There is something people without kids must know about what it's like to be a parent and fly with children: It's hell. You think it's annoying for you when our kid cries or kicks your seat, but you have no idea how much stress it is just to get through security with the stroller and the car seats and the coats and the breast milk being eyed by TSA or the formula being questioned and the tantrum at the candy counter all before we even board the plane. The sound of our kid's cries are louder for us, because we don't want them to be so upset, and truly don't want to make a scene and upset all our fellow passengers.
Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about Kathy and Jason Fickes, parents of a 3-year-old, almost 2-year-old twins, and an 8-month-old, who got kicked off a US AIrways flight as they were trying to get home to Chicago from Charlotte, NC, for the holidays. Yes, kicked off the flight.
Kicked off after they all went through security with the three kids in tow and got on the plane ready for takeoff! If it was not allowed, shouldn't they have been stopped before they boarded? Aren't people paying attention to who is walking around airports and getting on planes? You know how agonizing and challenging that must have been for the family? When I traveled with my twins who were 1 at the time, I was sweating by the time I got to the gate from all the wrangling and stroller folding and car seat carrying I had to do. The Fickes have four kids!
The family says that they were all cleared to board, that the airline knew they bought three tickets for six people (kids under 2 fly for free). But once they were on board and seated, they got the boot because US Airways said they couldn't all sit in the same row together since there weren't enough oxygen masks -- only four per row. One amazingly kind passenger offered to hold one of the children on the flight, but that didn't work out -- why I don't know. Another good samaritan in First Class was going to buy a fourth seat for the family so they could take off, but there was an issue with that, too.
I get the safety thing, I do. There is nothing more I want than safety on an airplane, but what is a family whose kids outnumber the parents to do in a situation like this? And how is it that I just saw an episode of one of those family with multiples shows a few weeks ago and they traveled with all their kids who were 2?
Maybe kid-centric flights are really needed. And not just to keep the non-parent passengers happy, but to really cater to families. Maybe this is why so many airlines are going out of business or bankrupt. Flying isn't just for fancy, rich people anymore. This isn't the Pan Am era of the 60s.
Do you think more should be done to HELP families travel with small kids?
Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr