Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Travel fun

This past weekend Darling Boy and I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit my mom and ailing step-father (maybe a post on that some other time; he's doing okay...). We flew from Boston to Pittsburgh on JetBlue.

Let me tell you, if I ever meet the guy who came up with the idea with putting a TV at every seat, I'm gonna kiss him! Perfect for keeping an 8 year old kid entertained...

Anyway, you're all probably familiar with the announcement "We'll now begin pre-boarding for those traveling with young children, anyone needing assistance, etc..." After a few elderly passengers and a couple with an infant board the plane, DB and I go to the counter and I ask if he is young enough to count as a "young child".

I certainly don't feel entitled to board first, and won't mind at all if they say no. DB is 8, after all, and we'd be fine boarding with every one else. But I figured the worst they'll do is say no and we'll wait. The young lady asks me "Is he less than half your size?" with a smile on her face.

"By weight, yes, no height, no". "Good enough for me, go ahead and board"

So off we go.

Fast forward to Monday evening and our return flight. We get to the airport and go through the same drill. Except this time I don't ask the gate agent if it's OK to board early. And he doesn't say anything to stop us and says "Have a good flight".


There is a couple waiting by the podium that is none to pleased with us. We get the evil eye from both of them and one whispers, none too quietly, "He doesn't look like he needs assistance"


But here is my question for you: in your opinion, is an able-bodied 8 yr old too old to qualify as a "young child" in this situation?

It seems obvious to me that the airlines don't have actual guidelines and it's up to the judgment of the gate agent, and the ones I dealt with didn't have a problem with us boarding first.

Or was I taking advantage of the situation and being a bit of an ass? Just wondering...


derfina said...

Personally, I would prefer anyone with kids under, say, twelve (unless they are VERY mature) to preboard early. It gives kids time to get settled in and familiar with their surroundings before the herd stampedes in. Take them to the bathroom, explain to them about the ear popping thing, show them the barf bags-all the fun stuff. Then they are usually cool during the flight.

Anonymous said...

shit...I don't know, but our policy is that once they make that announcement, we turn to the kids and tell them to run down to the last gate and back....twice. This give other people time to get on board, and drains a bit of energy and 'fidgittiness' from the kids. They usually get on and slup into their seats. Otherwise, they are sitting there for 40 minutes while everyone gets on and the pilots get their clearance.

T said...

Yeah, everyone's got a different opinion on this one. And most likely, the ones without kids will yell the loudest.

I agree with derfina. Kids always take longer to get settled so why not let families board first.

Its like having someone cut you off in traffic and then ending up at the next red light right next to them. Does it really matter who gets there first?


Emmy said...

Get on board early and get yourself and the kid situated. The last thing you want to do is try to get kids boarded and their stuff stowed while dealing with the obstacles of the adults.

And the assistance is just as much for the parents as it is for the kids, IMHO.

Just A Chic... said...

Generally speaking 12 & under qualifies.

Laggin said...

I travel a lot for business. I say board early. Even 8 year olds dawdle and I'd be more irritated with a kiddo blocking the aisle than someone boarding early.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

In reading this, I was going to say that I was on the fence about this one and that you perhaps were taking advantage, but screw that. That's not right.

I'm so tired of the airlines treating us passengers worse and worse every day. What is so wrong with letting families board first? Is that woman in row 40 really going to be so put out that she has to wait 5 extra minutes to get on the plane that isn't going to be taking off for another 20 minutes anyway?

I'm the father of a pre-schooler and an infant. I don't ask to pre-board the plane, I just step up there with the kids and get on. Somebody gives me a dirty look, I shoot one back. If somebody has something to say to me about it, I welcome the encounter.

So far, though, it hasn't happened and I've never been stopped by the flight attendents.

I think us parents have to start demanding to be treated better by an industry that desperately needs our business.

April said...

I would have done the exact same thing you did. Wait for the people that needed it and then board the plane. If I was kidless, I would want everyone with kids to board first so they were not in my way when I boarded.

Amorous Rocker said...

I don't think you were being an ass. I think 8 is still young enough to count. Now if he were say, 13, then you would have been an ass. =)

The rude couple were probably just grouchy, annoyed or some such thing. I don't pay much attention to the things people I'll be flying with say in that regard. So many people wanna be first on and ahead of everyone. Whatever.

I think families should board first. It takes longer for people with kiddos to get settled anyway so who cares if I have to wait a few more minutes? The plane isn't going anywhere any sooner anyway and all I'm gonna do is get on and set there until we take off anyway. People need to get a grip.

Red from Ktown said...

Kids get spooked more easily than adults. They need to get 'comfortable' before everyone crowds in. I even get a little claustrophobic body-to-body. The crew should be ashamed of themselves for not discussing the 'rules' ahead of time. Who cares if you guys board first??

Amber said...

I think anyone with children (classified under 10 to me, cause anything over is pre-teen), period would qualify for people who need assistance and should definitely board first. The day they tell me my child is too old to need help setting himself up on the plane, is the day where I'll have already stopped doing it.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Having just returned from a 10 hour flight with a 2 and 7 year old - take every advantage to board early while you can! If they let you and say nothing, it's certainly not something you should feel guilty about. I would let infants, babies, toddlers go first though. Especially the carseat crowd (that would be me).

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

As someone who works for an airline. The reason they want kids and disabled adults to board first is so that when the resume the others for boarding everyone is not waiting for them.

Makes sense.

And 8 year olds are curious and sometimes need that extra help and need to take that extra time to get to their seat.

I say that qualifies.


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