Saturday, August 28, 2010

airplane etiquette

Is there such a thing as airplane etiquette?
For some flights, people ooh and aahh over the twins and we give them mini warnings that they may not be so cute after being stuck in a small space with them for 3 hours.  The flight ends, the people say...."oh they weren't too bad" as we exit the plane quickly, with our heads down, avoiding eye contact. The torture is over, we made it.

Yes, we have decided that flying with babies is not fun.  It causes severe anxiety.

Well, On August 15th, we flew back from D.C. It was the 6th time in the air for our 6 month old twins.  It was a plane with two seats on one side and three on the other. The two side has 3 oxygen masks and the three side has 4 oxygen masks. If all the seats are filled, Brad and I cannot sit together, each holding a baby, because there aren't enough oxygen masks. We sat in the same row, in the aisle seats, next to each other.  Brad places the pump bag at his feet (it is smaller so he has more room). I keep the jam packed diaper bag at my feet. We each have a baby and neither of us were getting many smiles. Brad thinks he actually got a dirty look from the lady in front of him. (read on for more about this lady).

We take off, fussy babies in our laps.  We get them both to fall asleep and my heart rate finally begins to slow down. Once we reach our flying altitude and the seatbelt sign has been turned off, the young man boy directly in front of Brad, decides to recline. I always feel for Brad when this happens.

Let me get on my soap box for a moment now. I RARELY recline. If I do, there is no one behind me, or there is a small child behind me. I have plenty of leg room on planes but still don't want the person in front of me to recline so I try to be considerate in that way.  

Brad has Nolan resting upright on his chest, similar to the way I'm holding Carter.  That's great, but you can only be still in one position for so long. Brad starts adjusting, stirring, shifting. He somehow places a curled up, sleeping Nolan on his legs, with his head by his knees. But with every slight movement, his head gets closer and closer to bumping into the tray table on the seatback.

I step out of my seat and tap on the sweet boy's shoulder.


I may not have done what I'm about to do had this boy not been so overly kind just moments before. He spoke to Brad and I both on separate occasions, saying how adorable Carter was. I think this kid was 12? 13? 

The boy pauses the comedy show he is watching on his macbook and looks at me. I say in my kindest voice, "I'm so sorry to bother you but is it possible that you could put your seat up for a just a little while? We really want our babies to stay asleep so they don't disturb the passengers but my husband doesn't have enough room to hold the baby comfortably." (as if there is a way to comfortably hold a baby on a plane for 3 hours). He nods his head and puts his seat up.  I do my best to express how thankful we are.

Yes, I really did ask someone to put their seatback up. You'd be surprise how much weaker my filter is now that I have children.

Brad was happy to have the seat up but wishes I didn't feel the need to say something to make that happen. The remainder of the flight goes like this:  boy keeps trying to sneakily turn his head to look back at us. Boy and mom (also watching a movie on her macbook) keep leaning in to chat then glance back at us.  I'm just really sensing some hostility. 

Once, the boy gets up to be excused and when he comes back, I say, "that was really kind of you, we appreciate it."  He says, "it's just that I've had a really long day." Okay. Why don't you watch more of that comedy show to wind down....when the comedy is probably at the expense of people much less fortunate than you, who have probably had a much longer day. No I didn't say that! Just thought it.

We land, lights come on, mom is really giving me the vibe that she is not happy about the situation. I'm feeling confrontational. I make eye contact with the boy and say, "that was very nice, good things like that always come full circle." He just looked away and started whispering with his mom. I really don't care at this point but feel sorry for the poor child. I secretly promise my boys to be a much better mom than that and to teach them to be kind and considerate.  It isn't until baggage claim that my suspicions are confirmed. We happened to be waiting for our bags nearby this family. I seriously overheard words that were something along the lines of, "we paid for those seats.....blah blah blah."

Don't worry, there was no real confrontation from the mom.  But she was clearly irritated with us. Some people reading this may be on her side, feeling like when you pay for a reclining seat, you should get to recline. But I strongly feel that you should recline with care. ALWAYS. Not just because I'm now holding a baby. I have always felt that way. Does leaning your seat back 3 inches really make you any more comfortable?  Brad and I were feeling shocked and sad for that mean family, while feeling motivated to set a much better example for our own children.

I wish the boy strength to stand up to his mom and tell her that it is okay to be kind and not feel so entitled.

But occasionally I wonder a bit....was that rude of me to ask him to put his seat up? I may have been too shy if it were an adult.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. No, I think you were very kind... but I hate that you feel uncomfortable in the first place. Imagine how the mom and son would feel if Carter and Nolan were going nuts... I honestly can't believe what you guys have done with your babies. I don't think I could have done that with just one. I love you! That kid will get married one day and have triplets and have to fly somewhere and he'll remember.