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The Much Beloved 4AM Wake-up Call
Today my tiny traveler, my parents, and myself headed West for a Spring Break trip to the mountains. Yes, even preschools get spring break. Flights the week of Texas Spring Break were quite expensive, so to keep the cost down as much as we could, we took the early flight out of Houston. Of course, booking a 7 something AM departure is always easier when you are safely months away from the flight. The actual execution of the morning flight is always quite a different story…especially when you are waking a three-year-old up intentionally before dawn. Much before dawn. Here is what early morning security sleepy face looks like.
We prepped her well ahead of time, so when the time came to wake her up while it was still dark she knew why. She immediately stood up in bed and said “let’s go to the airplane” and “bye Daddy”. He had to work this week so couldn’t join us. She did flawlessly with her early morning, the rest of us were a bit more groggy. If you choose to book an early departure with your toddler or young child I highly recommend you do a few things.
- Prep them ahead of time, and get them excited about the early morning “adventure”. Even if you are dreading it, pretend it is the most exciting thing since the Disney Junior App.
- Keep your expectations realistic and realize that even if they do great for a while, there will likely be a crash at some point (at least by you if not by them).
- Last, but not least, have bribes ready and available. I’m not a fan of toddler bribery on a daily basis, but on a day where you are 150+ others are stuck in an airplane together after getting up at 4:30AM I am 100% in support of bribes for good behavior. I personally prefer bribes of the cookies and M&M variety. More power to you if you can bribe with healthy food like carrot sticks or apples, but we bring out the “big guns” in times like this.
- Oh, and get yourself some coffee.
The Missed Bump
As I’m certain you know, from time to time airlines oversell their flights and then if more people show up than there are seats available then they solicit volunteers to give up their seats for a later flight in exchange for a travel voucher to use on future travel. I have not personally been on a flight that had an opportunity to bump to a future flight in exchange for a voucher in quite a long time. I knew that many of this morning’s flights out of Houston were very full. I also knew there was a good chance that our flight would be oversold.
So, it came as no shock when they announced they were looking for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for a later flight and $300 toward future United travel. If I were traveling alone I would have given up my seat before they even finished the sentence asking for volunteers. But, I was traveling with a tiny traveler and two grandparents. We were already on-board the plane, had already been up since 4:30AM, had E+ seats together on a very busy travel day, and the flight they were offering to switch us to was reported to be delayed. Basically, it wasn’t the right time for us to throw our day into chaos for free future travel…but I sure wanted to. Of course, moments later our own flight went mechanical and the flight we would have switched to probably left before our own. $300 a pop times several of us would have added up to a decent amount of future travel.
Minus having a crystal ball knowing our own flight would end up being delayed, I know we made the right choice by staying put and passing on the bump. Sometimes the pay-off, even at $300 a pop, just isn’t worth it sometimes when traveling with a family.
That said, I’m curious to hear what you would have done.