It’s A Great Idea If It Works

Our family is spread out across the country and our typical plane ride is 4 or 5 hours.  So I am always looking for tips and tricks for flying with kids.  I am already the queen of snacks; last flight I stowed away 2 slices of pizza, 2 baby yogurts, 2 Greek yogurts, a block of cream cheese, and HOMEMADE chocolate chip pancakes (among other things).  Trust me, I will never be caught with hungry toddlers.  I also always have new toys, old favorites, and lots of crayons.  I take great pains to make sure the long flight is as enjoyable for me, them, and our fellow passengers as possible (I mean, I’m still human people.  I’m good, but not a miracle worker).

Never one to rest on my expert toddler traveling laurels, I thought of a new idea this time around.  When the airline invited families traveling with small children to board the plane first, I sent my husband alone.  He took all our bags so he could ensure adequate overhead space.  He took the Handi-Wipes so every inch of our space would be disinfected before the kids began licking the seats.  He took all the snacks to prepare the mise en place.  It was me, the kids, their Cars 2 cars and our boarding passes.  It was genius.  I brought them to the bathroom where we played with the automated sinks.  We went to the huge windows where we watched airplanes take-off and land.  I was just strolling over to Hudson News for a bottle of water when I heard it.


What?  Last call?  Ian just went up a few minutes ago, didn’t he?  I checked my watch.  It was 20 minutes ago!  How is it possible that every time I check the clock during an intense game of block building only three minutes have passed and suddenly 20 minutes with the kids felt like no time at all?  Either I was really gloating about this great idea or that Virgin America terminal was a time warp.

Without uttering a single curse word, I snatched up my 20 month-old and told my 3 year-old we had to RUN.  My thoughts were faster than my feet and I immediately put together Plan B. I’ll call Ian and tell him they have to hold the plane.  Except he has my phone.  I’m sure there is a flight to LAX soon, I’ll take the kids for lunch while we wait for the next one.  Except I have no wallet.  Even if we got on another flight Ian has five hours worth of entertainment.  Oh shiiiiiiiit.

Gavin must have recognized the gravity of the situation because for a single moment he didn’t even care that I beat him to the check-in desk.  We huffed and puffed as we asked “are we too late?”  “No!” they told me and they took my outstretched boarding pass and slid it under the scanner.


The electronic rejection noise alerted me we were in trouble.  “Oh, this is Gate 37A last call for SFO.  LAX is boarding at 37B.”  Are you f*cking kidding me?  There are only 11 gates, they can’t give them all their own numbers?  What kind of piss poor planning is this?  Of course I didn’t say any of that out loud and instead put on my best look of complete desperation.  The woman returned it with a “you better run” face and no offer of help.  Don’t they have an intercom?  Walkie-talkies?  Some sort of hand signals for the love of flying?  Can’t she convey to the next gate there is a crazy mom on her way with two small children who will lose it if they watch their 7 packs of Fruit Snacks and borrowed IPAD take off without them?  Apparently not.

We made the flight with all the fanfare of a Meg Ryan movie — just short of a Harrison Ford Air Force One leap from the gate onto a moving plane.  The only known casualty was Miguel Camino, Gavin’s brand new Cars 2 car that was a gift on the way to the airport, though I really didn’t look back to see if anyone slipped on the pretzel bits Chloe sprinkled in our path as I jostled her to the gate.

I sat down red-faced and covered in a thin coat of sweat.  In my best Taylor Swift dramatic tone I broke the news to Ian.  “We are never, ever doing that again.  Like, ever.”

Last picture taken before Ian walked off with all our lifelines.

21 thoughts on “It’s A Great Idea If It Works

  1. I think my blood pressure just went up reading that! Still a good idea. I’m guessing we might need to fly to NYC if we want to see you soon!

  2. It does sound like a great idea though!! We fly to San Diego every year and it does take quite a bit of prep work to keep the kids occupied and not irritating everyone in sight on the flight. I find the one out is always ok, it’s the one back that’s bad. I might try your idea though, but stick closer to the gate :)

    • You hit it on the head. The only flaw was that I came up with the idea when we were at the opposite end of the terminal watching the planes and neglected to consider how long it would take me to get to the gate. Damn it! Foiled again.

  3. So awesome! I was holding my breath throughout and am only now returning to my regular rapid breathing. My heart can’t take all this excitement, though I’m willing to try these pre-flight tactics if only to have the fabulous story to tell!

  4. Pingback: Lessons Learned (Vol. Seven) | ateachablemom

  5. Oh man, what a harrowing experience! Glad it all worked out!. Usually I’m in the boarding area with the kids and it’s the hubs who decides to go to the bathroom AT THE LAST MINUTE. Now, I give him his boarding pass and he’s on his own. There is no way we are missing the flight b/c of his mistiming!

  6. Last March flying with my 20 month old, I sent my husband ahead with all the gear and my little one and I waited close to the gate. He blew off more steam running around the chairs and hubby got to install the car seat without having the two of us standing over him.

    Great idea, just stick close to the gate next time. 😉

  7. Like the others, my blood pressure spiked just reading this – both out of empathy for you and also because it’s such a glimpse of something that would happen to me, despite my total Type A-ness. Good for you for making it work and keeping your cool – and having the sense of humor to write about it so well!

    • Loved your advice for Type-A post/guest post today! I am so Type-A which means I’m ready 30 minutes ahead of time and then futz around for 20 minutes and suddenly have a heart attack that I might be late. But the stakes have never been this big – oy! Never again.

  8. We are to the point that if we can do it in a day, we’d rather road trip… or beg off, and tell people to come to us. Our oldest is unpredictable and WILL wander off; we’ve nearly lost him on both of our last family vacations despite a ratio of 4 adults to 3 kids… once at Disney World and once at LaGuardia

    I’ve actually never thought to entertain the kids with automatic sinks… but I would have probably yelled at the gate attendant, or least gesticulated wildly like some kind of crazy person.

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