Monday, February 15, 2010

A Teaching Moment

Airports have provided a wealth of opportunity for "teaching moments". When regulations forbidding various liquids on planes went into place, and Connor had to dump out a cup of apple juice, it was easy to answer his question.

"Why did they take my apple juice?"
"Because George Bush told them to."

This was logic passed onto me from a friend who had to explain the snatching of Burt's Bees chapstick to his son. Because really, allowing that sippy cup of juice would have been fine.

Regularly, Connor would parrot that George Bush took his apple juice when we were in airports. It made me proud.

On our flight to Denver, another such moment came up. We purchased tickets that flew directly from Dulles to Denver - non-stop. Only when I went to check in, I was told not only that they hadn't assigned me four seats together, but that the plane would be stopping midway to fuel. Of course, I told the airline employee that this was absolutely unacceptable. She would need to find me a new direct flight. I paid extra for this flight and I should get the flight I paid for. She corrected that this was still a direct flight, and of course, I rolled my eyes and told her NONSTOP, DIRECT. The next one? It would fly the next morning at 6AM. But of course, that was only what it was scheduled to be, not what it might actually turn out to be.

Connor, of course, sensed my great distress. He asked what was wrong. I told him that our trip was going to be two hours longer than we had planned.

"Why, Mommy?"
"Because they are a big corporation, and they do not respect our time."
"That's not nice."
"No, Connor, it is not nice. But we are small people, and this is a big corporation, and they have lots of power. Until we as small people stand up and refuse to take it, we'll keep getting more of the same. But as it is, we want to go on vacation, and our only option for getting there even close to on time is taking this flight, even if it is not the one we signed up for. We'll write them a letter."

Every person near me in the airport was annoyed at United. Some laughed when they heard Connor's and my banter, some nodded. I figured I had at least had the opportunity to plant a seed.

To be fair, the flight ended up only being delayed by a half hour. They made up lots of time in air and they certainly did get the plane up and going quickly when they refueled.


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