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The New Mile High Club

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The couple attempts to discreetly work their way to the back of the plane without drawing too much attention to themselves. After anxiously waiting in the galley for a minute, they slip into the cramped restroom virtually unnoticed. The woman sighs with relief that they have not yet attracted the attention of other passengers on the plane. Though cramped and awkward in this box of a bathroom, they somehow manage to get the deed done with only one or two minor outbursts.

The woman quickly tries to repair her disheveled hair and shirt and then carefully sneaks out of the restroom. As they work their way back to their seats, drawing a few curious glances along the way, the woman cannot help but smile to herself with satisfaction. So that’s what it’s like, she thinks to herself. Not too bad. I always thought it would be a lot harder to change a baby’s dirty diaper on an airplane. She is now a proud member of the new “mile high” club.

That woman in the story is me on one of my first trips across the country with my two kids—a two-year-old and a ten-month-old. Gone are the cigarette smoking, martini wielding, “Pan Am” days of airline travel where it was glamorous and exciting to have a rendezvous in the bathroom (not that I ever had those experiences mid-flight in the first place). Nowadays, it’s all about trying to survive the flight without too many meltdowns or annoyed glares from other passengers, and hoping that when I exit the aircraft I am not advertising what my children ate for lunch all over the front of my pants.

My perspective of flying has completely changed since having children. I used to become fearful and anxious when we encountered turbulence mid-flight and the flight attendants came on the intercom telling us to take our seats. Now, I just hope and pray that neither will wake my children once they have finally fallen asleep.

In the good old days, I looked forward to the long flights because I could read a good book or my favorite trash magazine. Now, the thought of being able to read a book seems like a far off fantasy, unless you count children’s books as reading a good book. In fact, these days a good book is one that manages to keep the attention of my children for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Before children, I used to dread sitting in the back of the plane near the bathroom, now I actually hope I’m close because it makes it easier to herd the children to the back of the plane. Getting through the aisles of a plane never used to be so difficult either when I didn’t have children. Now, I consider navigating the rows and rows of the aircraft a success if I’ve only accidentally knocked the shoulders and heads of one or two passengers.

In light of this shift in perspective that travelling with children has brought on, I would like to share the new rules that qualify parents to join the new mile high club:

  1. You have made it through airport security without having your bags get the extra special search to find that hidden bottle of liquid that was buried in the dark crevasses of the diaper bag.
  2. You are able to fit one or more car seats, a diaper bag, your children’s blankets, iPads, and shoes, onto the security belt all while holding one child and not losing another as he or she tries to wander off.
  3. You’ve made it all the way to the gate without losing a child’s blanket, shoe, pacifier, or sippy cup somewhere along the way (usually left back at security).
  4. You are able to get onto the plane without any of your children throwing themselves on the ground and screaming their heads off (the classic meltdown) before boarding the flight.
  5. You can carry a backpack, diaper bag, car seat, and a child through the aisles of the plane without knocking into more than three other passengers in the process.
  6. You are somehow able to secure your child’s car seat with those darn seatbelts while keeping your little ones from wandering out into the aisles and blocking traffic.
  7. You make it through takeoff and landing without either child screaming because their ears hurt (hint lollipops are miracle workers for this).
  8. You’ve changed a blowout diaper in the tiny bathroom without getting it all over yourself and your child in the process.
  9. You only lose one matchbox car and a few crayons during the trip.
  10. You proudly wear the baby spit-up like a brooch on your shirt as you navigate your way through the rest of the trip (next time you’ll remember a change of clothes for you in the carry on luggage).
  11. You’ve flown with multiple children all by yourself.
  12. The flight attendant actually tells you that you have cute children at the END of the flight!

If you have successfully completed ANY of the above tasks, welcome to the new mile high club! After all, flying with children is a challenge and it truly deserves some sort of recognition.

P.S. While you're waiting to board your flight on a long layover, check out this article to see if there any play areas in your airport!

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