Friday, May 12, 2006

Leaving on a (West)Jet Plane

People who fly on commercial aircraft can be divided into two groups: the ones who fly with children, and those who get really annoyed by those who fly with children. I am now a member of the former, and I sincerely apologize to those in the latter. But hey, he has to come with me.

My little buddy and I flew from St. John's to Hamilton last Tuesday. I'd been dreading the trip for weeks. No, make that months. His first plane trip in November wasn't too bad... Of course, he was also 2 months old then, still in the stage of life where you're pretty much just a portable lump of person; he slept most of the way. On that flight we were seated in the middle of a row of three seats, which meant climbing over a fellow passenger every time we had to go to the tiny little toilet room*. This was a frequent occurrence, as 2 months is not only the "little lump" stage, but also the "pooping every 5 minutes" stage. Too bad the man in the aisle seat was in his "take off my shoes and try to sleep on the plane" stage...

In any case, we survived that trip. Still, I worried that it would be harder to keep an 8 month old occupied on a flight. As if that wasn't enough to worry about, he woke up Monday morning with a cough and runny nose- yes, he did, in fact, catch my cold, and just in time for the trip. Tuesday morning he was no better, but we headed off to the airport right on schedule. Unfortunately, that was the last part of the trip that went smoothly...

Did I mention that on our trip in November I wasn't asked for ID for my boy? Apparently human lumps don't need it, but sick, miserable little 8 month-olds do. We haven't gotten around to ordering a copy of Simon's birth certificate yet. Fortunately, we were allowed to use his health card. Unfortunately, said card was apparently not in my new wallet where it was supposed to be. Oh, Crap. So given that the alternative was not taking the baby, the hubby rushed home to look in my jewelry box for the missing card- I was sure that's where it would be if it wasn't in my wallet. Too bad it wasn't.

Mommy and Baby got through security while Daddy went to find Baby's ID. Daddy called Mommy on her cell phone and told her he was going to have her killed; all he could find was a hospital card that said "Sparkes, Baby Boy (Kathleen)" and Mommy's birth certificate. That was going to have to be good enough. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that at this point "Sparkes, Baby Boy" was wailing the sad tale of his misery to the world, and the rest of the passengers in the waiting area were praying that they would be seated far, far away from Mommy and Baby. Or that we'd be in a padded room in the cargo hold. This is the part where Mommy started to cry.

I now know why passengers with babies are allowed to pre-board, and why we have assigned seats on planes. Otherwise it would be like that scene out of Forrest Gump, with people covering up empty seats, shaking their heads. "Ye cain't sit heah. Seat's tay-ken." Even the other babies in the waiting area were looking at Simon like, "Jeez, what's HIS problem?"

Then, the first bright spot on our journey- no one was seated beside us. The flight wasn't full, and everyone with a baby had three seats all to themselves. Three seats! We had hit the jackpot. And so had all of the other passengers. They all looked relieved when they found their seats, and they were not next to That Baby.

At least he didn't cry the whole flight. Please note that in that last sentence, the emphasis is on whole, as in "there were a few scattered moments, like when he was asleep, when he was not crying." The dose of Gravol I gave him, though it made him groggy, did not knock him out for as much of the trip as I had hoped it would. He was awake for most of the flight; to his credit, he seemed to be trying to be happy, but the crappiness of the cold was overwhelming. Landing was no fun, either, though I got him to suck his thumb, and that seemed to help. He was also awake for our entire stopover in Halifax (NOT the most exciting airport in the world) and for most of the second flight.

I was going to go into detail on the flights, our rough evening, and The Cold That Wouldn't Die, but you get the idea. We didn't have much fun. I did learn, however, that WestJet is (in the words of Bill and Ted) most excellent. Here's why:

1) the staff really ARE nicer than on most airlines, and very helpful.

2) they have little satellite TVs on the backs of the seats. This will keep even a sick and cranky baby occupied for 10 minutes. Also, it keeps other passengers' ears occupied with headsets instead of crying baby.

3) the flight attendants are hilarious. I actually paid attention to the safety demonstration because it was entertaining.

4) they gave us THREE SEATS. Three seats, people!

5) they did not crash the plane.

Oh, and about the health card? Yeah... the thing with new wallets is that sometimes you forget about little pockets in them. And then sometimes you find things in those pockets that would have been good to have three days ago. And then you decide not to tell your loving husband that you found said things in said pockets, because then he really would have you killed. Just sometimes.

* Sorry, I just can't bring myself to call it a "washroom." There's barely enough room to stand in there, let alone wash. Ditto for "bathroom", for obvious reasons.

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