An open letter to American Airlines:
You have some WONDEFUL people who work for you, but boy, oh boy! You certainly have some of the unfriendly type as well.
Here’s the scoop. I’m a mommy. For the most part, when I travel, it isn’t alone. (read: 2 small, but incredibly darling children usually join in the fun).
According to SOME of your staff, your boarding policy has changed. You no longer allow those traveling with small children to board first. (When I say SOME, I mean, the people at MY ticket counters….because clearly, the attendants who ANNOUNCED, “we will now welcome those who need special assistance and those traveling with small children to board first” at the American Airlines gate RIGHT NEXT TO MINE this past Thursday (October 4th, in St. Louis, MO did not get the memo!)
I was told the new policy is to avoid making other passengers wait. However, the plane doesn’t take off until I am in my seat with my children….whether that happens first or last. And, by the way, when I board with my ‘group number’, I ALWAYS manage to offend your first class passengers….I can’t imagine its a good time to be bonked by a 30 pound car seat. As the eye-rolling tends to get to me, I do make sure first class knows I did request to pre-board…so as to avoid the jostling of those already seated.
Here’s the visual (if you have traveled with kids, this might make you alternately giggle or sigh with understanding): I am traveling with only one child on this trip from St. Louis to San Diego… Cooper is 16 months and has been walking for half of his life. I have a double stroller (as my 3 year old daughter will be joining us soon in SD. ) Cooper is in the front seat. The car seat is lying across the top of the stroller. My left shoulder has one bag full of food and milk and yet another bag with items to occupy my son’s attention on our 4 our flight….a DVD player and DVDs, books, a few crayons and a small, tiger puppet. Cooper has his blanket (his ‘bit’).
At the door of the airplane, I readjust the bags, take the car seat off the stroller, unbuckle Cooper, and with my right hand, manage to fold the stoller to be stored with the baggage. If I’m lucky, Cooper will walk onto the plane himself and I can take the bags and carseat….if I’m unlucky….Cooper feels timid and won’t walk in front of me.
Its at this point, I have invariably been awed by the kindness of strangers. Almost without fail, some kind stranger will offer to help me on…and, while I’d love to tough it out on my own, I do accept. Occasionally, the kind stranger works for American Airlines….so, thank you, kind strangers, for making this awkward, tiring journey bearable.
And God Bless those kinds strangers who tell me how well behaved my children are after a flight! There is little that makes my heart sing as a generous comment.
American ~ Please help me to make life easier on your other passengers….don’t force me to maneuver my children and all of the love that flies with them onto a plane full of other travelers. Bring your pre-boarding back!
Thank goodness Southwest and US Airways have not followed in your footsteps!