It's that time again. The time when airports around the nation are going to be flooded with college students going home for the summer. Businessmen, watch out. Especially if you fly Southwest and have to choose your seat when you get on the plane.
The competition is on.
If you can't get an Emergency Exit aisle with all that extra leg room, where can you sit? How do you pre-screen your seatmate to predict how bearable your flight is going to be? Oh man. And you forgot your iPod this time. This is going to be a long flight.
Well, have no fear. I can help. There is a passenger demographic that is far too easily overlooked in the airport. This type of person is the perfect plane partner and makes the best seatmate. Your flying experience will never be the same.
The seatmate you want to look for is an eight year kid with a lanyard around his neck. That's right. You're looking for the child that is flying solo.
You may be thinking, "Sarah. You are crazy. Why would I want to spend over an hour with an unsupervised miniature human? Children are messy, loud, they have no concept of personal space, and the seats on the planes are not getting any bigger. What are you thinking?!?"
I'm so glad you asked.
Children who fly alone are generally pros. They typically come from a divorce situation where one parent lives in the Midwest and another lives in Florida (don't ask me why, that's just usually how it works, although sometimes it's California rather than Florida). That means these kids make these trips as often as every other weekend or as infrequently as once a month. They are pros. You think YOU have frequent flyer miles? You have nothing on this toothless kid.
Now for the best part - these kids (from now on, we will refer to them as KWFMTY, or "Kids Who Fly More Than You") get preferential treatment. The flight attendants check on them regularly, the pilot usually talks about little Timmy on the intercom, and everyone treats KWFMTY like a celebrity. Which means YOU, Mr. or Ms. Seatmate, will be treated like a celebrity too.
Now if you are the kind of person who loves having an allergic reaction when the flight attendant accidentally gives you peanuts when you ask for pretzels or if you love being without a pillow or blanket when you ask the flight attendant five times to "please, kindly, if it wouldn't be any inconvenience, but I'm freezing, please" to get you one, then this is not a good option for you. Because if you do sit by a KWFMTY, you will probably get three bags of pretzels, two blankets, and a partridge in a pear tree to complement your two free refills of ginger ale.
That's right. You will be treated like a celebrity too. You may even get to take a picture with the kid and the pilot for the kid's Flight Scrapbook. You just never know. The perks are endless, really.
Now, again, the choice is yours. But I just want you to know that you have some pretty great options this flying season, and those options can usually be spotted sporting pigtails or heelies.