11.25.2013

Traveling with the Wee Ones

The Toddler and Mr. Chipmunk asleep in the flight

Travel seasons are upon us and that means the all-too-familiar art of traveling with small children (i.e bebe up until maybe 5-6 years old when your children can sit still/follow verbal command within reason): run them around before boarding, load up with special snacks, goodie bags, novel toys, timing the flight with their regular nap-time schedule, etc. However, what I always wanted to know is the insider tip from the professionals. Here, Gummy from the Gummy Vision (who is a professional flight attendant) has graciously provided candid answers.

I hope you enjoy this installment and found this useful!




Hello, I’m Gummy over @ Gummy Vision, and a Flight Attendant in my offline life. Claire asked
me if I would share some insider knowledge to help make traveling with the little ones easier!


Q: What about your view of parents walking their kids up/down aisle/or hanging out at the back of the aircraft?

A: Number one thing to say here...if the seatbelt sign is ON, you aren’t supposed to be out of your seat. If FAA is on board and sees you out of your seat with the seatbelt sign on, you as an individual can be issued a fine. I’ve never personally seen it, but I have had friends who have witnessed it. It’s not the Flight Attendants who decide when the seatbelt sign goes on and off - the Pilots make that decision, and they make that decision for a reason. Depending on where you are sitting on the plane, you may not feel turbulence...heck sometimes we don’t even feel it! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t weather reports and other planes that have reported turbulence in the area, hence the decision is made to have the seatbelt sign on or off. I realize it’s very difficult for passengers to sometimes understand the safety importance of being buckled up...usually it’s chalked up to ‘that mean Flight Attendant’...but I can tell you that I’ve seen the horrible physical injury turbulence can cause. In our yearly training, instructors relate recent incidents and sometimes will show pictures. I’ve also talked to Flight Attendants who have been out of work for months, even over a year because of turbulence. There are even Flight Attendants who are unable to ever return to work because of the injuries. I’ve not been seriously injured, but I’ve been bounced around enough to be scared and to take my seat when I’m supposed to, or if I don’t feel safe. Please know a Flight Attendant is just doing her job if she/he tells you the seatbelt sign is on and you should return to your seat. That said, you have to make the decision to follow what has been asked of you or not...just be prepared to deal with any consequences. End rant!! Ha ha :-) To get back to the original question, here is my personal opinion of parents walking up/down the aisles and hanging out at the back of the aircraft...The aisles and back/front of the aircraft is Flight Attendant workspace. Just like you may have your office space, the aircraft is our office. And lemme tell ya’...that space is usually tiny!!! You may really appreciate the opportunity to get you and your child out of your seats, but please realize that by doing so, we have to work around you. If you need to walk up and down the aisle a few times, no problem! If you need to come to the galley for a few minutes, no problem! But please don’t be in the galleys or the aisles for extended periods of time. The longer you are milling about, the more difficult and frustrating it is to work around you. As a Flight Attendant, I try to be as understanding as possible, but there comes a point where I sometimes have to ask people to go back to their seats. As an example, not too long ago 2 men were chatting in the back galley for well over 30 minutes. 2 of us were working out of the back, plus the 3rd Flight Attendant would sometimes have to come to the back for this or that. As mentioned before, our workspace is tiny!!! We finally had to ask the men to go back to their seats because we constantly had to maneuver around them (and they around us) and it was getting ridiculous. Hope you don’t think I’m saying not to get out of your seats! But please be conscientious when you do so :-)

Hello, sky!

Q: I'm sure you have been in a situation where you have been called by passengers who were bothered by crying children. What would you have done differently if you were the parent? I understand you are not a parent, but we'd like to know the proper way of "handling" this situation as to have a win-win resolution. Children are by nature unpredictable, gets tired & cranky easily and when they do, they are super hard to manage. A: Yes, more often than you might think. I have quite the ability to tune certain things out, and crying children is one of them...unless they are way loud and nonstop. If a passenger asks or complains about a crying child, I apologize and offer to see if there’s another seat. If they say anything else, my canned response is to apologize again and say something like...kids are kids...and I offer for them to move if I know there’s another seat. I only ever interfere with crying children if it’s been a long time because usually the parent has done everything they can, and I don’t see what else I am able to do differently. If it has been a long time, I’ll ask them if they need juice or snacks, or sometimes we have coloring/activity books to offer. This is a tough one because I don’t know that there’s a black and white win-win for every instance. Sometimes the child needs to work it out and simply cry and other passengers need to get over it because hey, it’s a public space of sorts and everyone was a child once too. However, the parents I see that have the most success are the ones who bring things to keep their children occupied. Snacks, games, toys, movies. Maybe it involves letting your child do something you don’t normally allow...for instance maybe you don’t usually let them eat Pop Tarts, but you bring them anyway you know they love them and it can be a special treat. I saw one lady who I thought was a genius!!! She had 2 little girls, both under the age of 5 (I asked later how old they were). She had gone to the Dollar Store and purchased a couple of drawstring bags...in it she had individually wrapped (in girly wrapping paper) everything from crayons to notepads to snacks to little bracelets to a movie to a bunch of other things. I guess that’s my point - do something to make travel special! I remember when I was little my mom always let us pick out a couple of treats before each trip and it was so fun :-)
Stretching my air legs

Q: Are there any other things that a Flight Attendant would share to parents? I'm thinking in terms of safety and comfort for the family & passenger around. We parents are quite self-conscious (apart from those who said I don't give a ****, many are actually do!). Anything you'd like to share because you are on the other side of the equation here, so to speak.
A: Here are my tidbits!

  • I think the more self contained you are, the easier it is for everyone. Things I mentioned before such as bringing your own snacks, drinks (to begin the flight) and entertainment w/ headphones. Also know that many airlines don’t have pillows/blankets anymore or they are available for purchase only, so bring a blanket or jacket or an extra something warm for the little ones. Also a change of clothing is helpful...I’ve seen plenty of children get sick and throw up...or other things. Even for the big kids. I had a young man the other day get so sick and puke all over himself in the bathroom. His Uncle ended up putting his pants in a plastic bag and then gave his nephew his jacket to cover himself with. You just never know. Heck, I even bring a change of clothes when I travel!
  • Either bring a trash bag with you, or ask for one at the beginning of the flight. It’s really helpful to keep at your seat for the flight, so that you don’t always have to wait to throw things away. Also from a Flight Attendant perspective, it’s really disheartening to see a row of seats with crackers smashed into the carpet, stickers all over the seats, trash everywhere...you get the idea. I actually do this as a passenger, except I just use the airsick bag. 
  • Don’t hand a dirty diaper to a Flight Attendant. Ever. Seriously. It might be ‘just pee’ to you...but to the Flight Attendant IT’S PEE!!!! Ask for a trash bag, please :-)
  • Don’t leave a dirty diaper in the seat pocket...please throw it away!
  • Bring wet wipes with you...lots of wet wipes. They come in handy for so many things. I even bring them because I like to wipe down my tray table (and back of the seat that the tray table rests against), arm rests, etc. Speaking of, I’d highly recommend wiping down those tables...I see all manner of things being done on them...diaper changing, toenail clipping...
  • Make sure all your electronics are charged! Many airlines don’t have outlets once you get on the plane. 

I think that’s it!! Huge THANK YOU to Claire for allowing me to post!!! Hope everyone has a fun and successful travel season coming up :-)

8 comments:

  1. Completely appropos of not all that much, once our family traveled to California and on the ride back, we prepared with snacks, treats, toys, et cetera for our then 3 and 1 y.o. kids. It was a very early flight and all so tired and was feeding the big kid carrot sticks. Too many carrot sticks. An hour or so into the plane ride, she threw up orange stuff all over herself, her dad, the seat in front of her! O.O UGH! Definitely pack a change of clothes!!!

    And then there was that time we were flying and then descending into the Bahamas. Then 2 y.o. big kid cried/howled SO horrifically that a few days later, we kept on running into people on the resort who remembered us. "Hey, how's the baby now?" Oy. The fellow passengers and the airline flight attendants were so kind and so understanding. We felt terrible, but they were so nice to us.

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    1. Poor babies and you two!! Aren't you glad now that they are older?
      Our first flight was when BabyLorp was a wee 6 months. A mom friend of ours told us to buy a couple of ear plugs and just distribute them among the passengers around you, as a gesture of goodwill, if you will :-) Well 2x, the baby was howling on top of his lungs during take off & descend, and those earplugs really made people around us a bit more sympathetic! I was mortified, of course, but I think people in general are a little more understanding than we think.
      Note to self: spread out the snack during flight.

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  2. Yay!!!! Thank you so much, Claire :-) And may I say I love all the pictures you put with the post…so flippin' adorable!!! :-)

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    1. Thanks to you, Gummy, for your insight & experience.

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  3. GREAT TIPS! thanks for sharing :) your little one looks cute in the pictures!

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  4. THANK YOU GUMMY AND CLAIRE FOR THIS. My husband I have planned on going on trips but observing that my just 10mos. old baby girl now can't even sit through a 30-minute -1 hour ride on the car without sitting still despite the many toys handed to her - no trips just yet. I don't want to especially bother people around us when she cries and fusses because I know how annoying it must feel for the non-parents who don't understand. These are all great tips, though, I will sure to keep in mind when we do brave it out and fly with the little one soon. Thanks girls!! :*

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    1. Hi Sharina, thanks for stopping by. My best advice for infant (aka babies younger than 1 yo) is to travel during their nap time. It can, however, backfired. When I traveled with my son (who was 9 mo old back then) for a 3 hour flight, he was so interested in the cabin that he couldn't sleep at all. Eventually, he slept but not without a little bit of a fuss (read: A LOUD cry!). I think if anything you can learn from this is: don't let having children stop you from traveling, you just have to travel smart and be courteous as best as you can. Best wishes to you and your little one.

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