Tag Archive for: flying

Update on Families Flying Together

Earlier this month I shared some news about Family Travel Association (FTA) involvement in advocating for legislation to require airlines to keep families together on commercial planes. Well, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has marked up the FAA Reauthorization Bill. And we have both good news and bad news to share.

The good news: Legislators managed to include in the bill an amendment requiring that families with children are notified, before tickets are booked, when they are assigned seats that are not together on a selected flight. The bad news: Legislators were NOT able to include an amendment directing each air carrier to establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight.

The next step at this point is for the full House to consider the bill, which will allow for additional amendments. According to Ethan Gelber, the FTA’s editorial director (and also my friend), the failure of the Committee to approve the language means it is unlikely to move on the floor of the House should it be proposed there again.

As Gelber wrote in a blog post on the FTA site, “Another attempt could be made to get the language included in the Senate FAA bill, but there’s apparently little certainty about when they will move such legislation.”

Stay tuned.

Get me a flying nanny

Adra, courtesy of Yahoo Travel

Adra, courtesy of Yahoo Travel

When I win the World Series of Poker, I’m hiring a flying nanny for a family trip.

Above all else, this is what I took away from a recent Yahoo Travel article by friend and colleague, Jo Piazza. The story, titled, “Confessions of an Airline Nanny,” offered up a Q&A with Sara Adra, one of the flying nannies employed by Etihad Airways.

According to the piece, these “Mary Poppins in the sky” (as Piazza puts it) play entertainment concierge, personal chef, and more. They tackle everything from managing carry-on bags to preparing kids for bed and “distracting” kids when they’re feeling spent. And who the hell wouldn’t want that on a flight with kids?

Specifically, Piazza’s piece notes that many flying nannies are skilled puppetry, origami, face painting, and magic tricks. The story quotes Adra recounting an anecdote about a time when she dressed a 4-year-old passenger up in a flight attendant uniform. It also offers up some of Adra’s “expert” advice on soothing crying babies in mid-air; not surprisingly, she mentions offering the child a pacifier.

The piece is a fascinating perspective into the life of the rich and famous, a look at how someone else might mind your kids at 35,000 feet.

It did not mention how much extra flying nannies cost, though I’m guessing it’s a lot.

The part of the story that stuck with me most was the part where Piazza asked Adra about her “duties” in this job. Her response: “I am there to help any family to have an easier flight—whether that means to cater their meal times differently to our serving times, to distract the child with coloring competitions and other fun games while mom and/or dad take a break or even help mind the children while the single traveling parent takes restroom breaks and a quick stretch.”

For me, the notion of “taking a break” on a family trip seems like an incredible luxury. Someday, dear readers, even if only for a few brief moments, I wish all of us can experience it at the hands of a flying nanny.

What to do when the kids won’t fly

Our L would rather just pick poppies all day.

Our L would rather just pick poppies all day.

We pride ourselves in this house on being a family that can go anywhere at any time. We’ve traveled as a unit to multiple continents and multiple countries. We’re old pros at just about every type of transportation. Heck, our kids have more stamps in their passports than about 90 percent of the population of the United States.

Imagine, then, our surprise this week, when L declared that she did not want to fly on airplanes anymore.

(Her exact words were: “I’m done with planes.”)

The Big Girl’s last flight was more than four months ago—our return trip to London. Neither Powerwoman nor I is entirely sure what prompted the kid to put her foot down like in this fashion. Some of the theories we’ve discussed:

  • She reflected on the duration of the flight home from London and decided it was too long.
  • She really hated running out of lollipop on the descent and does NOT want her ears to hurt like that again.
  • She just wants to stay closer to home for a while.

Whatever the reason, her declaration definitely has complicated matters. On one hand, we want to take her wishes seriously and at least make it seem like we’re listening to her. On the other hand, travel is what we do in this family, and a handful of our upcoming trips inevitably are going to involve airplanes of some kind.

(For instance, we’ve got upcoming vacations to Hawaii and Walt Disney World, in Florida. You can’t really get to either of those places from California without flying.)

Ultimately, I think we’ll compromise—slow down a bit on the air travel (we’ve already booked more road trips for the summer, including one that involves an RV) but also make sure L understands that some of our family vacations necessitate a plane.

Privately, Powerwoman and I also will hope L’s current stance on airplane travel is nothing that a few Dum-Dums can’t cure.

How do you respond when your kids say they don’t want to travel a certain way?