My experience flying with 4 Kids

Want to read my complaint letter first?

“Dear United Airlines,

I traveled with my four children ages 7, 5, 3, and 1, using United. Our flight from Dallas to Houston IAH (10/14/18) was delayed 2 hours due to a storm–this is understandable. However, when we reached our destination, instead of a customer service representative meeting us at the gate (as the captain said there would be, we had to find our way to the customer service desk and wait in line for hours. Our children were tired and crying, everyone in line was yelling, and what did we get for all that waiting? A discount at a hotel with sticky floors and roaches, and a flight for the next day. We shuttled our four exhausted children to the disgusting hotel, woke up in the morning and returned to the airport, praying to be home in our own beds that night. But, thanks to United, that was not to be so. Our airplane sat on the tarmac for two hours because there was a line of planes waiting for take off–sounds like United doesn’t know how to organize itself very well? Maybe if they had to practice holding a lap infant in a cramped airplane seat for two hours without moving plus two hours in the air, whoever does the scheduling would get things right. As things were, we knew we would be late so we tried calling customer service to see if they could go ahead and change our connecting flight (which we were doomed to miss) to a later time. Alas, the man in customer service could not understand this request. We asked the stewardesses to contact the connecting flight to let them know we were going to be cutting it close–oh don’t worry, they said, you’ll make it. So as soon as the plane landed, we literally ran, with all four children, to the other terminal where our flight had just closed the doors. We desperately banged on the doors, begging them to let us on the plane, but the attendant said “sorry you couldn’t get here on time” as our children wept. So we found ourselves in another customer service line, where we were given another later flight and another apology.”

I ran out of characters so that was as long as my complaint was online. What have I learned from this experience? It will be difficult flying with children no matter how well-behaved they are (and mine were great!) because

  1. airports are busy places with people rushing around everywhere, not paying attention to little ones
  2. airplanes are small, cramped, and boring
  3. flights get delayed, layovers happen
  4. kids require bringing lots of gear (for our family of 6, we only carried 2 bags and 2 backpacks–pretty minimal but it felt like a lot of stuff)

I don’t fly often so I’m not sure if all airlines are as bad as United, but the whole ordeal would have been a little better if we had had just an ounce of customer service–like if they had booked a hotel for us, or not made us pay for it, or given us food vouchers so the kids could have a snack (they did this at the end, when we were about to lose it–but they couldn’t do that when we were made to stay overnight??).

Next time, we drive or we stay home!

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