Thursday, April 14, 2016

Baby's First Flight - Paige's Humiliating Experience Flying on Delta

"The look" I got from the two passengers sitting next to me on my flight home from San Diego last week said it all. They were about as excited to be squished next to the lady with the baby in the back row of coach, as I was to be flying all by myself with an infant! Not thrilled. But, by the end of the flight, I'm sure they were kicking themselves for not requesting a seat change. Oh well. I don't blame them…their disdain was just an added bonus to my overall humiliating experience flying for the first time with MJ. Most of my embarrassment was thanks to my newborn's bowels and largely to Delta airlines! 

Side Note...I grappled over whether or not to write this post, but in the end decided that any embarrassment I felt was trumped by my desire to call out Delta, share what I've learned with other moms, and find out if anyone else has had a similar experience! (Please share in the comments below if you have).


  So here's what happened...


I decided to go visit my parents in San Diego last week while my husband was out of town. I was super nervous about flying by myself with a new baby, but my parents hadn't seen MJ in a while, so I decided to take the plunge! As the weekend approached, I became more and more stressed out about flying alone with a baby. Every time MJ had a fussy period I pictured myself alone on an airplane with an unconsolable screaming baby. Nightmare! When it was finally time to go, I did everything I could to show up to the airport overly prepared (I'll share some tips I learned later) and the flight down actually went ok. Relieved, I started to feel a little more confident about the flight I would soon have to take back to Utah.  Unfortunately, my new attitude would be short lived. My flight home was a totally different story and left me feeling embarrassed, inadequate, and too angry/ashamed to ever fly alone (especially on Delta) again!  

It basically was all downhill from the beginning. First of all, I showed up to the airport once again all prepared (baby fed, changed, supplies ready, etc) only to discover my flight was delayed an hour and a half! Great. Hanging out at the airport by yourself with a baby strapped to your chest is awesome. When I finally get on the plane, I realize I'm seated in the very last row where the seats don't lay back…as if the space isn't already small enough for one person with a baby! I asked if there was any way I could change seats but the flight attendant said the plane was full. Bummer. Then as the flight starts to take off I see MJ make "the face" and a loud groan. Oh no! I know what's coming. And yep, I feel a little burst under my hand on his bum. Ok, at this point I'm in a little predicament I hadn't thought about when preparing for my flight. I'm in the window seat with hardly any space between me, MJ, and my big diaper bag stuffed full of gear on the floor. My infant now has a diaper full of poop that he either has to sit in for the next two hours, or I've got to change him. How do people change their babies on planes?! I've been on many flights and pictured the tiny bathrooms I've squeezed into when I just couldn't hold it. They don't have changing tables in there do they? There's no way I could imagine one fitting in that tiny space! Ok, so do I change him on the nasty toilette? Would I even fit in there with MJ and my diaper bag?? I looked over at the two already less than happy passengers sitting between me and the isle. They would literally both have to get up out of their seats and go into the isle for me to be able to fit through with MJ and our stuff. Then what if there's not even enough room to change him in the bathroom? I'll have to come back, make them both get up again, and get situated for the second time in my seat with a stinky baby. Not worth the risk, I decided.

Ok, option two. I sit there for the next two hours with a stinky baby. I won't have to bother the two people next to me, but my poor little guy will be sitting in poop for a while. Shoot, and he might get a diaper rash. Am I a horrible mom for caring more about what others think than my own baby? Plus, people might start to smell him and I'll annoy them anyways! Ok, that's out.

So people, I just went for it. Yep, I was that lady. I laid my baby down on my lap, unsnapped his little onesie, and opened that diaper up right there on my lap. To my surprise, it was just wet! "Oh good," I thought, and quickly put a dry diaper on. I slyly dropped the old diaper on the floor, and we were done. Glad that's over.


Unfortunately, things were just beginning. About two minutes later "the face", again. This time accompanied by an even louder grunting, and a definite poop explosion. Crap. (Literally). Ok, I guess we're doing this again. Last time wasn't so bad. Hopefully it's not too messy in there. I assume the position. MJ on my lap, onesie opened up, ready to go in. I see the woman next to me shoot me a glance like, "Seriously lady?! We've been on this 2 hour flight less than 15 minutes and you're changing your kid for the second time?! Right here on your lap? Nice". At least that's how I interpreted it. Probably about right. Anyways, this time MJ is a total mess. We've got a major situation going on inside this diaper. Gross. I finally awkwardly get him all cleaned up, and throw the second dirty diaper on the floor (what else was I supposed to do?). By this time I'm pretty sure not only the people on my row, but the surrounding rows as well would like a seat change. This is embarrassing. Then, to add insult to injury, when the flight attendants finally come by the isle with an open trash bag, I reach down, feel around for the diapers, grab them both with one hand, and reach across the two poor passengers next to me to drop the diapers in the trash. The male flight attendant holding the bag stops, looks at me, then keeps going as I hear the female flight attendant behind him say not so quietly "did she just hand you a diaper?!". He nods as they go around the corner. I can hear them whispering to each other since I'm in the very back row. "Yeah, she can't do that". A couple minutes later the male flight attendant comes back around the corner and loudly says, "Excuse me, ma'am?" so I can hear him from the window seat. This means everyone else can hear him too. "Was that a diaper you put in the trash bag I brought by?". Yes, idiot. Obviously! That's how I wish I would've responded. "Yeah," I said. "Well, just so you know, it's not sanitary to give us diapers to throw away. You should put them in the bathroom trash. We throw our trash away next to the food". WOW. As if I wasn't already embarrassed enough, now I was humiliated. "Oh sorry," I said, "this is my first time flying with a baby. I didn't know". "Ok, well now you know for next time". I wanted to cry. 

Delta...was that really necessary?! I know I have issues and probably didn't' make the best decision changing my baby's dirty diaper on my lap, but I still don't know what I'm supposed to do when I need to change my baby on a flight! Thanks for making my already stressful situation 10 times worse by making me want to crawl into hole or suddenly take up sky diving during your flight. That was humiliating. A tip for next time…at least wait until the other passengers are off the plane before embarrassing a first time mom trying to care for her baby!

Some Tips for Other Moms

Now, although I had an overall horrible first time experience flying with a baby, I did learn a few things I'd like to share with any other baby mamas out there. Some of these things I learned from friends with kids who gave me advice before my trip, and some I figured out on my own from this experience. Anyways, I hope these tips can help any other first time moms have a better experience flying than I did!

1. Wear Flip Flops 
As you can see in my first picture, I made the mistake of showing up to the airport in over the knee boots. Not ideal for getting through security! Next time I'll be sure to wear flip flops or other shoes that can easily be slipped on and off.

2. Invest in a Baby Carrier
A must when traveling by yourself! I don't know how I would've gotten everything checked in and made it through the airport without one. You don't even have to take it off when going through security which is great. I have the Ergobaby 360 carrier, which is awesome, but MJ is a little too small to sit in it facing front. I wanted to be able to switch him around if he got fussy at the airport, so I ended up getting this Infantino carrier from Target for the trip because it was super  cheap (only $17.99!) and MJ could fit in the front or rear facing position. It's not nearly as comfortable as the Ergobaby 360 (which has great back support and makes baby feel super light), and it doesn't have the hip and back carry options, but for the price it worked great!   

3. Give Baby a Bottle or Pacifier When Taking Off and Landing
A friend told me this one and I'm so glad she did! Sucking or swallowing helps pop baby's ears so they don't hurt from the pressure when taking off and landing. I did this with MJ on both flights and it worked like a charm! He was a happy (although stinky) baby :)

4. Bring Ready Made Formula
If you're supplementing with formula, don't mess around with powder formula and having to make a bottle on the airplane. Buy the similac ready-made bottles so all you have to do is shake and pour! They'll let you bring the 8 ounce ones through security.

5. Don't Show Up Hungry
I didn't have time to eat with all the stress of getting everything ready and getting to the airport on time for my flight to San Diego. I figured I'd just grab something at the airport, but didn't account for the fact that I'd have a baby strapped to my chest the whole time. I got a sandwich on the way to my gate, but ended up only getting a few bites in because the tray table wouldn't go down all the way and it was hard to maneuver it eating over MJ. Moral or the story…don't show up hungry to the airport. Eat at home while you can still set down your baby!

I hope this helps any other new moms out there who might have to fly alone with their baby! I'd love to hear any other tips from seasoned veteran moms as well :) If you have a similar story, or any advice for what I should do next time I need to change my baby on plane, please share! I obviously need all the help I can get.



14 comments :

  1. Don't you worry about those flight attendants. Something like that would've completely humiliated me too. For the people on your row you were worried about-who cares? You paid for your seat just like they did. Sitting on the isle comes with having to get up for those who want to go to the bathroom on your isle. Changing babes in the tiny restrooms is hard but doable. I have an Petunia Pickle Bottom bag with a detachable changing pad. This makes it super easy to carry what you need. Take the changing pad off grab a diaper, small disposable bag for diapers(dollar tree has them) and your wipes. Take courage, girl! Try again and don't worry about what other people think - you're a mama trying to take care of your baby.

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    1. Thanks so much for the advice! I definitely need to invest in some disposable bags for diapers! I didn't even know they made those!

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  2. I loved reading this and sympathize with you 100%! Some pople are so rude and you'd think they'd never seen a baby before!:( One recommendation I had (and its coming from someone who hasn't flown yet so it was good to read to read your tips) but, I've purchased scented little bags in bulk that i can put my dirty diapers in. I found thrm for cheaper when you buy the doggy bags instead of the ones for baby, haha but its the same thing and you can still get them scented. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and I'm so sorry the first flight was rough!

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    1. Great advice! I definitely need to get me some of those. Good luck when you end up flying!

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  3. Ahhhh that sucks! I'm so sorry. My best tip is to fly on Southwest for a few reasons (and I've done it countless times with a child under 2 and last week my husband and I did it with two lap infants).
    1) on southwest everyone chooses their own seat so I head to the back of the plane (but not the very last row as you pointed out) Even if you don't have an A boarding pass you can family board which means there are many many empty seats so you will have some time to get situated. Often if it's not a full flight you will end up with an empty seat next to you... Score!
    2) I've flown southwest every time I've flown with my small kids and every single time the flight attendants are so kind! I'm always pleasantly surprised. They offer me water while everyone is still boarding, tell me about the changing table in the bathroom and tell me to ask for help using it if need be, and on my most recent flight with two lap infants, it wasn't a full flight and the attendant made sure no one sat in our row so we could have all three seats to ourselves even though we only paid for the two (only 4 oxygen masks per row so max of 4 people).

    3) I always take my stroller and carseat and gate check them. This is free on all airlines! You can bring it all through security and when you get to your gate you ask the gate agent to tag them. Then you leave them at the end of the jet bridge before you get on the plane. I do this by taking my carseat off the stroller, folding the stroller and then taking my baby out. This way I have free hands.

    4) Southwest has free checked bags so I always check mine so I'm hauling less stuff through the airport. Certain airports even have sky cap (SLC does) so you can check your bags and get your infant boarding pass at the curb. So good.

    Okay that was long. But I've flown with my littles probably 20+ times so I've learned a lot along the way!

    Also I've never actually said this to someone but my thought when people are rude to me is "don't act like someone didn't have to change your poopy diapers when you were a baby" or whatever context their rude comment is in!

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    1. Haha that is so great! Seriously this is awesome. Thank you so much! Ok you're the third person to rave about southwest with kids (two others said the same thing on Instagram) so I definitely need to give them a try! Sounds like night and day difference from delta!! Great advice. Thanks again

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  4. I am so sorry you had such a rude experience! Traveling with a baby is tough and only those who don't have children are unsympathetic! Most parents have compassion and are more forgiving. The Delta flight attendants were rude and I really think you should consider writing a letter to customer relations to let them know your poor experience. They should have been helpful when they saw you getting on board letting you know if there's a changing table or where to dispose of diapers -- not just assuming you know the protocol! Shame on you, Delta!

    My kids are 11 and 14 now but I traveled with them at least twice a year on an airplane when they were babies and toddlers. Here's what I learned...1) Many airplanes (we always flew American because my husband is a frequent flyer for business) do have changing tables in the restroom. It is located over the toilet and is a little drop down table. It's tight but it is a lifesaver. 2) When the kids are toddlers and are more squirmy, try to get a seat in the bulkhead if possible (I notice American now charges extra for those seats, unfortunately). There is more leg room in the bulkhead and it was nice to let the kids stand up when the seat belt sign was turned off so they weren't stuck sitting. The down side to the bulkhead is that all of your bags have to be put in the overhead bin because there is no place to put them in front of you. But, if your husband is traveling with you, he can get the stuff down while you deal with the child.
    3) I always chatted with my seat mates and joked that I knew they weren't excited to be sitting next to the mom with the baby but I would do my best to make traveling as easy as possible. If you can make them your friend it will be easier when you need to get up to use the restroom or need a hand getting something out of a bag. 4) Check flight capacity with the gate agent to see if there are going to be any empty seats. If so, ask to get a seat with an empty next to you so you can bring your car seat on board. Strap the seat in to the empty chair and give yourself a break by keeping the baby in the seat for as long as possible. Then when they start to fuss you can pick them up and hold them. 5) Finally, ask the flight attendants as you enter the plane if there's a changing table, where to throw baby trash, etc.

    It's a shame the Delta staff were so unhelpful and condescending. They were rude -- not you!

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    1. Thanks so much Julie! I appreciate the advice. I definitely wish I would've made tried to make friends with the people next to me upfront. By the end it was just super awkward haha. Next time! :)

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  5. No way! How rude! I wonder if they had children of their own? I always wonder that when people are rude. Goodness, I would've done the same as you.

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    1. Thank you!! I thought so too. Glad I'm not the only one :)

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  6. There are tiny little changing tables in the bathrooms, or at least there is in Southwest airplanes. And Ive actually had the flight attendants request that I DON'T throw diapers away in the bathroom trash, but in their cart instead for whatever reason. I have had to do the lap change, and it is the worst! Future tip: barf bags make great, convenient little trash bags for dirty diapers and such while in the middle of a flight! :)

    If it makes you feel better for the future, I have always had a great experience with Southwest! :) Because everyone chooses their seats, I always sit in a empty row so whoever ends up sitting next to me kind of "chooses" to be there. Flight attendants are always great and friendly too. And I have flown a lot by myself with 1-2 babies or while pregnant with a toddler. Sorry your experience was so bad with Delta! So rude. The next time will be better!!

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    1. What I good idea! I wish I would've remembered the barf bag :-/ Oh well! Southwest definitely seems to be the way to go. I've heard only good things about from other moms since writing this post! Thanks for the advice!!

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  7. There are tiny little changing tables in the bathrooms, or at least there is in Southwest airplanes. And Ive actually had the flight attendants request that I DON'T throw diapers away in the bathroom trash, but in their cart instead for whatever reason. I have had to do the lap change, and it is the worst! Future tip: barf bags make great, convenient little trash bags for dirty diapers and such while in the middle of a flight! :)

    If it makes you feel better for the future, I have always had a great experience with Southwest! :) Because everyone chooses their seats, I always sit in a empty row so whoever ends up sitting next to me kind of "chooses" to be there. Flight attendants are always great and friendly too. And I have flown a lot by myself with 1-2 babies or while pregnant with a toddler. Sorry your experience was so bad with Delta! So rude. The next time will be better!!

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  8. So sad! I just flew with my baby a month ago on Southwest. They board people with babies and kids first. If you ask ahead if the flight is full or not...and it is not then they will let you bring your carseat aboard and your baby can have their own seat (sooo nice!) I changed my baby on my lap (just used my changing pad I carry in my bag). When I handed the diaper to the stewardess collecting trash, they didn't blink an eye and said thank you! Don't give up traveling just fly southwest!!

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