As if traveling with an infant isn’t difficult enough, the least reservationists could do is make the process easier by knowing what steps to take when working with traveling families. However, I always feel that bad things only ever seem to happen to us, as my friends who have children of their own never seem to have a problem. In fact, their experiences are always the opposite. One of my friends has just returned from her dream vacation in Jamaica, where she stopped in this amazing luxury villa that she found at a place like Exceptional Villas (https://www.exceptionalvillas.com/jamaica) and her experience with the booking process was as straightforward as it could possibly be. So much so, that I wanted the opportunity to travel to Jamaica too, just so we could experience something similar. Not forgetting the amazing scenery that we can have the chance to see is just a must. But for us… oh no! It’s always a totally different story. Let me break it down for you…
I’ve traveled with my child at 4 months, 9 months, and just last week at 12 months. We flew Southwest and American Airlines, which apparently have more experience adding infants to the booking information and even boarding them on the plane. (In San Juan I was denied early entry to the plane as I’ve done for every flight involving a child. They required families to wait until their zone was called which caused my overhead back to be ten rows behind me…talk about inconvenient!)
I’m typing this at 745am with my aching body laying on my couch while my child naps. Why is she napping so early, you ponder? Well waking her at 430am was no simple feat. She is already not a morning person unless she wakes herself naturally vs being forced to wake by a singing mama. Why is my body aching? A 20lb child and two backpacks is why. I did not check our bag with clothes because I refuse to pay to check a bag unless I just absolutely cannot take it on the plane. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.
On to the story…
It’s not fair to place blame solely on Delta for the fact that I’m not flying the friendly skies and am instead trying to block the sunlight so I can get back to sleep. My fault here is not giving two hours travel time prior to the flight. But I’ve never EVER needed two hours. Not even when flying internationally. That extra wait time feels like sitting in traffic and I avoid it at all costs. I give myself an hour to an hour n a half max. Especially now that I travel with a one year old who needs to constantly move; or so she exhibits.
Not to mention I’ve booked and flown more than ten flights in the past two years. I also have TSA pre check. I’m not a pro, but I know what I’m doing. Having a kid in tow only means needing a little extra time to stop at the curbside checkin to drop off the infant items (which travel free on all the airlines I’ve researched) and get the physical boarding pass with my child’s name on it. This has never caused me to have to rush to the gate. But again, different airlines, different levels of competence.
That being said, the blame mainly lies in Delta Airlines’ hands. I waited 20 minutes in the curb side checkin line to drop off my stroller and car seat (which by the way just landed in Minneapolis and are off Houston according to the app notification I just received…and don’t get me started on their lack of non stop flights to Houston). That 20 minutes still left me plenty of time for TSA and getting to the gate because my hometown airport is not very large. Or. So. I. Thought.
When the curbside guy couldn’t put “infant in arms” on my ticket and sent me inside as he’d done the woman with two children in front of me, I knew I was in trouble. The line inside was extremely long. I saw the woman wth two kids speaking to someone who was not behind the counter so I moseyed over, knowing my question was similar to hers: WHO CAN WRITE “INFANT” ON THIS BOARDING PASS??? Well he said I could skip the line and just tell a reservationists what I needed because it was a quick fix.
I only wish “quick” described this situation.
I waited another 15-20 minutes to speak with someone and felt so bad about skipping the line but I just knew it was an easy thing for them to handle. My child has a passport and all! And we’ve flown before. Easy peasy, right?
Wrong. Once I spoke to someone, she took another 15 minutes of my time and was on the phone and keying info into a computer and even speaking to others working alongside her station. All to no avail. Meanwhile my child is throwing her doll and my ID because she too is over all the waiting. I’m working with her on the trait patience. She’s not passing the test yet.
Anywho, the reservationist unapologetically says, “I’m not able to add infant in arms, plus the gate just closed because the flight leaves in 20 minutes.”
As if I don’t know when the flight leaves!
She directs me to yet ANOTHER line where I wait another 20 minutes but at this point what does it matter, except the fact my mother had to get back up out of bed to come back to the airport, interrupting her morning because she has to go to work shortly.
The next reservationists, third one but who’s counting, takes another 15-20 minutes to rebook me and this time (while it seemed way too difficult even still) she added infant in arms to the ticket for tomorrow morning.
I’m losing an entire day of my vacation* which is the reason for this letter. An employees lack of knowledge is not my concern. It’s out of my control. But there should be staff who know how to handle all occurrences coming to the counter. If I could have done, I would have booked a Jettly private plane (see this page) as it so much less hassel than flying with Delta.
Flying with a child is difficult enough. Time is even more precious. Help out moms and dads by knowing how to work your system.
*Had I been on my original flight I could’ve spent a day with my cousin before she fell ill and ultimately passed away. Read about her amazing life here.