Travelling with kids; it's not the children you need to worry about...

>> Thursday, 7 July 2011

The woman looked at me as if I was crazy, horror and outrage written all over her face. She didn't even need to say what she was thinking; how could I have made such a ridiculous suggestion? Who did I think I was? What on earth had I done to merit any kind of special treatment? I looked around but all about I could only see stony faces, eyes elsewhere, people who had their faces buried in books and magazines - anything rather than acknowledge the situation unfolding inches away from them.

I tried again.

"Would you mind moving? It's just that this was the last free row of 3 seats, I'm travelling with my five and seven year old children, and I think it would be sensible to sit next to them."

I refrained from pointing out that the row in front and behind her each had 2 free seats; if she needed extra room that was still possible, and that I was asking her not because I had singled her out for unfair treatment, but because she happened to have taken the last free row that the stewardess at the front of the plane had directed me to.

Not meeting my eye she answered me "I'm waiting for two friends to join me. So no, I'm not moving."

I looked at my sons. I thought about simply dumping them next to her (there was no sign of her two friends, & first come first served), and sitting across the aisle whilst I fed them messy chocolatey snacks and refused them access to their Nintendo's, resulting in certain meltdown; in my opinion, a suitable reward for her behaviour. I also thought about pointing out to her that the flight we were about to take was only 45 minutes - FORTY FIVE MINUTES! - and surely, surely she could live without her friends' company for that long (especially bearing in mind that they hadn't bothered to do her the politeness of standing in the queue with her). I thought about asking when the last time she struggled through the airport with two young children on her own was, watching other passengers rush past her in the certain knowledge that she was going to be last in the boarding queue - which was of course how I had ended up in this situation in the first place.

I even thought about suggesting to the couple in the row opposite, firmly staring out the window holding hands for all they worth as they tapped their ruby slippers together and wished me and my troublesome children away, that perhaps they could split up and move to alternate seats...

Luckily for all involved none of these things happened, as a woman in the seat in front politely stood up, moved, and gave the row of three up for us as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Budget air travel. It surely is a wonderful thing...


Nicola 7 July 2011 at 14:58  

Ha ha! You really should have not said a word to the old bag, but simply plonked the boys down in the 2 spare seats, told them the lady would possibly be kind enough to help them with anything they needed - looked her in the eye and apologised with a shrug because there weren't 3 available seats together...and sauntered off.

*sigh...isn't that the gall you would just love to have, once in a lifetime? I bet you would have had her seat in a flash.

Potty Mummy 7 July 2011 at 15:00  

Nicola - if only she had been an old bag, but I would put her in her late 20's early 30's. She'll learn eventually, I suppose!

nappy valley girl 7 July 2011 at 15:24  

The twentysomethings are the worst, I find. Older women usually have more sympathy. I'd be thinking 'just you wait'.

I'd have been sorely tempted to leave them with her too....

LJB @ crankymonkeys in london 7 July 2011 at 16:12  

Some people are just weird :| But equally weird are some airlines - I once travelled alone with a 2-year old and they allocated us seats that were not next to each other (!?!?!) Only after I explained to them that it's not really realistic at all that a 2-year old sits a few rows ahead of me, they suggested that I get on the plane and try to talk to the other passengers to see if anyone would move. I think I was too puzzled to kick up a fuss. Thankfully I did manage to talk someone out of moving, so all was well, but REALLY? I'm still puzzled about that one... (and I've totally forgotten which airline it was...)

Expat mum 7 July 2011 at 17:18  

We had one flight with the older two when we were all over the plane. The crew were of no help at all and it was only when it dawned on the two hapless passengers seted next to my small children, that they were in for about 3 hours of nnanying, that they got up and managed to orchestrate an impressive number of seat moves to avoid such an ordeal.

I'm So Fancy 7 July 2011 at 18:48  

Let me go on record by saying I always give my seat up to let a mother sit with her children. Unless, of course she wants business and I'm supposed to go back to economy to make that happen. But on Discount Air, always!

MsCaroline 7 July 2011 at 23:15  

Ah, a scenario I remember well and do not miss in the least. If you're lucky, Kharma will allow you to be present to watch the scene when, years from now, your crabby 'friend' is flying alone with a (colicky) infant and a (n overtired) toddler and has to troll the aisles, begging thoughtless young women to trade seats with her....

Nora 8 July 2011 at 03:24  

It goes to show you how selfish and thoughtless people can be about their precious airline seats. They hang on to them for dear life as if it really matters where they sit.

Muddling Along 8 July 2011 at 11:36  

Ah the delights of budget travel...

I'd have left them in the seats and sat behind and put my headphones it... after handing over chocolate!

Glad it got sorted out (although would have been nice if you'd had a flight to yourself with someone else looking after them)

planb 8 July 2011 at 15:08  

NVG's absolutely right. It's the people who've had children, whether male or female (the people, not the children, clearly) who realise what it's like... It's the same on the tube - it was only ever people who'd actually been pregnant themselves who'd stand up (I will excuse the men, who have the awful "fat or pregnant?" dilemma to deal with...).

But this slightly fills me with dread... Easyjet to Lyon beckons. With four... What chance of TWO free rows of three seats???!

Working Mum 8 July 2011 at 16:27  

I don't think it's childlessness that did this, it's just thoughtlessness. I have childless friends who would have willingly moved, not all childless people are so selfish.

I so wish you'd just plonked your kids next to her like Nicola suggested!

Knackered Mother 8 July 2011 at 22:55  

Exactly. What she said. She's got it all to come. Ha!

Apple Island Wife 11 July 2011 at 04:00  

I WAS THAT OTHER WOMAN WHO KINDLY MOVED! No, actually I wasn't. But I would have moved if I'd been there, or perhaps we could have put our children in the cargo hold together and enjoyed a trouble free flight with a couple of gin and tonics and a good natter.

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