Traveling with Children
Recently when we were sent our itinerary for our trip to Thailand, I had concerns and sent the following letter to the person booking our flights.
I noticed with concern that you had booked us with only 55 minutes to make the change from the international terminal to the domestic terminal in Bangkok, Thailand. Let me tell you about an experience my family had making such a transition.
On arriving in Bangkok, the pilot announced that we were preparing our descent. This was a signal to our two lively boys, who were difficult to entertain during the flight, to fall asleep and become comatose. On landing, I put on my backpack, picked up a sleeping child, and we staggered off the plane. My wife had to prod the other sleepwalking child ahead of her while she pushed one piece of luggage, pulled the second bag, and carried her backpack and the backpack of the sleeper. Exiting the ramp, the mandatory bathroom break began. Each person went to the bathroom one by one with the sleeping child handed off in turn.
Although the corridors generally were deserted on disembarking, during the bathroom break several fully-loaded 747s arrived and about 600 people passed by, resulting in long lines at each of the immigration booths. It was difficult to pick the fastest line, so we split up with one adult and one child getting in line. The boys were starting to wake up and take an interest in what was going on. In no time at all they were rejoicing that they did not have on seat belts and were running and shouting to each other loudly. Soon they were weaving in and out of passengers, kicking luggage over, and ignoring dirty looks and hissed commands. We finally got within two or three people from the immigration booth and began to have hope of getting through. Our hopes were dashed by an innocent-looking passenger who had something wrong with his paperwork which triggered a gathering of officials. During this time, one of the boys discovered he could unhook the chains between the poles directing the path of the passengers. He then made it his personal mission to drop all the chains, each one clanking as it hit the pole. The other child amused himself by doing chin-ups on the booths and slaloming between the poles. When I finally got to the booth, I threw my passports and forms at the startled official and sprinted to catch my 3-year old who had slipped between the booths and was heading toward the escalator. After snagging him and retrieving the papers, we finally were able to retrieve our luggage.
We started the long run to the domestic terminal. The two boys, who had been happily running around, suddenly became exhausted and could hardly take another step. It was fast approaching the time to make the next connection. We had to maintain a 4-minute mile pace to check in at the domestic terminal. We finally made it, got checked in, and ran through security to try and make our gate to the tune of “Final boarding call for Flight….” I was holding my 6-year-old’s hand so high that his feet were only touching down every two or three steps. Suddenly, I tripped, and the fall was spectacular! Fortunately, our three-year old wasn’t injured after being catapulted 10 feet, though it did scare him. Actually his wailing was a good thing as people in our way parted to make way for the ambulance, and we made good enough time to catch the plane.
After hearing about this, you can understand why, when I see 55 minutes for a connection, my stomach hurts and I have flashbacks. However, if excitement is what keeps us young, let’s go for it.
Your Concerned Customer