The Friendly Skies?

Being a “Stay-At-Home” parent, my need to hop on an airplane is thankfully limited to the occasional weekend getaway or as was the case last week, the family “Spring Break” trip. My wife does a fair amount of business travel and is someone I would consider a “veteran” of knowing the proper protocol when attempting to fly through the air in a pressurized tube going five hundred mile per hour!

Knowing such things as…

What time do we need to get to the airport.

Our rule of thumb for family trips is two hours. Plenty of time to drop off everyone at the terminal and park the car and begin the fun “check-in” process! The night before our flight I did check in on-line and print our boarding passes, which helped speed the process along.

How many bags?

These days, you also need to know the amount of bags that you are planning to check, since the airlines are now charging for each checked bag and in my opinion, won’t be long before they charge for every single item packed in those bags! (Sure, you laugh now, but just wait!)

Our family of five did pretty good in that area, we managed to condense everything down to four bags to be checked, with one of them being my son’s golf clubs. We also planned to have four small carry-on bags, with room to bring home souvenirs.

Getting through security.

This can take much longer when traveling when traveling with the family. Showing ID’s, taking off belts and shoes, making sure each kid hasn’t decided at the last minute to throw some “banned” item into his or her carry-on! In Minneapolis the process went very smooth, mainly because we had the advantage of leaving out of a smaller, more convenient terminal. Our airline departed from the “Humphrey” Terminal, which used to be mainly used by charter airlines, but in recent years has been rebuilt and now is home to several regularly scheduled airlines. It makes it great since the terminal is less congested, parking is easier and as I mentioned, getting through security is a more pleasant experience. Unlike the Orlando airport, which due to the heavy amount of “vacation” travelers, had long lines waiting at it’s security check points.

As for the actual plane rides…

On our flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta (we had a two hour layover there), we were seated towards the “back of the bus”, as our location on the plane is commonly referred as. The plane had three seats on one side of the aisle and two on the other. We had the whole row, with my wife and daughter on one side and me and the boys on the other. The kids were kept busy with their electronic devices (there was free wi-fi) and my oldest listened to satellite radio. I was doing some reading and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my complimentary bag of pretzels and my “shot glass” size of pop when the fun started!

I was reminded that we were on a flight with a lot of spring break families, of which we were pretty much surrounded by!

Families with small children.

Families with crying children.

A couple with very loud crying children, which I can totally sympathize with since our oldest was once a VERY coliky baby and didn’t care very much to be confined to an aircraft!

There was a very heroric grandmother who did her best to control her grandkids in the row behind me, with no help from the kid’s parents! I could also imagine the sales pitch that was given to ‘ol grammy by the parents…”come to Florida with us, we’d love to have you! By the way, would you mind watching the kids?”

There was the boy who was put “in charge” of walking his younger brother up and down the aisle for what seemed like a couple of thousand times. Of course this occurred while the kid’s father played solitaire on his laptop computer! Dispite me being bumped on pretty much every trip up the aisle, it did manage to help keep the child quiet since he let the plane know his displeasure whenever he was required to sit down!

There are probably people who would have become fairly upset if they were required to go through that experience for a couple of hours. Having been a long time SAHD and a recent blogger about my experiences, I just sat back and laughed! In fact, as one who is pretty much on the lookout for topics to write about, the character, “Kenny Bania” from the TV show, “Seinfeld” popped into my mind! Remember he was the one who whenever he saw great comedic material would say, “This is gold, Jerry, GOLD!”

This was an opportunity to mine for some gold!

Kenny Bania

Kenny Bania

We made it to Orlando, enjoyed our time there and then it was time for the trip home…

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, due to thunderstorms in Atlanta, we were delayed leaving Orlando by three hours. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if we weren’t trying to catch a connecting flight to Minneapolis. The thought of spending the night in Atlanta and trying to get five people home the next day on over booked flights wasn’t too appealing!

But thankfully, the plane that was to take us to Minneapolis had also been delayed getting into Atlanta, which meant we were going to get home that night, although, very late or early in the morning!

But it was also once last chance to mine for comedic material!

As I mentioned, it was late.

Everyone boarding the plane had experienced a delay and were anxious to get going! That included the flight crew too, who were doing their best to get the plane boarded quickly, so we could be on our way.

Then it happened…

The “capper” to a perfect day!

As Kenny Bania would say, “This is gold, Mike, gold!”

A gentleman, who strongly resembled an older version of the character, “Pee-Wee” from the old “Porky’s” movies was boarding with his wife and two kids.

Pee Wee

Pee Wee

Here was the problem…

The gentleman and his family had carry-on bags that were so big and so stuffed full that I am convinced the whole plane could have used them as flotation devices in the “unlikey” event of a water landing, which at that point, after the day we had experienced, didn’t seemed too far fetched!

So Pee Wee, I mean, the gentleman was DETERMINED to make sure he was going to get his oversized load into one of the overhead bins and not be forced to check the bag. It was like the scene from the movie, “Meet The Parents”, where Greg Focker was angry and determined to get his carry-on into the overhead bin! As with the moive, it was very late for us and tempers were kind of on short side! The entire boarding process was now grounded to a halt and a gentleman flight attendant making the announcement over the intercom (in a vain attempt to speed the process) of the famous line from the OJ Simpson trial, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”, wasn’t helping the situation!

It was funny the first two times, but by the fourth, it was time for the Flight Attendant to get serious.


Pee Wee was just getting more angry and more determined to prove his point that it is possible to carry half of your family’s belongs onto an airplane!


As we had done the better part of the day, we waited!

The gentleman, with great pride, finally got his bag stored!

It ONLY delayed us by a mere twenty minutes, which oddly, didn’t seem to bother me since I was enjoying watching the whole thing play out in front of me!

We finally took off and I was fortunate enough that while most of the plane slept I was able to enjoy Pee Wee’s life story recounted to a COMPLETE stranger over the next two hours!

But he wasn’t done!

Despite kind offers of assistance from others on plane and now faced with the burden of carrying a sleeping child off of the plane, in addition to his mega carry-on’s, our hero declined the help, strapped on his “fanny pack” and proceeded to slow the deboarding process down by displaying just as much desire and passion to do it himself as he had shown a couple of hours before!

And the thought of letting others go ahead him never crossed his mind since at that very moment, he was “Super Dad”!

Able to carry large loads and children in a single bound!

And even though it was very late and my own family was tired and anxious, I was still able to manage a smile and think of good ‘ol Kenny Bania…

“This is gold, Jerry, GOLD!”