Summer is officially here and you know what that means? Lots of traveling. The airplanes are full of families traveling to visit grandparents, family reunions, vacations, etc. Fun for everyone, right?
I love to fly and I have been flying with my boys since my oldest was only 6 months old. My boys, ages 4 and 8, are excellent fliers. Over the years, I have received many compliments from fellow passengers and crew members about my boy’s behavior, always positive, until recently.
This last weekend, we flew to New Jersey from Phoenix to visit the grandparents who live in Pennsylvania. This is a 4 1/2-hour flight; long even for an adult.
Usually when we fly, I pack a lot of movies, coloring pages, books, etc. for my boys to keep them entertained. This year, I decided to buy an iPad to take on the plane — it is easy to carry in my purse, the boys can play games, read books and watch movies all on one machine — perfect for traveling. My boys love playing the iPad on the airplane; it keeps them entertained for the entire trip.
We had an EARLY morning flight (6:30 a.m.), which meant we had to leave my in-laws house by 4 a.m. to make it to the airport. We flew Southwest Airlines (most convenient for us), which does not have reserved seating.
We boarded the plane, got situated, and waited for everyone to find a seat. The flight was sold out, so towards the end of the boarding process, only middle seats remained. There was a young (20 something) woman who sat in the middle seat ahead of us. The plane took off and my boys started playing games on the iPad. My boys were not obnoxious, but they were laughing over the games they were playing.
Suddenly, the young woman ahead of us turned around and yelled at me to get my boys to be quiet. It took every ounce of energy I had not to tell her off. I spent the remainder of the flight constantly shushing them to be quiet and sit still, not enjoyable for any of us.
I understand that is was an early morning flight and that the young woman was tired, but she could’ve sat elsewhere on the plane, there were other seats available. I’m not sure what she would’ve done if she had sat by the baby that was crying and screaming.
My advice to you: before the flight begins, talk to the people sitting in front of you, explain that you have brought activities for your children and will try to keep them occupied, but they are children and might get bored or silly. Most people are very understanding.
Earlier this summer, on another flight, I watched a mother carry on a VERY large bag, filled with two laptops, two Nintendo DS, coloring books, crayons, reading books, over 40 movies and DS games, toys, etc. for a flight that was less than three hours. She was nervous about keeping her kids entertained and all her 3 year old wanted to do was talk to me.
I’ve read many articles on how to travel with kids and keep them entertained while flying, which is wonderful, but maybe what we as parents need is just more patience and understanding from the other passengers, we are doing our best to keep our kids happy.
Final note: As we left the airplane, I was complimented again by the flight crew on how well behaved my boys were ... it made me smile.
• Leah Derewicz is a 15-year Ahwatukee Foothills resident. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.