“Dear American Airlines:
I arrived at the Chicago airport a few days ago to fly home after spending time with my best friend. Our baby boys got to meet for the first time, and it was a magical experience for both of us since we both had four biological girls, including a set of twins, before they arrived. Our lives in and of itself are pretty parallel and I am so thankful every day that we met on the internet five years ago. Being able to visit with her is few and far between but when we finally can make it work, it surpasses any vacation either of us could have.
I flew United on the way out with my 10-month-old baby. Everything went very smoothly. Their staff was helpful in every single way. I was very pleased with our travel experience on the first day. It couldn’t have gone better. In fact, I flew with him when he was 2 months old on Spirit and that experience was lovely as well.
Fast forward five days to our return trip.
I tried checking in online and I even called your customer service a few times to try to resolve why my boarding pass was not saying ‘infant in arms.’ Your customer service representatives assured me it didn’t need to say that, however, I’ve flown with my children enough to know that’s not true. I’ve tried to go through security before without that little saying on my boarding pass and was turned away, only allowed to return with the correct boarding pass. So, I knew better than to waste my time with TSA first.
When I arrived at the airport, I immediately went to a ticketing agent to get the correct boarding pass. She miraculously knew that it needed to say that, even though two of your phone representatives didn’t. What I didn’t know is that your airline believes in making traveling a thousand times harder for mothers.
After the agent was done printing my boarding pass, she proceeded to tell me I was not allowed to push my stroller up to the gate. ‘You cannot push a jogging stroller to the gate. You have to check it here.’
I immediately laughed. ‘Excuse me, what? This isn’t just a jogging stroller. It holds the car seat that my baby sits in. It’s a regular system, like most people have.’ I honestly thought she was joking. We just flew here a few days prior and I had zero issues taking my stroller to the gate with me.
She got snippy with me from the get-go. ‘It’s on our website. No stroller over 20 pounds are allowed at the gate.’ I got sassy back because hello, I’ve flown close to fifty times with my children up to this point with this exact stroller and we’ve never been told to check it. ‘Then why am I allowed to use this one with every other airline?’ She didn’t respond.
To be honest, this was the first time I can remember ever flying on American with kids. I usually am a die-hard Southwest or Delta girl, but my friend bought me these tickets as a birthday present back in December. Never in a million years did I expect my normal everyday stroller to be an issue.
‘Weigh it then,’ I said. I was ready to make her look like a fool because surely my stroller is less than 20 pounds. There’s no way it was more than that. I loaded that thing up onto the scale and I internally died when it read ‘24.0.’ I cursed a thousand times in my head. Four freaking pounds. FOUR! She was probably internally jumping for joy that she was right. Was this seriously happening?
‘So, I’m just supposed to carry my two bags and my baby in the car seat through your huge airport then? What if I wasn’t physically able to do that?’ I stood there, shocked. Dumbfounded. Floored.
‘That’s your problem ma’am. You should have checked the website before you flew here. That’s not our responsibility. That’s yours.’ Wow, okay. That was the cherry on top.
You implemented an asinine rule to make it harder for moms to travel and then your employees don’t have the decency to, I don’t know, offer to help me figure out how to drag all of this to my gate? Just a ‘good luck honey, your fault!’ is all I get?
What about the moms of kids who physically would not be able to walk to the gate? What if they need a specific stroller to get them there? What if you ruin my stroller? Are you required to buy me a new one? I honestly have a million questions for you.
Through the grapevine, I’ve heard your employees couldn’t handle strollers over 20 pounds. I hear they were falling while trying to take them off the end of the jet-way. If that’s the case, that’s unfortunate. But why have you not been able to figure out a better way by now? Why not contact the other airlines and figure out why they can handle the 24-pound strollers and your employees cannot? Truly, I am so curious, as they are lifting 50-pound bags that people are allowed to bring on your planes, but that 24-pound stroller really does them in? It’s really your tipping point?
You are the most non-family-friendly airline I’ve ever dealt with. It’s truly mind-blowing. Not only do you have this policy, but you employ human beings with a very small capacity of kindness. You couldn’t care less about the stress a family is going through with choosing to fly with an infant. Have you ever flown with an infant? I truly don’t understand.
I will never recommend you to family or friends. We cannot help when flights are canceled or delayed here and there. But to implement a policy that can be detrimental to an already stressed-out family? That’s not okay. To basically laugh in the face of a mom that she failed to read up on the one airline that bans normal, everyday strollers? Completely unacceptable.
You need to reevaluate a lot of things. Do better.
A disgusted mom.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Schultz of Tried and True Mama. You can follow her on Instagram. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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