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Greetings from the Motherland!

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Yesterday, I confirmed that I really am soft on the brain: I flew to Canada with my two children. Solo.

My niece is getting married next week and my husband Jamie could not take the time off work to attend. To be honest, I thought nothing of going it alone. Our recent trip to Mexico was seamless. So seamless I even received the following email from Kathy, a lovely woman we met:

    What a pleasure it was to sit in front of your family on the plane…and I don’t say that to many mothers. I am not normally so chatty, believe it or not. Especially not to people with little kids. Even though I had my own, I am kind of over it unless the kids are exceptional like yours.

Exceptional? Too bad Kath was not privy to our latest flight experience.

It went badly from the start and the kids were only partly to blame. It took 15 minutes to retrieve Bode’s carseat that a firefighter had practically dead-bolted to our backseat. Next, I had to bribe a porter to haul all my crap, which he unceremoniously dumped a football field away. And then the snippy United Airlines staff member harassed me about failing to go through self-checkout. You know: with my two young children and five pieces of luggage.

Though it may seem to the contrary, I had actually consolidated most everything into one large suitcase and when I say everything, I mean it: diapers, clothes, make-up, the kitchen sink. I also carefully packed two carry-ons: one with bribery food (i.e. sugar), the other with silencing entertainment (i.e. duct tape for mouths).

Then there was security. Do not even get me started with that 75-minute ordeal as the children who were manhandled like mini-Taliban. By the time we finally broke out of there, we were supposed to be boarding. And our gate was B82. If that sounds like it is in the boonies, allow me to confirm this for you.

After a veritable sprint, we were the final people to board. And we were greeted by the greatest bombshell of all:

“This is a small plane. You will have to leave that [pointing to my silencing entertainment] and we will stow it with the luggage down below.”

I looked at her dubiously. “Do you really want me to board this plane without any form of diversion for these children?”

The woman personally escorted me on the plane with the contraband carry-on.

The flight was stressful and long. When we arrived in Calgary, we were informed that two pieces of luggage had not arrived: a carseat and The Mother of All Suitcases.

I practically collapsed at that point and made the avowal then and there that I would never ever again in a million gazillion years attempt to fly alone with my children.

At least not until my return flight next week.

So let’s hear it: what are your favorite Kids in Flight stories?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Kelly October 1, 2007

    It hurts to read! Enjoy the time until your trip home!

    This summer on my solo trip with my 3 (which really doesn’t count because my boys can help) I had the thrill of being introduced to the sniffer machine. Now how do they expect a timid three year old to stand in that noisy thing why air explodes all around her? And then they harrass me saying I’ll need to calm my chld or else!


  • comment avatar Amber October 1, 2007

    I had to do the sniffer thing when I went to Chicago last summer. The whole experience was tedious and significantly delayed me. I can’t imagine enduring it with kids! The funny thing is the least threatening people imaginable were all “selected.” I know they need to do it random but couldn’t they do at least a few surly characters?! 🙂

  • comment avatar Guinevere Meadow October 1, 2007

    Oh you poor thing! I haven’t even tried yet to fly with Lance. I’m scared!

  • comment avatar yvonne October 1, 2007

    I bet you can hardly wait until you fly back next week–how about going through Customs–that’s always a blast!!! My favorite trip has to be a plane ride from Toronto to San Francisco where Kyle (at about 6 months) decided to scream 3/4 of the flight. There was a man who would have gladly pushed us off the plane, and he had no problem letting me know it!!! Believe me, I was trying EVERYTHING I knew to quiet and comfort Kyle.

  • comment avatar Melissa October 1, 2007

    Hmm… I’ve never flown with my kids. Not with another adult and not by myself. And after reading this, I probably never will. Have fun!

  • comment avatar Loralee October 1, 2007

    I have flown with my child once. One time. Uno.
    He was a baby and it was an hour and a half flight from California to Utah.

    His ears hurt from the pressure of the plane.

    Longest hour of my life. I’m sure the other passengers would also agree.

  • comment avatar slackermommy October 1, 2007

    I don’t have any real good stories considering we fly often. We’ve had our luggage get lost a couple of times and once our carseats were left out in the rain.

  • comment avatar laughterthoughts October 1, 2007

    oh those little puddle-jumper planes are the worst– small, cramped seating and bumpy flights.

    one time while i was getting myself all situated, i had my baby down in the empty seat next to me. i picked her up as the lady who was going to sit there arrived and was ready to sit down. no wonder my baby stopped crying– her tummy wasn’t hurting anymore. she had pooped, it had leaked, the lady’s seat was all wet. she was actually my best travel buddy, as she wasn’t rolling her eyes and sighing and giving me dirty looks like other people i’ve sat next to. plus her carryon was a little kitty in a mini-carrier. my baby liked that!

    once in college i was sitting next to a kid flying. he threw up on the floor at my feet. that was one stinky flight.

  • comment avatar Lisa October 1, 2007

    I flew from Chicago to Philadelphia when my daughter Marissa was about 16 months old. She had ear problems, and I was really concerned that she would scream the whole flight. She didn’t cry, just tried to conastantly grab the Rolex of the business man who was sitting next to us. He was not amused.

  • comment avatar Jennifer October 1, 2007

    Wow… I will remember to never fly alone… with kids! Hope your flight back is smoother than the trip up!

    Hard to belive you are in Calgary….. That’s where I am. :o)

  • comment avatar meredith October 1, 2007

    I’ve been there…and keep doing it. It gets better as the kids get a bit older and need less entertainment paraphenalia.

  • comment avatar Kimberly October 1, 2007

    Neil and I are about to go away for five days without the kids. I’ve been feeling guilty. I don’t anymore. Thanks for that.

  • comment avatar Ashley October 1, 2007

    SO been there, so done that. Only your story didn’t involve puke….

  • comment avatar Tina October 1, 2007

    You are one brave woman, Amber! We’re headed to CA in 2 weeks and I’ve already got the 2 DVDs packed (1 for each child) and have bought new Dora & Diego coloring books and other little toys to wrap like presents which I will hand out as soon as the previous toy interest is lost. I’m hoping that helps divert any bad behavior. Yes I know I’m dreaming!

    Good luck on the return trip. Good mama-karma thoughts are being sent your way.

  • comment avatar Allie October 1, 2007

    Hmm … I think I may have lucked out with my one plane ride with my son to Winnipeg as it was uneventful. But now however we are heading to DC in December with both kids. The total time from point A to point B? Yep – 10 hours. Flying from Calgary to Houston – major layover then Houston to Baltimore and then back again. Will be definitely tapping into your knowledge and humour when the time gets closer on how to be prepared for every issue that may ensue. 🙂

    Hope that you are having a great time in Cowtown. Hope that the magic suitcase arrives in time before the anticipated flurries hit on Friday. 🙂

  • comment avatar jen October 1, 2007

    oh dear
    praying the return is better for you

    jen at

  • comment avatar PJ October 1, 2007

    I am glad it was not “Greetings from the Mother ship”

    My children have not been on a plane yet, except my eight year old. She was in my womb.

    I have had some kids “in flight”, one in particular thought she discovered how to fly, jumping off the bunk bed.

    Enjoy your time in Canada, and the flight back;)

  • comment avatar diana/sunshine October 1, 2007

    oh, how terrible. i hope your return flight is better. i heard that the wait time through security in denver had grown. i’m hoping they have a better handle on it when i have to fly out in november.

    enjoy your time there in canada.

  • comment avatar Amy October 1, 2007

    When the peanut was small it was so easy, just put her on the boob for a bit and it was all good.

    Now that she’s older, uh, not so much. We did have a 22 hour flight this summer to Budapest and, only through what we feel MUST have been the power of some mighty prayer, we all made it there alive. And when I say alive, I’m saying no “neighbors” pelted us with sporks or other UFO’s. She was supposed to be on our laps for all 3 flights there and back but the longest legs there “just happened” to be seats open. Praise God because it surely would have caused issues. I will say though, if my husband had not been there, life would have been very different in Amy land!

  • comment avatar Jungle Mama October 2, 2007

    You are not a real mother until you’ve done one of these trips. Imagine doing this 7 months pregnant as well. Yup. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt! Welcome to motherhood 😉 I hope that you are enjoying your trip home and getting a taste of some cooler weather. A preview of the months to come?

  • comment avatar serf 'rett October 2, 2007

    Blocked memories have been triggered. Fleeting images race through the whorling recesses of my mind. Hours of screaming (only some of which was done by my kids – My wife and I likely did more of the screaming). Looking around at the armed guards in Budapest and wondering if they wil shoot my wife off the wall she is climbing because she just did a head count of our family of five and only came up with four present (youngest daughter MIA). No! Got to stop! Close the door to those memories! Take deep breaths! Repeat mantra! “Never again!” Slower now “Neverrr againnnn” breathe

  • comment avatar Lizzy October 2, 2007

    My favorite experience was the last flight I took, simply because I DIDN’T have my kids with me. But I was able to sit and watch as one lady made a complete fool of herself by grossly overreacting to a very mildly fussy baby sitting behind her. She managed to make her face a huffing magenta color as she paced up and down the aisle to let every one know how disgusted she was that someone dared to bring a child within 10 feet of her. I only wished I had been sitting closer so I could gently pat this angry woman’s arm and calmly assure her that I was positive that she had made someone else just as miserable when she was a baby.

  • comment avatar Nora October 2, 2007

    was that supposed to be encouraging Amber? Because I am not planning on flying with the ever now. Now that I think about it though, driving wouldn’t be any more fun either and I want to leave home every once in a while.

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson October 2, 2007

    Encouraging? Good question. I don’t want to be discouraging but I also wanted to give FULL disclosure! 🙂

  • comment avatar shaz October 2, 2007

    oh my! i have never taken my kids on a plan actually!! good luck on your trip back. welcome to canada 😉 I hope you enjoy your time at home at least. 🙂

  • comment avatar Catherine October 2, 2007

    I’ve had to make several flights recently WITHOUT my children. Let me tell ya, my heart has never reached out to my fellow mothers as it did during those flights… and the hours BEFORE those flights. I can only hope for the same empathy when hubby and I haul our two youngest with us to Delaware in four weeks.

    Safe returns home, Amber!!

  • comment avatar Gina (Mannyed) October 3, 2007

    Hope you have a good return fight…err…flight home!

  • comment avatar Billi October 3, 2007

    It was by fluke that my daughter and I traveled solo by plane 10 times in the first 12 months of her life (and somewhat regularly sincec then). It was amazing how it went from easy, to tricky, to easy and tricky again depending on her age (even if only a few weeks had passed). Regardless, she now seems to be the easiest 3-year-old-traveler I’ve encountered! Don’t be discouraged! Keep traveling! Ignore any irritated passengers. I find it irritating that they feel they have more of a right to be on that plane than my child….

  • comment avatar Michelle at Scribbit October 5, 2007

    One time in Hawaii Andrew had left early to go back to work and I stayed a few extra days with our two kids. I was 8 months pregnant and the last few hours of the trip Spencer did a face plant on the glass coffee table in the condo. We drove all over that island getting him patched up and I was sure the flight home with just me and the two of them would be murder. He ended up sleeping the whole way, evidently facial surgery has a way of relaxing you and promoting sleep 🙂

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