Happy travel

by S&M

This post mentions the famous (I think) free 3-day Reykjavik layover from Iceland air. It got me thinking about other possible things to do on layovers, like the Air and Space Museum right next to Dulles. Then I started reminiscing about past layover “wins”.

Flying between Ethiopia and Germany, I had my flights rearranged in Entebbe as Clinton (and AF 1) delayed our departure. When I got to Rome, I had an 8 hr layover, and didn’t want to hang out in any more airport space. I rode the subway into the city, not sure where I was going, but happy to be out of the airport (I was 32, single, and childfree). As I came up from the station, most of the crowd seemed to be going in one direction. I saw no reason to swim against the tide. I continued to move along for a couple of blocks before the people ahead of me handed over their bags for someone to search. The whole crowd seemed to be lining up. Huh? Random security checks on the sidewalk? I looked around and realized we were at the gates of the Vatican. I went on in, no ticket required, and found myself standing in St Peter’s Square, just outside the Basillica, with hundreds if not thousands of people. What now? The pope? I was joking to myself, but sure enough, the crowd at one end parted, cheers went up, and there was the famous Popemobile, with the pontiff smiling and waving as he drove through the crowd. He drove around a bit before he gave a brief welcome and blessing and I think that was it. It was a bit of a surreal experience.

Another time, I knew in advance that my son and I would have an 11-hr layover after flying across the Pacific. We had nearly missed our outbound flight in LAX, so I was fine with the wait, but with a 3 year old? We took a cab to the beach, played in the surf, slept in the sun, ate in a cafe, and were refreshed when our redeye began.

So how ’bout it? Do you have any good layover stories, intentional or not?

Layovers Don’t Have to Suck: Escape the Airport and Explore


107 thoughts on “Happy travel

  1. That Iceland layover idea is pretty interesting. We are contemplating London/Paris with the kids next year, and a stop over in Iceland on the way there could be fun. Iceland is high on my list.

  2. I related this once before it think but once after missing our Chicago-Rome nonstop we were rebooked Chicago-Heathrow-Rome and we’d have ~5 hours in London. This was early 90s. So we took the tube a few stops toward London, got off at a stop someone in the airport had recommended. It was a lovely neighborhood. We bought some food made ourselves a picnic lunch in a small park with flowers in bloom (it was May). And then on the flight to Rome we flew right over the Vatican since we were flying into the nearer Ciampino and so DW (Catholic) could see it for the first time.

  3. I just got an email from Jet Blue – they are now partnered with Icelandair for reward points. Not sure what that will mean.

    We are flying Icelandair to Norway on our trip next month, but since I have been to Iceland a number of times, we are not taking a break on the way.

  4. When I flew to Europe for my college junior year abroad I had something like 10 hours in Paris before my train to Madrid. I got to the Austerlitz train station fine and had my duffel bag and backpack full of all the things I’d brought with me for a year. I did not speak any French at the time.

    I found some coin operated lockers and one that was big enough for both my bags had a sticker on it reading “2ff par jour” which I translated as “2 francs, roughly 40 cents US, per HOUR” (jour looks like hour and hora is how you say hour in Spanish, giving me confirmation). And that was going to be far too much for my budget. But I wasn’t going to sit around the train station all day, so I stuffed all my things in, shut the door, paid the 2ff and wandered off. About an hour later I came back and my locker was still locked, so I went for a walk in a different direction for a while. And kept doing this until about an hour before my departure time. After I got on the train I started talking to some people who gave me the correct translation. If only I’d known!

  5. As an aside, Fred, isn’t it a huge relief that Nick Tahoe’s will be returning to the Lilac Festival next week?

  6. I remember landing in Iceland on a brief layover on my family’s trip to Germany when I was 11. I would like to see it some day.

    On a visit when my mom was sick, Mr WCE flew back with the twins through San Diego and due to a flight change, I left ~6 hours later with DS1 and Baby WCE. Mr WCE decided to ride the bus from the San Diego airport to the Midway carrier with the twins and DS1 and I took the train to the aquarium in Chicago.

    Thanks to whomever commented that the Air and Space museum is near Dulles. Good to know for future reference.

  7. The Iceland Air layover can be up to a full week. DH and DS are taking the full week on the way back from the London/Paris trip that we’re all taking this summer. DH is way more excited about Iceland than he is about London and Paris; he hates big cities, and agreed to the city-centric nature of our vacation only because that is how I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday.

  8. The only good layover I had was in Tokyo – my singing group was on our way back from Singapore going to Hawaii, and there was a big rainstorm. We went into the terminal and had really awesome food. The not-so-great part was that they left all our luggage out in the rain, so all my clothes were wet when I took them off the plane in HI.

  9. Fred, if that was your worst language mishap of the year, you got off easy. Smart of you not to try to do it all in London, so you could enjoy the time you did have.

  10. Most of the time the layovers I’ve had are not that long and the few I have had were not when/where you’d want them to be. One was in the Amsterdam airport from 2 am – 7 am. I was by myself and 19 years old; not quite ready to explore a town at that hour. The other was due to a snowstorm delay in December at Heathrow. We were the last flight to land before the airport was closed. I was travelling from Houston to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I had taken a coat, but not one to go out in blowing snowstorm!

  11. I’ve never had a layover that had enough time to leave the airport.

    The Iceland air free layover had been an incredible boon to Iceland’s tourism.

  12. I have so many fond memories of doing this.

    When I was in my first post-college job, I lived in CT and traveled a lot to the West Coast. I purposely would book long layovers in Chicago or Minneapolis to visit friends on the way there & back. Sometimes I would do a weekend layover, other times just a few hours. Friends would come out to the airport for lunch/a drink etc. This was all much, much easier BITD before 9/11 when security lines were short & you didn’t need a boarding pass to get through. I used to visit people when they had layovers at O’Hare, but I haven’t done that in years because it is such a PITA now.

    One time, I flew into O’Hare at about 11am from Seattle, took a cab down to Wrigley, met up with a friend, scalped tickets, watched Sammy Sosa hit some massive homers in the home run chase of the steroid era, went to a few taverns, and then took a cab back to O’Hare for the Sunday night 8pm flight back to Hartford. I’m pretty sure I just checked my bags and put my laptop in a locker at O’Hare.

    When I was working/living in Europe, I did this too. I spent nice days in Amsterdam, Brussels, and London (a couple times) flying in early AM and flying out in the evening. It’s so easy there because the cities are more compact & public transit is better (generally speaking).

  13. Ivy, that’s what I’m talking about! Sounds like you did it with style.

    Austin, that would have been a walk on the wild side. I don’t recall hidin them intentionally, but a few weeks ago one of the mishaps I had when I was a few years older than you were then came up in conversation. That memory led to another and another; but even all these years later, my mother was frightened.

  14. BTW, in both stories in the original post, I had checked luggage all the way through, unlike my usual practice these days.

    I should explore possibilities for this sort of thing on our little travels. Somewhere I’ve heard that after 4 hrs, US airlines charge you for a stop, instead of a free layover.

  15. Twelve years ago, Alaska Airlines allowed layovers up to 2 weeks when booking a ticket with frequent flier miles. We had a ~10 day layover in Anchorage en route to Nome, where we spent 2 days before flying back home. Not sure what current rules are or for different airlines/ticket types.

  16. BITD, it was easy to book long layovers, and it was also easy to make the spontaneous decision to take a later flight for your second leg. I’m not 100% sure that I planned that Cubs game stopover – I think my friend suggested it, there was room on the late flight, and it all just came together spontaneously.

    Back then (late 90’s) was also when it was much cheaper to book a Saturday night stayover. My company at the time would let you take the difference between a Friday evening/Saturday morning flight and a Sunday flight and spend it on hotel/food in your business trip destination. The difference was often $500 or more. I got a lot of mileage out of that policy in my early 20’s. That’s how I got to spend weekends in some cool places for free. Friends could also fly out & crash in my free hotel room. And as long as I didn’t spend more than the amount of the Friday ticket, I could pay for everyone’s dinner.

    That seems less attractive at this stage in my life, but back then, it was really a nice perk & a lot of fun.

  17. CofC,

    Can I suggest a future post? “Describe your dream vacation.”

  18. “Somewhere I’ve heard that after 4 hrs, US airlines charge you for a stop, instead of a free layover.”

    I don’t believe that’s true. For our upcoming trip to HI, I was looking at leaving in the evening, flying to LA or Dallas, spending the night there and then flying the rest of the way the next morning to allow for a noonish arrival vs 830pm. This was the same price as leaving earlier in the day here and flying all the way through.

  19. wow, the Saturday night stay over. That is a real blast from the bast that I almost forgot about it, and I used it to stay in LA, San Fran etc. I forgot all about those weekends. My company would pay for the weekend in a hotel in LA if you didn’t take the flights back to NYC on Friday night and Monday morning. We could also keep the difference and use it for rental cars etc. I went to Universal studios, Laguna Beach and many other places all over southern Cal with my work friends. We were all under 25 and it was a lot of fun – plus very little money. The best part was that I used to hate cigarette smoke, and we used to fly TWA across country from JFK to LA. I was put int he smoking section because there were no other seats and it was nasty. I was so happy to be able to stay in CA for a month instead of flying back/forth to the east coast.

    We booked a layover in Auckland on the way to Sydney. We spent 4 nights in New Zealand, and then flew to Sydney. My only regret is that we didn’t have time to visit the South Island. We did spend a lot of time int he countryside of the North Island, but the south is supposed to be gorgeous.

  20. looking at leaving in the evening

    Right, so you’ll get to LA after the last flight has left for HI. Then you can stay overnight. But you can’t get to LA at 10am and spend the day and night and head back the following morning without making it a multi-city. Let me price it out….

  21. Yeah, I did the Saturday night stay over thing a bunch, too. Great chance to see friends in far-flung places when I lived in CA and traveled a lot. Typical itinerary could be:
    Monday 1pm LAX to here
    Friday 5pm here to Seattle or Philly
    Sunday Seattle to LAX
    Since my trip had a Saturday stayover the airlines priced it that way and it was cheaper for the company to fund that + food (couldn’t do lodging if we did the multi-city thing; no big deal I just crashed with friends) than to just have me go back to LA on Friday evening.

  22. Well, I stand corrected. It’s $200 cheaper to book multi city with a whole day and night stop in LA. I bet that varies quite a bit based on the time and demand. For example, if everyone wants to go to HI on a Friday and you are willing to stay in LA Friday the Saturday mid day flights are cheaper, etc.

  23. It’s interesting as back in the day flights Mon-Thursday would 4x the price of a Monday to Sunday flight. This was because no Saturday stay was typically a business traveler. They don’t do that any more. Back in the day, and for the same reason, one way tickets or multi city tickets used to be many multiples of a Monday-Sunday regular ticket. I wonder why they stopped doing that? I have to assume they found more ingenious ways of price discrimination.

  24. “I just got an email from Jet Blue – they are now partnered with Icelandair for reward points. Not sure what that will mean.”

    Perhaps that you can get Jet Blue points for your upcoming Icelandair flights?

  25. “Somewhere I’ve heard that after 4 hrs, US airlines charge you for a stop, instead of a free layover.”

    It was almost 3 years ago, but when we were planning an east coast trip, the cheapest way back from Boston included about a 10 hour stop in Seattle. We took an early morning flight from Boston, got to Seattle mid-morning, and left Seattle that evening.

    There were three families traveling together, so we rented a couple of cars and explored Seattle. It worked our really well.

  26. My friends in consulting did these fun layovers. My cousins worked for airlines and they saw a bunch of places as stopovers for flight crew. My dream vacation would be like the one Lark posted, a small group, interesting places. I manage a ton of day to day home logistics. A dream vacation would be one where I pay, pack my clothes and just show up in time for the trip.

  27. The vacation Lark posted looks very nice. I like the itinerary – other than the day around the capital I haven’t been to those places. It is priced fairly high, though. There are a wide range of price points available from local tour companies, and everyone speaks English well.

  28. Rhett for our route this is available:
    Toronto – Vancouver – Hawaii
    Lv Tor 1015pm arr Van ~midnite
    Lv Van 630pm next day arr Hawaii 940 pm
    18 hours in Vancouver, a beautiful place.
    There are shorter e.g. 12 hour layovers in Dallas, LA, Vancouver that allow arrival in HI around noon.

  29. I thought Mooshi might find this amusing:

    Sort of reminds me of the Kobayashi Maru.

  30. Given that there are no non-stop flights between here and Boston, we should really explore this and try to take advantage of layovers. Any good layover suggestions?

    One I’d like to explore is stopping in NYC to see a show. What would be a good way to do the last leg from NYC to Boston, or the first leg from Boston to NYC?

  31. What would be a good way to do the last leg from NYC to Boston

    You mean transportation wise? Acela is the easiest and most pleasant but it’s also the most expensive. Flying is cheaper but not as convenient, as the train takes you from the middle of Boston to the middle of NYC vs. airport to airport.

  32. Finn, the only non stop flights that I am aware of between Honolulu and NYC are United to Newark, or Hawaiian Air to JFK. I think Jet Blue might be a partner/code share with Hawaiian Air.

    If you fly United, you can make the Honolulu – Newark – Boston option, and get back on United to fly to Boston. You can do a similar move on Hawaiian/Jet Blue. One of the best options if you don’t care about a non stop would be to fly Delta because you could fly direct to JFK, and then just take shuttle flights from LGA to Boston when you’re ready to go to Boston. I think that is a good option if you’re staying for more than a few hours. If this is a short lay over, there are some problems getting to/from LGA due to a major rehabilitation of the airport. It can sometimes take longer to LGA than the entire flight process to Boston. Jet Blue, and United also run frequent flights out of JFK and Newark to Logan.

    The other option is that you book direct flights to JFK or Newark, and then stay in NYC for a day or two before heading to Boston. You can easily take the Acela or other trains from Penn Station to Boston without the hassle of airline security. One other warning though is that there have been MANY problems at Penn station in the last few months so Amtrak is finally taking care of rack work, and trains will be slightly delayed coming into the station.

  33. A few years ago, traveling with my mom, a toddler and a preschooler, we had a 30h layover in Reykjavik (on purpose). I had been to the city (which is not so close to the airport) and did not feel the need to go back with small people. We got in early afternoon, rented a car and drove to a farm in the country side. There was a crappy metal swingset outside, an amazing lamb dinner and the most spectacular display of northern lights that they’d had all year. We got up in the morning, partook of the cold fish and jam for breakfast then did a driving loop of a few hours to see the highlights before getting to the Blue Lagoon to swim for a few hours before our flight. It was great.

    As an aside- the rental car had a windshield with a network of fine wires in it, like many American cars have on their rear window. You could turn it on to defrost the windshield. Why don’t we have that here? I assume it must be illegal? I have spent so many hours scraping windshields in my life, I would love to have this on my car.

  34. When I was around 9, I flew through Denver as an unaccompanied minor. The connecting flight was cancelled. My mom reports getting a call from the flight attendants about the cancellation, and they asked her if she knew anyone who I could stay with overnight. She thought about it for a bit (had some distant friends in the city) and then said, “Nope. That’s why we pay the extra fees. This is your problem.” So, I was bundled up with 5 or 6 other kids (not necessarily on my flight, but stranded in the city). We were taken to the fanciest hotel I had ever seen (probably a Marriott or some such!). We got to order room service ($8 for a fruit plate – maybe the most expensive restaurant meal I had ever had) and dessert. Then we slept – 2-3 girls with some very lucky flight attendant. It was probably the highlight of my summer.

  35. Why don’t we have that here?

    We do, an S550 has an optional heated windshield.

  36. Yeah- but a Ford Fiesta has that on it’s rear window. Why can’t my cheap cars have it on their windshields?

  37. The Volvo XC90 and presumably the S90 also come with a heated windshield.

  38. Ada,

    Did the car in Iceland also have the same kind of wires through the front window that run through the back? My understanding is the front heating elements are different and more expensive as they need to be less obtrusive. But, I’m not totally sure.

  39. I would assume, in contrast to Iceland, people in the US who can afford Volvos and Mercedes are more likely to garage their cars?

    Anyway – I’m not sure I could tell if the wires were the different than the ones in back – they looked the same to me. I also think we drove a Toyota or something else unglamorous while we were there.

  40. Ada,

    You may be onto something with the garage idea. Also, Europeans like to have their cars built to their exact specifications. So, if they want no A/C no sun roof, cloth seats, but the fancy radio, heated seats, heated windshield and a big engine VW, or Ford or whomever will build them one exactly the way they want it. Americans prefer to have a choice of 4 colors and DX, LX and EX trim packages so the car can only come 12 different ways. If not enough people who want the EX package are willing to pay extra for the heated windshield then it’s not available, even if 20% of buyers would opt for it.

  41. The HAL nonstop to JFK is always going to be one of the first flights we look at for getting to Boston, or anywhere in the northeast. HAL flies to most of the places we like to go, and we’ve been happy with their service and their prices have been competitive. DW and DS took it last month, connecting to JetBlue to Logan.

    The HAL flight got in early, so JetBlue put them on an earlier flight. DS and DW were quite pleased with that.

    I think there was a free shuttle from Logan to a T station.

    On the return, they flew back to NYC, did a tour and saw a show, then I think they flew out of Newark to another stopover.

  42. Finn the point of the article I posted is to get you to use the to mentioned at the very end to plan the kind of itinerary you’re looking for. WCE commented with a website that will do the same.

  43. Americans prefer to have a choice of 4 colors and DX, LX and EX trim packages so the car can only come 12 different ways.

    I totally disagree. Americans would much prefer to get the exact features they want. However, Americans want to drive off the lot with a car that day, they don’t want to wait 2-3 months for one to be built. So we have accepted having to pay for extra features we don’t want in order to get the ones we do want in order to get a car immediately.

  44. However, Americans want to drive off the lot with a car that day, they don’t want to wait 2-3 months for one to be built.

    I agree, I just can’t figure out why that is. Is it because not having a car is a bigger inconvenience in the US than in say Germany? An American who has a car that dies can’t take the tram to work for 3 months while he waits for his car to be built.

  45. Translation request:

    “There are no shuttle transfers and room to store your luggage.”

    Does this mean there is no room to store your luggage, or does it mean there is room to store your luggage?

    I.e., is it, “There are no (shuttle transfers and room to store your luggage),” or is it, “There are (no shuttle transfers) and (room to store your luggage)?”

  46. Rhett, I would say that is a big part of the reason. When DW’s car was about to die in December, we couldn’t go without a car for two months, we needed a car immediately. Another part is our general impatience :)

  47. Finn, are you being serious? I can’t figure out where you quoted that from, but unless there is something in the context to indicate otherwise, it’s pretty clear to me that means there is no room to store your luggage. I think you deliberately make these things difficult.

  48. DD,

    My armchair diagnosis is either:

    A: Mild ASD which manifests in taking thing literally

    B. Excessive exposure to Amelia Bedilia as a toddler.

  49. I clicked on another link on the url Rhett posted:


    It is really not clear to me what is meant. This is a case in which an oxford comma, if appropriate, would really clarify things (or another way of looking at it is that the optional nature of the oxford comma leads to ambiguity). I.e., “There are no shuttle transfers, and room to store your luggage.”

    I don’t understand how you don’t see the ambiguity, especially after I used the parentheses to highlight it.

    The oxford comma was on my mind due to Ada’s earlier post:

    “A few years ago, traveling with my mom, a toddler and a preschooler, we had a 30h layover in Reykjavik (on purpose).”

    In this case, the oxford comma would’ve also clarified the sentence, but it’s much easier to figure out what she meant than what massport meant.

    What I was really hoping was that someone with experience with that shuttle would clarify. It was not a language critique; I just want to know if we can use the shuttle if we have luggage.

  50. Finn, since the description also states that the BRT line you’re looking at stops directly in front of each Logan terminal, I’m pretty sure what it means is that taking that from Logan to South Station to catch the Red Line requires no shuttle (as compared to, say, the Blue line that requires catching an airport shuttle bus to the station before catching the train), and has room for your luggage. But then you’re only to South Station and you’ve still got to connect to the Red Line, which certainly never had a luggage space back in the day. That never stopped me taking the T to Logan, mind you.

  51. The Silver Line is a public bus that goes directly to South Station where you can go right into the subway system. it is free, actually. No token required. It is not an airport operated shuttle. It also HAS plenty of room to store your luggage. The statement means, this is the best option. No shuttle. Room to store your luggage.

    As for picking up the car, absolutely I want to drive it out the next day. The pricing system also facilitates that. The salesman wants the sale today to make his numbers. He wants to move something off the lot, not bring it from another dealer or the factory. DH was told by the Mazda salesman that he would have to wait 3 months for the miata. he said, okay. a day later the manager called and said, I called in a favor. Pick it up Monday. He knew perfectly well that DH might get itchy feet. Or his wife might prevail on him to get a Camry. Or that his car (or he) might actually die in the interim and the sale would be lost. I called around, people didn’t return my call immediately, or said well, I have something close to what you want. Then when they called back and said, I could have gotten you that model, I said, well, the other guy had it on the lot.

  52. Thanks, Mémé .

    When I first read that sentence, that’s what I thought it meant, but I also saw how it could be read as DD read it, and thus was not sure what was meant.

    And I would not want DS to be counting on being able to take his luggage on that bus, only to find out when trying to board that the omission of a comma meant he had to find alternate transportation.

  53. Finn, reading it in context it’s pretty clear that it means there is room to store your luggage (the opposite of how it reads without the context).

    “The Silver Line SL1 is the most convenient option and your best connection to and from the Airport with drop-off and pick-up directly in front of each Logan Terminal. There are no shuttle transfers and room to store your luggage.”

    The first sentence makes it clear that the SL1 is good, so the second sentence is explaining why it is good, thus you read it in the most favorable way. This is basic middle school reading comprehension.

    I don’t see how an oxford comma is appropriate here because there is only one item before the “and”. It could be clearer if it said “and also room…” But again, in the full context, it’s very clear what it means.

  54. BITD, I remember that it was much more normal to go to a car dealership and custom order a car with exactly the desired options and color scheme. That may have been heavily influenced by our geography, but I don’t think the dealerships had a lot of cars on their lots back then. They’d typically have display and test drive cars, but not many beyond that. If you wanted to drive a car off the lot right then, the dealership might sell you their display or test drive model, or sometimes they’d have a car that had been ordered but not sold, e.g., because the buyer couldn’t come up with the cash or financing.

    I’m guessing that the business model for car sales has changed, with the factories now cranking out cars and shipping them to dealers to sell.

  55. The salesman wants the sale today to make his numbers.

    I always thought that when people order cars built to spec, they have are signing the same sales contract and putting down the same non-refundable deposit they put down if they are buying one on the lot, so you they can’t back out later. Is that not the case?

  56. But DD, as a totebagger, I am compelled to consider the worst case possibility, which in this case would be DS not being able to take his luggage on the bus, and having to find alternate transportation.

    So I mitigate against that, in part, by accounting for both readings of that sentence. The other mitigation is asking the totebaggery for a more definitive reading based on experience with the bus in question.

  57. DD @ 6:28. ITA. It’s a poorly written sentence, but does not require much analytical ability or high levels of logical reasoning to figure out what is meant. The fact that Finn rarely questions my typo-laden messages and seems to understand them well indicates that he does have the reasoning power.

  58. I’m not sure how “have are” and “you they” got in there.

  59. BITD again, I think some of the cars that were available to drive off the lot immediately had been ordered with deposits, and the buyers forfeited those deposits when they couldn’t come up with the cash or financing for the balance.

  60. Finn, why would they tell you something is the best option to/from the airport even though it doesn’t have room for your luggage?

  61. “I’m not sure how “have are” and “you they” got in there.”

    Could it be wordpress? I’ve been having some weirdness with the blog pages, e.g., ignoring some characters I type, or seeming to ignore them, then inserting them elsewhere.

  62. “why would they tell you something is the best option to/from the airport even though it doesn’t have room for your luggage?”

    Perhaps they want to encourage people to travel light?

  63. “I’m not sure how “have are” and “you they” got in there.”
    Happens to me all the time (as you may have noticed). I think it’s my phone’s predictive type.

  64. I typed on my laptop, so it wasn’t autocorrect or prediction. Very odd.

  65. I started to watch Big Lies, Little Lies. Quite entertaining and quite like I imagined it when I read the book. I was thinking to myself “boy, the families in my community sure look like that”.

  66. The latest airline PR fiasco is Delta threatening a passenger with jail and having his kids taken from him unless he put his toddler on his lap. Of course the airline mishandled this, but according to what I’ve read the passenger was initially in the wrong by insisting his younger kid could use the seat purchased in the name of his older kid, who had given up his seat to take an earlier flight. According to the rules (federal?) you cannot use a ticket issued under someone else’s name to travel. This makes sense, but this dad was upset because “common sense” should dictate that he could put his toddler in a seat he had purchased.

  67. I read the link, but I am still confused. did the kid have a purchased seat or not? Also is the kid 2 or 18 mos or 1? If he is two, he cannot ride on a lap. Also, it appears there are two carseats in one row, which is not allowed (regardless of age or what seats are purchased), as far as i have understood.

    I’m ready to bash the heartless airlines, but I wish the news organizations would put some reporting into this.

  68. I read that the family had 2 kids older kid plus 2 year old. Had purchased a ticket for the older one plus parents. Older kid ended up going on an earlier flight with different ticket. Family wanted to put 2 year old in older kid’s seat. Told Delta they were doing this at check-in. Flight attendants wouldn’t let them.

  69. The dad seems to have had the mistaken impression that he could claim the seat even though the passenger for whom it was purchased did not make that flight. The baby was supposed to be a lap baby and that seat was supposed to be vacant and available for another passenger. Why they let him get on the plane with a lap baby AND a car seat is a puzzle, but if the gate staff had been paying attention the whole unfortunate scenario could have been avoided.

  70. but if the gate staff had been paying attention the whole unfortunate scenario could have been avoided .

    If was in crisis management (a job which I have no training at all in, but feel that I may be more qualified than some of the airline folks these days), I would be all over “re-educating” the gate agents. Regardless of the letter of the law, there is a large perceived difference between removing someone from the plane vs denying them boarding. Also, on the plane, the tight quarters means someones going to film things and it is easier to make a scuffle physical.

  71. Yes, the officius airline staffer who threatened them with jail and forced them off the plane didn’t seem to realize that she was being recorded. And the guy sitting next to the dad was trying hard to ignore the whole thing. Unlike the other recent filmed encounters, none of the other passengers seemed to be supporting the parents. And imagine being that poor passenger assigned to the baby’s seat. If the family hadn’t been booted, he or she would have had a very awkward flight up close and personal with the lap baby.

  72. The dad seems to have had the mistaken impression that he could claim the seat even though the passenger for whom it was purchased did not make that flight.

    From what I read it was him (who had a ticket) his wife (who had a ticket) his older son (who had a ticket) and a lap child. They figured they didn’t want to have a lap child on a red eye so they bought the older son a ticket on an earlier flight. They wanted to then put their youngest child in the seat they had purchased for the older child.

    The problem was they tried to be honest with Delta and tell them what they were doing. They could have just said the youngest child had the name of the oldest child and that would have been fine. The problem was since they didn’t scan the right boarding pass Delta’s computers thought the oldest child was a no show so they sold the seat they had already sold to the father to a new passenger. The father felt that since he had paid for the seat it was his to use.

  73. Well that is an interesting approach. But could they have checked in Baby as Teenager for that flight, and gotten a valid boarding pass for him, when Teenager had already boarded an earlier flight? And then just tucked away that boarding pass and pretended at Tsa screening that baby was a lap baby with no boarding pass?

  74. @Rhett- best summary yet, and the comments are good. Best one: “If you give your children rhyming names (or do that silliness when you give them names all beginning with the same letter) you deserve whatever fate befalls you”

  75. But could they have checked in Baby as Teenager for that flight, and gotten a valid boarding pass for him, when Teenager had already boarded an earlier flight?

    I think so. Worst case you would just not use the oldest son’s frequent flyer number when you booked him on the earlier flight and then the system would have no way of knowing they were the same person.

  76. Scarlett,

    Now that I think about it here is what I would have done: book the oldest’s a new ticket by not signing into my AA account or using my AA credit card and certainly not the kid’s AA# and just booking a ticket in the oldest’s name.

  77. Rhett – I don’t think people are aware that the airlines will resell the seat when they record a no show. The family probably realized that later after they boarded the plane.

  78. “If you give your children rhyming names (or do that silliness when you give them names all beginning with the same letter) you deserve whatever fate befalls you”

    I had a friend in high school (one of three girls) and the parents named them so the first daughter’s name began with D, the second A and the third D. That takes some planning…

  79. Kendall herself has been accused of cultural appropriation on more than one occasion, as well: once for appropriating Native American culture in a Mango advertisement, and once — oddly enough — for appropriating ballerina culture in Vogue España.

    Ballerina culture?

  80. I don’t think people are aware that the airlines will resell the seat when they record a no show.

    I agree the average person probably thinks if you miss your flight then the flight takes off with your seat empty. In the airline’s defense, if you miss your flight they will resell your seat but they will also put you on the next flight at no charge. To me, that seems fair.

  81. Parents about to board a red eye with two toddlers probably aren’t thinking clearly, but a family flying to Hawaii is probably not new to airline travel. How could the parents *not* know that airline tickets aren’t transferrable? And why did they buy a seat for one toddler but not the other?

  82. To me it appears the father took a chance, either knowingly or not, in assuming he was entitled to that seat. If he was argumentative about defending his ignorant position then it seems appropriate that he should be booted. But the attendant badly mishandled this; they should have stated their request calmly and without threats.

    I don’t think most people are aware exactly how this all works.

    “Ballerina culture?”

    And today many evil unwoken people will be misappropriating Mexican culture by wearing sombreros or similar ghastly behavior. (Sarcastic in case it wasn’t clear.)

    And then there’s this.

    Biracial winner of ‘Miss Black University of Texas’ pageant faces backlash from critics who say she is ‘not black enough’


  83. How could the parents *not* know that airline tickets aren’t transferrable?

    When would it ever come up for the average 1x or 2x a year flyer? Even in my case, as a 100+ flight a year traveler, it’s never come up.

  84. If he was argumentative about defending his ignorant position then it seems appropriate that he should be booted.

    In his defense, he was acting in good faith. He bought his oldest son a new ticket to make it easier on everyone, his family, his seatmates, the FAs, etc. As a customer service issue, the airline should have said, “Thank you for making a good faith effort, here let me fix this for you.”

  85. Rhett,

    Maybe it rarely comes up because everyone knows the drill? When you book your flight on Expedia, it’s pretty clear that no one else can use your ticket.

    Just watching the video and not knowing the back story, the dad seems to be clearly in the right. The focus of the airline staff in that video was the car seat rather than the fact that this was a lap baby occupying a seat. But it seems that there was a genuine misunderstanding on the family’s part, and the airline did not handle it well. You would think that, after the United fiasco, airline staff would realize how this situation would play out and handle it accordingly.

  86. Maybe it rarely comes up because everyone knows the drill?

    When would it come up? The only thing I can think of is your oldest is in college and the middle kid is home and going with you to FL then the middle kid needs to stay home and the oldest wants to come with you so you call to change the ticket. But other than that, how would you know it’s an issue?

  87. Passengers wouldn’t stress out about buying non refundable tickets if they knew that they could resell or give away tickets that they can’t use.

  88. Passengers wouldn’t stress out about buying non refundable tickets if they knew that they could resell or give away tickets that they can’t use.

    You’re expecting people to put way more thought into this than they actually do. If many are surprised they have to pay for college just imagine how much thought they’ve put into the intricacies of an airline’s Contract of Carriage.

  89. We have no idea what they thought. Even if they explained it to the gate agent, she likely misunderstood the question – possibly thought they were asking her if they could take on the second car seat with the lap baby “just in case” there was an open seat. I doubt that they checked in the brother for the second flight. If they had done that, they would have known to use the lap baby ticket to get through security and the brother’s ticket for the gate.

  90. From the Times of London,

    The Duke of Edinburgh decided to retire from royal duties to avoid his growing frailty being exposed in public, The Times has learnt.

    I want to retire at 96 before I get too frail.

  91. Whether you can put a lap baby in a car seat in an empty airplane seat is entirely the flight crew’s decision, from my experience. If the guy bought the older kid two tickets, I agree the airlines should’ve let him use one of them for a different minor child. I’m surprised they didn’t catch the error in their booking system.

    CoC, does the US celebrate any of its immigrant cultures in ways other than drunken foolishness ala St Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Oktoberfest?

  92. Rhett — Between the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the late Queen Mother, there seem to be some serious longevity genes in the British royal family.

  93. I might argue that Thanksgiving and Christmas are a celebration of America’s immigrant culture.

  94. I can think of celebrations that don’t involve drunken foolishness (speaking of which, happy Boys’ Day, everyone!), but the ones that make the leap from a minor event to becoming a broader cultural phenomenon that people celebrate in a major way usually do so because they lend themselves to theme parties, liquor sales promotions, and restaurant specials.

  95. Perhaps I was sheltered, but I don’t remember Halloween involving a lot of drunken foolishness when I was a kid. My perception is that was a broad cultural phenomenon before widely involving much drunken foolishness.

    May Day is another celebration that, locally at least, is quite ubiquitous (what school doesn’t have a big May Day pageant?) without a lot of drunken foolishness.

  96. Hm, my point clearly didn’t resonate.
    Whereas Epcot “celebrates” cultures in the world as food court, the broader US recognition of cultures specific to another place seems narrowly tied to alcohol.

    Finn, sales of Halloween decorations and costumes have increased with alcohol. Idk if it has that feeling of anachronism for kids today that I remember.

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