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A 12 Hour Flight with a Toddler? Please, No Thank You!

plane2Why does this always seem to happen to my family? I came home from work expecting everything to happen just like it always happens on Thursday nights without any complications.

Addie and Vivi were supposed to eat dinner at 5 p.m. sharp so that Addie could make it to gymnastics on time. I was supposed to be home from work at about 5:10 p.m. so I could get some gym clothes on and take Vivi to the Jungle Club while Casey runs Addie to gymnastics.

None of that happened as it was supposed to happen. I didn’t make it home until about 5:45 p.m. Usually when I’m late on gymnastics day I get a call from a frazzled and panicked Casey wondering why I haven’t made it home yet. This time I didn’t get a call, which should have been the first sign that something was wrong.

Addie and Vivi didn’t eat dinner at home at 5 p.m. and I didn’t have a Vivi to take to the Jungle Club, because nobody was home when I got home.

Casey and Vivi showed up at home at about 6:15 p.m. Casey looked like her eyes were puffy and like she had been crying for hours, but I had no idea why she would be sad. Vivi was her usual joyful self and she gave me a big “my daddd-eeey” when she first saw me.

Casey slumped down on the couch and then in a shaky voice she told me that Delta had canceled Addie’s, Vivi’s, and her flights for the next morning.

And then I understood.

Addie and Vivi were supposed to be flower girls in Utah over the weekend for a family that we grew very close to while we lived in Salt Lake City. This family used to take care of Addie pretty regularly, and not just as babysitters. They used to call and beg us to drop Addie off to spend the night when she was a toddler. They loved taking care of Addie and they’ve treated her like she’s a part of their family. They even tried to find me a job in Utah so we could move back to Utah when I was done with law school. Being a flower girl was important to us, that family, and especially to Addie.

Several months ago Casey bought plane tickets for a direct flight from Indianapolis to Salt Lake City  so they could attend the wedding. Delta is the only airline that provides direct flights from Indy to SLC, but we rarely use Delta because the tickets tend to cost more money and something usually goes wrong which tosses the positives of a direct flight aspect out the window. Anyway, Casey decided to pay the extra money for the direct flight with Delta so she could take Vivi out to Utah with her and then she’d stay in Utah an extra week to spend time with family. Using a direct flight would reduce the amount of time Vivi would be on the plane and it would make the flight bearable for Casey. After her last solo trip with Vivi, she didn’t think she could handle a layover with Vivi as the solo parent.

Everything was going to workout fine until Delta inexplicably canceled that direct flight and then initially rebooked Casey and Vivi on a different airline and did nothing for Addie (Delta later explained that the flight was canceled due to weather in some part of the country at some time in history — I asked the Delta rep if Delta refers to that little strategy as the butterfly effect but they weren’t amused). Once Delta realized Addie was only an 8 year-old child and couldn’t fly on her own, Delta rebooked Casey, Addie, and Vivi for a flight that left Indy at almost an identical time as their canceled flight, but made a stop in Atlanta followed by a very long layover and then a long flight from Atlanta to SLC. Their new flight wasn’t scheduled to get to Utah until about 8 p.m. That made for 12 solid hours of Casey being stuck on a plane or in an airport with a toddler and an 8 year-0ld.

I’m all for flying with toddlers on airplanes, but that kind of a flight schedule is ridiculous. Vivi would end up on a plane for about 8 hours out of the day. Thinking about that possibility left Casey sobbing on our couch in panic mode.

I’m sure Casey could have taken Vivi on that plane through Atlanta and they would have been okay, but watching her cry in panic at the prospect of being stuck on a plane with a toddler on her lap for that amount of time just wasn’t worth it. In the end we spent three to four hours working with Delta (and by working I mean dealing with being hung-up on, on hold, being laughed at, and escalating the issue) to get Casey’s return flight to match up with Addie’s return flight and Vivi stayed here in Indy with me.

Read more about my family on Moosh in Indy or follow me on Twitter!

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10 Things I’ve Learned From My Toddler

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