The right (and wrong) way to survive international flights

After many, many years of flying, you’d think that we’d be pros at getting to the airport, clearing customs and/or security and getting on the plane. For some reason, almost every time we fly out of Frankfurt am Main airport we just cannot seem to get it together. Recently, I flew my kiddos to California. We had it all planned out. We would have plenty of time to spare and we wouldn’t end up running through the airport. Famous. Last. Words.

Tip #1: Transportation and timing. Oh, for the love of all that is holy and right, figure out your timing. For this particular airport, 2 hours in advance won’t do. Make it a whole day. We arrived with 2.5 hours to spare and watched those minutes fly by while standing in the disorganized chaos that is the Delta counter.

Tip #2: Don’t yell at the counter agents. I know this is pretty self-explanatory, but really, it doesn’t help. Because when you yell, “Jesus Christ, what is WRONG with you people?!?!” in front of your kids, you just end up looking like a total jerk and feeling terrible for the bad parenting example you just set.

Tip #3: Wear good, sturdy shoes. When your Boy Child informs you that your flight is boarding, while you’re still standing in the check-in line, you’ll realize that you’re going to have to run.

Tip #4: Realize that European lines make absolutely no sense at all. Seriously. Most of the time, it’s a free for all. Lines don’t often exist. People will cut, people will push, people will shove. However, when you approach the TSA-equivalent person and ask for permission to jump ahead because your plane is boarding, they will shut you down because  “we don’t want to upset the others in line.”

Tip #5: There will be extra security when it’s least convenient. Without fail, every time we fly, Boy Child gets flagged for extra security. Whether it’s his bag that gets inspected or a pat down, he always gets tagged. This time around, he got the whole shebang. He was patted down, had to take his shoes, hat and sweatshirt off, and they rifled through every nook and cranny of his backpack. I guess my tall and lanky 13-year old just has that look about him.

Tip #6: Upgrading on Delta Comfort+ isn’t really worth it. Most of the time upgrades are totally worth their weight in gold. I’m still trying to figure out what the difference was between regular economy and the Comfort+. Basically, we spent an extra €300 for shits and giggles.

Tip #7: Perfect your ninja death glare. This will absolutely come in handy when dealing with snarky people in line, or when the kid behind you continually kicks your seat for nine hours.

Tip #8: Dress in layers. Keeping a light jacket or sweatshirt handy will help double as extra pillow fluff. You can also peel layers off when you’ve boarded the plane and you’re stuck on the tarmac for an hour because of a broken air conditioner. Just make sure you don’t peel down to the skin layer. Because that might be slightly frowned upon.

Tip #9: Don’t be THAT parent. Okay, here’s where I might get controversial for a sec. Let me preface by saying I’ve been there. I’ve flown transoceanic flights with a miserable 18-month old. I’ve had to apologize in advance for the behaviors that my kid(s) may or may not exhibit. We’ve had people ask to move the moment they sat down in front or behind us when they realized that there was a kid in their immediate vicinity. To all of y’all that have done this, I fist bump you.

HOWEVER, if you have been the parent that lets their kid screech while you’re too busy watching Deadpool, or you help egg on the temper tantrums, then I retract my fist bump. I will absolutely support other parents in travel mode until your kid decides to be an asshole and you do absolutely NOTHING about it. Watching your kids kick the seat, yell and whine at their siblings, put their dirty feet up all over the walls while you do NOTHING makes you  an asshole and we can see that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Are my kids or myself perfect? OH, HELL NO! But I did try to curb their behaviors as much as possible when confined to a small metal tube for 14 hours.

Tip #10: Patience. Pack loads and loads of extra patience. Once you get on that plane, you can breathe. You’ll get to your destination eventually. Have a little patience with those around you and with whatever situations the universe decides to throw at you during your travels. If all else fails, you’ll be able to look back, laugh and learn from your experiences.

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