Wednesday, November 30, 2011

An Open Letter To: Holiday Travel

Dear Holiday Travel:

It's "that time of year" again, when trillions of people around the world, even in countries that are not dominated by Judeo-Christian dogma, will take to the roads and skies (and rails, probably) to visit "loved ones" in other cities and towns.

And we all get cranky about it.

Because, let's face it, traveling at a time of year when every other human being is also traveling is a pain in the ass. It's the kind of thing that can kill the Holiday spirit and make those of us who otherwise are all about stuff like peace on earth or whatever into giant Crankypantses.

My family's journey to Miami last week was fine, in which "fine" = "nothing bad happened." Unless you count my 3-year old son's tantrum just as we were boarding the plane, which I do not. Look, he had a toy airplane, and the little girl his age nearby at the gate also had a toy airplane, and 3-year olds generally don't understand the concept of "Now boarding all passengers in Group 2," so much. They just want to play, and if you try to take that away from them it is possible they will scream bloody murder like you are hacking off one of their limbs, throw themselves on the floor in front of other passengers, and cry like the little babies they are.

Thankfully the tantrum ended before we got on the plane. 

For the record, my son is an excellent flier. He has never once had a tantrum in the air. Not to brag, Holiday Travel, but my kid is the one other parents wish they had when they fly.

But I digress.

Our flight back to New York was...I think the correct term is "a shit show."

Here are some things I can live without during future Holiday Travels, in no particular order of importance:

  • TSA employees who don't let a pregnant woman with a 3-year old into the "family line" at security because we don't have a stroller, and then proceed to allow another stroller-less family into that very same "family line"
  • TSA employees who steal little girls' shoes. The family ahead of us mysteriously "lost" their daughter's purple sneakers, which the TSA agents swore up and down must have been stolen by a fellow passenger. Later, I overheard the father tell another passenger that the little girl herself found her shoes - behind the TSA counter, while the agents insisted they were "lost." For shame, Holiday Travel.
  • TSA employees who think it is OK to snark to my son that he is "too old" for a pacifier or blankie. I'm sorry, did I ask for your opinion on my son's creature comforts while traveling?
  • The entire TSA in general.
  • Fellow passengers who see a child and automatically pass judgement on me, my parenting, and my kid. Hey, my kid is an awesome flier, probably better than many adults, so just shut your face. And to the lady behind us in the security line who snarked, "Look at all these kids. They shouldn't be allowed to fly," - be thankful that you weren't on our flight because I myself would have kicked your seat the whole time, asshole.
  • Incompetent flight attendants who are so slow with the beverage and snack cart that they are still serving "refreshments" during the descent.
  • Miami International Airport

Here's the thing, Holiday Travel. The Holidays happen at the same time every year, and yet airline and airport employees act like they are completely taken by surprise. "What? Thanksgiving? When did this happen and why did no one warn me? IS THERE NO GOD???"

If that retail store I hate but can't stop shopping at - the big red discount one that rhymes with "Margaret" - can pull Halloween decorations off the shelves to make room for Christmas lights on October 20 (no joke), then surely your people can get their act together? It's not like air travel is new. It's not like Thanksgiving or Christmas are new. I made a calendar full of photos of my son, the Juban Princeling, for my husband to take to work. If I get you a copy, Holiday Travel, will you please use it to mark sometime before Thanksgiving when you need to start anticipating a giant tsunami of travelers, many of whom have small children (who necessarily need their pacis, and shoes)? Because there really is no reason for the extra-surly employees (who snark and steal) and the crazy long lines to check bags and go through security.

If it seems like I am being particularly harsh on you Holiday Travel, it's because I hate you. Get it together and maybe one day years from now I'll venture outside the five boroughs for some major holiday travel again.

Meredith L.


Christine Ashworth said...

Awesome. I never had to holiday travel via plane with small kids - my family lived close enough to go by car. But...awesome!

Anonymous said...

Agreed! I don't have children (yet), but I am often in line with them when I travel. The way other passengers and employees treat children when flying appalls me. Flying isn't easy for anyone, regardless of age.

Tori said...

This makes me so happy that I don't have to travel this holiday season. I don't have kids (though I've never had issues with any kids on planes), but I regularly travel with some "interesting" personal and medical supplies (menstrual cup, TENS unit, scheduled medications) as carry-ons.

At this point, I probably need a T-shirt that says IT'S FOR MY VAGINA on the front. (Okay, so partly it's for my uterus, but the first one sounds funnier and is not totally false.)

Meredith L. said...

Christine: I'd say you're lucky, but if your family lives close enough to visit by car...maybe not. ;-D

Meredith L. said...

Rachel, THANK YOU. I wish more people thought like you did. Not every kid is a bad flier, but more than that: most grown-ups aren't, either!

Meredith L. said...

Tori, glad I could cheer you up! And thanks for the smile! I think most of us could use a "IT'S FOR MY VAGINA" t-shirt at some point in our lives.

Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress said...

TSA- Thousands Standing Around. They are the BANE of my holiday travel.

I tried to avoid traveling at all during the holidays for about 5 years when my daughter was little. Even now, I am still tempted to stay home!

Meredith L. said...

Elizabeth, yeah, this is the last year we are doing this for a while. My father is self-employed and my mother works with him, so it's much easier for two adults who make their own hours to come up here, than it is for four adults - including my brother and sister-in-law, who are not the bosses at their jobs - a preschooler and, next year, an infant, to travel at the Holidays. Next year in New York!

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