The big day finally arrived. We took the little guy on his first airplane trip, and all went well, fortunately. Our chariot of choice was Delta, and for the most part, they did a very good job with a couple glaring exceptions (read on . . .). We paid $461.20 per person roundtrip to vacation with the inlaws, and that was a slight premium over what we could have paid. Paying this amount allowed us to upgrade to First Class for 12,500 miles each way, so we did it. We’re glad we did.
We had prepared well for the big day with a very different packing regimen. For the first time in years, we checked a bag (two on the return). That meant we brought only his necessities along with a computer or two in our carry-ons. Oh, and we brought the car seat and stroller to be checked at the gate. It worked out well.
To make things easier, I decided to try a service recommended to me by my friend Johnny Jet. We drove to LAX Parking Curb Express, and for $14.95 a day, they drove us from their facility to the terminal and dropped us off. It was well worth the price.
We went to the Sky Priority check in area since we were traveling in First Class and a friendly agent got our bags tagged and we were on our way. Security took forever with a baby. We had to pull him out of the stroller and my wife walked through the metal detector with him. The car seat went through the x-ray machine, but the stroller had to be hand-inspected. Then they tested the breast milk. It was pretty cumbersome, but we left plenty of time for that reason. (The TSA agents were far from friendly that day, so I’m glad we weren’t in a hurry.) Then we were off to the gate.
April 21, 2012
Delta 2054 Lv Los Angeles 730a Arr Atlanta 240p
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 51B, Runway 25R, Depart 2m Early
Atlanta (ATL): Gate A19, Runway 9C, Arrive 3m Late
N143DA, Boeing 767-332, Standard Delta colors, 100% Full
Flight Time 3h52m
We pre-boarded and my wife got settled while I dismantled the stroller and car seat to check at the gate. Once onboard, the flight attendants were fantastic. We were on a 767, so the First Class cabin was good-sized, but every flight attendant came over to say hello and offered to help if we needed it. Welcome drinks were offered as another flight attendant announced to the coach passengers that “now is the time during boarding that we like to call creative stuffing” – she encouraged people to find ways to get their bags in.
The little guy was dressed for the occasion, though he had the wrong airline in mind. (Thanks for a US Airways friend for that baby gift.) My wife tried to feed him as we climbed through the shallow marine layer, but he was out like a light before we left the gate. He apparently inherited that from her. He slept the first couple hours while we ate (I had the cereal while my wife had the omelette, which she really liked). We logged on to Gogo wifi and had a movie going in the seatback TV as well. Totally connected.
He woke up a couple hours in and we prepared for the worst. Fortunately, he was in a great mood. We went to change him in the empty area near door L1 (the flight attendants said that was our best bet since that plane had no changing table) and we ended up staying in the galley for about 10 minutes with the flight attendants because they were having fun with him. They even gave him his first wings. (Wing pins are back!) I asked the flight attendant if she could ask the captain for the aircraft registration since I couldn’t see it at LAX, and the first officer actually came out to give it to me. He asked what I did and we started talking a little. He’s one of those guys who thinks that he should have the same contract he had in 2000, but I wasn’t about to argue with him when he had an airplane to fly.
April 21, 2012
Delta Connection 5106 Lv Atlanta 410p Arr Wilmington 533p (operated by ExpressJet)
Atlanta (ATL): Gate C55, Runway 9C, Depart 18m Late
Wilmington (ILM): Gate 5, Runway 17, Arrive 5m Late
N907EV, Bombardier CRJ-200, Standard Delta colors, ~90% Full
Flight Time 49m
Our connection was looking a little tight until they switched the runways around and we unexpectedly landed early. We found an elevator to get us down to the train and made our way to the C gates. Our plane was all the way at the end, but that gave us a chance to stretch our legs (and change him in a restroom along the way). Our corner of the ATL wasn’t having much luck. First a Knoxville-bound flight went mechanical, then another flight was weight-restricted, and finally ours broke too. We were told that a tire needed to be changed, but upon further inspection, they changed their minds. Seriously. I asked after the flight and the first officer told me that they found out the foreign object wasn’t as deep as he first thought.
We boarded to find a CRJ in terrible condition. The bulkhead was threadbare. There were multiple holes in each seatback pocket. The lighting was dirty with stains. The safety placards were all worn down. Delta should have been embarrassed to have ExpressJet flying this airplane under the Delta name. It looks even worse in this photo because of the flash, but it was bad in any kind of lighting. (I tweeted it and Delta responded quickly. They informed maintenance that the airplane needed to be looked at.)
Fortunately, the airplane itself worked just fine. The little guy wasn’t nearly as thrilled with his coach ride on a CRJ. But he did hold his own for most of the flight. The flight attendant was great, introducing herself personally after we boarded in case we needed anything. She did a nice job with service on the sub-1 hour flight. We stayed just north of an imposing storm most of the way and somehow landed without even touching a cloud.
On the ground, it took them some time to get the door opened for us to walk out on the ramp, and the airplane was hot. The little guy had enough and started wailing. At least he made it that far. Everyone on the airplane was very friendly about it and tried to see if they could calm him from their seats. Soon enough, we were off the airplane and in the very tiny Wilmington terminal.
Our return started very early – at 1215a Pacific Time when we woke up to make the trek to the airport. It was supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, but apparently a surprise storm showed up and it was overcast with rain in the area. We were dropped in front of the sleepy, North Carolina-inspired terminal and went to check in. There was an earlier connecting flight in Atlanta and we hoped we could do same day confirmed for $50 to get on it. We went into the Sky Priority line and a woman at the counter shouted a question whether we had checked in at the kiosk. We told her no, because we wanted to see if we could make this change. She told us that we had to get in the other line to do that. I asked what the point of Sky Priority was, and she said something about how they don’t really do that. They just worked one line. Right.
Clearly this woman had no idea what to do because the other guy behind the counter told her to do it. She said she didn’t know how. He told her to call someone. She didn’t, and he finally dismissed her and said he’d just deal with it. So we had to wait for him to finish helping someone. Finally, he told us that it’s impossible to do same day confirmed unless we’re changing the first flight. I found out when I was in Atlanta that wasn’t true, but it meant we wasted about 20 minutes that we didn’t need to waste.
We went through security and it was an odd experience. They pulled me aside for a random check, which meant swabbing my shoes and that was it. No pat down, no bag search, nothing else. Then they made my wife hold the little guy for awhile because they wanted to swab the stroller but they didn’t have anyone to help right then. That was a lot of fun.
April 25, 2012
Delta Connection 5305 Lv Wilmington 6a Arr Atlanta 727a (operated by ExpressJet)
Wilmington (ILM): Gate 5, Runway 24, Depart 3m Early
Atlanta (ATL): Gate D44, Runway 27C, Arrive 8m Early
N681BR, Bombardier CRJ-200, Standard Delta colors, ~90% Full
Flight Time 1h8m
Having left plenty of time we made it into the gate area before boarding began and we were ready to go when it was time to pre-board. This ex-Atlantic Coast/Independence Air aircraft was built around the same time as the aircraft that brought us to Wilmington, but its interior was in MUCH better shape. We took our same seats as on the way out and soon we were on our way to Atlanta.
We were in the clouds and it was pretty bumpy for the first 20 minutes or so. Turbulence on those CRJs always feels worse, I guess. We finally got out of it and landed in a nice, clear Atlanta day. Since we had checked bags, there was no way to change to an earlier connection even if we could have, so we had a couple hours to kill. We wandered around, my wife got coffee, and I stared at airplanes.
April 25, 2012
Delta 1655 Lv Atlanta 940a Arr Los Angeles 1151a
Atlanta (ATL): Gate A18, Runway 26L, Depart 2m Early
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 58A, Runway 25L, Arrive 15m Late
N126DL, Boeing 767-332, Standard Delta colors, ~90% Full
Flight Time 4h16m
We pre-boarded once again, and I was definitely used to the stroller/car seat routine. The first officer was coming up from his walkaround and he stopped to say hi to the little guy. I asked how the ride was looking, and he said it was bumpy on the way in from Jacksonville and “it’s always bumpy over the Rockies.” Ok. (We never even got near the Rockies, passing over El Paso.) This wasn’t the last oddity to come from the cockpit.
On the airplane, the flight attendants were once again very friendly and eager to visit with the baby. He, however, was exhausted and after fussing a little at the gate, conked out for a couple hours. Despite their best efforts, the flight attendants couldn’t get the inflight entertainment system working, so it was all up to Gogo to carry the load (and it carried it well).
We took off to the west and that’s when the seatbelt follies began. First, the captain came on and told us that it was going to be bumpy so he was going to turn the sign on. But he had never turned it off, so he actually flipped it off when he meant to turn it on. I mentioned it to the flight attendant but the captain didn’t fix it. Later, he did the reverse, eventually correcting it when the flight attendant told him that time. There could have been a serious liability issue if we hit severe turbulence and the sign was mistakenly off.
But we didn’t hit anything severe, though there was light chop much of the way. I held the little guy for a lot of the flight, and I didn’t end up eating. My wife had a different kind of omelette than on the way out that she really liked. The little guy decided to wake up and scream briefly, and we got nervous that we were bugging those around us. We went up front and changed him, and soon he was back asleep again. Whew.
We sat in the clouds of a late season storm for much of the last hour or so, but we landed very early. Ah, the curse of landing early. We slowly taxied out to the very end of a taxiway and sat there. The captain came on to tell us that an airplane was in our gate and it would be about 10 minutes. About 15 minutes later, he came on and said that the airplane was just doing some last minute catering and then we’d be there in 5 minutes. We started moving, but we stopped again. Meanwhile, we had a diaper breach and had to change him. But we couldn’t get upon an active taxiway, so we had to do in the seat.
Finally, more than 45 minutes after we landed, we were at the gate. The captain’s inaccurate and sporadic updates were frustrating.
Once we pulled in, our stroller car seat came back up, but the stroller was damaged. A mud flap was gone and the foam handle was broken. We were told to file a report, so we did. When we finished up, I had called LAX Parking Curb Express to come pick us up. They showed up quickly, we checked out the car, and we were on our way. They send another car to pick up the driver so we didn’t have to take him back.
Overall, it was a very successful first trip with the baby. The flight attendants absolutely stood out on all these flights for doing some great work.
Nice to see the flight crews being quite atentive to the baby. Brett, Is it unfare to call him a “Little Cranky?” LOL He’s adorable, how old is he.
LOL as well at “a little Cranky”!
Little Cranky or Cranky Jr are perfectly acceptable. Hmm, I should see which one sticks.
He is adorable.Did you see my post on malaysian air making their first class kids free? http://boardingarea.com/blogs/wildabouttravel/2012/04/11/malaysian-kids-free-zones/
That might make you both cranky!
As a seasoned business traveler — and proud father of a 2+ year old, I know what it is like to change routines — one thing my wife (former flight attendant) and I travel with is the go-go-babyz adapter for the car-seat. Not having to have a stroller is a huge plus. We’ve used this in Key_West, San Juan, and Seattle!
Nice report. I like that first photo, he looks bored about being in an airport and going on an airplane. Daddy’s going to have work on changing that…..lol
Great report. Gives me some good advice for our first trip with our little airplane dork (who will be 9 months old by then) in late June, ICT-DEN-SLC and back on United. Our itinerary includes a couple of CRJs, which I am not looking forward to with the little guy for space reasons. Hoping we’ll have great flight attendants, too, and that he can score his first wings as well. And a stop in ATL is always good when you have time to “stare at airplanes.”
We just took a trip to India with a 3month old and for the international long hauls the bassinet in bulkhead seating was a real lifesaver–our little guy did great. We also flew domestically within India and found that the baby car seat with adapter stroller was the way to go. We used the Chicco Keyfit carseat and lightweight Keyfit stroller–it was great for all 6 flights on the trip. Much better than hauling our regular stroller all around.
Read the whole thing so I finally got to see pictures of the little guy!
The last time I was on a plane with no changing table I had to sit on the closed commode seat and balance a toddler on my legs. That was exciting. It is nice to be past the car seat and stroller stage so that we have less to carry. Have been very happy with the CARES harness. Definitely recommend it for when the little guy is old enough. Happy to hear his first flights were a success!
CARES looks cool. But he probably has a few pounds to go before we could use it. Looks like a great idea.
As a parent of young children, I would never fly without a baby restraint of some sort. For those under the age of 2, I recommend (based on plenty of experience) the Baby B’air http://www.babybair.com/. The photos of your son being held, totally without restraint, made me shudder.
You are right CARES (http://www.kidsflysafe.com/) is great but he is too young. Its rated for those 2+ (it only works if the child has their own seat), but we started using it at about 20 months.
My apologies if I’ve violated some rules here by including the webistes. However, child safety is so important that I would have been remiss if I’d not given a link to these critical child safety products.
Of course, the safest place for a baby (or any child) is in their FAA approved car seat.
No rules violated at all, AA-Platinum. Thanks for posting. We didn’t just have him unrestrained the whole time. You can see in that last pic above that I had him in a Baby Bjorn. I would be too nervous to just leave him there without anything. But I like the Baby B’air. I’ll check it out.
Loved the baby attire. Very cute.
I always dread trying to do anything tricky with agents at small outstation airports (i.e., airports served only by regional jets). They are usually much less knowledgeable than their colleagues at larger airports.
That’s so true. Many times, they aren’t even employees of the airline so they can’t even be expected to know how to do anything but the basics.
Well, these were employees of ExpressJet, so at least it wasn’t a completely disinterested contractor. But still, this woman really didn’t seem like she knew how to do much. Maybe she’s new and training.
Can’t you do that $50 same day switch over the phone (with an agent who hopefully knows what he’s doing)?
Grover – Yeah, and we probably should have tried that. But we had already wasted a lot of time and were getting nervous about cutting it too close. It had to be done before we checked the bags, so we just decided to forget it. But yeah, we could have called to see if it would have been possible.
It’d be interesting to see if they could implement a remote training system to get those out station folks upto speed. Something like a help desk with the possibility to have the help desk take over the calling agents screen and teach them.
I’d bet the reason why the big stations are better at this stuff is because they see more of it more often. And if that agent doesn’t know there is some SME nearby who does know so they end up learning it.
Wow. That boy isn’t cranky at all — at least on planes.
Keep us posted on what happens with the stroller report!
We usually fly USAirways from ILM because the Atlanta airport is so huge and it is an up and down activity to reach your second flight.
Hope you enjoyed our town. It is growing by leaps and bounds and could use some more direct (non stop) service.
Evelyn – I didn’t spend much time in your town itself – we were down further south near Southport. But the one day I spent in town was pretty nice.
Can’t wait for his first Little Cranky Travel Blog post: “Travels with Dad. Somehow, He Notices Everything!”
Love little cranky’s attire. He is a very handsome young man. I see you are instilling the love of aircraft into him early. :)
Great report! I have noticed the Delta FA being a little more friendly that some of the other carriers.
They should have a rule keeping wee ones out of First or Business. The bulkhead row in coach is designed for that. If I were forced to sit next to an anxious child, I’d demand and get money money returned, unless of course the child were well behaved without any noises or paid full fare for his or her own seat.
Please do us all a favor and stop flying. Wouldn’t want such a selfish on my flight.
@ Lennie Falcon, I’m rolling my eyes. I’ve been next to many adults in First who are far more obnoxious than an infant. At the end of the day, it’s public transportation–a greyhound bus with wings, even if you’re at the front of the plane. Get over it or start flying a private aircraft.
I was going to say “sorry”, but I’m not going to apologize for agreeing with Falcon. We can’t depend upon every parent being as prepared and as conscientious as CF, and that’s why rules are often imposed. I have to admit to a shudder when I read of changing the diaper in the seat, and while I understand that sometimes there’s no alternative, that’s exactly one of the reasons I think first class should be adults only. With all due respect, first class is not “a greyhound bus with wings” as you do not have similar amenities, seats, or dedicated attendants in any section of a greyhound bus. Nor do you pay a many-times premium to ride at the front of the bus. It is not “selfish” to ask that other people take responsibility for their behavior or the behavior of those for whom they are responsible, nor is it “selfish” to insist upon a service and experience that is correspondent with what one has paid.
wow. Last time I looked kids are citizens and customers too
Brett: first, it took THIS long for his first flight? Claressa was 10 days old when she started and we’ve never looked back!
Second, you need to buy the FAA/approved SkyMall Stroller/Carseat. My parents bought it for me and what a lifesaver!! And no hauling around both separately and praying they don’t get damaged.
My airport, BWI, has Express parking for $10 a day, where they pick you up and drop you off at your car, with bag assistance. I always felt like I was going on tour with all the junk I carried with Claressa. The happiest day of my life was when she was old enough to haul her own crap!!
Just a small correction. You said, “We never even got near the Rockies, passing over El Paso” The Rockies actually pass right through the city of El Paso. The southernmost peak of the chain is within the city limits. Although smaller then the mountains further north, they are still big enough to create turbulence.
I always thought the Rockies ended in New Mexico, but it appears there might be some disagreement on that. Either way, I don’t think anybody who says it’s always bumpy over the Rockies is talking about flying over El Paso.
Strange. You’re lucky you didn’t end up in Seattle.
Sounds like somebody needed to get the crew up front some espresso shots.
One more point, I have found its actually more comfortable to travel in coach, if you can snag a row with an empty middle seat, then business class with two adults and a baby that size. Some airlines actually will block a seat next to lap baby until all other seats are filled (I know AS does this) so you actually have a decent chance.
We traveled with our infants in the olden days when there were not so many restrictions on vehicle seats.We actually rolled them on and off in an “Umbroller” which I am sure would not meet today’s safety standards, but was a lot easier to carry and manage.
The use of alternative airport parking can be a real help. We use PreFlight at BWI which picks up and delivers us right to the terminal. A big help with kids–and even adults.
Amazing to see how great the flight attendants were, yet how terrible the rest of the experience was. I love that Delta quickly responded to you on twitter. I wonder if they actually did anything as a result however.
I actually wouldn’t say the rest of the experience was terrible. The ground experience in LA and Atlanta was good – no complaints there. The food was good, the seats were comfy, and everything was clean (except for the second flight). And the baggage service people were really helpful on the return. So I actually felt pretty good about the whole thing with just the couple exceptions mentioned above.
I actually received a tweet back from Delta today saying that they had inspected the aircraft and have pulled it out of service for a week to fix the interior. So it looks like they actually are being very responsive.
What a horrible report – can’t believe I read the whole thing — this is a typical whining, complaining parent who feels they are the only ones that have given birth, had a baby and are (the horror !!!!) – the first parents ever to have to travel with a baby !! You’re on a what (?) – 45 minute flight into Wilmington NC and you’re scrutinizing the seatbacks of a small CRJ ?? – and then – the fact that an agent at Wilmington directed you to to a kiosk instead of instantly coddling and comforting you through your check-in — Wow, you really got ripped off given the amount of money you paid and all the miles you gave up.
Well, Cranky gives his personal impression of his impressions of the flights. And yes, I notice a difference in newness and cleanness of aircraft interiors. (I have observed “the age of the aircraft shows in the ash trays in the armrests, but the plane is clean”.)
And yes, the interaction with the people at the check in desk is part of the travel experience… like the time some BA employee directed me towards a kiosk against my objections, the kiosk printed my boarding passes but kept them somewhere in its internals, giving me good cause to ask the same (now embarrassed) employee to salvage the passes from the device.
All those things are part of the “travel experience”… There are some other interactions I recall, good anecdotes, “””interesting””” experiences, missed connections and so on. It is hard for an airline to score a perfect A and keep fares affordable, so don’t whine when a blogger posts some founded criticism at your airline. Please improve your act!
But that’s the beauty of posting on a blog – it allows us to “banter” – give pros and cons – otherwise known as OPINIONS. My OPINION as an airline employee is as valid as yours. I also travel as an employee and passenger. I see good things and negative things – to criticize or opine is freedom of speech. Honestly, I’m glad CF had an overall good experience traveling with his wife and infant and all the accoutrements associated with the trip. However, I still feel this write-up is more attuned to Parents Magazine. It is over-the-top with complaints that were really minor and solvable – especially written by someone who is a frequent flier and knows alot about airlines, blogging, etc., every nuance, every detail (diaper changes, an infant sleeping and waking up, etc. – what else would an infant be doing whether in a car, an airplane, in a stroller, in ANY public environment and even at home – but all the things listed in this report ?). The article is about the parents and how they “parented” through the whole thing, hardly a new concept, yet at the same time CF seems to have been looking for minutiae to complain about. Too much, entirely too much.
I disagree that this report is better suited to Parents Magazine than an airline blog. Cranky often blogs a report about his trips (I used to do write-ups and post them on places like Airliners.net too), so this type of post is nothing new here. If you think about it, unless something extraordinary happens, all trip reports are merely going to be reporting details of things that happen many times on many airplanes every single day. What is new in this report is Little Cranky, so the baby-related items get the bulk of the attention. Just because a lot of attention is paid to the baby-related aspects of the trip, it’s still a report about the experience of traveling on an airplane, thus is on topic for for an aviation blog. Plus, it’s Cranky’s blog, so he can post whatever he wants here, even a trip report on Amtrak or a rant about how terrible yellow peppers taste.
The big criticisms that stand out in my mind from this report have nothing to do with the baby aspect: The terrible interior condition of the CRJ and the unhelpful ExpressJet agent at ILM.
He had a right to say what he said even if he didn’t have a baby. First class check in is there for a reason. Delta is not Spirit the last time I checked, so they shouldn’t be telling people they have to use a kiosk. A crappy interior is a crappy interior whether you have a baby or not. The sad part is that it took a customer to point out that the plane needed some attention.
Wow AirlineEmployee, pretty dickish on your part. The author is merely relating his impressions of his travel experience. Brett is ex-airline, not some entitled snob. It’s called a grip, get one.
“dickish” ?? – (great word Doctor).
This article is more suited for Parents Magazine……The details are simply way too much – like 95 percent of it – diaper changing is mentioned 3-4 times, the cumbersome breastmilk and stroller inspection by the TSA, the horror of connecting, the broken inflight entertainment system, “inadequate” pilot updates, turbulence, waiting for a gate…..all these horrors….that we can all be so thankful that he, his wife and baby survived.
If this guy is a frequent flier (which is evident by the upgrade price + miles mentioned), then he certainly knows this is the stuff that happens on domestic flights just about EVERY DAY, EVERY FLIGHT, EVERY AIRLINE. When people write these kinds of “reports” and “firsts”, they want nothing more than to complain about every nuance that doesn’t suit them or go their way. In short, he could have summed it up a lot quicker than this.
So baby or not, you as an airline employee are cool with:
-A first class passenger in the priority check in line being told to use a kiosk
-An express RJ with a very worn interior
-inconsistent announcements in flight and infrequent updates during taxi
None of those things are a big complaint, but your attitude is a problem. All of those things make the airline look bad and make the customer want to take their business somewhere else, which is something all employees should be very concerned about. You completely missed the point and reacting in the way that you did only serves to reaffirm a lot of peoples’ opinions that many airline employees are inconsiderate jackwagons with entitlement mentalities.
“dickish”, “jackwagons”, “entitlement mentalities”….Your descriptions of “many” airline employees is refreshing and certainly must be evident when you travel. Thank you.
1. A F-class passenger being told to use the kiosk ? – The details are in the article, I don’t think the passengers were disserviced in any way and they got the help they wanted even if not immediately. Sounds like the ILM employee was not experienced – maybe a newer employee. She may have been helping other passengers at the time of the request. I personally don’t agree with insisting or forcing people to use kiosks – Customer service to me is helping the passenger and having some dialogue, not showing them how to push buttons or barking orders like a parking lot attendant.
2+3. I think the experience in RJ’s is typical as described. They are more cramped and probably suffer from more wear and tear with people pulling, dragging and scraping against seatbacks that have a lot less room to maneuver. I’ve been on RJ flights where NO announcements were made – probably because they were totally uneventful.
So have a good day – hope your flying experiences are stellar.
I never said that I personally think that way about airline employees. I do not.
I was saying that many people do (there are several examples in this thread), and you are feeding that.
In response to 1, a first class passenger expects personal and priority service. They got service, but it could not be classified as priority service. It does not matter how a passenger got first class, they should be treated the same as anyone else who has a first class ticket. You never know if they are a non-rev with a voucher or paid several thousand dollars.
In response to 2 and 3, I agree that RJs are usually in worse condition than mainline aircraft. The point is that this should not be so. It also looks like from the picture that this particular one was even worse than that, and Delta agreed.
AirlineEmployee might be the greatest troll commenter I’ve seen on an aviation blog. Then again, considering the front line employees I work with on a daily basis have the EXACT SAME ATTITUDE, maybe I’m wrong. Disappointing either way
AirlineEmployee, I’ve read, and re-read, Brett’s post. He provided compliments where deserved, and he called out aspects of the experience that weren’t so great. I didn’t observe any “whining” or sense of entitlement on Brett’s part.
Nice report. One bit of advice – when you want to SDC, it’s usually easier/faster to call instead of relying on smaller (or even larger) station personnel unless you’re pretty close to departure.
Cranky, nice trip report. I recently took my 4 month old daughter on her first flight. It’s definitely a change in routine but everything went smooth and she did great on both flights. Interesting you mentioned your stroller getting damaged. We took a cheap stroller we picked up at a yard sale instead of our regular one for that very reason. It ended up being fine though.
Glad you and the family had a pretty good airplane/airport experience. I know how difficult it can be with a bub – especially if THEIR middle name is “Cranky” :-). Your little one sounds like he was born to it though!!
As an aside – was a flight attendant for MANY years. A good number of pilots have the personality of a dead fish!. They just don’t know how to make small talk or ad lib anything, and then you end up with inane conversations, dumb (strange?) remarks , and P.A’s you wish they had never made!. S0ooooooo….
having said that… may you have many more successful flights in the future!
Having been in the gate holding scenario many times, you have to realize the Capt is at the mercy of the ramp tower for accurate information. I used to get just as frustrated as the passengers when the information I received and passed on subsequently proved inaccurate.
Retired Capt – I don’t doubt that at all. But when we’re told it will be 5 minutes and then we don’t hear from him again for 20, that’s the biggest problem. He could have come on and said, “I know it’s been 5 minutes, but we don’t have any further updates. We’ll be back with you in 10 or 15 minutes even if we don’t know more.”
CF, I think the best thing about your post is that your son will have a detailed description of his first trip for when he grows up and becomes an Avgeek like Dad. I took my first flight way back in 1954, and the only thing I have about it is the date that my mom put in my baby book. Your son will have flight numbers, aircraft numbers and a great description.
Sounds like it went as well as it could with the baby. A few things you might want to consider.
1. The Right Start (I’m also here in LA) has a big red canvas stroller big that says GATE CHECK, has a space for writing your name, and can be stuffed into a little pouch for easy storage. We have the Citi Mini and it works really well in there.
2. Some airlines (US, VX, SW for sure) will allow you to check a car seat BASE in a bag for free, even if you’re taking the car seat onboard. We’ve also found we can pack some clothing, etc in the car seat bag to lighten the load in our other bags. We also only bring a days worth of diapers/wipes and purchase the rest at our destination.
3. Speaking of car seats, VX and SW that we know of still have free car seat bags in case you need to gate check or just don’t have your own. US does not.
4. Don’t bother bringing much for you to do onboard. While we used to bring noise cancelling headsets, iPod?s, magazines, books, papers, etc, now we just bring toys and food for him. Even if even they do sleep, which ours does, you’ll be glad to just relax yourself.
5. Depending on airport the TSA has been all over the place with my wife’s breast milk. It was swabbed in DSM, but that’s it. The last time we flew out of BUR and back from PHL they didn’t even open the cooler to give it a second look after being x-rayed!
6. Nursing or feeding on take-off and from TOC to landing will definitely help with the ears. We do that and have never had an issue.
Also – we’ve lapped him on his 14 segments since August and we were able to clear him into a seat on all but 4. What we’ve found is that US will clear a lap baby into an open seat before any stand-by’s; SW WILL ask for a birth certificate but won’t pre-board families until after Group A; UA considers a lap child eligible for a free bag if the ticketed parent used the MileagePlus Explorer Card, and VX will courtesy block a middle seat if you and your wife select a window and aisle and call them. Of course you will have to put the car seat at the window. It will be the last seat on the plane they assign!
Last year, Delta managed to break a hardside 29″ case between Bahamas to Houston via Atlanta, and was very good about replacing it. Showed it to them at Houston, got a claim number, returned to airport with replacement receipt and had a check in a week or so.
Looked like it fell from many feet up, landing on a corner wheel.
So, when are you taking Jr on an international trip?
I just had a frustrating exchange today trying to book a lap infant on an international trip with Delta. First of all, this can’t be done online — you have to call separately to add the infant. Second, ticketing for the infant is not instantaneous — my itinerary now has an “infant in lap” annotation but no infant ticket, and my credit card hasn’t been charged for the infant. Third, the infant gets a paper ticket by mail. Fourth, and most annoying, advance seat selection has to be done by trial and error, literally: some rows are infant-restricted because they don’t have an extra oxygen mask, but there’s no indication of this on the seat map, so you select a seat for the person with the “infant in lap” annotation, and if it’s in a restricted row then the system returns an error that the seat cannot be assigned, and you try again with a different row. That’s how it works on the web site, and apparently agents are none the wiser — the agent who processed my infant ticket had to go through the same trial and error process on his end (in his words: “I hate when this happens”). Fifth, the agent said he could not courtesy block the empty middle that I carefully kept open between me and my older kids, though I wonder if I should try calling again.
Anyway, this is all a big pain for no apparent reason. Other airlines sell infant tickets online, as e-tickets; why should it be so hard for Delta? Also, displaying infant-restricted rows as unavailable for a passenger with an infant should be a fairly straightforward programming task, given that the code is already in place to give an error when you choose a restricted seat. It feels like for Delta, this whole infant ticket business is just an afterthought.
No international plans for him yet, but yes, Delta requires a paper ticket for infants on international flights. Believe it or not, there are others as well. It’s a pretty backwards thing, but that’s just the way it is. They don’t really put a lot of effort into making things easier for infants, probably because they pay almost nothing.
That seems shortsighted.. Sure the infant pays almost nothing, but their parents do pay something, and they’re the ones who deal with the airline..
I second Nick. For this particular trip (4 paying passengers accompanying the infant), it was a very close call between Delta and United. When I decided to go with Delta I knew I’d have to call for the infant, but I didn’t realize that I’d have to spend 20 minutes with the agent (good thing the hold time was only 2 minutes). Also, I’m booking almost 2 months out so I don’t mind a paper ticket, but in other circumstances, especially if I had to book close in, this could tip the scale.
But forget about the infant or their parents, think about the call center employees. It took the agent at least 5 minutes to assign us seats using the trial and error method. How much effort would it be to create a crude interface like an overlay that shows infant-restricted rows for each aircraft type? 12 hours of programming? Let’s do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation: bump programming time up to 20 hours, assume a programmer’s time costs 5 times as much as a call center agent’s time, and figure it takes a call center agent 6 minutes to search for infant seats on each reservation, that is an extra hour for each 10 reservations. Then adding the interface will pay for itself after 20*5*10=1000 international reservations with infants, which Delta does in what — a week? a month? As an added bonus, agents won’t have to “hate when this happens” multiple times a day. Looks like an obvious place for an IT enhancement.
I can solve this problem cheaper without any IT work: Give the agents paper or digital seat maps that highlight where infants can be seated. Then the agent would just have to pull up the seat map for the specific plane type and reference that..
The oxygen mask issue is most likely for non-mainline equipment. By experience I know that each side row on a Boeing narrow body has 4 oxygen masks. My wife had the issue flying alone an an E135/145. She did not have the issue on a CRJ series
Apparently not all Boeings have spare masks in every row. The issues with my reservation were on a 757 (ex-TWA, I believe) and a 747 (center 4-seat block).
Apparently, no courtesy blocking at Delta:
@DeltaAssist Is it possible to block an empty middle seat when traveling with a lap infant, so it is not snatched unless the flight is full?
@lgb_ron I’m sorry we are not able to block seats. Thank you.^CS
Update: Infant ticket arrived in the mail today. The flights are listed as “open”. So now our reservation has an “infant in lap” annotation for one of the passengers, and we also have an open ticket for the infant which theoretically allows him to fly whenever he chooses (as long as he sits in someone’s lap). Weird.
Heh, So you’re going to let him crawl around the cabin and choose whose lap he sits on?
No, I’m going to drive him to the airport and let him choose which flight to take. From that point on, it’s his problem ;-)
This sounds like the plot to Home Alone 4: Revenge of the Planesick Puking Infant. (Chris Columbus film, produced by George Lucas)
Wow, it sounds like you had a surprisingly smooth trip with a baby in tow–congratulations! I have been on my share of flights with unhappy babies and, as I’m sure you know, it’s no fun for anyone involved. Did anything ever become of the report you filed about the damaged stroller? I am always hesitant to travel with my musical instruments for fear of damage without replacement.
Ruth – They replaced the stroller entirely which was great.