A SHARP LIFE: Flying the not so friendly skies

In January our family participated in one of the American family’s time-honored traditions – we went on vacation. Not only did we go on vacation, we decided to really go for the gold, so our crew headed to Disney World. I tend to believe that one of the keys to success is to know who you are and what you excel at, which is why this column focuses on humor, not advice. But over the course of the next month, while many of you are busy planning your trips to Disney I will perform a public service and dispense as much advice for your trip to “the happiest place on earth” as you can handle.

Before you can go to Disney, of course, you have to travel, and for many of us that means airplanes. I have good friends who are pilots, and out of respect for them I will try to temper what I am about to say so that I don’t come across as dramatic. THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY HATES PUPPIES, AND APPLE PIE AND IS PROBABLY THE ANTICHRIST SPOKEN OF IN BIBLICAL PROPHECY. You should have seen that sentence before I moderated my feelings. Bear in mind this is just one man’s opinion.

Our flight to Orlando was tremendous fun, and by tremendous fun I mean I almost made a do-not-fly list, and my wife was nearly in tears by the time the plane took off. Ironically, the kids, all of whom were making their first flights, caused very little drama. The airline, however, was a different story.

Between the time we purchased tickets and the day of the flight, the airline changed the type of plane we were flying. With this change they took our six seats that we booked together and spread them throughout the plane. We approached the gate agent about the issue of four small children, flying for the first time, spread throughout the plane separated from their parents. His response amounted to, “Nothing I can do,” which I think translated to, “I’m not on this flight so who cares.” He was actually more helpful than the other agent who forced us to check our carry-on bags, and who tried to take the bags before we could put tags on them. It was at this point that I almost made the do-not-fly list. Thankfully our fellow passengers were far more helpful, and some very kind people rearranged their place on the airplane so our family could be together. I suspect they were all terrified at what could happen on a two-and-a-half-hour flight with four kids six and under sitting by themselves, but kindness is kindness.

Really it was just one airline, and our problems only occurred in one airport, so maybe I am being a little hard on the airline industry. We are even thinking of going to Disney again. As soon as the TSA clears me to fly again.