To the mom from my flight, I’m so sorry

Last year, at about 20 weeks pregnant and only a few days away from finding out the sex of my child, I was on a flight home from Denver.  During the boarding process, a mom and her family walked on the plane.  This woman had three sons, her husband, and either her mother or mother-in-law with her and just looked completely defeated.  She was dragging a Britax convertible car seat (those weigh 30lbs!!!) for her 3 year old son, all the while her husband managed the two other boys in the opposite row.  Her Mom/MIL got seated randomly somewhat near them but not close enough.  She and her son took their seats in front of me.

I think about this woman everyday.

At the time, being pregnant, my stance about children on flights had softened as I knew this was a reality I would be unable to avoid.  My whole, “no kids under 5” and “subsidize airfare for grandparents” schtick was long gone; I literally wanted both of these items to be federal law while I was in my late teens / early twenties.  I digress, back to this mom, who for the entire three hours of the flight used every trick in her arsenal, food, bribes, electronics, toys, etc., to keep her son engaged and pleasant.  Some worked better than others.

When we reached our destination, her toddler had an epic meltdown.  Just screamed at the top of his lungs with no end in sight.

As we were leaving the plane, and her son was still screaming, the young man next to me gave this woman a look and mumbled something under his breath.  Instead of offering her a supportive smile, words of encouragement, anything, I said, “that’s why I hope I don’t have a son”.

I have not yet been able to forgive myself.  As a new mom, I get it now, and yes I have a son.  I spend most of my day covered in puke, I have to think back 3+ days to determine when the last time I showered was, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t completely overwhelmed and exhausted, and I was vicious to this woman.  This woman was killing it, and I took a situation out of her control, made it about myself, and tore her down in the process.  To this woman, I want to sincerely apologize.  I get it.  I now understand that everyday is a struggle and you needed to catch a break.  I get that you were embarrassed and helpless and I cannot begin to put into words how I failed you.

The silver lining: I have learned from this. I am humbled by the experience of becoming a mom, and while I cannot take back those awful words in that moment, I will never again cut down any mom just trying to get through the day.

Airline Review: Meridiana

Our recent vacation to Italy hinged on the fact that we found insanely cheap airfare direct to Naples from JFK.  The airline?  Meridiana.  I had never heard of it, and it seemed that much of the internet hadn’t either when I went to do my due diligence before clicking “buy now”.  Well, for anyone who’s found similarly cheap airfare, here are some things to know before you decide to close your eyes and check your credit card statement later.

The basics:

  • Comfort – solid leg room in economy class
  • Amenities – No personal TVs at each seat, a few “larger” TVs in the aisle, 80s/90s style
  • Food – Totally frozen (I’ll get to that later)
  • Timeliness – On time arrival in Naples, early in to JFK, but no gate for us for an hour!
  • Friendliness – Unique

The stories:

When we boarded our flight at JFK the air conditioning was not and had not been turned on in hours.  The flight was sweltering hot.  As someone who is always cold, I was fine. Scuba Steve on the other hand, not so much.  Paranoid that the entire flight would be a fire ball he was in a panic.  At one point he may or may not have threatened to disrobe if this kept up.  Fortunately, as the flight got underway the air conditioning did turn on.  Crisis averted.

During dinner on the flight, the staff was incredibly rude.  One flight attendant missed the glass when pouring drinks completely and poured water all over Steve.  Instead of apologizing, providing napkins, offering any show of empathy, the flight attendant glared at my husband and then kept serving.  It was really bizarre behavior that was indicative of the overall attitude the rest of the staff as crossed the pond.

Since our flight was a red eye that left at 3pm, I popped a few Nyquil in the hopes of passing out (which I did, hallelujah!) and woke up just in time to reach Italy raring to go. Because I was comfortable, with leg room.  Even if the person in front of my put their seat back, my 5’5″ frame was unobstructed. On the other hand, Scube was left watching movies on the TV they had in the aisle on this circa 1970s airplane.  Could have been worse, but could have been better.

On the flight home, the sentiment of the staff improved, and the food got worse.  In fact, the pasta salad served on everyone’s plate was frozen completely solid.  WTF?  How can an airline do that?  When Scube pointed this out to the flight attendant, she was incredibly apologetic and said everyone’s food was frozen.  How is that right?  Or possible?

So here’s the deal with Meridiana.  If you want to get from Point A to Point B with zero frills, frozen food, and a piss poor attitude, book this flight.  You’ll get all the way to Italy for really cheap ($600/rt), but if you prefer to pay for a bit more amenities, smiles, and warm food, go elsewhere.  Would I fly Meridiana again?  Possibly, but at least I’ll have both eyes wide open if I do.

Sidenote:  For those that love reality tv the way I do, Caroline Manzo, of Real Housewives of New Jersey fame, flew Meridiana with her family to Naples en route to Positano.  So, the airline is in fact “celebrity” approved.

And we’re off!

Hi all!  We are off to Capri and the Amalfi Coast for the next few weeks.  I’ve scheduled a few posts, but you can follow our adventures on Instagram @appetite4travel.

Thanks for sticking with us, and new adventures will be posted soon, including a guest blogger’s scuba diving adventure, our trip to St. John, and many others.  Obviously, Italy included!

planes
I want to fly in that heart plane with a dancing bear and monkey

Using miles – our first go around

I’ve used hotel points for years, scoring free stays, upgrades, and the like on all of our vacations.  Like I said, we go where the Starwood’s go.  But I had never used miles before.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you’ll know that my husband and I are avid readers of The Points Guy.  His main mantra – don’t hoard your points, so why was I hoarding miles?

I’d always been afraid of miles, they seemed like the great unknown, with black-out dates, limited availability, it seemed that winning the lottery was easier than mileage redemption so I shied away from it.  Well that has changed, readers!  But first, some context.

If you’re not too familiar with air travel, many airlines have partner or sister airlines where your miles are redeemable across various chains.  Since I am based out of Philly, I am constantly flying US Airways/American Airlines.  As a result of building up miles in what they call the One World network, my miles are good on Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways, and Qatar Airways to name a few.  If you are looking to use your miles, check out what partnerships your preferred airline has, so you don’t feel like you are inhibited to just where that specific airline flies.

Now, to our bold little transaction.  While I’m sure many have rocked the around the world ticket (something I would one day LOVE to do), we were not so brazen.  After picking a destination, I called up American Airlines to see if they had any award flights available during the month of April (we were flexible).  After listening to the itinerary options and availability, we put an itinerary on hold.  With American Airlines you can hold an itinerary for 4-5 days before you actually book it.  In that period of time if you don’t call back to make it official, the itinerary is removed from your trips without any damage being done.  As a result, the hubs and I are headed to Thailand next year for the low cost of taxes and fees.  And yes, all hotels will be booked on points, so flight and accommodations in Thailand will cost a whopping total of $190, yes, and please, and thank you.

Thank you Points Guy for unknowingly helping us along the way!

A love note to Qantas

I travel a lot for my job.  In fact, in my previous job I flew every single week, I left early Monday morning (ugh), and returned Thursday evening.  So it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about flying, and while usually it’s with the same airline over and over and over (I love my miles), flying Qantas was a borderline religious experience.

Flying in the US is dogged by well, the lack of everything.  Service, food, snacks, nuts.  You get what you pay for you, and even what you pay for you don’t always get.  So when my husband and I decided to honeymoon in Australia (many posts on that later), flying Qantas was an actual dream come true.

While some Aussies (well one we encountered) feel that Qantas has gone down hill in the last few years, I dare them to come the US, fly domestically and then tell me Qantas isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread.

qantasSo why is Qantas so fabulous?  WELL.  Let’s talk free food.  And not just at meal times.  There were copious amounts of food and snacks to be had, everywhere.  Pouring out of every orifice in the air you’d find a free snack. On our flight from LA to Sydney, we boarded around 11pm and immediately were met with a free dinner.  Granted ,I just wanted to sleep but, in keeping with American air travel, I assumed this would be on par with the Last Supper.  WRONG.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  After finishing my meal I immediately crashed.  Overcome with exhaustion I fell right to sleep.  I was awoken a few minutes later by a lovely flight attendant giving me a backpack full of food, treats, and other goodies.  If that wasn’t enough – there were granola bars in baskets at varying points in the plane, and flight attendants in the pitch black walked around with apples, water, and juice.

As we approached Sydney, a full blown breakfast was to be had with more snacks, including, but not limited to Cadbury hot chocolate.  I honestly wondered if it was worth deplaning?  Why leave when everyone is so nice with wonderful service and treats?  It was a legitimate question, but I was thrilled to know that we were flying Qantas within Australia a few more times, but assumed due to the shortened time of the flights (~2-3 hours in length), the service would be different.

WRONG AGAIN!  On our 2-3 hour flight from Sydney to Cairns, we got a full blown lunch, a popsicle snack and anything else our little heart desired.  I couldn’t believe it.  You fly 2-3 hours in the US and you’re lucky to get a smile.

Needless to say, Qantas is the greatest airline I’ve ever flown, despite my small sample size.  It made coming back to the US that much harder knowing that my flight a few days later would be devoid of backpacks full of snacks and popsicles.

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