How to Survive a Flight with a Toddler
I had a situation on a flight a few years ago that was very sad. We were flying to LIR (Liberia, Costa Rica) from MSP (Minneapolis/St.Paul). This is a long flight for little kids. The family involved had an interesting background as the father was British. The mother was South African. The younger sister was Canadian and the slightly older brother had an American passport. Confused yet?
These were vacation flights which operated only one day a week. This family had booked a week long vacation package including airfare, lodging and transfers. The flight down to LIR was uneventful and on time. The passengers got off the airplane and we prepared for the long flight home to MSP.
Departure time came and went and we were told there was an issue and that we would be delayed. After about 30 minutes we saw a very distraught father and son being escorted to the airplane across the ramp by a customs and an airline representative. It seems that Costa Rica required all visitors to have six months left on their passport or they would not be allowed into the country. The little boys passport expired too early for the Costa Rican officials so they were sending him back to the USA. This was very sad for everyone involved. We could hear the little boy screaming for his mom in the cockpit after we left.
There is a happy ending to this story. After flying back to MSP with us that day, the father and son went to Chicago and had the young boys passport renewed in a day. They flew back to LIR via several stops on different airlines and only missed a couple days of “holiday”. I flew the same trip the next weekend and the whole family was together. The airline upgraded them to first class and we gave the little boy an extra special tour of the cockpit before we left LIR.
This story is not intended to discourage you from traveling. We think travel is a great experience for everyone and strongly encourage people to see the world and expose yourself and your kids to new places and cultures.
There are lots of good tips out there for traveling with children. Check out these tips by Mom’s and Crafters.com.
Captain Dan’s Tips for International Travel: Take it upon yourself to check passport and visa requirements for the countries you plan on visiting. The example above is extremely rare but you are traveling to a different country and all you need to do is run into a customs agent who loves to cross the t’s and dot the i’s and you are at their mercy on their home turf. Be prepared.