Holiday Travel With a Child is Exhausting (Trip Report)

American, Southwest, Trip Reports

It’s the holiday season and that means it’s time to travel. While I never liked flying during the holidays anyway, our first attempt with a baby had me even more afraid. Though things went well, it was still an exhausting experience.

On the way out, we chose Southwest because of the good flight time, cheaper price (when factoring in checked bags), and the ability to buy an infant fare for our son to have a seat. We paid $294.60 each with him paying $300.60 for the refundable fare.

We started the morning way too early and headed to LAX. (Oh how I wish there were better flight options to Indy from Long Beach.) We got to Terminal 1 at 545a and saw a long line out the door. I assumed that was security, but it’s a different world these days. That was the crazy long line to check a bag. It moved quickly, but to show you how long it was, it still took us 30 minutes to get through. This was about halfway through.

After shuffling 2 pounds to get under weight on one bag, we had to drag them over to the CTX machine for scanning. Then we headed up through security and went in the short but slow-moving family line.

Security took longer than we would have hoped because there was a backup to hand search the car seat since it wouldn’t fit in the x-ray machine. But we finally got out and went to our gate. It took us an hour from the time we arrived to get this far.

Our airplane was coming in from Phoenix on an early morning flight, and it was a couple minutes late. It was then time to board as the sun rose to create the nice fiery backdrop above.

December 22, 2012
Southwest 480 Lv Los Angeles 715a Arr Phoenix 930a
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 9, Runway 24L, Depart 10m Late
Phoenix (PHX): Gate D5, Runway 7R, Arrive 6m Early
N237WN, Boeing 737-7H4, Canyon Blue, 100% Full
Seat 14E
Flight Time 52m

We hadn’t purchased EarlyBird check-in on purpose. I wanted to see how well the family boarding process worked. When Southwest changed its boarding process, they moved family boarding to between the A and B groups. People were angry that they couldn’t get on first at the time, so I wanted to see for myself.

When I checked in at exactly 24 hours, I got A58 but my wife and son were in the B group. I just decided we would all board together after the A group got on. Sure enough, when our time came, the front rows were full, but there were plenty of open rows behind. It made perfect sense to me. If you want something better, pay for it. But if not, you’ll still be able to sit together on most flights.

We taxied for just a couple minutes and soon launched into the morning air. It was a really short and uneventful flight to Phoenix. We landed and taxied for about 30 seconds into our D gate. The little guy had fallen asleep on the way down, so we hung out until others got off. Then we hopped off and found our connecting flight a couple gates down in the fancy D concourse.

December 22, 2012
Southwest 839 Lv Phoenix 1050a Arr Indianapolis 410p
Phoenix (PHX): Gate D1, Runway 7L, Depart 5m Late
Indianapolis (IND): Gate B4, Runway 23R, Arrive 4m Late
N497WN, Boeing 737-7H4, Bags Fly Free Sticker, 100% Full
Seat 15E
Flight Time 2h47m

We again looked to board with the families on this flight and there were a lot. I later found out there were 6 lap children alone plus a few paid infants (including ours). One flight attendant quipped, “for a second I thought we were coming out of Salt Lake!”

Once I got my boy’s car seat installed, we could finally relax a little. Our captain came on and said it would be a very quick 2h45m flight with great tailwinds. We were thrilled to hear it.

We took off and I had the chance to log on to the internet on Southwest for $5. The Row 44 system worked great. It’s not high speed internet like you get at home, but it was certainly fast enough for me. I tried streaming TV as well for $6, but I had no interest in fiscal cliff talk so that eliminated half the channels. The only sports on was skiing and that left an infomercial on the local NYC Fox station. Pass. But it did work flawlessly.

My favorite part of all this was the flight tracker. Southwest puts a little header on every page that shows the time to destination along with the weather. The captain was quick to announce that the weather in Indy was the same as Phoenix, just subtract 40 degrees.

Our little one was in no mood to sit still, so we had our hands full the entire flight. He wasn’t crying or screaming… unless we weren’t playing with him.

As we got toward the end of the flight, I finally had enough time to evaluate the new Evolve seating. This is Southwest’s plan to use thinner seats and add a row to each airplane. For me, the legroom was just fine. But after a couple hours, my hamstrings were feeling sore. I’m not sure if the cushion was too hard or just shaped oddly, but it wasn’t too comfy.

Soon enough, we were descending. My son fell asleep again on descent (apparently we need to find a flight that will descend shortly after takeoff to get him to sleep) but he woke up screaming half way. Clearly his ears were hurting. Once on the ground, he was better. Unfortunately, there was a delayed airplane at our gate which meant we had to sit around for awhile. That’s why we ended up arriving late. Overall, Southwest did a great job and we were happy.

For our return, we were originally flying Southwest back from Indy, but then my brother-in-law got engaged. The wedding was in Chicago, so we had to change course. Fortunately, American had failed to put any blackout dates on a Southwest sale so we picked a prime flight home for only $129.60 a ticket for my wife and kid. Mine was $148.80. Wow. And even better, we could just pocket the Southwest credit for a future flight with no change fee.

So we left downtown Chicago early on Sunday since having worked here, we knew that there’s always a chance of traffic on the Kennedy. This time, there was none and we got there with plenty of time to spare.

We used the kiosks to check our bags and then sat in a fairly short security line before heading toward our gate. It feels weird flying American out of Chicago having worked for United, and American’s terminal is definitely inferior. The corridors are long and narrow so it takes a long time to walk to your gate.

Once at our gate, we grabbed a seat and waited. It was a beautiful sunny day – the first time we’d seen the sun in nearly a week.

December 30, 2012
American 1063 Lv Chicago/O’Hare 9a Arr Los Angeles 1130a
Chicago/O’Hare (ORD): Gate K13, Runway 32L, Depart 14m Late
Los Angeles (LAX): Gate 42A, Runway 24R, Arrive 19m Late
N963AN, Boeing 737-823, Silver, 100% Full
Seat 27E
Flight Time 4h10m

Boarding was something of a mess. We waited to hear a pre-boarding call, but there wasn’t one. First they called up elites and that was probably half the airplane right there. Then when they called group 1, I went up to the gate agent to ask if there was any pre-boarding for families. She looked annoyed and said that there was no family boarding. Then she went back to checking people in. It was just her and she was making everyone test their carry-on to see if it fit in the size-wise container. Those that didn’t, she tagged and had to hold up the line while she did. The whole thing seemed to frustrate people and looked really inefficient.

By the time we boarded, there were a ton of people on board. So we tried to get down the aisle toward our seat in the next to last row without knocking too many people with the car seat. Clearly people were annoyed with us despite our best efforts. We set up the car seat to face backwards as you’re supposed to do at this age and the flight attendant came and told us we had to face forward because we couldn’t block the recline of the person in front. That is not American’s policy, but fortunately we didn’t have to argue. The person in front of us was our friend and said there were no issues with her reclining so the flight attendant walked away.

I was hoping for an airplane with the new Boeing Sky Interior but it wasn’t to be. Our airplane was over 10 years old and had the old interior with bulky monitors in the aisle. One of the monitors had a flicker to it and too much red tint. They came by with free headsets. I took one but I never used it.

We were ready to go when the captain came on and told us that our nose gear strut needed more nitrogen. He said it would take 30 minutes, but they worked faster and we were less than 15 minutes late. After taxiing around the airport to get to our runway, we were in the air and on our way home.

There was one flight attendant on our flight who was strange, to say the least. He brought the cart down the aisle and when he got to us, simply barked “beverage” – I assumed it was a question.

I asked for a ginger ale and he just repeated four or five times “ale of ginger, ale of ginger….” Weird. Then it was time to focus on the task of entertaining the munchkin. About halfway through, we had gone through some light chop but the seatbelt sign stayed off. Then around Denver the sign went on and it immediately smoothed out. Go figure. The captain left the sign on for the duration of the flight.

During the second beverage pass, when the same flight attendant got to our row, he threw down napkins. My wife didn’t have her tray down so he threw one on her leg. I had my computer open and he just threw it on the keyboard. We didn’t even want any more drinks, so he moved on. When he went to pick up trash, he came through saying “CO” over and over. That, apparently, stands for “cans only.” Then he came by again with “ABC” which is “anything but cans.” So weird.

The only other thing of note on this trip was that I was able to put Gogo wifi to great use. The family behind us had a scheduled 35 minute connection from American to American Eagle. That alone should be illegal since you have to take a shuttle bus to the Eagle gates, but with us arriving nearly 20 minutes late, there was no chance. I whipped out my computer and started doing a little concierge work. I found them a good option in case they couldn’t make their original flight. Once we landed, however, they were paged by the agent on the ground to come to the front. American held the airplane.

Overall, it was a good trip. Southwest did a great job except for the long bag check line and the somewhat uncomfortable Evolve seat. American was just tired and not impressive. I know some airplanes at least look better on the inside. Some day I’ll see it.

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69 comments on “Holiday Travel With a Child is Exhausting (Trip Report)

  1. I had the chance to fly on one of the new 737-800’s last month. It was a short flight from LAX to SFO, but I was able to nab one of the Main Cabin Extra seats and I have to say, it was pretty AAwesome. (Sorry, had to do it.). I could literally cross my legs without hitting the seat in front of me and I am 6-1.

    Unfortunately, there’s a huge difference between the new and old ones. All airlines need to remove CRT monitors. The make everything look so dated and i cant think it is overly expensive. But I wonder how regular coach compares since the seats are squished together to make room for the main cabin extra.

  2. There was one flight attendant on our flight who was strange, to say the least. He brought the cart down the aisle and when he got to us, simply barked ?beverage? ? I assumed it was a question.

    I asked for a ginger ale and he just repeated four or five times ?ale of ginger, ale of ginger?.? Weird.

    So, some guy is standing in front of you, with a napkin in hand, ON THE BEVERAGE CART and says, “Beverage??????” LOL, he’s NOT there to sale auto’s!
    Most f/a’s repeat the passengers orders to CONFIRM what they want. Observe it next time you fly. Nothing weird about that.

    1. Frank – And here I thought we were never gonna hear from you again. I love how as a flight attendant, you just assume that no other flight attendant could have possibly done anything wrong.

      He didn’t say “Beverage?” He said “BEVERAGE.” He didn’t ask a question but rather barked it at us. And it’s not like he asked once and we ignored him. We were looking right at him when he said it.

      And had he said, “ginger ale it is” or something like that to confirm, I wouldn’t have thought twice. But he just started repeating “ale of ginger” over and over again. It was like being served by a bad 1980s robot. It was weird.

      1. …….never hear from you again??????……hate to burst your bubble, but some of your articles arent WORTH commenting on. Every once in awhile, you revert to typical MEDIA WHINING. It’s NOT cranky, it’s the typical CHEAP SHOT.

        Last time I checked, you allow comments on your LITTLE SITE. I made mine. Now, you want to argue the word—> BEVERAGE. I think you just hate that fact that someone doesnt agree with your articles. POOR BABY. Exhausting traveling with one?—————-> AMATEUR.

      2. Written by CF on January 3, 2013.
        He didn?t say ?Beverage?? He said ?BEVERAGE.? He didn?t ask a question but rather barked it at us. And it?s not like he asked once and we ignored him. We were looking right at him when he said it.

        Hmmmmmmm. Barked it at us? At times, we speak at a higher tone because, we’re on an airplane where the ENGINES, ALTITUDE, EAR PROBLEMS (blocked ears) require us to speak loudly. Simply solution, BRETT. spend ONE DAY on the job WITH a flight attendant, and you’ll understand why we repeat ourselves row after row to get an SIMPLY ANSWER.

        1. I think the next special Wednesday post should be a discussion on a commenting policy.

          I for one think Frank is out of line, adds little to these discussions, and should be banned from commenting.

          1. Nick, I dont care what you think of my posts. continue to play Brett’s “groupie”. Whatever. BECAUSE you dont like my posts DONT MAKE THEM out of line.

          2. Nick – While I certainly enjoy not having Frank comment, I think it’s best not to block him when he does. The more he comments, the more he hurts his credibility as a rational participant in the conversation. Clearly he thinks that no flight attendant can ever do anything wrong, and that becomes more and more clear with each rant he posts. It helps put his other comments in perspective.

          3. crediibility???….at least I actually WORK IN THE INDUSTRY, Brett. You, on the other hand, simply post information (and hock credit credits).
            Rational participant? Like YOU sitting on an aircraft WHINING about everything? Yeahhhh, that’s rational.
            Clearly, he thinks no flight attendant can ever do anything wrong? NEVER SAID THAT. YOU DID. I simply point out DIFFERENCES in how I view your remarks. You’re exactly the one who rants incessantly, like some self important, entitled (COACH) passenger.

          4. Nick – Thanks for sending the Seattle Transit policy. If things escalate to a point where they get out of control, then I might look to tighten things up here. But for now, I honestly find Frank’s comments hilarious. I’m just picturing someone with an angry red face typing so hard that the keys on his keyboard fall off.

            If anyone else is bothered by Frank, let me know here and I’ll reconsider.

          5. Frank, I didn’t point out that it was an Ad hominen attack to keep you awake or entertain you. I did it to clearly identify the failures in your arguements.

            However, if you would like to change your arguments, I am happy to identify any other informal fallacies you make in comments, including but not limited to the ones listed on Wikipedia:

            CF – I osselate between finding Frank’s comments hilarious and annoying. I think I’ve settled into a nice way to make sure I keep finding them hilarious, and to keep the perception of our community high.

          6. But for now, I honestly find Frank?s comments hilarious. I?m just picturing someone with an angry red face typing so hard that the keys on his keyboard fall off.

            NO. what you do is INSTEAD OF debating the facts, you REVERT TO ASSUMPTIONS (I’m picturing someone…blah, blah, blah….Clearly he thinks that no flight attendant can ever do anything wrong.) And, if that doesnt work, you make PERSONAL ATTACKS. Airline expert???…LOL, far from it. you’re so easily shaken.

          7. and, trust me, I rarely read this site anymore, apparently I was BORED the other day and clicked on it.

            It’s like a BAD BOOK. At first, it seemed interesting. then the writing AND author got delusional.

          8. What facts are you attempting to debate Frank? He didn’t think the Flight Attendant’s behavior was up to par. He wrote about it. He explained why he thought that. You disagreed because you are a flight attendant and think he is personally attacking every one of you. Now you go and put your foot in your mouth by making talking about “PERSONAL ATTACKS.” Have you forgotten your previous comments OR THE COMMENT YOU MADE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT?

          9. Frank, here is the problem with any of us attempting to debate facts: Neither you or I were there. The only person commenting on this blog who was there was Brett.

            Brett is quite accustomed to flying and I would surmise he has interacted with hundreds of flight attendants over the years. He found this flight attendant’s interactions to be unprofessional and provided his interpretation of that flight attendant’s service. Unless there is video of the interaction between the flight attendant and CF, there are no facts to discuss, we only have Brett’s interpretation of those facts.

            I’m quite sure Brett has commented on awesome flight attendants, mediocre flight attendants, and exausted flight attendants who still gave quality service. Just because he commented negatively on one flight attendant doesn’t mean that can be generalized out to his interpretation of all flight attendants. That would be the fallacy of converse accident:

          10. I’m a flight attendant and I would never just say BEVERAGE or beverage? I ALWAYS ask “would you like something to drink?”.

            Frank, if you are indeed a flight attendant as well, I wouldn’t be surprised if you come across on your airplanes the same way you come across on here. Rude and surely.

            Of course, I had a real job before I became a flight attendant so I have a pretty good perspective of how easy it really is and what the alternatives are.

          11. Frank, I was beginning to miss your Ad Hominem attacks.

            Although I do find the ad hominem attack exceptionally weak, because Steve is a flight attendant as well. You two should figure out if you’re ever going to layover at the same city and we can get a video of you two arguing. I’d donate money to charity to see that.

          12. That’s it Frank, you’re now being censored. I will not tolerate religious attacks on this site. I have removed your last comment. Try it again and I will begin moderating any comment that comes from you.

  3. “During the second beverage pass, when the same flight attendant got to our row, he threw down napkins. My wife didn?t have her tray down so he threw one on her leg. I had my computer open and he just threw it on the keyboard. We didn?t even want any more drinks, so he moved on.”


    You make it sound like the flight attendant assaulted you with napkins. About 90% of the time people DO want a second beverage, yet they’re too busy with their heads buried into a screen, newspaper, book, etc. to pay attention to what’s going on. Ignoring them doesn’t work either since they bark at you that they were “skipped.” Try bolding out your hand for the napkin distribution or politely decline.

    1. Kyle – Seriously? So you think it’s the right thing to do for a flight attendant to just throw down napkins at you as a way to get someone’s attention? Maybe he could have said, “would you like another drink?” instead of just throwing it at us. It’s not like he said anything at all. He just pulled up and threw the napkins down. If you were sitting there typing on your computer and someone threw a napkin on top, you wouldn’t like it either. No it’s not assault (oh, please), it’s just not good customer service.

      1. Cranky,

        I’m a pilot for a major US Airline and I commute to work so I spen a lot if time flying as a passenger as well. You are spot on to question the behavior and service level the AA employee provided you. I’m frankly flabbergasted that anyone would even try to defend it. Even the best companies have bad employees and its clear that this particular FA is one of them.

        1. ………….121PILOT,

          maybe YOU should be flabbergasted at YOUR OWN PROFESSION. And why your colleagues are showing up (above legal limits) DRUNK FOR WORK.

      2. So you think it?s the right thing to do for a flight attendant to just throw down napkins at you as a way to get someone?s attention? Maybe he could have said, ?would you like another drink?? instead of just throwing it at us. It?s not like he said anything at all. He just pulled up and threw the napkins down.

        Melodramatic, Brett?……..Throw DOWN…..THROW AT US????

        1. Frank,
          You seem to believe that there couldn’t be a flight attendant who is bad at their job. Newsflash people everywhere, in every profession, suck at their job. Not everyone can be as perfect as you seem to believe you are.

          1. Kyle,

            never said, that flight attendant was good or bad. I WASNT THERE. I cant make that judgement, but, what i did make was a judgement on Brett’s RANT.

      3. “So you think it?s the right thing to do for a flight attendant to just throw down napkins at you as a way to get someone?s attention?”


        Throw a napkin? I’d love to see a demonstration on how a napkin is “thrown.” (Kind of like confetti I assume?) Again, you make it sound like bricks were tossed on your tray tables and you and your family had to duck out of the way and protect the laptop from getting smashed. You’re pretty good at dramatic hyperbole, Brett.

  4. I don’t understand why most airlines no longer seem to pre-board families. Despite our best efforts to get on the plane quickly with two small kids, we inevitably end up holding up the line while the kids get situated.

    I’m pretty sure that Delta still pre-boards families with small children, and I think Alaska does too. And sometimes, you can find a sympathetic gate agent who’ll let you board early anyway, although never with American or United in Chicago.

    I guess that given the extent to which airlines now “sell” the ability to board early, either via status, fare upcharge, or credit card perk, they can’t be seen as giving that away, even if it does (in my experience as both as solo traveler and when traveling with our kids) generally slow things down.

    1. LT_DT – Did a little research on the flight with Twitter and found that United and American are the only ones who have done away with it. Everyone else still has it, though US Airways boards a bit further back.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I should have mentioned that we flew JetBlue back in September and they did let us pre-board (with a 6 and 3 year old), as did Frontier last summer. So, my use of “most” was an over-generalization based on my most recent experience. That being said, AirTran didn’t offer pre-boarding on a couple of flights that we’ve taken with them over the past few years.

        I like Southwest’s approach, which seems to be pretty balanced between accommodating those who’ve paid extra/remembered to check in 24 hours prior and families who didn’t. We’ve never had difficulty getting seats together on a Southwest flight when doing the family boarding and unless we have a tight connection, we typically aim for seats in the back anyway so as to be closer to the lavs.

  5. “””””First they called up elites and that was probably half the airplane right there.”””””

    That’s why they did not do early family boarding. Most of these ‘special’ people think no one should do anything before them so would have a cow if a peon family with kids went on before them.

    But there must be a ‘family pre boarding’ fee the airlines charge or will charge once they read this…

    You mentioned about the direction the infant seat was put and the F/A saying to face it the other way. I was wondering (for anyone to answer), if you are traveling with a infant/child/pet/etc, do you ever look up and read the airlines policies on their web site and print them out and take them with you?

    Seem to always hear stories of a airline worker at the airport or on the aircraft saying/doing something that doesn’t sound right, like they are just making it up as they go because they don’t know their own airlines policy. It would be interesting to have a airline worker say something and then you pull out your print of the rules to show them. Granted that may help, but it could also tick off an uneducated worker that could cause you more problems.

    1. David SF – Yeah, I figured they would do family boarding after the elites since the elites are definitely the most important to the airline, but when they started calling regular boarding, that’s when I went to ask.

    2. I’ve never printed the airlines policy out and handed it to them, but I have done that with our local transit agency had a tense discussion with the driver, but he seemed reasonable about it. (To the driver’s credit its an obscure policy..)

      1. I did forget to respond to that piece. I haven’t printed anything out myself, but I did pull it up on my phone just in case she gave us more trouble. AA’s policy is that it can sit forward or backwards depending upon the instructions for each individual seat.

  6. Wow I didn’t realize PHX D gates were that nice. I remember them as really old and tired.

    Is the flight tracker on Southwest, and free on Row44 like it is on GoGo?

    1. The flight tracker on Southwest is free. When you connect to wifi, you can visit or the tracker on the little homepage/splash screen that pops up. It isn’t as good as flightaware, but it gets the job done.

    2. Sanjeev – D gates? No, those are the newest ones at the airport. The other two Southwest concourses are the C gates and those are certainly not as nice. But they have done a lot of upgrading over the years.

  7. So thankful I avoid holiday travel. The week before X-mas I was at YUL and have never seen so many kids. Didn’t know what was going on until I remembered the upcoming holiday.

    Kudos for actually buying a seat for your infant. Lap babies just seems crazy unsafe to me, I’m surprised it’s still allowed after all these years. I’ve been in some turbulence that came up unexpected that would easily send a kid flying if not belted in. Never understand how a parent can put a price on their childs safety when it comes to a plane ticket, yet act like money is no object everywhere else.

    As for family boarding, I have a co-worker that waits until everyone else boards before bringing the kids on, granted that probably wouldn’t work with Southwest. His reasoning is that the kids have to be buckeled into their seats and behaved for the entire flight, why prolong that. He’s got 3 boys from ages 2-8 though. I can’t imagine.

    The reason everyone wants to pile on the plane so early these days is to nab that overhead bin space. When I’m rushing to a connection and one of the last people on board there is NEVER any space left in the overhead bins. Prior to bag fees this wasn’t a problem. That said, when I fly an airline I don’t have status on I’m always amazed that the plane is literally 50% or more full by the time I get on. Status really doesn’t mean what it used to.

    1. A – Yeah, that first trip we took back in April we had him as a lap infant and I just didn’t feel comfortable. We bought him a seat in September to Hawai’i and on this trip as well. I won’t do the lap child thing again exactly because of turbulence.

      1. Lap children are not safe and discouraged by many professionals. While most airlines limit the age, it always amazes me when parents try to get 3-5 year olds onboard or try and buy 3 seats for a family of 4 claiming one is a lap child when they are clearly over age 2.

        IIRC, The reasoning for not changing the rule is that the cost burden of another airplane ticket would force more people to drive, and driving is less safe than flying, therefore as a macro policy, the government believes that the individual risk/cost is less than the aggregate risk/cost of changing transportation modes.

  8. Long Beach to Indy — yeah, my wife is making this trip in a couple of months but couldn’t find any reasonable options out of LGB. I think Delta still has a single (ex-NW) nonstop from LAX but not every day, and she couldn’t take that either because it wasn’t available or the time wasn’t right (it’s a red-eye on the outbound). Ended up going with Frontier because of schedule, they had the latest departure on the return which saves her a night away from home. Frontier also happened to be the cheapest to the tune of $100 (in addition to a hotel night), but this was a secondary consideration on this business trip. Too bad Frontier walked out on their LGB experiment…

    Southwest family boarding: there would be virtually zero through passengers on a PHX–LAX–PHX turn, but on other routes the number may be substantial, effectively pushing families further back.

    Paid seat for infant: you also need to take the infant’s desires into consideration — on our last flight our infant (more of a toddler, but still under two) refused to sit anywhere except for a parent’s lap, even though a seat was a a available. So I’m happy we didn’t pay for that :-)

    1. Ack! Just did a search on my wife’s flight and the price dropped considerably! Oh we’ll, you win some and you lose some. The schedule is still the best, and that’s what counts (on this trip). The new amazing price (well under $300 r/t) is matched by most airlines, so it looks like there’s a current fare war on LAX–IND. better book your next in-laws trip now, Cranky.

  9. The new seats on Southwest are terrible. We flew PHX>MCI>IND the weekend before Christmas and then DFW>HOU>PHX on New Year’s Day. My tailbone started to hurt about 30 minutes into the first leg on each flight and ended up hurting for many hours after I got off the flight. When I reached down to feel the seat, it felt like it was an inch of foam over a wood board. Don’t know what they were thinking with those seats.

  10. In defense of flight attendants barking and flinging napkins, I’ve observed that people don’t pay any attention to the FAs as they make their way down the aisle. It must get really old after awhile. Especially by the 35th row, I would assume they get tired of repeating the same words over and over again, so add a little spice with an acknowledgement such as “ale of ginger”. Passengers could pay attention when the FA comes down the aisle, it won’t kill anyone to look up and smile and wait until the FA offers whatever, then respond and say thanks. As for flying with small children, I give thanks every time I see one that I am childless, it’s my idea of a nightmare. I have literally picked up whining kids and bounced them around up and down the aisle to give the poor parents 10mins of peace.

  11. “It was just her and she was making everyone test their carry-on to see if it fit in the size-wise container. Those that didn?t, she tagged and had to hold up the line while she did.”

    It’s unfortunate that American wasn’t able to provide additional staff at the gate, but all in all, this is a very good thing. I was on an American HNL-LAX flight in mid-December where they not only didn’t check bag sizes, but allowed several people to board with more than one carry-on. So the bottleneck occurred in the plane instead of at the gate as these morons attempted to find space for their illegal bags, often with little or no consideration for bags that were already stowed. Then there was an additional delay as the FAs and gate agent worked to check (at no charge) the carry-ons that wouldn’t fit. The plane left 25 minutes late because of this.

    I understand when people don’t want to pay a bag fee for various reasons, but when I pay the fee, it is with the expectation that the airline will enforce its rules.

  12. Its sad to see how demoralized the AA employees are. Hopefully a year with US will help improve their spirits.

    I’m interested in how Row44 manages the TV broadcasts from a technical perspective. I figure they’re sending one stream per airplane if not one stream for all the airplanes to deliver it over WiFi…

    1. “Its sad to see how demoralized the AA employees are. Hopefully a year with US will help improve their spirits.” BWAHAHAHAHA… good one Nick…

  13. Aha traveling with the kids! Fun fun fun (sarcasm). We definitely pay more to fly the airlines that seem to help with kids and family boarding. AA is at the bottom of the barrel of that list. But every now and then when we get some great surprises when the gate agent (one time secretly let us board after the elites) and very surprised with the flight attendant actually helping us. Just wish it wouldn’t have to be a surprise because people don’t realize that sometimes traveling with the kids is tiring even with the best behaved children.

  14. Cranky, does Southwest not have skycap service at LGB? I would have gladly paid the few bucks per bag to skip that indoor horror show check in.

    Southwest’s PHX gate areas are very nice, but the food options are not as nice as some of the other gate areas in that terminal building.

    Glad to see the AA agent checking carry on sizes….more airlines need to do this, even though people game the system with oversize bags knowing that even if they get gate checked, they avoid the fee and get their bags faster than checked luggage.

    1. Marty – This was LAX, and yes Southwest has a skycap there. But the skycap long was really long for that as well and it was entirely outside. Midwesterners might laugh, but it was a cold morning at LAX and the last thing we wanted to do was sit outside for too long.

  15. Looks like you got a full dose of delightful holiday flying. Unfortunately I had to work and deal with these full flights and bad weather. For me, Delta would not allow reservations changes in the face of a massive snow storm in Iowa until it was TOO LATE then of course nothing was available, so I went ahead a paid the $150 hated fee plus fare change to get out early to my vacation. After a lot of kvetching I got the $150 back.

    I am sorry your child experienced severe eustachian tube dysfunction. They scream because they are in pain. The pain is severe in some cases. They cannot “valsalva” but getting them to suck on something opens the fossa of Rosenmuller to open allow pressure to equalize. But it must be an ongoing process as descent take place. In any case, if the child is unable to equalize pressure, there will be Barotrauma. Eventually this will lead to hearing loss because of the barotrauma. Just ask ANY pediatrician or ENT surgeon, so MAKE SURE its worth the trip. All of us frequent and road warrior fliers are destined to wear hearing aids. (or are we just good at ignoring people).

    Well evidently you haven’t been on American recently. The entire airline has simply gotten creepy. The flight attendants seem to be off in never never land. I really think they are dealing with the possibility that the airline will be taken over by a poor 2nd cousin, US Airways. I flew on THEM twice during the holidays, both Airbus. Planes nasty, flight attendants hateful, bumping into elbows with carts (causing a tennis elbow injury in me). How BAD will it be when these two very ugly companies actually marry. Ugly + Ugly = Ugliest. Who will want to fly them?

    In any case, you arrived home safety. Obviously to no one’s surprise, Southwest was the better option!! PS: Did American offer a competitive deal and match SW flight fares?

    1. Steve – American matched a Southwest sale on the return, but Southwest had blacked out the holidays. American didn’t, so it was significantly cheaper.

  16. I can vouch for at least Southwest and US Airways that they check birth certificates to make sure they are under 2. I think it is a federal requirement but I’m not positive. However, I don’t think I’ll be doing a lap child anymore either. I’m not very comfortable with it.

    1. Having flown US, VX, UA and SW multiple times with an infant in a paid seat or as a lap child, I too can confirm that only US and SW checked the birth certificate.

      He’s now 19 months and we started purchasing a seat for him shortly after he started to walk at 13 months.

      I think Southwest’s child fare is the best – you can cancel it up to departure if there’s an open seat. We even had a situation where we were flying BUR-PHL via PHX on a direct flight. The BUR-PHX was wide open, but the PHX-PHL segment kept selling out, and when a seat did re-open, we purchased it to again sell out the flight and guarantee the baby a seat. Luckily the crew was also going all the way the PHL, so when we explained the situation to them, they were able to give the gate agent in PHX his BP so we wouldn’t have to get off the plane.

      US also has a great policy where they will clear a lap child into an open seat before any standby passengers. Technically said open seat has to be next to the parent, but I’ve seen them move people around to accomodate. Not all gate agents know of it, and not many F/A’s do either, especially on the Express side.

  17. It’s a real pain when they leave the seat-belt sign on even as your kid needs changing. But take heart; our daughter is now 2 1/2 and likes looking at airplanes, and I have no doubt your son will too.

  18. Holiday flying, plus weather, waiting to be de-iced, re-booking, often from one legacy to another, diverted flights, flights into airports where an airline’s total service is by a regional, crany rez systems, airports with power sporatically going out…air travel in 21st century America.

    Me, one person, no family members, one destination, no absolutely, positively must get there/return by ____, I can feel for the masses.

    Wouldn’t things improve:

    (1) if every person working the check-in, the gate, the flight was required to hold a certificate indicating that they had recently taken and received a passing grade in effective company/customer service communications? And, these people were supported with an effective rez system?

    (2) if information/commentary was readily available to the travelling public that by just about any standard you might wish to use, there are certain regionals (contracted by the legacies for no other reason than they are cheap) that are not really fit to haul passengers?

    (3) if we elite travelers on the legacies got serious and demonstrated with our purchase choices, that that quirky airline, named Southwest, does know how to run an airline? Not perfect, but they sure do try.

  19. We set up the car seat to face backwards as you?re supposed to do at this age and the flight attendant came and told us we had to face forward because we couldn?t block the recline of the person in front. That is not American?s policy, but fortunately we didn?t have to argue.

    We had an issue recently on VX with a rear facing car seat. The IFTL (lead F/A) insisted we turn it forward facing because that’s what their manual says. We told him it’s rear facing only and even showed him the FAA stamp on the carseat (Graco 35 Snugrider). We didn’t want to argue or get booted, so we complied. Needless to say the seat stay secured forward facing, and as soon as we hit 10,000ft we turned it around. We also asked to see their manual, and all it says is that forward facing car seats must face forward. It was silent on rear facing ones. We emailed VX and got a $100 credit.

    All of the rest of the F/A’s on US, UA, VX and SW when we’ve flown have only reminded us that the car seat has to be at the window – which we know anyway. As for the pax in the seat in front, I inform them of the car seat and that they cannot recline, that he might climb over and apologize in advance and offer to buy them a drink. All have understood, most have been parents themselves, and none have taken me up on the drink!

  20. Now boys and girls, listen carefully. There is no reason to be rude, if you don’t agree with someone’s viewpoint, you can certainly state your opinion. There is no reason to be rude.

    If you don’t know the difference between stating your opinion and being rude, don’t respond until you get someone to help you. There is no reason to be rude. Are you listening? Do you promise to be better boys and girls?

    And Frank, I think Brett is hawking credit cards, not hocking them. That would be quite a trick.

  21. Ever figure out what ailed the “ale of ginger, ale of ginger”, “CO, CO”, “ABC, ABC” guy?

    1. AirBoss – Clearly what ailed him was ginger…. I think he was just really bored and tried to think of ways to entertain himself. Not really sure.

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Cranky Flier