Open letter to unencumbered business travelers

i-9dc84d4d9156dccb30d5f62466b4219a-swblocks.jpgDear asshat,

When you are only carrying a small garment bag and attache case, and you encounter a mother struggling into the airport parking deck elevator with a toddler in hand, giant carseat over one shoulder, suitcase rolling behind and attache case over the other shoulder, the correct thing to do is NOT to say: "Boy, you sure don't believe in traveling light." and then get off the elevator, striding toward the shuttle bus stop with nary a backward glance. The correct thing to do is say "Would you like a little help with your load?" and then help her carry something to the bus stop. It wouldn't have cost you more than a few seconds, but it would have saved the mother's shoulder two days of achiness.

So glad you are not my husband.


Dear Nice Guy,

Thanks so much for helping me get the carseat on and off the shuttle bus. You made my day.


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What a butthole! My husband recently traveled alone with our son and stroller and carseat and was helped out by male business travelers, like your Mr. Nice Guy.

He was criticized and complained about (why do we always get the baby? why didn't he get a seat for his baby-- so inconsiderate. we're going to be miserable thanks to him...) in Dutch by two seatmates. They didn't consider that he might be Dutch, and he got his revenge by wishing them good travels in Dutch at the end of the flight.

My sister lives on the west coast but our family and her in-laws are all on the opposite side of the country (practically). She often travels with 2 kids, 2 carseats, 2 kid suitcases (carry-ons with toys), her own small carry-on, a lightweight stroller, and the largest suitcase I've ever seen. Of course, only the suitcase gets checked at the ticket counter - the car seats and stroller are gate-checked. When she's not traveling with her husband, before she gets to the airport, she orders up a porter to help her get from the rental car return counter (or the ticket counter) to the gate. She learned through past experiences like yours that the porter is worth every single dollar.

Daggone it, if only you'd heed some simple time-tested frequent traveler tips. Try this: next time you are about to travel, lay out everything on your bed you are planning to take, then look it over. Ask yourself, do I really need to take a toddler with me this time? And if I do, is it absolutely necessary that she have a carseat? Would an alternative, more flexible and lighter arrangement work, something like bungee cords that could easily fit into your purse once you've arrived at your destination? Once you start thinking outside the box like this, your travels will be much less filled with travail.

Actually, it is funny how you are mentioning this when I listened to a Mannerscast podcast today where this exact sort of scenario is discussed. Episode 37.

I can mildly sympathize, having air-traveled with an 8 month old, but I had a child-less sister accompanying me to help. I caused other troubles by being severly allergic to their planned snack - so severe they couldn't serve it. Why didn't I mention it before I got on the flight? Because who would think they would serve shellfish on a flight?

The wine I've had this evening is now clouding other coherent thoughts, so I'll leave it there.

Next time you travel with toddler et al., immediately upon entering the terminal look for a skycap/personal assistant, usually lolling around near the entrance or sprawled out on a nearby chair, though possibly near the boarding pass machine. Ask for help and be prepared to give a $5 tip. This lady or gentleman will help you to the check-in machine or luggage check counter,through security, and all the way to the gate. Some airports (such as Charlotte NC) have the helpful people dressed in red sport coats. In your particular case there probably were such people around once you got into the terminal proper and near the counter or main entrance. Be prepared in advance with $1's and $5's in your pocket. If confronted with a jerk on the elevator rudely commenting on your load, you also might smile and ask for help.

I'll ask the obvious question: is there any weirdness with being offered help when a single woman is traveling alone with a small child? Any concern that offerer will take opportunity to grab purse or worse? Maybe I just come from a particularly hostile part of the country (well, I know I do), but ...

As always I applaud the efforts of parents traveling singly with children! I've been there many times and I know how difficult it can be.

After a trip last week all by myself with only a carry-on bag, experiencing the wonders of traveling alone and lightly, I found myself missing traveling with my daughter or my family. Aside from carrying all the necessary crap, I felt lonely and I keenly felt the absence of my daughter's wonder at the airport, or the airplane, or whatever. Traveling without my family was more relaxing, but much less fun.

Once I was traveling with my then 8 month old daughter from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt airport by train. Normally there was no problem in finding a seat even if you have not reserved a seat but that particular day my stars were not so good and train was packed with commutators. Can you imagine, I carried my baby on my hand for 2 hours of travel standing in the open space between the seats and not a single gentleman/woman got up from his seat to offer me to sit down? I was shocked and surprised.

By anonymous (not verified) on 17 Aug 2009 #permalink

Once when travelling around the world with the kiddies, and despite being overburdened with loads of crap while juggling a young baby and a 2 y.o., it was me who helped a brand new mum flying for the first time with her very young newborn (to the extent of giving her a t-shirt when the newborn projectile vomited, which always happens just when you least want it). Everyone else in the plane frowned and tut-tutted. It's stressful enough without the waves of disapproval!

By physicschic (not verified) on 18 Aug 2009 #permalink

When the TSA was first created and they started being super obnoxious my mother witnessed the following standing in line to go through the metal detector:

A businesswoman with a tiny infant was trying to get through the metal detector and the TSA was giving her a very hard time about the baby carrier and her shoes. The baby was small enough to need both hands to hold and there was no where to put it (the carrier had already gone through the Xray). Finally the woman turned to the man standing in line behind her and said "Here", handed him the baby and took off her shoes. The man froze but didn't drop the baby. Sometimes you just have to hope that people will do the right thing when you push them.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 18 Aug 2009 #permalink

If you are a resident of California, rejoice, because the Supreme Court let stand a decision in the 9th Circuit finding that SB 1 (California's Financial Information Privacy Act) was not preempted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In plain English, this means that