That Day My Daughter Completely Embarrassed My Wife On Southwest Airlines

Okay, before you flame me for bad parenting and setting unrealistic expectations for my children……we need some background.  Back about a decade ago I was a road warrior.  I still am, and not even a recovering one, though I’d desperately prefer to be home with my family.  In those days, American Airlines was my primary airline.  Their loyalty program was much more lucrative than the competition.  As a top-tier Executive Platinum member, I was treated very well.  Whenever possible, American Airlines was my first choice when I needed to fly.

Logically, when our family had to travel somewhere, we tried to fly on American Airlines.  American Airlines took great care of us.  Back then, plenty of planes weren’t full.  And, in some cases there were more first class seats on planes than there are today.  Because of that, 4-year old daughter had never actually flown in coach except as a lap child.  She obviously had no memory of that.  Back then, I was also a very type A traveler.  That meant we were always first in line when first class or Executive Platinum members were allowed to board. That’s the only experience my daughter knew up until that point.

The Dilemma

My job required me to be gone from home for 3 weeks to oversee a project.  That’s a long time to be away, by far the longest trip I had to take, even to this day.  My 3 week project was in Denver.  That left me with two primary options:

  • My wife could fly from our home airport of Washington-Dulles to DFW, then connect to another flight to Denver.  She and our daughter would be in first class.  Plus, if there was some sort of travel disruption, I’d have the Executive Platinum desk to help us.
  • They could fly nonstop on Southwest Airlines.  I didn’t have a high opinion of Southwest back then.  They were a much smaller airline and I had no status with them.  But, it would be one flight instead of 2.

My wife chose the nonstop flight on Southwest Airlines.  I don’t recall if I lobbied her hard to take American or not.  I’m fairly certain it would have been my preference.  And, I was more stubborn back then.  But, I don’t think I made a big deal out of it.  It was the first time she’d be flying alone with our daughter and I was just a little bit terrified.

The Flight

My father lives near us in Northern Virginia, so he agreed to take Michelle and our daughter to the airport.  I didn’t have a good way to get him through security back then.  I probably could have figured out a way, but I had less knowledge back then versus today.  Smartly, I did take all the clothes that they would need with me when I went to Denver a week earlier, so all they had was one small carry-on bag.  Oh, and my wife was 5 months pregnant.

They got through security easily and made their way to the gate.  I had bought them Early Bird boarding, which meant they would be one of the first to board.  But, they weren’t the first.  My daughter didn’t understand why there were people standing in front of us.  Like the inquisitive 4-year old she was, she asked, “Mommy, why aren’t we boarding first?  We always board first.”

Now, that’s enough to embarrass any parent.  On the other side of the country I have no idea this is going on.  I’m just nervous to see them get off the plane in Colorado.  But, for my wife, it would get quite a bit more embarrassing.

As many, if not all of you know, Southwest Airlines has exactly one class of service.  If you don’t know that by now Alanis Morissette pointed it out recently.  As my wife and daughter boarded, my daughter was in front of my wife.  They stepped onto the plane, said hello to the flight attendant, and took the right-hand turn to head down the aisle and find a seat.  My daughter stopped in the aisle.  As the people queued up behind my wife, wondering why the line wasn’t moving my daughter said (quite loudly, according to my wife), “Oh, mommy!  These seats are so much smaller than the ones we normally sit in!”

As my wife recalls the story, she got an icy stare from the flight attendant and quickly ushered our daughter down the

The Final Two Pennies

Here’s hoping I don’t get flamed too bad for spoiling my kids and teaching them to be entitled.  She was 4, that was her perspective on flying.  I’m pretty sure my wife and I had a good laugh about it back then.  9 years later, it’s still pretty darn funny.  Our daughter has no recollection, which is too bad.  It’s one of those funny moments as a parent that you never really see coming.

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13 Comments

  1. The first time my wife flew business or first class was from EWR to HNL on United for our honeymoon. She was amazed by the lay-flat seats and kept asking me if things on the menu were “complimentary” (she still does this, even in Etihad apartments. On our way home we flew from Maui to Newark via PHX on US Airways. We boarded a US Air 757 in Maui and my wife looked at the large seats and said, quite loud, “Oh, these don’t lay flat!” I realized right there I created a monster.

  2. My daughter was 7 when we boarded EK to Cape Town from Dubai. As we got situated, she said: “This is first class? There’s no private rooms.” I said, not every plane has the suites in first class. She replied, “Well, this looks like business class.” Embarrassing then. Funny now!

  3. Hilarious! It’s sad that you have to worry about strangers being critical of the way you raise your kids. I’m always in 1B and love to see the little kids board, especially with those tiny colorful rollaboards. I’ve never heard one say anything as funny as your daughter did tho.

  4. Took my family to Hershey Park and stayed at a Courtyard. My wife had always taken our son with her on her business travels where she was always staying at business and/or premium hotels. As we arrived at the Courtyard, my son asked if he could order room service. This was his first hotel stay without room service.

  5. 7 yr old daughter travelling with my wife and I from SFO-BOS-FRA on miles. First leg was UA biz 2nd leg was LH 1st in the old 747 upper deck that had an actual bed next to the seat.
    After travelling cross country, and then going upstairs on the 747, she sees the bed and says very loudly “Oh , finally!” Had to have a quiet conversation about expectations and entitlement… The rest of the flight was funny as my entire trip was in 90 second increments of “Daddy, can I do ..” as she was so excited. My wife, sat behind is laughing her ass off and enjoying the free pouring champagne.

  6. Very funny Ed! I have a similar story. Back before I became a UA Million Miler and could bestow Gold status to my wife, and back when Complimentary Premier Upgrades were more plentiful, my son got used to getting upgraded reasonably often whenever he flew with me from LA to BOS to visit my parents.

    One time, when he was about six or seven, we flew to Boston and back, upgraded on 3/4 of our segments thanks to my UA Gold status. A few days later, my wife, who had no UA Elite Status, took him to see her parents in Eugene, OR.

    She called shortly after they arrived. When she handed him the phone, his first words were, “Daddy, we didn’t get upgraded.” I tried not to laugh too hard. My wife was mortified as he said this quite loudly in front of her mom.

  7. We have 4 kids. 3 girls then a boy. The 2nd daughter has a bit of an entitlement problem: flew to CUN on UA standard miles. Gate attendant on both flights saw this and upgraded all 6 of us both ways. From that point on, she was apoplectic that we weren’t flying in the front. 2/ I hired a car service to take us from MCO to a Disney hotel back before “Magic” transportation. I did not hire a limo. Needless to say, a limo took us to Disney. She complained every time after that that we weren’t in a limo. I could go on…

      1. She’s 21 now. Still feels entitled (she’s the college kid that is pretty constantly asking if we will pay for something…her older and younger sister rarely ask, and son is a SR in HS). However, she is also the most empathetic and goes out of her way to help others.

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