International Travel With Children

I made the flight reservations for November 25th for 5 people (me, Solange (my wife), Teddy, Jesse, and my mother in law Maria). The reservation was for approximately $1000 a person with US Air. I only fly US Air to Myrtle Beach because I refuse to fly Delta ever again, because Delta ripped me off for $2500 which I already documented on this web site. The price I felt was reasonable.

After that, the unexpected happenned. My wife is doing quite well in school, and in Brazil if a student is not doing well then they have the option to take an additional set of exams to try to pass the course. That was not necessary in my wife’s case because she is learning her coursework well. But… last week, she had an exam and the professor did not show up for the exam. They were told that he was in the hospital, and that my wife would have to wait a week to take her last exam. I called US Air and they nailed me for $400 but what could I do? So I paid.

Now, only four of us are travelling (me, Maria, Teddy and Jesse). My wife drove us to the airport to say good bye. When we get to check in they informed us that we were unable to travel since we do not have my wife’s written permission to allow me to travel with the kids. Apparently, they just passed a new law in Brazil in the last two months to stop parents from abducting their children to foreign countries.

I was bummed but I was more nervous because I was sure that US Air would nail us for fees. We go to the US Air counter, and we argue with them, and guess what? US Air actually changed our ticket to the next day for free! I really don’t know why they didn’t stick it to us because I was fully expecting it.

We were told that the location to get the documentation for permission to travel was open 24 hours 7 days a week in the center of Rio de Janeiro. So we decided to show up there at midnight, and it was actually a painless process. And it cost us nothing other than the taxi fare to get to the place. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that they should be trying to screw us because we would pretty much have paid any reasonable fee to allow us to travel.

The next day, we get to the airport more than 3 hours before the flight took off just to make sure we did not have any more probems. Well there was. I am not sure what happened, but I called my mother in law to get her exact name for the plane reservation and she gave me the wrong name. Unbelievable. She gave me her married name and she had not been married for more than 10 years. I was sweating bullets. Geez. But then US Air came through again. They allowed us to change the name on the reservation to the name on the passport. Again, they did not charge us anything. On top of that, they changed her seat so she was no longer sitting with us. US Air changed it back without charging us anything. Wow! This is different than Delta that tries to actively find angles to screw you.

Then we finally board the plane and Teddy falls immediately asleep. He slept for 9 hours on the plane! It was a miracle. Jesse only slept for 6 hours but it was awesome.

I don’t know what it is about international travel but it is now my expectation after having dealt with Delta, that something will go wrong and somehow somewhere, someone will screw you. They know you are just trying to get to your destination, and if they can screw you to make money they will. Delta in my book is of course the king of screwing passengers.

So we go through immigration and customs, and there was not one problem. Did everyone not get the memo, that it is better to screw people when they are travelling? But then I spoke too quickly.

The four of us board the plane, and this young stewardess approaches us and inquired whether my two kids had paid for their tickets and therefore could have their own seats. They had and I told her. Shortly before take off, Jesse was in Maria’s arms resting peacefully. The same stewardess came by and told us that the plane could not take off because Jesse was not in his seat with his seat belt buckled. Jesse is just 2 years old. So I relented, and we put Jesse in his seat. Jesse did not like it one bit, and started screaming bloody murder. Maybe the stewardess was happy but I was not. I have travelled with my kids a lot, and no one ever had said anything like this. As matter of fact, if our flight was not almost totally empty there is no way that the stewardesses can make sure that all of the kids that are in laps are not actually ticketed.

So the plane finally takes off, and I take Jesse out of his seat and give him to his grandmother again. Jesse is quiet and there is peace in the world. Or so I thought. Next thing I know, the stewardess is back. She is very annoyed that I gave Jesse back to his grandmother. I just figured once the plane took off, that we could return to normal and it was not necessary for Jesse to cry the entire time. I was wrong. She was pissed and not afraid to show it. She started lecturing me about safety and her job, and all kinds of things. Maybe I was tired, or I just didn’t feel like hearing this retard lecture me about how to take care of my kid, but I laughed. It was not intentional but it did happen. This made things worse, and now she told me that we would have to turn around the plane and go back to Charlotte. She was now threatening me. I looked at her and said, “Let’s go back to Charlotte”. She trounced away to bitch to her superiors.

She was bluffing and I knew it. Was it a good idea to call her bluff? I am not sure, but that’s what I did. Bluffers don’t like to get called, and they don’t like it when you laugh at them either. I really don’t blame US Air for this. The stewardess is one bad apple, and I suspect she has not been working in the hospitality much time, and I also suspect she would better suited working for TSA or other mammoth government agency that enforces a lot of meaningless rules. Maybe the IRS or something like that.

Finally, we got back to my house in Myrtle Beach. And then I realized that I left my Kindle on the flight from Rio to Charlotte. Darn it. I love my Kindle and I was able to read a few chapters on the plane while the kids slept. I called US Air and the woman was very nice. Almost too nice. But she informed me that they had not found my Kindle. I thought to myself. If I found an Amazon Kindle in the pocket in front of my airline seat, would I actually return it? I think I would, but I also can see how a lot of people wouldn’t. I also think that maybe US Air keeps all of that stuff and then sells it off at auction to make more money. Either way, I am going to buy a new Kindle. In some weird way, I am looking forward to it. I am not going to buy a Kindle Fire nor an Ipad because I love the battery life on the Kindle. I read a lot and I guess that I have to recharge less than once a month. I figure that I never have to recharge my book. so an eBook should behave roughly the same way.

After all that, it’s nice to be back in the land where I was born and raised. There is no doubt in my mind that airline travel keeps on getting worse. I shudder to think how bad it will be 10 years from now.

3 thoughts on “International Travel With Children

  1. I am a grandfather who took his son, daughter-in-law and their two little girls, ages 3 and 8, to Botswana and Ghana in Arica last year. We just rented a car at the airport and started driving all over the place. It was a fantastic trip. There are lots of wild animals to see in Botswana.

  2. Rob,

    The Brazilian law requiring an official document signed by one of the parents whenever the other one wants to travel with their children by himself or herself (without the spouse) has been in effect for many, many years. I remember doing this already in the ninties. You have been living in Brazil all these years, so it is surprising you don’t know about it.

  3. I travel with my daughter to Canada at least once a year and always carry a notarized letter from my ex (my daughters mom) giving permission to travel. I get asked for it about every other trip even when coming home.

    Yet when I give them a letter when going on a cruise or something, I believe she has never been asked to see the letter. I think that men are questioned more than woman.

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