Flashback to the American Airlines terminal at LAX in March. Baby Claire, Randy and I were getting ready to board our first flight with a baby non-stop, LAX to IAD. We stood just outside the gate ramp entrance ready to board the plane first. All the years of flying waiting for “those traveling with small children” to load the plane first (or shortly after First Class).
“We will begin boarding with our Business Class and our OneWorld Alliance VIP’s,” said our gate representative in an oh, so thrilled to be at work voice. Five to ten minutes later…”Those with Group 1 on their boarding pass may come aboard.”
Did they forget our newly joined group?
“Now, those with Group 2 may come aboard the aircraft.”
I approached her.
“Did you already call those traveling with infants?”
“Ma’am, we don’t do that anymore,” was all she said.
Huh? I looked at my boarding pass. Group 5 in bold print starred back at me.
Que the fast forward noise (it always sounds cool when they do it in a movie, but I’m not quite sure how to type it).
My mom (Claire’s Nana), Claire and I arrived to our Alaska Airlines gate at San Diego International Airport. I hadn’t flown Alaska Airlines since a business trip to Seattle in 2009. I went straight to the gate agent to get the gate check tags for Claire’s stroller and car seat. As boarding time approached, I casually put the stroller and car seat in the red travel bags I bought from Buy Buy Baby. I was in no rush, since we were in boarding group 4. The gate intercom crackled to life. That’s when I heard it.
“We would like to welcome those traveling with infants or small children to board the aircraft first.”
Alaska Airlines is becoming my new favorite already.
My mom and I hobbled to the gate dragging our carry on baggage, plus the red bags with a stroller and car seat inside. The gate agent saw our struggle and quickly grabbed the red bags and carried them down the ramp for us. Wow!
I stepped onto the plane with Claire and the pilot was standing outside the cockpit and welcomed Claire aboard. Claire responded with a big smile at her new friend. I got to our seats and stored my carry-ons. One of the flight attendants approached Claire and offered her a coloring book and crayons. At just shy of six months, Claire is much to young to color, but the gesture was awesome. And actually, during the flight Claire loved looking at the pictures in the coloring book (planes with huge eyes), and of course wanted to put the crayons in her mouth.
I think Claire could sense the friendliness on board, so during the five hour trip across country, Claire had a blast. She was awake the entire flight. Not what I had planed. But, on the bright side, she was happy. She played peek-a-boo with a boy across the aisle, played with the complimentary snack bag (she likes the crinkle sound), and our flight attendant even held her for a little while. I had my tray table down during beverage service, and Claire wanted to show off her drum skills. What is it with kids and tray tables? Well, I can not stand it when other kids used to bang on the back of mine during a flight, so I am the ‘no fun mom’ who put a kabosh to that. Save the drum playing for grandma’s house, Claire.
We landed in Boston with a happy baby (and a tired mom). Now I’m thinking about canceling my American Airlines mileage card for Alaska Airlines’!
Reasons to love Alaska Airlines’ mileage program:
1. Bonus 25,000 miles for signing up
2. No blackout dates
3. It’s just 25,000 miles to fly anywhere in the continental U.S. (where Alaska flies)
4. Check your first bag for free!
5. $99 Companion fare (you get this once per year)