Chaos vs Calm | Traveling Back to British Columbia with a Baby

© Jaime Lauren Photography_041

I promised I’d write a blog post about why I loved flying with Alaska Airlines out of Oakland Airport compared to flying with United out of San Francisco, and then I returned home and Will was sent to Japan on business for 3 weeks.  Needless to say, blogging took a major backseat while I hunkered down and focused on keeping Lauren and I rested, well-fed, and sane.  I think she and I did pretty well together, but it sure is nice to have Will back home.

Also, I thought I’d spruce up a non-photo related post with some shots of my favourite spot back home (Kal Park in Vernon, where Will and I got married five years ago).  My family looked after Lauren one morning so I could have some quiet time out at the park and it was glorious.  Taking a dip in Kalamalka Lake first thing in the morning on a quiet summer’s day is one of my favourite indulgences, and I love that these photos represent my experience so perfectly.

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All right, now back to business.

Lauren and I have already had our fair share of little adventures together, specifically with flying, which reminds me of how my mom always said that I was her little buddy when I was a baby and we used to fly across the country together.  That’s how it feels when Lauren and I fly…she’s my little buddy, and I love it.  I loved the experience even more when flying out of Oakland with Alaska Airlines and here are my top three reasons why:

  • From the moment I stepped into OAK pushing a luggage cart (piled high with a massive suitcase, hockey bag containing carseat paraphernalia, small backpack/diaper bag, camera bag, and lunch bag with Lauren’s food) and pulling Lauren in a stroller, airport staff hurried to my side to help lift bags, help with luggage tags, and usher me through the baggage drop process smoothly and expediently.  Usually by the time I leave the baggage-drop area I’ve got a scowl on my face and I’m cringing with dread as I make my way to the security line with a stroller and all our stuff.  I finished up with the bags wearing a smile and feeling positively light–a sensation which must be partially attributed to the fact that I was now unencumbered by three-quarters of our luggage.
  • OAK has a security line AND conveyor belt just for families, whereas SFO has a security line for families, but then families share a conveyor belt with everyone else which backs up essentially everyone else who move much faster and have less stuff than parents with young ones.  The relief I experienced knowing that I wasn’t going to feel pressured to hurry through the security process was monumental.  Here’s how our things are lined up on the conveyor belt to go through the scanner:  Bin with shoes, cardigan, passports, and small backpack/Bin with Macbook Air/Bin with camera bag/Bin with liquids and with Lauren’s lunch bag containing food and drinks/Stroller (I put Lauren down to sit in a fifth bin while I collapse the stroller and heave it onto the conveyor).  Doing all this while other families wrangle their children and belongings makes me feel so much better than if I’m holding up a stream of annoyed travellers that  just want to hurry to their gate.
  • Alaska Airlines still offers priority boarding to those traveling with young children.  WAKE UP UNITED!!!  No one wants to have the line held up because you’re trying to collapse a stroller on the jetway and keep your crawling, curious baby from melting down because she can’t go exploring at her leisure.  All while trying to keep track of your boarding passes, passport, lunch bag, camera bag, and diaper bag of course.  Oh right, and then carry all of this to your seat with a squirming little monkey who just wants to bust free from the confines of your arms.  For those of you who are wondering why I don’t use a carrier in the airport, it’s because the stroller enables me to go to the restroom more easily, feed her without mess, have a break from being joined at the hip all day, and largely, because I need a massive under-carriage basket that can hold my camera bag/purse–that gear is HEAVY.  Anyway, I was delighted to find that Alaska offers pre-boarding for those with little ones and the airline staff were flabbergasted to hear the United has done away with this courtesy.

As we all know, air travel has gotten ridiculously tedious over the past decade, but the intensity is kicked up to a ludicrous level when flying with a baby.  Anything the airlines or airports can do to streamline some of these processes can make a world of difference to a parents and their little ones.  No one likes to sit near a baby having a meltdown, but I wonder how many fewer meltdowns would occur if the journey didn’t start with parents being forced to endure the endless constraints imposed upon them on airports and by airlines.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  Less crying babies on planes?  Less harried parents in airports?  In Seattle on this trip, I saw an exhausted mother of 3 LOSE IT on some irritated traveler who tripped on her son and muttered, ‘stupid kid’.  Granted the kids was running around the terminal, but they’d also been there overnight.  Still, no fun for anyone.  Sigh…

So if your nerves are frayed or if you’re dreading your next flying experience, with or without little ones, here’s one last image to bring you back to a place of serenity.  Peace.

© Jaime Lauren Photography_052

Film – Fuji 400H | Scans by Photovision