"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vegas, Baby: First Flight

We took a jaunt over to Vegas last weekend. Mommy had to work at a conference at a fancy resort in the desert, so Daddy and Son went with. Further posts about more of Xander's firsts are forthcoming if you want to stick around. Also, we didn't remember our camera, as we are wont to do, but I took a few pics with my crappy phone and those might be included later.

About the airplane generally: if you thought the seats were cramped when you’re all by yourself, wait until you have a floppy six-month-old on your lap. You’re used to having a variety of items within a moment’s reach: bottles, towels, toys. Anything you need to keep the boy happy. But once you’re on the plane, you’re trapped for the next 90 minutes--or longer if they decide to get everyone loaded 30 minutes early and promise you'll take off early but then you sit there in the cramped plane on the tarmac when you could have had more time in those wide, black vinyl seats at the gate where there's room to run and run or at least change a poopy diaper (within an enclosed stroller, or course). And hope you’re not going to Fiji or Sao Paulo because that’s a long way.

I took my two daughters on airplane trips when they young ‘uns, but I don’t remember so much trouble. Of course, I was probably half my current girth back then. Plus, airport security was a bit different. 

The security situation: We put our carry-on bags on the rollers, put our shoes in the square bucket. I took my laptop out of the bag and put it in a bucket with my phone and watch. May knew enough to take the liquids--breast milk and baby food--out of bags and put them separately in a bucket. Xander was in his stroller; we were told we could check it at the gate. But he had to come out of the stroller, and the stroller had to be collapsed and sent through the x-ray thingy. I didn’t think it would fit. It’s got double front wheels that give me trouble just stowing it in the back of the car. But in it went.

Baby can wear socks but not these.
May was holding the boy, but before the guard indicated she could go through the metal detector, he looked over Xander and told us to take off his shoes. Basically his shoes are just thick socks, but off they came and through the x-ray they went and they never made it back on his feet because they stayed in my pocket for the rest of the trip.

The actual vapor-seeking device. See here.
Pronounced Saab-ray. Partnered with Dunder-Mifflin.
I thought they only made defective printers.
On the other side of the veil, one of the officers asked me to follow him. He had the pack with the baby food and the cooler bags with the milk. I left May to get Xander returned to the stroller and our other bags put back together. Over in the corner, the guard chose two bottles of milk at random and asked me to unscrew the lids. He then waved a hand-held detector device over the open bottle. Its readout was something like, “Vapor analysis…” After a moment, it beeped and blinked, “Pass.”

He then opened the zipper on the pack of baby food, which was individual, unopened packages. He took a strip that kind of looked like a band-aid and swiped  the strip over a closed jar of baby food. He then put the strip into a large machine, as one might do to determine a blood sugar level. After another moment the man said that was it. I didn’t see what the output of the large machine was, but I assume we passed detection of any illegal or pathogenic substances.

The guard then wanted to stuff everything back into our pack. I told him I’d do it, but he said he got it. Not wanting to argue with the guy who might hold you and your family indefinitely if his machines told him to do so, I let it happen.

That was really the only thing he did that was annoying. He was pleasant and nice the entire time. In fact, the whole experience was rather innocuous. I thought it would be more trouble. Is it just that after ten years, we've accepted the poking and the prodding? Or has security gotten better and less intrusive?

Still, as I slipped my shoes back on and bent over in the middle of the way to tie the laces, I wondered why there were no chairs or a bench to sit upon at this juncture of our journey.

A final note about babies and air travel: On the plane home, Xander had trouble falling asleep. He didn't seem upset at the concept of flight; he was just tired and wanted to cry about it. By the time we were able to ask for some hot water to heat up a cold bottle, he had already elicited several dirty looks from those around us. I wondered how many Vegas hangovers we were dealing with. The woman next to May put her tray table down and her head upon the tray table and didn't get up for an hour. The woman in front of May turned around and bruskly told her that May's leg shaking to calm the baby was vibrating this woman's entire chair. This woman spent most of the flight with her face in her hands. Then, just as the attendant brought over the hot water, Xander was done complaining and closed his eyes to sleep. He woke up just in time for the worst turbulent decent into Denver I've ever experienced.

Xander handled it a lot better than I did. I still feel a bit nauseated.


  1. It's funny. Flying never bothered me when I was a kid. Now it makes me very nervous. My aunt gave me some Xanax for my return trip home from Phoenix last time. That really did the trick. I'm not sure what the difference is now. Maybe my faith in the perfection of adults (pilots, in this case) has been shaken, or maybe I don't have the same sense of adventure that I used to.

    Having only flown once since Sept. 11th, I find the changes in security a bit aggravating. Standing in the middle of the airport in my socks just feels weird, and I didn't get the sense from many of the changes that they really made things any safer. Mostly, it just seemed like a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense meant to protect the appearance that things were safer, a phenomenon that I'm all too familiar with from when I used to work as a security guard.

  2. Blech. Motion sickness is SO unpleasant. I'm glad the rest of the trip went relatively well for you though.

    Vegas is fun, though I haven't been there for years. We took our son to Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef on our way home from California almost 6 years ago. It was really cool. I'd go there again, no problem.

  3. I would have no problem suffering through a vibrating seat if it meant a baby might stop crying. I sincerely hope I don't have to take my kiddo on a plane until he is at least 5.

    It's good to know you weren't smuggling kryptonite or something.

  4. Rumor has it soon it will be mandatory that TSA has to give full-body pat-downs to every single passenger.

    I swear, we would have invented the first hydro-powered car if we didn't put so much energy into the most paranoid things.

  5. My sister adopted a baby girl from Serov, Russia six years ago. I traveled with her. Getting through security in Germany was truly a miserable experience. I feel your pain.

  6. I love Las Vegas. The last time I was there I stayed at the Bellagio for six days, went to the spa, then saw Elton John in concert at Caesar's, went to Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian, saw Cris Angel at the Luxor, and saw "O" at the Bellagio. Man it was incredible.

    I hate air travel. They've taken away practically all of our rights. Osama Bin Laden scared us so bad on 9/11 that he changed our country for the worse and handed us a big fat recession to boot.

  7. I think the next time i go to the airport (which hopefully is never) I will wear a full set of chain mail which I will refuse to remove for religious reasons, have tinfoil in my hat and shoes and be carrying a lightning rod.

  8. @ Bryan: It certainly appeared like they were securing our baby food and breast milk. Take that, terrorist!

    @ Candice: Vegas is fun for about a day. Unless you have money to burn. Which I don't. Otherwise it starts to wear on you. But that's the subject of another post.

    @ Doug: The flight out was no problem. The timing was off for the return trip and the boy got grumpy. I'd do it again. In a year or two.

    And I don't think smuggling kryptonite is even a crime any more. There's been a lot of changes in the law.

    @ McKenzie: I agree about the paranoia. What is it that we are preventing now that we allowed to happen before 9-11?

    @ M.J.: It really wasn't terrible. I think it's because I have such a stellar son.

    @ Michael: See everyone? Vegas costs you a pretty penny if you want the experience. But those must have been some pretty cool shows.

    @ darev: That should go over swimmingly. But only if you have an infant in your arms, too.

  9. Hmmm yeah... chain mail diapers.

  10. I don't see why people get mad at babies crying on airplanes. Children running around and screaming, I can see the point. But babies?

    Babies can't help themselves, and there's really not much parents can do about it.

    This coming from someone who is NOT kid friendly: those people were selfish.

  11. darev: I see chain mail diapers more of a problem than a solution. I imagine lots of leakage.

    Chanel: Perhaps the problem wasn't so much the baby crying as it was hangovers from Vegas excess.