Wednesday, March 23, 2011
This is How We Roll (Part One: Seating Assignments)
Over the years I have revised our travel strategy. We have tried a couple of different products for keeping the kids strapped into the airline seat (there will be reviews of these eventually) but for this series, I'm going to stick to packing the food and toys and the best seat assignment layout we've discovered.
When we had just one child, it was pretty easy, Dad by the window, kid in the middle, Mama on the aisle. Until Little 2 came along, we never really thought about it. But as soon as he showed up, we realized we had no idea what we were doing.
Once, we tried two kids, one Mom, Dad in a different row. Yield: 1 tired Mama.
Then, we wised up and decided to put parents on the aisle, kids in the middle, stranger on the window. Yield: The stewardess informed us that unless the person at the window was related to the child, they don't want infant seats in the middle, particularly if they protrude past the edge of the airline seat. And we had two annoyed fellow passengers who had to give up their window seats.
Then, we tried kids on the window, parents in the middle,stranger on the aisle. Yield: A lot of extra bags packed with the same stuff so we didn't have to pass things over the middle of the row. And two kids who were missing the absent parent. But we made it and didn't have to inconvenience anybody so we flew like this for a while.
Then, one glorious, fateful trip, we had a travel planner book a flight for us. The "duh" bulb went on when I noticed she had us in rows behind each other. Kids on the windows, parents in the middle one in front of the other. So much easier! Though she did have us booked the row behind the exit row. Yield: We still had to move and displace two people and we learned that kids in car seats not only can't be in the exit row, they also can't be in the rows behind or in front of the exit row.
These days, my boys climb underneath the seats to get back and forth to each other, which keeps them occupied and gets out some of the willies. Not sure how safe it is but we haven't been yelled at by an attendant yet... It also makes it easier to hand out snacks and share toys.
I've read other advice saying you should try to book seats near the bathrooms because the extra traffic will keep the boogers entertained. This is certainly good advice for those traveling with potty trainers, but as far as the entertainment factor is concerned it's hit or miss. If you're the last row before the bathrooms, the kids don't have anybody to look at when they look behind them. We have gotten a lot of mileage out of the people in the seats behind us interacting with our little monkeys. When our oldest was about 2 he learned how to make a new face from a passenger behind him. He thought it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen and kept making the face our entire vacation. Now that's quality entertainment!
Once we had the seats ironed out, it really streamlined our carry-on baggage situation. Stay tuned for Part Two: Packing!