We just trekked from Stockholm to Colorado on our first cross-Atlantic trip with our half year-old daughter. I went into the journey with the mindset that throwing in a child to take care of on a long-haul flight makes a tough trip tougher. But after, I wondered why airlines don’t hand out little tykes to their VIP gold card members in the name of good customer service.
There were of course some adjustments. We had more carry-on items, including the baby, to keep track of this time compared with our previous, child-free flights. In-air child duty also meant forgoing the movie marathon I usually enter into on these multi-hour jaunts. I also declined, painfully, the complimentary drinks offered on board. If kids only knew the sacrifices we make for them.
But the benefits of doing this trip with an infant were so great I almost didn’t miss the free booze.
The kid first of all turned every airport official into a grinning, ga-gaing softy, which helped to grease the entire get-to-gate process at the airport. I’m sure I heard an “aww how cute” through the thick glass booth when the passport checker looked at our daughter’s photo. She swiftly waved us through with a warm smile.
Then, apparently, if you have a small child social etiquette allows you to start talking for any or no reason at all to others who also have small children. This makes a baby a social magnet and meant that we chatted with more people during this trip than all other flights combined. There’s no need for a clever opening line to start up a talk either. All you say is “So, how old is yours” and the conversation somehow seems to just flow from there. Where’s an icebreaker like this when I’m at a wedding reception.
Having a kid to think about took my mind off the things that usually tend to drive me bananas. Like other passengers. There may have been someone on the plane that snored like a chainsaw. It was a big aircraft with few empty seats, so the odds are high there was such a person. But focus for me was on child care-taking, so I blissfully never noticed this snoozer.
What I did notice was another child crying loudly and often. In the past this wouldn’t have been appreciated but on this flight I was fine with it. The way I looked at it, the screaming child was setting the bar on this plane for baby behavior. The worse that one was, the better ours looked in the eyes of others. I felt for the struggling kid and the parent, for sure. But I don’t mind when our daughter gets credit for outperforming.
Topping it all off, when we finally reached our destination, our luggage was first in coming around on the baggage claim belt. This has never happened to us before, and we’ve never flown over the Atlantic with a child before. The two are no doubt related.
So it’s clear that bringing a kid along makes for a great trip. But you know, we saw a woman at the airport travelling with four small kids. It stands to reason that her trip was four times better. Hmm. Wonder why she looked so stressed?