We have just returned home from a glorious week in the sunny, warm desert of Palm Springs, CA. I'm fairly certain that if I hadn't gotten the hell out of Chicagoland sometime soon I was going to lose it, this winter was just too much. Too much!
We made the 2 hour trek to Disneyland where we spent a Magical Day with good friends. We swam, a lot. We went to parks that weren't covered in snow. We didn't wear winter coats - hell, we wore tank tops and shorts and flip flops. We worried about sunburn instead of frostbite.
It was awesome.
You know what wasn't awesome? The travel experience. I'm looking at you American Airlines, and you especially, TSA.
Traveling with small children is hard on its own. Then you get the asswipes at American Airlines and the fucking TSA who, I am convinced, are actually trying to make it harder.
To be fair, our O'Hare security experience went very smoothly (if you ever travel with small children, bring your stroller - they see that shitstorm coming and they open up special security lines for you since they know you'll take forever, it's great). Nothing out of the ordinary, no special treatment other than the new line. American Airlines was actually helpful there - they rearranged some seats so that our family was actually sitting together (we were scattered in single seats throughout the plane before - I would have loved to see what My Little Guy's seatmate would have said if I had plopped him down and walked over to my seat), they gate-checked the stroller without incident or comment. It was all fine.
What wasn't fine was the flight attendant being up all up in my business about having to hold My Little Guy when the seatbelt sign was on. Look lady, he's not even 2. No, he's not going to sit in a seat with a seatbelt on and his hands folded in his lap waiting until the damn light goes off to continue to mess with the SkyMall catalog and vomit bags.
This entertained him for much longer than expected.
He's going to scream and kick and fight me when I try to hold/restrain him for the 30 minutes you're demanding I do it. If you're not going to get up someone's ass for getting up and using the damn bathroom when the seatbelt light is on than stop bugging me about making my kid miserable. I'm not a moron, if the turbulence gets crazy guess what - I'll grab him and hold him tightly then. Until then, he's cool standing between my husband and I. If you're letting the dude in 12B stand up and rifle through his bag, why can't my kid lean against his seat?
We ended up getting diverted to Denver, and then when we were 30 minutes away from there they decided that Dallas was better. So what was supposed to be a 4 hour direct flight into PSP ended up being a 9 hour flight with a 40 minute layover in Dallas. And then My Big Guy threw up on the rough landing into PSP. And then I threw up as soon as I got off the plane.
I'll give you that in theory, that wasn't AA's fault, but I just hate them so much and I enjoy casting irrational blame when puke is involved. But they gave us meal vouchers (which we ended up not having enough time to use at DFW) and 5,000 bonus miles for our troubles, so it's all fair now, right? *snorts*
Our return flight involved drama at the airport rather than in the air.
I have traveled with small children a number a times now. I know the security drill. And it's asinine.
First off, the process is supposed to be the same across the board, but while security was a breeze at O'Hare, it was a fucking nightmare at PSP.
They did not open up a new line for us. They made us wait with the masses, which was fine because PSP is a small airport (unlike ORD) and the line wasn't too bad.
That's where the good news stops.
We unpack all our shit, get it in those plastic bins and get ready to walk through the X-Ray machine (ok, fine, another good thing - when traveling with small children you get to skip the naked body image machine cause your kids won't hold still long enough for it to work). The TSA dude wants my kids to walk through by themselves. My Big Guy is ok with this. My Little Guy, not so much. He's terrified. The TSA dude is yelling at me that he has to go by himself. I look up at him, and as I walk through holding My Little Guy's hand say, "That's clearly not an option for him." TSA dude says and does nothing. Surprise, surprise.
Now, I am a mom who is prepared for shit. I had a backpack full of snacks for my kids. Especially after our 14 hour door to door travel adventure to get to PSP I wanted to be prepared for anything. I had the audacity to bring sealed yogurt pouches and baby Tylenol in my carry-on bag. Oh, and my kids each had a cup half filled with milk, because I'm starting their terrorist training early, obviously. While none of these things raised an eyebrow at ORD (I believe the woman took the cups and tested them while we were putting our shit through the X-Ray machine so no time was lost) they raised hell at PSP.
While the rest of my family (we were traveling with my in-laws too) got the all clear, I was flagged as a threat because I was dangerously traveling with small children and snacks specifically designed (and sealed!) for small children.
My entire bag had to be emptied out, but of course I couldn't do it. The milks had to be tested, but of course the agent didn't have any of the materials to test it with at his stand and had to wait about 7 minutes for someone to bring them to him - you see, I, as a terrorist threat, could not be left alone. Then we got into an argument in which he wanted to open and test all 4 yogurt pouches I had. You can tell that PSP doesn't see a lot of kids/babies because I also once had this argument with someone about opening my RTF formula bottles when my kids were younger. No. You cannot open my sealed food because then I'd have to throw it all away. I know it raises a lot of suspicion that a mom might be bringing snacks for her kids on the plane, but I promise it's just regular yogurt - not terrorist yogurt. I eventually won (of course I did), and he agreed not to open my yogurt but I'm pretty sure I didn't win myself a new friend in the process. I'm pretty sure he, and everyone in a 40 foot radius could feel the rage waves I was sending out.
The best (or worst, really) part was the molestation pat-down. I do not know what creepo thought this process up but for the love of all that is holy, please don't give me a 5 minute speech on what you're going to do AND THEN also narrate it as you're doing it ("I'm rubbing the back of my hand over your buttocks."). Just fucking get it over with. And then, THEN, the bitch had the balls to ask me to "lift my shirt up a bit" so she could see the waistband of my pants. What. The. Fuck. Fine, the good passengers at PSP got a nice glimpse of flabby, pale, Midwestern mom tummy. Because I dared to bring children's Tylenol and yogurt pouches with me.
I got to take my shoes off and put them on 4 different times, because the dude and the chick TSA agents couldn't agree on whether or not they were done with them.
They fully unpacked my backpack and made zero attempt to repack, instead handing it to me and saying unceremoniously, "You're done, you're clear."
Really? You mean my yogurt and children's Tylenol AREN'T going to blow up the plane? What a relief. I'm sure all the other passengers felt safer knowing that you left no inch of my body untouched and tested my milk and yogurt for explosives.
Look, I get that we need security. But all I'm looking for here in some fucking common sense. "Hey look, there's a family with small children traveling with snacks that are made for small children, let's assume that they're going to use that yogurt to feed their kids, and NOT blow up a plane." That would be nice, wouldn't it?