Who’s on First
We initially booked our flights to Australia well before M was born, using a chunk of miles to fly first class. A bed on the flight! And the baby can just sleep with us! How decadent! A few months after M was born, we hit a stumbling block when Cathay contacted us for Milo’s lap infant fare. For most international flights, this is 10% of the regular fare for that class. We learned that Cathay charges 25%, so that would have been $6,000. After a very brief consideration (well, $6K for three people to fly first class isn’t so b…nope, that’s crazy), we cancelled the flight and went back to the drawing board.
Our second option, Qantas, had no first or business seats available but we could get three economy tickets. M would have his own space and my lap wouldn’t go numb after holding a squirmy 18lb baby for 23 hours. We adhered to the FAA regulations: baby must be in an approved car seat and can’t be seated in an aisle or exit or rows immediately in front of or behind an exit. Our seat selection was approved. Everybody wins!
Except, it seems, the person in front of us. Two days ago, Qantas called us to inform us that there was a problem with our seat assignment for the LA-Sydney leg: M’s car seat is rear-facing (as are all seats for babies under 1 year old), so the seat in front of him couldn’t recline. Fair enough. It would drive me crazy not to be able to recline my seat during a 15hr flight, so I quickly agreed to what should have been a simple seat change.
I’ll spare you the bulk of the TWO HOURS of conversation with Qantas, but here are some highlights:
Me: “How about moving us to the bulkhead row?”
Qantas: “No, those seats are reserved for families traveling with infants.”
or this one:
Me: “How about moving us to the galley row? It isn’t an exit row, and there are no seats in front of him”
Qantas: “No, he must have a seat in front of him.”
(At this point, I contemplated resuming the conversation in my best Lou Costello voice.)
There were several mentions of “policy” which differed from the one I had found on their website. I asked her to read the mysterious new policy to me but oddly enough, she could neither remember nor find this document, repeating over and over in an increasingly frustrated voice that she “just knew” it was policy. The best solution she gave us? Turn the seat around or just carry the infant on our lap. I finally gave up on robo-agent and asked for a supervisor, who was as helpful as a person faced with a new problem (for which there is no official policy) could be. She listened, agreed it was a weird situation (most parents don’t get a seat for their infant), acknowledged that both the airline and the FAA recommend a car seat for infants, and even made me laugh once or twice.
Thanks to her common sense, M and I are now in a bulkhead row with my husband across the aisle from us. I have copies of Qantas actual policy (nothing about seat recline issues, mind you), the FAA’s policy regarding car seats, and just for good measure, a recording of part of our conversation. As frustrating as it all was, I’m happy that we dealt with this ahead of time and not as we were boarding, or even worse, after take-off. It could’ve been a lot more frustrating.
But I’ll take that free glass of wine now anyhow.
-from Seattle, about to leave for the airport
- 4 notes
California Road Trip!
700 miles, 10 days, just me and my infant son and (hopefully) no tears.
-from Livermore, CA
- 11 notes
That’s My Boy!
He nailed it. Grinned through check-in, charmed the TSA, played quietly and slept on the plane with a negligible amount of fussing early on, even napped through baggage claim. He’s a natural!
Sure, he may have a meltdown on a subsequent flight and you’ll laugh at the cockiness of this new parent. But for now, shush. Let me have this one.
-from balmy Livermore, CA