Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst plane travel memory

Of all my air travel experiences one moment stand out as one of those moments that you never ever want to relive, one of those situations you think back to and swear never to get into again. Because I have traveled roughly 1/3 of my flights, train journeys and even ferry journeys with Zoe on my own, without the help from Mark, I feel I got most of the single mom organization down. Plus, I have mastered a special look that just hints at a bit of helplessness, without seeming too pathetic, which always works in attracting a helping hand. For example from the mother who helped me assemble my stroller one late night in an airport when everyone else had left and I literally would not have been able to do it with my 4 month old strapped to my chest. Or for example from a woman who resolutely told me not to worry about getting my stroller out the train with 4 steep steps because her husband was going to help me. But my worst travel memory is not one of these situations where I got immediate help. It is all but.

Last summer I was traveling from Stockholm to Copenhagen for a last weekend with my parents before going back to California and although I could probably just have carried 4 months old Zoe in the carrier, I had decided to bring the (fairly big but collapsable) stroller. I guess this came down to my inexperience with carriers and that I hadn't discovered the Beco Gemini yet. I arrived in Stockholm airport ready to buy my plastic bag for 40 Skr (which SAS charge according to their website) for the stroller, put it in and get on my marry way through security. The queue for dropping off luggage turned out to be 70 yards long, possibly because this was a Friday, possibly because they were short on staff. I go in line like everybody else, knowing very well that my flight will leave before I would be half way through the queue. But I have no choice. 10 minutes in a checkin woman comes over and picks me and couple of other people with kids out of the queue and take us over to another counter. She checks me in but she does not have any plastic bags for the stroller and therefore can not check that in. I have to go to the business class queue and get a plastic bag. I go back (this is not an insignificant walk, back and forth) and queue for the business class counter. When I get to the front this lady proclaims that she is out of plastic bags but I can go to the 'special luggage' counter and get one. I walk over there (remember, I still have Zoe on my chest and a bag on the stroller which I am pushing) and see yet another 10 person queue. Having now less than 40 minutes before my flight I skip to the front and ask for a plastic bag, which the guy reluctantly gives me, stating that since his card reader is out of order he cannot charge me. I frantically start taking the stroller apart, first the top, then collapsing the chassis, then taking off the wheels but for some reason the parts won't fit in the plastic bag. The chassis goes in and the wheels but it isn't big enough for the bassinet part. I try to take it out and reverse the packing order but to no avail.

This is the moment I start crying. I am going to miss my plane and I won't see my parents for 6 months. What is more sad is that they won't see Zoe for 6 months. I am trying not to hit Zoe's little head with the stroller parts, which makes it really difficult to shift things around in the bag but I must get it in there. I am sitting on the floor in front of the 'special baggage' checkin with 20 people staring at me trying to get a stroller into a plastic bag. In between sobbing and cursing I am trying to keep Zoe calm by talking softly to her. "It will all be okay, sweetypie". Finally, a British guy comes to my rescue. "Let me help you out", he says "I have a baby of my own at home". And then the stroller parts gets packed and the stroller bag checked in and I venture through security and catch my flight. As the last person entering the plane.

And then I stopped traveling with strollers except for very small light ones.

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