04/15/2014 05:35 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2014

To the Man or Woman in Row 23

Lynn Morrison

Sometimes, life hands you lemons and sometimes, it hands you a giant bag of steaming dog poo. British Airways just told me that paying $135 is the only way to guarantee that I can sit with my 3 and 4-year-old daughters on our flight from NYC to London, so I'm pretty sure I'm in the second situation. Since I have some advance notice, I thought I'd try and make some dog poo lemonade.

Dear Man or Woman in Row 23,

In 36 hours, you are going to show up at the airport for a New York to London flight with absolutely no idea of the six hours and 50 minutes of hell awaiting you on board that aircraft. I'd go ahead and pre-make one of those candy filled, apology-noted gift bags to leave on your seat, but since you'd probably only end up giving it back to my kids, I think we can both agree that it's in our best interest to forgo it this time around.

I'm crossing my fingers over here, hoping against hope that you are one of those extra generous people that will gladly take care of my little girls while I'm sitting 12 rows away on the other side of the 747. Actually, that's a lie. I'm crossing my fingers over here that BA will realize that it is completely moronic to separate a mother from a 3- and 4-year-old on an intercontinental flight. But since that isn't a given at this point, I thought I'd get the jump on things by penning you this little thank you note in advance.

As this will be our return leg home, I have a pretty good idea of what's in store for you during this flight. Which is good, as it will make it super easy for me to make sure that I've covered all the bases even though we haven't taken off yet. So here we go:

  1. Thanks for putting my kids' headphones back on 472 times. Yes, I know that it is completely annoying and almost beyond comprehension that the kid-sized headset still falls off every time they turn their heads... which they will do 472 times in a six hour and 50-minute flight.
  2. Thanks for turning on Frozen and then Cinderella and then NOT THAT CINDERELLA and then explaining that the inflight entertainment system doesn't have "Dora" and not yelling at them to JUST WATCH FROZEN DAMMIT when I know that you really wanted to.
  3. Thanks for breaking up 18 fights over the pink marker. I meant to buy a second one, but I got so worked up worrying about whether or not we'd be able to sit together that I forgot. So sorry about that. Also, thanks for not getting mad when they covered your carry-on with stickers.
  4. Thanks for unwrapping their meals, hiding the salad dressing, giving it back to them when you realized that it would buy you four minutes to eat in peace, buttering their bread on both sides making sure to use the entire pat of butter and not throwing them out the emergency exit when after all that, they refused to eat any of it and dumped their tray on your table in the middle of your meal. That really sucks. Trust me, I know.
  5. In the interest of time, I'll sum up with a thanks for the other 2,589 things they will do which will test the upper limits of your patience but which you will grin and help them out with anyways. They're three and four and only have a slight idea of what they are doing.

Last but not least, I'll ask for your forgiveness of me, that I couldn't come up with another $135 to reserve three seats together in advance. Once I'd paid the tickets and fees for a family of three, bought snacks and coloring books, those useless kid-sized headphones and five movies off iTunes, I simply couldn't find the money in my budget for one more thing. I said to myself, "Lynn, of course no airline in their right mind would split up a mother and two kids under the age of 5." Silly little me, thinking that Giant Corporation would for one second use an ounce of common sense. I phoned in and tried to explain, but policy is policy and there was nothing they could do.

So that's it. My note is done and now I can rest assured that no matter where British Airlines decides to seat us tomorrow, I've done all I can do. Haha, that's a laugh. I'll be up all night worrying over here and you'll be able to recognize me by the dark circles under my terror filled eyes. Bad news: by the end of the flight, yours will probably look the same.

Rest up while you can and we'll see you in 46 hours.

Lynn from The Nomad Mom Diary

Update: Since I wrote the original, I've managed to sort my own seating arrangements out (I'm sure the person in row 23 is thrilled), and I've heard from lots of other parents who have similar stories. Despite it being against air safety laws to split up small children from their guardian, and in spite of the airline's own rules about seat assignments for families, call centers still regularly refuse to help and leave us all at the mercy of the gate agent or, even worse, the passengers seated around us. And oh, the horror stories I've heard! I'm still trying to understand the mindset of a woman who refused to move to allow a mother and children to sit together on a flight from Chicago to Sydney. In that case, I'd have paid *not* to have sat with them. But I digress. The point here is that air travel really sucks for parents of little kids. I mean it REALLY sucks. It'd be nice if we could all rest assured that at least one aspect would be handled for us before we get to the airport. So to you, Mr. and Mrs. Airline, how about teaching your call center to help us get things sorted in advance? As much as we love them, I'm sure we'd all prefer to read a few less of the Dear Man in Row 23 stories. Thanks!