How flying with an infant restored my faith in humanity

by Katie on June 17, 2015

Normally when traveling by plane, I am the type of person who doesn’t want to talk to anyone. I stare straight ahead, and as soon as I get in my seat, I put in my headphones or open up my book. I am polite and kind to the people I encounter along the way, but I put off a vibe that I’d rather stay quiet.

Since I have come to embrace my introverted tendencies, I have also accepted that I prefer to keep to myself during air travel. It is my way of conserving energy and exercising self-care.

But recently out of necessity, I had a very different experience while traveling. And I was reminded of how it can be when allowing myself to be more open to human connection.

I recently traveled alone with a two-month-old.

A few weeks ago I traveled from San Francisco to Southern California with my then two-month-old daughter to visit family. My husband was unable to make the trip, so I was making the trek alone.

Normally this one-hour flight would be a breeze. But it was our daughter’s first time on a plane. And it was my first time traveling with a baby. There were so many questions. How will we get through security? What to I do with the stroller? Does she need identification? How does her milk get through? What about her little ears and the altitude?

I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I had become a pretty confident traveler, but this was brand new territory.

Plus, I anxiously anticipated the dirty looks I was bound to receive while entering the plane with an infant in my arms.

However, from the moment I checked in for my flight and dropped off my bags, I suspected my fears might be unfounded. The women behind the counter were so friendly, sparking conversation and asking me about my daughter.

I was given access to the priority line at security. The TSA agents were also friendly and helpful. They too asked about my daughter, and told me about their little ones at home.

My fellow travelers were patient with me as I juggled my ridiculous amount of stuff–car seat, stroller, milk, laptop, backpack, purse, shoes–and they offered to help me manage it all. They also asked me about my daughter and told me stories of their own kids.

I had never talked to so many people in an airport before. And I was barely through the security line.

I sat next to a lovely woman on the ride to Southern California and learned she was a Grandmother to three of her own. We talked the entire ride, and she helped me with my bags as I deplaned.

The man sitting across the aisle from me told me about his own twin babies at home. How much he missed them and that he couldn’t wait to go home to see them. Later in the flight he was so excited he brought out photos of his girls.

I was inspired by the kindness and openness. I quite frankly had expected the opposite. Instead of receiving dirty looks, I was reminded of how kind, helpful, and friendly people can be. It was an unexpected and humbling surprise.

I was so worried about traveling alone with my baby. But instead I learned a beautiful lesson about connection, openness, and community. I can’t say I’ll always be this talkative while in the air. But I’m inspired to try. Once in a while to try making eye contact with a stranger instead of looking away. Or maybe smiling at someone walking down the street. Little experiments to see what happens. I just may surprise myself.

Sometimes it does take a village. Especially when it involves a baby and the airport security line.

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