gotten older, so I was recalling some of my earlier memories. I wanted to take a moment to share one of the truly funny family travel horror stories I can recall.
When our daughter was born almost 12 years ago, I had no idea what was in store for me. I’d been a business traveler for a few years, though not exhaustively so like I am now. I had a way I liked to travel. Note, every type-A travel nerd has a way they like to travel. My wife likes to make jokes about mine.
Our first airplane trip was before Catherine was even 6 months old. We were heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia to visit family. We loaded all of the stuff we would need into our car and headed to the airport. This really should have been my first clue. I kept putting bags into the car. It was like a never-ending sea of stuff. Who knew babies came with so many things? For sure, I didn’t.
When we got to the airport, I parked in the garage I always parked in for business trips. It’s an underground walkway from the garage to the terminal. It’s not a long walk, per se. When you consider I’m a really fast walker through airports, it’s kind of a breeze. You see where this is going right?
Opening up the back of the SUV, it immediately occurred to me that I was going to need a luggage cart. I could have dropped Michelle off at the terminal with all the stuff and gone to park the car. But, that wasn’t the way I liked to travel. Boy, did those habits die quickly.
I went to go find a luggage cart. As it turns out, my wife had packed enough to fill a luggage cart, and then some. To this day, I can’t remember everything that was on the cart. But, it was enough. Michelle had her hands full with Cat. I loaded everything up on the cart and started pushing it towards the terminal.
I kid you not, things kept falling off the cart. I’d move 20 or 30 feet and something would fall off. Michelle would ask me if she could help. I would curse. Loudly. And decline. I was so stubborn. Remember, I had a way I liked to travel. I was just too stubborn to let her carry something or push the cart.
This little vaudeville routine continued all the way to the elevator. That was another giant cluster, followed by another elevator ride. By this point, I was hopping mad, cursing like a sailor. Thank goodness my daughter didn’t pick up those words from me as a 6-month old.
We had to go the ticket counter to check our 75 bags, strollers, car seats and other assorted items. And, I knew we had a problem with our seats. They had split Michelle and I up. This was a regional jet, 2 seats on each side of the aisle. Our seats had been together for quite some time. 24 hours prior to departure, our seat assignments disappeared. This was 10 years ago. The iPhone existed, but there sure weren’t apps. Websites definitely were less customer-friendly. And, so was the United agent who I asked to help us.
I was heated at this point, but I somehow managed to hold it together with the agent. It was around this time in my life that I started learning you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. Don’t worry, it still took me years to effectively deploy that strategy. At any rate, I was keeping my cool and trying to get the agent to help us.
She clearly just didn’t care. After a few unsuccessful attempts at convincing her to help, I leaned on the counter. Apparently, my hand extended over the counter just enough to block part of her computer screen. That’s when she slapped my hand.
No, I don’t mean she calmly moved it out of the way. Nor did she gently tap it. She slapped my hand and barked, “I can’t see the screen!” I was so shocked I didn’t really have a strong reaction. Completely taken aback, I wasn’t quite sure what to do next.
I figured I had to make one more attempt at this before getting a supervisor or completely losing my cool. We’d been at the counter for a solid 20 minutes at this point and Cat was getting fussy. Michelle was still calm as could be, one of the many reasons I love her.
The agent kept insisting there weren’t two seats together. I kept explaining to her that I was trying to find an “A” seat and a “C” seat in a row. I didn’t care what row at this point. She told me that “A” and “C” seats aren’t beside each other, that they were across the aisle from each other. There might have been some regional jets in the United fleet way back then. Heck, for all I can recall, it might have been an Air Canada flight. I don’t honestly remember, other than I was as certain as I could be that this plane was an AC/DF configuration. 2 and 2 with an aisle in the middle. I’d flown quite a few of them.
She decided to bark at me again that I shouldn’t tell her how to do her job. She had been doing this a long time and she knew what the plane configuration was. I’ll be honest. I’m not entirely sure where things would have escalated to from here. Maybe I would have walked away defeated. I was pretty riled up and I had no idea what to expect putting our newborn on the plane for the first time.
As it turned out, we never got to find out. The agent beside her interrupted her while she was screaming at me to tell her that A and C were, in fact, beside each other on my plane. The agent working with me insisted she was wrong. Now, both of us were getting her wrath. Thankfully, the other agent politely reiterated her position. The agent working with me got very quiet when she looked at her screen again. 30 seconds later we had two boarding passes beside each other, just a few rows behind where we were to start.
And, I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet!
I really do want to hear the worst/funniest family travel stories you guys have. I’ll rustle up some Starbucks gift cards for the ones that make me laugh the hardest.
I look back on this story and can’t believe my frustration. It’s funny today, but certainly wasn’t then.
Stay tuned for part 2!
The post What Are Your Worst Stories About Travel With Kids? Here’s One Of Mine. Tell Me Yours And You Might Win Some Starbucks! was published first on Pizza in Motion