Thursday, February 10, 2011

Airline Safety of a Different Sort

I fly soon and have been reviewing the updated flight safety checklists because I will be carrying my baggage onboard. I learned I could bring my knitting needles and sewing scissors (metal and under 4” long—yes), but I am sorry to say that I must leave at home my pick axe, swords, bowie knife, and flare gun.

Of all the potentially dangerous items listed, there was nothing to prevent the most common threat to passenger safety: babies. My firstborn was lethal on a flight several years ago. Almost brand new and still squalling, I bundled her and prepared well for travel. Packed in her diaper bag were extra diapers and a change of clothes because good mothers should plan for one poopy blow-out. Chicken Little gave, however, gave me two. One per flight. I changed her on the first leg of the journey in the comfort and convenience of an airport bathroom with a full sink and diaper changing table. Mid-flight on the second plane, however, my husband began to insist that something was rotting in the baby’s pants. We were already seated near another passenger whose bathing rituals apparently did not parallel our own. Swathed head to toe in her dark robes, her skin was protected from view, but the weave of fabric could not withhold the heavy body odor that was making several passengers twist uncomfortably in their seats. Add to that the now rising, putrid scent of a diarrhea diaper, one that, as I quickly learned, failed to hold its contents.

At the rear of the jet on the floor, flight attendants cooed at my baby. They dutifully passed me wet paper towels as I hastily cleaned the results of explosive bowels off her tiny parts. While I at least had the extra diapers, Little One had completely soiled both outfits. I sat back down in my seat with a nearly-naked baby. She was blissfully content, having been relieved of all her baggage—interior and out, but the plane continued to smell terrible. Passengers practically fought to deplane at landing.

This time, I am travelling sans enfants. My children are long past the diaper stage anyway, but I will miss them. I will be safe from the bursting bottoms of my own babies, but I cannot guarantee the absence of other babies on board—a bittersweet and mixed blessing, to be sure.

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