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Mom, Dad, Toddler & Baby Fly EZE-ANC: A Trip Report

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Old Dec 10, 07, 2:06 pm
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Mom, Dad, Toddler & Baby Fly EZE-ANC: A Trip Report

Why I Wrote This

As most of the threads in this forum are from parents flying long hauls with their child(ren) for the first time, I thought it would be helpful to the community for me to write-up a trip report of what many parents would think of as a trip from hell: a 34 1/2 hour trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Anchorage, Alaska involving three connections and two passport controls.

The Trip

These following series of flights were taken December 2nd and 3rd 2007. We flew LAN from EZE-SCL (two hours on the ground) to SCL-LIM (one hour technical stop) and onto LIM-LAX (customs; four hour layover), continuing on Alaska Airlines from LAX-SEA (3 hour layover) and finally SEA-ANC. As Alaskans, we're used to flying long distances; and our boys think of it as normal. To round-out the picture, my wife does not work for money and I work from home: my boys have a full-time Mom and a 2/3-time Dad. I write this because if one or both of us worked outside the home our relationship with our children would be different; and what works for us when traveling might not work for others living and working in different circumstances.

The Players

Mom, who hates to fly, but does two transcons and one overseas r/t a year anyway;
Number One, a 2 3/4 year-old boy who flies 50K a year;
Two of Two, a 15 month-old boy whose phrase du jure is "Wassdat?";
Dad, who flies more than the Holy Father himself.

Act The First
Wherein Dad Makes Flight Arrangements

The secret to a happy marriage is to make sure your wife always flies at the front of the bus. For a 8683 mile-long flight involving three connections, this basic rule of travel couldn't be more true. Using my AS miles I booked two 75K business award seats for Mom and Number One. For myself I bought the cheapest economy seat I could find; and my lap would do for Two of Two.

Now, I know a lot of people claim that their under two year-old babies 'feel better' immobilized in their own seat, strapped-down for hours upon hours, but I think that's rubbish: babies would much rather be held. I'd rather spend the fifteen hundred-plus dollars on something useful. Others object to putting their over two year-olds in Business or First: I think it's a great idea. How else will a child learn how to behave, other than to be put in situations where he must behave in a certain manner? The added benefit of seeing the looks on the faces of grossly obese economy pax as they squeeze by a toddler in F or C makes using the extra miles all the more satisfying. Needless to say, Number One has never flown economy.

Act The Second
Wherein Carry-On Bags Are Packed

Packing for a long series of flights is a lot less complicated than many make it out. First off, If you don't let your kids watch a lot of TV, what makes being on an airplane any different? As parents, Mom and I are the most interesting and educational toys my kids have, so we play constantly with them when we travel (and when we don't).
For Two of Two, we packed two changes of clothes, lots of diapers, butt creme, and a couple of books. Number One also had two changes of clothes, as well as eight books, drawing materials, a couple of matchbox cars, and his pirate figurines for the 34 and a half hour trip. I also had my laptop with me, so I packed a few DVDs (Postman Pat, Miffy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) for Number One to watch, but they remained unviewed the entire trip.

We brought our Maclaren Volo umbrella stroller with us for Two of Two, but as we were traveling as a family, Two of Two rode on my shoulders and the stroller was used to carry our bags. If you think about it, the very last place a child should be after sitting for a very long time on an airplane is in a stroller, no? Make them walk or crawl!

We also had our winter coats with us: we were leaving 87F Buenos Aires for 15F Anchorage! We carried the stroller on board and put it into the overhead bin. When the FA tried to get me to gate check it, I told her that one of the pleasures of flying C is to be first off the plane; and that waiting for a stroller wasn't part of my plan. The stroller stayed in the overhead bin.

Act The Third
Wherein Dad Executes Stage One of His Logistics Plan

Our five week South American vacation was coming to an end: time to go into Tactical Dad mode. The taxi I had book earlier in the week was outside our apartment building. As Mom amused Two of Two, Number One supervised my loading into a taxi van of the six large, overweight suitcases I had spent the past two nights packing. Car seats, car schmeets, a 45 minute drive brought us safely without them to the international terminal of EZE.

A skycap loaded our bags out of the cab as Mom and I unloaded ourselves. When traveling with children, let other people do the work for you whenever possible. The skycap wheeled our luggage to LAN's business class counter and loaded the bags onto the scales for us, allowing me to help Number One deploy his toddler wiles in distracting the lady at the check-in counter so that she either a)didn't notice; or b) didn't care, that several of our suitcases were absurdly over the weight limit. Whether it was his winning smile or the fact that he was dressed as a pirate, I cannot say: all I know is that no overweight charges were levied.

Mission accomplished and boarding passes in hand, Mom played with the Small People as I dashed-off to pay our departure taxes. From there it was a cinch to navigate The Clan through passport control and security to the solace of...The Lounge.

Interlude
Wherein Dad Waxes Lyrical On the Benefits of Lounges

When traveling with children, The Lounge is your Friend. There are crackers and bananas and glasses of milk to be found there, along with reasonably sanitary ablution facilities. One will also find a predominately female staff of Lounge Ladies who want nothing more than to play with your Small People, although whether they do it out of love of children or fear of annoyed businessmen is another question. The Lounge Lady has it within her power to do Nice Things for you, like seat blocking.

Run! Children, Run! For soon you will be inside the cramped confines of a large cylindrical tube.

Act The Fourth
Wherein A Number of Flights Are Boarded and Deboarded

As Mom and Number One settled into their business class seats (1A and 1C), Two of Two and I found ourselves gasping for air as we made our way back to the nosebleed section. After all but tripping over a gypsy and kicking a homeless guy out of our seat, we quietly settled into economy class.

EZE-SCL

The two and three-quarter hour EZE-SCL flight was uneventful. Two of Two so liked my response to his pointing to the window and asking "Wassdat?" that I got to tell him over thirty-seven times. Our time in SCL was just long enough for me to make the observation that just because a country a) is located in Latin America; and b) her people speak Spanish, it does not make the people Latin American. Chileans are more akin to Finns, albeit with all the style and humor squeezed-out of them. Run! Children, Run! For soon you will be back inside the cramped confines of a large cylindrical tube.

SCL-LIM

As Mom and Number One debated the finer points of the foie gras served up-front, Two of Two spent the 4-plus hour flight to Lima playing what I now like to think of as Sleepy, Jumpy, Dancey, Singy, Sleepy. It's not a very complicated game. First, you fall asleep, then you jump up and down on top of Dad, then...well, you get the idea.

The LIM stop afforded me the opportunity to give Mom a chance to deal with a Code Brown executed by Two of Two while I stretched my legs preparing for...

LIM-LAX

For what was the longest (nine hour) flight we were to take, it was really the easiest. Because a Lounge Lady exercised her powers to do a Nice Thing, Two of Two was able to stretch his little legs out onto the adjacent seat while using Dad as a pillow. He slept almost the entire flight, while I cat napped, keeping an eye on my littlest guy as I reflected on how cool it was to have my infant son asleep on my lap.

As the rosy-fingered smog signaled her welcome to Los Angeles, Two of Two and I met up with a well rested Mom and Number One, the latter having emerged from under their down duvets and onto the jetway. We four together trundled our way through immigration, baggage claim and customs.

Again, when traveling with children, let other people do the work for you whenever possible. To this end, I found A Guy (who appeared to work in baggage claim) and gave him financial inducement to wheel our bags through customs and straight to the front of the (very long) TSA baggage re-screening line.

I thanked the Guy over the boos, whines and hisses of the queued hoi polloi as I ushered my family through the mind-numbingly stupid security theatre that is a TSA checkpoint and into the warm, maternal embrace of The Lounge. Run! Children, Run! For soon you will be back inside the cramped confines of a large cylindrical tube.

LAX-SEA
SEA-ANC


We'd been traveling over twenty-four hours at this point. Truth be told, while everyone else in our little party looked great and well-rested, I was a little worse for wear. Fortunately, my domestic AS upgrades cleared, which meant that not only would the entire clan be at the front of the bus, but I could have a guilt-free rest of the trip even if I had Mom hold Two of Two the rest of the way home.

My eyes closed as the noise-cancelling headphones slipped over the NRR 34 earplugs, only to open in Seattle two hours later at the tug of Number One's hand on my nose.

Another healthy dose of Run, Children Run washed-down by crackers and milk in the AS boardroom and we headed-off for our final flight - with everyone in F - from Seattle to Anchorage. We all slept the entire flight.

Act The Final
Wherein Our Travelers Arrive Home

Down the jetway. Down the corridor and escalator to baggage claim, where I load our baggage onto a trolley and into a taxi. After exactly 34 hours and 30 minutes of travel by car, foot and plane, we breathe-in and feel the clear crisp Alaskan winter air.

It tastes like home.


ENDIT.

Last edited by BillScann; Dec 11, 07 at 1:29 am Reason: sp.
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Old Dec 10, 07, 2:17 pm
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Dear Dad of Number One and Two of Two, such a well written and entertaining post!

I'm very well acquainted with long haul flights in and out of Alaska having done many of them myself.

I don't know what you do for your day job, but a fine writer you certainly are.

Thank you!
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Old Dec 10, 07, 7:48 pm
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I have noticed that Lan FAs seem to generally love kids. Was this your experience?
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Old Dec 10, 07, 7:49 pm
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Your trip report was quite a treat to read. Thanks for sharing your tales!

P.S. "Code Brown" -- I might have to borrow that phrase.
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Old Dec 10, 07, 7:54 pm
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Outstanding, sir. I'm hitting the TalkMail button.
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Old Dec 10, 07, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Eastbay1K View Post
I have noticed that Lan FAs seem to generally love kids. Was this your experience?
Lan FAs are for the most part Chilean, which means they are for the most part half cyborg. That said, the last flash upgrade received (version 23.2.17) made them more empathetic to children than human flight attendants.
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Old Dec 10, 07, 9:00 pm
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Dear Dad of Number One and Two of Two! Bravo! Wonderful write up! I love your attitude about the real story of traveling with young folks.

My own husband never, ever yielded a higher class seat to me and in fact took mine if I had one!
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Old Dec 11, 07, 2:20 am
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34.5 hours

Great EZE-ANC story! Next time take the nonstop. I've heard good things about LAN...specifically that it's one of the best mileage deal for int'l flights w/Alaka Air miles. The 34.5-hours reminds me of being stuck in MSP over Christmas. Snowstorm. Busted planes. It's one thing if you expect the long stage length...quite another if it's sprung on you as a surprise.
We were lucky...got on standby on the nonstop back to ANC...instead of having to go through SEA and o/n.
That's when the portable video players come in very handy. It's no mystery that I can hum the entire soundtrack to "101 Dalmations". I have seen the movie more than 1,000 times. I am not making this up.
The kids were quiet and content for the entire flight.
Oh, I commend Dad for putting Mom up front. I made the mistake once of grabbing the last F seat coming back from Mexico. Although it was a "free" upgrade...I paid. Oh, yes, I paid.
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Old Dec 11, 07, 2:44 am
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Bill.... excellent post, superbly written!!

BTW, love the cyborg comments.... ROTFLMAO !!!!!
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Old Dec 11, 07, 7:36 am
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Originally Posted by geefour907 View Post
Although it was a "free" upgrade...I paid. Oh, yes, I paid.
My mother was once nice enough to split upgrades EWR-YVR. One of us in the front one way, other on the way home. Though it was not in my List of Official Motherly Instructions (I was about 19 at the time), I was forever banned from flying in F on any of Mom's goodies because I failed to go into the back of the bus and bring her my CO F chocolate chip cookie.

And yeah, I'm stealing Code Brown too. My girlfriend has nieces for which such a term still comes in handy.
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Old Dec 11, 07, 1:22 pm
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Great post. Thanks!
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Old Dec 11, 07, 5:57 pm
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I think it's really sweet how you make sure your wife is up front even if you aren't.
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Old Dec 11, 07, 10:44 pm
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What an incredible post, and a seemingly wonderful hubby/daddy. It's nice to see how much you obviously enjoy you family. Kudos!
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Old Dec 15, 07, 6:07 pm
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Nice report, Bill. I'm a bit worried that 2 of 2 will be traumatized at having to ride in moo. Seems like 1 of 2 is getting the better treatment.

I found the LAN FAs to be pretty decent, but I only went LAX-LIM in Biz a couple of years ago. I long for the days that I flew to SA in FC for 50k or Y for 35k.
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Old Dec 15, 07, 7:03 pm
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"Code Brown" is a common phrase in the medical field. This is the first time I've heard it used in any other context.
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