The Right to Fly with Small Kids

 

Today I did one of the more painful things I have to do as an adult and I watched an airline fare mistake slip through my fingers. I subscribe to a service called Scott’s Cheap Flights (my sign-up code is here if that’s your jam) that sends emails whenever there’s a fare sale or mistake from my home airport, and maybe once or twice a year, they send an email that there’s a mistake. Today’s sale was from Baltimore to Salt Lake City for $29 round trip, and it would have been just over $200 to fly my entire giant family out there for a week of outdoorsy fun. I am almost never one to pass up a fare mistake (I’ve gone to Hawaii first-class with a four-month-old and also to Israel in my first trimester, sick as a dog), but this time I knew I had to. We have a tw0-year-old and a four-year-old, neither of whom can wear masks for more than 30 seconds or so.

This issue of masking young children has been an obsession of mine since the winter; I even recently was canceled on Twitter for daring to share a picture of my son’s mask after a day at summer camp (spoiler: It was gross and the Internet doesn’t like their mask love to be challenged by reality).

Well, here’s even more bad news: It’s August of 2021, and we won’t be able to take a trip until at least January of 2022. We won’t even be able to book a ticket until then because we won’t know if it’s safe to do so. With little fanfare, the TSA confirmed today the extension of the mask-mandate on public transportation until at least January 18th. This decision has effectively grounded any family with young children for yet another several months. With this news, I’ve heard from half a dozen exasperated parents who wanted to fly their kids for any number of reasons. Most of them just want their parents or grandparents to actually meet their kids, those kids whose needs are now grounding them indefinitely. One woman asked me “What can we do?” And the answer is simply: Nothing. The right (is it a right?) to fly has been taken away from families with young children with no end in sight. If you had told me two years ago that nobody with a two or three-year-old would be allowed to fly on anything but a short-haul flight for over a year, I’d have told you you were crazy; that we wouldn’t allow our rights to just be ripped away like that. Well, here we are.

One day we’ll be granted the right to fly again. But only when we start demanding it.

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  1. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Bethany, you are welcome to send me the photo of your kid’s camp mask, and I can publish it on RushBabe49.com, which has not yet been censored for any of my incendiary posts.  I feel just as you do about masking little kids, and I don’t even have any.  Ray and I are flying to Detroit next month, first class, and we are not looking forward to wearing the stupid mask the whole way ourselves.  I push the envelope as much as I can, everywhere I am.

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Extending the mask mandate on flights is outrageous.  I wonder if entire airplanes full of people might protest en masse at some point, forcing airlines and the TSA to back down.

    • #2
  3. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Expect more bad behavior on airplanes as passengers lose their ability to tolerate this airborne fascism.

    • #3
  4. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    iWe (View Comment):

    Extending the mask mandate on flights is outrageous. I wonder if entire airplanes full of people might protest en masse at some point, forcing airlines and the TSA to back down.

    What if they turn the flight around, or detour to a different airport, because of YOU/THEM, and screw up everyone else’s plans?  Somehow I doubt you’d get a lot of sympathy.  Those people know how to apply pressure.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Bethany Mandel: With little fanfare, the TSA confirmed today the extension of the mask-mandate on public transportation until at least January 18th.

    Does TSA control passenger rail?  Take AMTRAK instead (not recommended for Hawaii) . . .

    • #5
  6. JVC1207 Member
    JVC1207
    @JVC1207

    Following. This is a big, big problem for people with toddlers. I have been shouting from the rooftops about this for months now and am not sure why others with young children are not just as angry. I’ve got 2 year old twin boys and we are also grounded until the point in time where they can both reliably wear face masks for the entire flight and airport visit (LOL). 

    Earlier this summer, when they were 2 years 2 months, we took them to visit relatives in a different state who we hadn’t seen since the pandemic began. Since you don’t have to show documentation of their ages when they are not lap children (at least on Delta), we basically lied to anyone who asked and said they were “about to turn 2” (only 1 or 2 flight attendants asked, and neither of them pushed the issue or investigated further beyond that). They acted like typical 2 year olds on airplanes and cried when we tried to strap them into the seat, during takeoff/landing, etc. What a joke to expect them to ALSO keep a mask on. They are not badly behaved kids, and are used to following directions from adults and behaving themselves in public (they go to daycare/school, we take them out to eat, etc).

    Beyond the point that it’s not even feasible to get a toddler to keep a mask on, it breaks my heart to think about forcing it on them when they don’t understand why. A few months ago, some Republican congresspeople wrote a letter to the CDC demanding the evidence used to determine that 2 years old is the correct age for mask requirements, given that it’s so far out of line from what ANY other countries are doing (and devoid of cost/benefit analysis using medical data). Pretty sure that went nowhere though…

    • #6
  7. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    kedavis (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Extending the mask mandate on flights is outrageous. I wonder if entire airplanes full of people might protest en masse at some point, forcing airlines and the TSA to back down.

    What if they turn the flight around, or detour to a different airport, because of YOU/THEM, and screw up everyone else’s plans? Somehow I doubt you’d get a lot of sympathy. Those people know how to apply pressure.

    But it will buckle and break with sufficient resistance.

    • #7
  8. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Stad (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: With little fanfare, the TSA confirmed today the extension of the mask-mandate on public transportation until at least January 18th.

    Does TSA control passenger rail? Take AMTRAK instead (not recommended for Hawaii) . . .

    Amtrak requires masks too.  I just took it from Portland, OR to the Seattle area.   Didn’t see any young children in my car……the mandate is probably the reason.

    ETA:  yup, same rules as the airlines.   https://www.amtrak.com/planning-booking/policies/coronavirus.html?intcmp=wsp_banner_link_coronavirus

    • #8
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