Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm Back!!- What I learned about airline travel

Did you know I have been gone for the last two weeks? I didn't announce it because something about the whole wide world knowing I'm gone worries me a little. I am back now. I hope you enjoyed the scheduled posts and I can't wait to freshen things up around here. Here are the things I learned about airline travel this time around, and I thought I would share.

Traveling by myself with an infant is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. There is just so much to keep track of and do. I was a sight in the airport, dragging a carry-on, a messenger bag and pushing the stroller and a massive suitcase before I checked my bag. I could hardly move, let alone move fast, which brings me to lesson number 1.

1. There are nice and mean people everywhere you go. I had a businessman, who was in a hurry, still stop to help me get my bags to the counter. He was wonderful and sweet to my child. I also had an airline employee who was so rude to me she made cry. She just wanted me to move faster than I could possibly go.

2. If you have prescription medications for your child, you might want to bring a photocopy of their birth certificate, especially if the medications are liquids. The people at security were very nice to me, but make sure to plan an extra few minutes because they often take your baby food/juices/medicines to be separately tested.

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3. Bring an umbrella stroller! There is no way I would have made it through the airports alone without my stroller. It was a life saver.

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4. It is OK to indulge your child to keep them quiet on the airplane. My daughter was mostly really good on the airplane, but when she did start screaming, I am pretty sure all the people around me were grateful I had M&Ms with me.

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5. If you or someone you are flying with is allergic to peanuts, don't be afraid to ask them to put all peanuts away and not serve them. They were really nice about this with us. It didn't even occur to me that I could ask and so when it somehow came up when the flight attendant was asking me about my child, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they would do it, no problem. They even made an announcement to the people on the aircraft asking them to please keep all peanut products in their luggage.

6. The family line at security in the airport is wonderful. I was cut to the very front of the line. I guess they think people have a better experience at the airport if they don't have to listen to a child scream in line.
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7. If you are switching airlines at your layover, make sure to give the person checking your bag boarding passes from each of the airports you will be stopping at, so your baggage makes it with you.

Even though, I followed number 7, my baggage didn't make it home. Nothing was more frustrating than standing at the carousel watching the same bags go by over and over and not see mine among them. Which brings me to 8.

8. If your bag doesn't show up at your destination. Go to the counter and hold your tears until after you talk to them. They can't understand you if you are crying. I was pretty successful with this one, although I cried for almost an hour when we got home. I kept thinking of everything that was in that bag and how upset I would be if it was really gone.

9. Be as nice as possible on the phone with the baggage people. I really felt like baggage people were more willing to help me find my bag because I wasn't yelling. They were nice and when they discovered that my bag wasn't just late, it was lost, they actually had people go looking for it.

10. Always, Always, Always, put bag tags on your baggage. Not the airline paper ones, distinct ones that are going to make them be able to find your bag. The first thing the lady from the airline asked when it was clear that my bag was really lost was if my bag had ribbons, yarn or any other distinguishing marks on it. Suitcases start to look pretty similar and something that makes yours different will help them find it. It also helps you find your bag when it goes around on the carousel. It doesn't have to be flashy. A simple white ribbon tied onto the handle will make it stand out to you without making too big of a statement.

11. If you love it so much that you would be completely devastated that it is lost, it should go in your carry-on, not your checked bag.

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11. Talk to eagles, not ducks. This is something that my dad says that means the people at the ticket counter are just supposed to diffuse the situation by telling you it is on the next flight there. They probably have very little ability or power to find your bag. You need to get on the phone with someone who has power over the system and the power to get people to go looking for your bag.

My suitcase ended up home safe and sound about 24 hours late, but it got here. To the Delta and Continental employees who helped me find my bag and get it to my house, I will be forever grateful. I would be lost without you ... literally, my glasses were in that bag and I can't see without them.
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