Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fear of Flying (with Nicknack)

A million years ago I was a nanny. I traveled quite a bit with the family, but the trip that stands out in my mind was the time the Dad and I took the two boys by ourselves, while Mom stayed home with the new baby.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Mom, the Housekeeper, the Laundress, and myself, we were extremely well-prepared. We shipped the bags and car seats ahead of time so that we didn't have any pesky luggage to worry about. We had a carefully planned itinerary to stick to. The travel agent had coordinated our car service and other logistical details - all we had to do was show up. It should have been the least stressful trip in the world.

Unfortunately, we ran into some bad weather at the airport and were stuck out on the runway for about 90 minutes, waiting for our turn to take off. In the meantime, the younger brother (age 2 and a few months) threw a tantrum. Like, the entire time. Like, the loudest and most enthusiastic tantrum I'd ever seen.

We were in the first row of first class, just a few feet from a stern and eagle-eyed flight attendant. All the little mister wanted was for us to unbuckle his seatbelt. I tried to stealthily unlatch it while the mean lady was looking the other way, but she noticed immediately (probably because the crying/screaming/wailing/kicking suddenly stopped). She then proceeded to remind us in a nasally monotone about FAA regulation blah-blah-blah which states blah-blah-blah... basically, he had to wear the seatbelt. No exceptions. Buckle up or get off the aircraft. Then she stood guard for the duration of our wait to make sure that we complied. I know she was just doing her job but it was hard to remember that, what with all the screeching and hollering.

It probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was extremely stressful. Upsetting. And mortifying.

Ever since that incident I've always said I'd never fly anywhere with my children until the youngest was at least three. Until then, car trips would be good enough for us.

Except for the fact that my cousin got married and is having the reception in August. In Alaska. Have you ever driven the Al-Can Highway? With a toddler? For one thing, it would take us a week to get there and back.

I decided I just wouldn't go to the reception, especially since Penn has to work and I'd be traveling with Nicknack all by myself. Oh, and six months pregnant.

But I can't shake off the nagging feeling that I absolutely need to go. I don't want to miss it! And I can't leave Nicknack at home, so he has to come along.

So now the great debate has begun. I've been waffling back and forth all day. Should I book our seats in coach and just hope and pray that 24 hours before each flight I'll be able do web check-in and pay the extra $200 (each way) to upgrade us to first class? Or should I bite the bullet and pay the $1000 (!) extra to just book us in first class now, so I don't have to worry about it until August. Or we could just deal with coach.

I just can't imagine my big-fat-pregnant bee-hind squeezed into a middle seat. And if Nicknack is in his giant carseat in the aisle seat, what a pain for the person in the window seat to get in and out. On the other hand, if Nicknack is in the window seat, what if he needs to get up and go potty or wants to walk up and down the aisle? Either way the third person in our row will be disturbed.

Worst of all, what if Nicknack throws a huge fit and the that random person sitting next to us gets upset? The flights to Alaska are packed in the summer, so we are sure to have a neighbor.

Of course, if we're in coach there are likely to be a more families/children so there might be other kids misbehaving and the other travelers might be more sympathetic to an unruly little person.

What do you think? Have you traveled with a toddler before? Do you have any advice? Do you think I need the extra space/privacy of first class so as not to annoy the heck out of an unsuspecting stranger? Can I risk the fact that we might get stuck in coach if I don't cough up the extra money now? I hate to waste money? And if we don't, should we sit in the aisle/middle or window/middle?

Did I mention that Nicknack will be the exact same age as that little boy was when he threw that big fit?


connorcolesmom said...

Ok I am laughing b/c I have flown a good bit with both my boys and they have been all ages (from really tiny to 6 yr old)
The worst was when I had the baby b/c sitting down was not what he wanted to do and they will not let you stand
So for your little man I actually think you will be good to go
My suggestion buy a portable DVD player and have an extra battery plus the out let cord get some fun DVDs
Also get some toys that he has never played with before and some coloring books, board books, and lots of food
Lastly when you book your flight get check the plane seating sometimes you can get a plane that has a 3 and 2 seating arrangement
If that happens then pick the side with the 2 seats for you and Nick
*just a heads up you can not be in a seat 2 rows above or behind an exit row so do not pick one of those
I found that out the hard way and it was a pain to have to ask someone to move b/c I could not sit there :(

You will do GREAT and so will your little one.
God bless

Katherine@Raising Five said...

WHOA, did you say PREGNANT???

YEEHAW, girl, I leave you for a minute and you come up pregnant!!

SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! I'm sure your pregnant beehind will be ever-so-cute.

Remind me to tell you my ALL TIME FAVORITE flying story sometime. I have always been amazed at how helpful people are when they see that you are (a) pregnant and (b) alone. I'll pray God sends some sweet grandma to sit near you.

My only other thought is, does he need to be in a car seat? The seatbelt is only required for a short time, and that sounds like a long flight. You could put the arm up and let him lie with his head in your lap. My kids always end up in my lap anyway, so at least this way you'd have a wider space to share...

Janelle said...

I really wouldn't spend the extra money for 1st class. Just go in with low expectations and lots of toys/candy/books/snacks.

You are a seasoned mommy now. No plane ride or temper tantrum can phase you.

It will be a fun opportunity for him to sit by the window like a big boy. I am fully assured that you will be fine!!

Kim said...

I have flown by myself with my girls when they were 4 & 2 and again several times with my husband with my youngest when he was 2.

My advice is the same as it would be in church or any environment where you had to make your minutes count. I broke down the flight into 15-20 minute sections and held off the good loot until the last minute (like the movie or headphones with books on tapes). We started off with the least appealing item (crayons, stickers, books, etc.) and worked out way towards snack and juice and eventually a movie or God-willing A NAP! My husband has several kid friendly podcasts that my little guy can watch but before that we had the portable dvd player. We didn't even use it on most trips but it was a good standbye just in case. I also like the idea of a booster seat that they are used to sitting in the car so that they can stay buckled. Even though *we* know they can get up, it's best if that information remains top secret for as long as possible :)

Good luck!

Lisa said...

Kitty - I've been out of "blog-commission" for the last several weeks and am just now catching up on all the latest. CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW BABY!!! I am so excited for you!!!
May God bless you with a healthy pregnancy - a healthy baby - and all the happiness in the world.
Blessings to you!!
Love in Christ,

Alana said...

Everybody has offered great advice.

Personally, I would not spend the money on first class. I've done the toddler thing on the airplane and it is hard, but manageable. Like connorcolesmom, I always brought snacks/toys/books that they had never seen (cheap) and pulled them out to entertain.

Just relax and enjoy!