Zooey Deschanel wasn’t allowed to board early on a plane with her infant


Here are some photos of Zooey Deschanel and her (uber-hot) husband Jacob Pechenik at the LA premiere of Trolls this week. I had hoped that being with a hottie MAN like Jacob would have forced the twee out of Zooey, but then they had a baby and they named her Elsie Otter, so maybe Jacob enjoys the twee as well. Anyway, little Elsie Otter crops up in a story Zooey told to Ellen DeGeneres this week. I watched the clip (I’m including it at the end of the post) and it’s not like Zooey is trying to “call out” American Airlines or slam them publicly. It seems like there was some kind of misunderstanding and Zooey was told that the airline no longer allows families with babies or small children to board first.

Zooey Deschanel recounted the incident during an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show this week, revealing she was sent away because she hadn’t paid for priority boarding. She said: ‘They stopped letting people go first with babies and there’s so much stuff [that you’re traveling with]. I was really excited about this privilege – that you get to go on first if you have a baby.’

But much to her dismay, the airline she was travelling with told her that she had to wait like the other passengers. She continued: ‘The first time we went on a plane with her I was like, “OK, we’re ready!” and they [the staff)]were like, ‘No, you can’t come on’… we had three seats in coach. The people who get on first pay a lot of money for this privilege.’

Unsurprisingly, Degeneres was unimpressed with the story, telling her guest, ‘It’s hard enough to travel with a baby. You’ve got all kinds of stuff.’

American Airlines told MailOnline Travel: ‘We do apologize to Ms. Deschanel for any confusion that occurred during the boarding process. Our policy is to pre-board families with children upon request, free of charge.’

[From The Daily Mail]

Watching the clip, it’s clear that Zooey was just sort of telling a funny story about flying for the first time with Elsie Otter, but Ellen was pissed off on her behalf that American Airlines didn’t let her board early. Since I don’t travel that much these days, I didn’t even know that boarding early with babies/kids is such a thing, but it makes sense… although it does seem to be one of those hot-button “mommy war” issues that end up being unexpectedly polarizing. Only bad mothers board early! No, only bad mothers DON’T board early!

You can also feel that American Airlines really doesn’t want Ellen blowing this up to be a bigger controversy, thus those tweets. If it’s American Airlines’ policy to pre-board families with children, why was Zooey told in no uncertain terms that she couldn’t board early with a small infant?

At around the 2:30 mark is when she talks about the plane stuff. You can watch the whole interview, but… yeah, a little Zooey goes a long way. She’s so twee.


Photos courtesy of WENN.

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103 Responses to “Zooey Deschanel wasn’t allowed to board early on a plane with her infant”

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  1. Badoosh2678 says:

    Uhhhh pretty sure there’s no mommy wars about pre boarding.

    • Laurabb says:

      I was just about to say the same thing, no war about early boarding. Board away.

    • MamaHoneyBadger says:

      Well, then let’s start one!


    • Pandy says:

      Can’t be bothered to watch the clip but first class will always board first … followed by elderly and families with small children. That’s why your FC airfaire is roughly $1000 more.

      • Kkhou says:

        I can’t vouch for American, but United doesn’t let families with small children board early at any time, even ahead of regular coach people. They stopped a few years ago, and (I think) instead make early boarding a perk either certain levels of frequent fliers. I don’t ask for many special acommodations as a mom with kids, but pre boarding families helps everyone. It gets the kids settled and buckled in so that other people can board efficiently.

    • anniefannie says:

      I had the same experience w/American. The Airline employee told me ” we recently changed the policy, no preboard for babies.” I sputtered “but that’s why people have kids…so we can pre board!” The look on her face was priceless….

  2. Ursaline says:

    It used to be a policy that women with children who needed a few minutes to get their kids settled could board with the older seniors and disabled people or whomever needed that extra time logistically. But now with so many other things, it’s all a cattle call and there is nothing sacred anymore. You’re lucky to be able to get seats in the same row, much less have time to get them settled before the herd boards and takes up all of the overhead bins.

    I used to fly all the time because my mom retired from AA. Now it’s not worth the misery.

    • Angelica says:

      Yes! Exactly, that was my experience. It was such a nice courtesy, not because of special privilege but because it was a big pain in the rear boarding in the middle or at the end, falling over people, putting bags away, apologizing for having my bum in someone’s face for 3 extra minutes… Luckily, I met some really gracious ladies and helpful gentlemen who not only understood but would help me get situated. I thought that was the norm for all airlines until one day seniors and parents with small children weren’t called up first. Then I realized that it was pretty much whatever airline/crew/airport that felt like putting it into play. Not complaining, just thought it was an awesome little perk when you’re carrying some extra 😊.

    • sienna says:

      I agree. I fly tons on America West that became US Air that is now American Airlines. When my girls were young we always were able to pre-board. Now its their upper tier status and zone 1 (at their leisure), lower tier status, their special credit card holders, Military in uniform, then small children,… Sometimes zone 2 goes before children.

      It is annoying because allowing families of small children to pre board is done for efficiency, it takes time to cram in all their stuff and get them settled. It’s not a privilege, it’s a benefit to the entire plane.

      • Slyceej says:

        Totally agree, Sienna, it’s a benefit to everyone. Quantas was the first airline I took that did not have pre-boarding and it was hard. Trying to walk through the narrow aisle with a wiggly baby who just wants to get down and trying not to bump people in the face with my diaper bag was a challenge. Especially since you are waiting in the aisle for a bit as others get settled.

        And it does benefit other people in addition to the people I bump in the face. A few months ago I flew to LA and the man next to us swapped seats with someone so he could sit next to his wife. The swappee’s eyes went dead when she saw us next to her and the woman behind her – a stranger – leaned into her and said, “oh my God…”. Fortunately, my baby ignored the haters and slept the entire way. But honestly, we were just lucky. You never know what you are going to get with a baby on a plane.

      • Timbuktu says:

        Especially since so many people now flatly refuse to change seats with family members so that those could sit together, but at the same time, children under a certain age are legally not allowed to sit without an accompanying adult. So, our options are: let families board first and take the seats together, or let all the other people outrun the families, pick their seats, and then start the slow and painful process of shuffling people around to figure out how to sit the families together without pissing off everyone who paid extra for this seat or that seat.

    • Audge says:

      Flying is such a mess now. Seat selection is so expensive but you have to pay if you want to sit near your child. Plus every single checked bag costs money too. What you pay for a ticket is almost just the tip of the iceberg. Than add parking, food, drinks, seats, bags, etc.

      I’m flying soon with my husband and 3 year old. Hopefully united still preboards families because we’re bringing her car seat. I’m probably going to piss everyone off by blocking the aisle while installing if they don’t let us on first. I can install it pretty quickly but it’s still going to suck

      I guess I’ll tell the gate staff ahead of time and hope they accommodate us.

    • Flora says:

      I’m used to European airline companies and they always let families with children board first even the budget ones. Which is why I get very irritated when time after time families show up at the last minute and then other passengers get asked to move seats to accomodate them.

  3. swak says:

    Sounds like a miscommunication thing to me. AA says the board families upon request and Zooey (and rightfully so because other airlines automatically board not only families with children under the age of 2 but also military) just thought she would be boarded early and didn’t request it. At least she isn’t going ballistic as some would do (celeb or not). I think for the safety of the children it is better to board them first. I travel with 8 year olds to Disney World and I am supervigilant when boarding and deplaning (?) because of the amount of people and they are getting things in and out of the overhead bins.

    • Mumzy says:

      There is a vast crevice between AA policy and actual practice. My 18-year old daughter took her first solo trip this weekend and AA maintenance issues delayed her arrival at a connection by over 3 hours, causing her to miss the last flight of the evening to her final destination. Despite the AA policy in this scenario to cover her overnight accommodations until the rescheduled flight the next morning, all they would do is give her a phone number for a company that would help her book a hotel room at her expense, but for a discount. That company then declared that there were no hotels available (in Philadelphia!–although there were), and then said that many hotels will not allow anyone under 21 to book a room, so they couldn’t help her. She went back to an AA rep at the airport and that person said maybe someone would find a cot for her and she could sleep out in the terminal (but not that person because she was about to be off shift). Multiple requests for a food voucher were refused as well. I called AA and explained what was happening and they said she would have to get help in Philadelphia, that the AA call center could not help, nor could they call AA in Philly, because they don’t take incoming calls.

      So the AA policy may sound reassuring when you buy a ticket, but that is little consolation when you find yourself in need (due to their failures) and they say, “You’re on your own.”

      • AG-UK says:

        OH HELL no… I rarely fly US carriers but I hear from others no picnic. She should demand a hotel refund, take the name of the mgr, and cc the Chairman. Totally unacceptable. We were going to LA from LHR and our flight was delayed, then cancelled but they did book us into a hotel a tired one but we didn’t have to pay. I do think Airlines have contracts with specific ones so that might be the reason they said full still NO excuse.

      • Timbuktu says:

        OMG, how are you writing about this so calmly? I’d still be livid! How did you work it out? I’m glad you share that story: my daughter is 10 and our grandparents live quite far away, so they’ve been begging to send her to them by herself since she was about 8, and I almost did it once, but now I’m so glad I didn’t!

      • Payal says:

        That is horrible. They are supposed to give her a hotel voucher as far as I know. Hope you are pursuing this.

      • Redheadwriter says:

        This exact thing happened to me in Chicago last year. I tweeted, I Facebooked, I called out every single social media on them and got several hundred dollars in vouchers from them. I ended up sleeping in the baggage area of the terminal that night because that particular terminal closed before I could get back in the terminal (I had left to get to a shuttle to the “free” hotel … which rejected me because they said they were “full”). Make ’em pay!

    • Tanya says:

      I think it’s more likely that she was confused. It used to be standard policy to let babies board first; the airlines started rolling it back when they figured out they could charge money for the privilege. I was definitely perplexed the first time; you’re with a baby, you’re anxious, you’re only half listening to the pre board announcements…

  4. Jade says:

    Am I the only one wo likes to board last? The less time in a confined space the better

    • swak says:

      Never thought of it that way, but maybe next time I’ll board last as I don’t like confined spaces either.

    • Sasha says:

      The problem is that is you board last then there is no overhead space left. People will take the space above your seat even if they don’t seat there.
      I am assuming we are talking about boarding without children.

      • swak says:

        I don’t take anything on board that has to be stored in the overhead bin. Because I travel with a child I take snacks for him/her so I don’t have to buy anything on the plane.

      • Sasha says:

        I don’t either. I check in my bags. But when travelling with kids one needs many things. And then you come in and somebody already to all the space with their 2 suitcases, which they didn’t want to check in.

      • Timbuktu says:

        I travel with a very expensive camera and lens, so I cannot afford to check my carry on: there’s no way my camera and lens would survive that. So, I am rather keen on overhead space.
        Also, I wouldn’t care at all if I were traveling alone or with another adult, but when traveling with kids, I want my husband near me to help out, not on the other end of the airplane, chilling while I deal with both kiddos (because they always want to sit with me).

    • Mia4S says:

      Agreed. I think it has to do with the mad fight for overhead bins. I check my bag so boarding is a breeze for me and I just stick my backpack/purse under the seat. I get that some people are terrified of losing their bag and unfortunately that’s been exaggerated a bit as a concern (150+ flights for me all around the world, and two delayed bags. That’s it.). Most people are just trying to avoid the checked baggage fee though.

    • my3cents says:

      I think the mad dash is because most of the time you have to pay for checked luggage- that’s why people take those oversized overstuffed carry ons.
      Personally I just take a small bag- to place under the seat- no stress and no need to board so early.

    • Mumzy says:

      You are not alone, my fellow free-ranger! With nothing to go in an overhead bin, there is no way I will hurry on and then wait, and wait, and wait while sitting in a tiny, jammed space.

  5. Megan says:

    The policy is that the people who pay for the privilege go first (along with special needs passengers), then families with small children next. She probably tried to go with the first group and was turned away.

    • Sasha says:

      Not necessarily. Different airlines have different rules for pre-boarding.
      There were cases when I wasn’t allowed to preboard with 3-5 y.o. kids. My kids are very tall and look older and I simply was too stressed out already to argue. I think it was on before-the-merger United.

  6. Number one Chiwetel Fan says:

    I fly a lot (well, it seems like a lot) and I feel like all airlines announce that people flying with small children can board early. I’d be really surprised if I saw a family with an infant being turned away. Edit, just read Megan’s comment. Makes sense.
    I don’t have kids but I would 100% support any accommodation which would make flying with kids easier for the parents. I can imagine, though, that boarding the plane early might be a double edged sword? You get on, and then have to wait for everyone else to schlep on.
    I didn’t watch the interview. I love Zooey’s music but am not really a fan of anything else.

    • Bonzo says:

      That’s been my experience too. All the airlines I’ve flown have allowed those who need extra time to board first. I think this is some sort of misunderstanding as it’s not the norm.

      I enjoyed being first when I had little ones, which was during the time that airlines started adding luggage fees so people were carrying on more bags. Pretty much everything I carried on was for them.

      • Millennial says:

        The last time I flew with my 1 year old boarding for families with young children was not standard anymore. They told us they stopped calling for it, but you can still request it. I don’t remember which airline it was though. We definitely requested it because it does take an extra couple minutes to get situated, you can’t just slam your luggage into the overhead and sit down when you have babies and all the stuff they require for a long flight.

      • Bonzo says:

        They may not announce it, but I’m fairly certain they accommodate it upon request. It’s just good customer service.

    • Tanya says:

      Sadly, this hasn’t been the norm on US airlines for at least 3 years now.

      • Ange says:

        I just did a month in America and Delta definitely does it, all 8 flights I was on had pre-boarding for those who might need extra time eg elderly or those with small children. I liked that they included the elderly too.

    • Timbuktu says:

      I was once flying with my 5-year-old daughter from Disney, and she broke out in hives on her body right as we were boarding the shuttle to go to the airport. I kind of freaked out, got Benadryl at the airport and gave it to her ASAP. Well, she immediately got very sleepy, so I asked the airline representative if we could perhaps board early, so that she could go ahead and sleep, and they just would not let us because she was over 4, and their policy was to only let passengers with kids 4 and under pre-board. That rather pissed me off, since it was painful obvious that my daughter was falling asleep while standing.

      • DesertReal says:

        So…your story is you freaked out & gave your child an antihistamine that renders adults comatose in a busy public place?
        But. You’re upset because they didn’t make an exception for your painfully obvious gun-jumping insanity?
        OMG airlines are so unreasonable!

  7. Hfsni says:

    No they told me the same thing. You can only pre board if u pay extra for that which is ridiculous. Its not a mommy war its just that getting a small child sat with all your gear away only delays other passengers if they can go first then its faster boarding.
    Its practical…not like im a motherrrr now and i want preboarding just bc

    • SilverPoodle says:

      Why is it “ridiculous” to pay for the privilege of boarding early? Everyone else who wants to board early does. Having children is a lifestyle choice, not a disability.

      • Sasha says:

        “Having children is a lifestyle choice, not a disability. ”

        I think I only found this attitude in the US. In Russia women with small children are automatically let in front of the line (any line – store, tickets, boarding etc) – without any rules, it is a cultural norm. To us it means being a civilized society. Not to sound condescending. But to say something like what you said would be unthinkable in Russia.

        In the US some people are so cutthroat , the social fabric is completely ripped apart. Do people really need to have laws and rules to care for each other and help each other for the benefit of the society as a whole? I mean, majority of people have children, or have relatives who have children. They would want them to be treated well, no?

        This type of thinking is why the US is the only developed country without a maternity leave.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Ooohhhh no you didn’t. 😉

        ETA: I’m all for helping out parents with small kids. If only to make it easier on those of us who are easily annoyed by them. *cough* Yesterday a small boy vomited all over his dad, himself, the stroller etc. in the middle of the grocery store. I felt so bad for them and asked if I could help and maybe get an employee with a tower or ask for the restroom. What else can I do, right? He was so glad that anyone even paid attention but told me no thanks, he was just waiting for an employee to come by and tell him where the restroom is. Then he wasn’t allowed to use it!!! WTF? This wasn’t fun for ANYONE involved or around him. Why be an assh*le to a parent in a sticky situation?

        I have to say when it comes to travel, I don’t envy parents. But honestly, I pay the same for my ticket so while I don’t care if they go first, it’s also not insane to request payment for a little extra.

      • MC2 says:

        Hfsni explained that she thinks parents shouldn’t HAVE to pay to pre-board and that it is practical to get them out of the way of other people, she didn’t say anything about it being ridiculous for other people to pay for it.

        “Having children is a lifestyle choice and not a disability” – thanks for making me roll in laughter. Are you kidding me?! Are you one of the people who don’t get up out of their seat on a bus for a pregnant lady because ‘she chose to get knocked up’?

      • lisa says:


        you chose to have them, you chose to fly with them, you wait in line with them. otherwise, that’s one more person taking my overhead space before i even get to my seat.

      • Bridget says:

        It’s pre-boarding, not asking for an entire suite to themselves in the plane. Don’t be rude.

        Folks, you don’t have to fly either if families on planes bother you so much.

      • lisa says:

        @It’s pre-boarding, not asking for an entire suite to themselves in the plane. Don’t be rude.

        Folks, you don’t have to fly either if families on planes bother you so much.

        they should get what they paid for no more no less. the people who get on last have the same right to the overhead and might not have room because they dont get any undeserved entitlements.

      • Bridget says:

        If there’s no room they gate check your bag for free. And that’s really sad that what most people consider a courtesy is to you considered an entitlement. As it is, space in the overhead compartment is no longer a guarantee. Its your choice to make that gamble, and not the responsibility of the few families that may get to pre-board.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        Bridget, come on. That is exactly the kind of attitude most people without kids find annoying about parents. You don’t have to fly if families bother you? Sure. You also don’t have to fly if it’s such a huge deal with kids. I’m all for common courtesy but there are so many parents who push it. It goes both ways.

      • Timbuktu says:

        I’m fairly sure Bridget brought this up as a COUNTER-argument, not as an argument. I’m sorry, but if you say “if it’s so hard to travel with kids, don’t travel”, it serves you right to hear “well, if you it’s so hard for you to be courteous, perhaps airports and airplanes are not for you, travel by car, where you have full control of where you sit, what you listen to, and where you put your bags”.

      • Timbuktu says:

        100%, agreed. It’s European in general, I think. I’ve had very positive experiences with kids in Holland, France, Germany as well.

      • Bridget says:

        I brought it up merely to highlight the absurdity. People need to get from place to place, even kids. A little courtesy and kindness goes a long way, especially in an airport.

      • DesertReal says:

        I agree with SilverPoodle, but Sasha is completely out of line for trying to generalize all of the US as a “Cutthroat” society.
        I don’t have kids, never have, never will.
        I don’t care whether you’re a breeder or not.
        I also don’t care about when I board because every flight I take has assigned seating, & my husband & I travel light.
        That being said, I work with the public daily in a pharmacy, & the raging sense of entitlement some people have is absolutely infuriating.
        Like most, I’m more than happy to help someone, let them get ahead if they ask politely, etc. What I’m not about to do, is just roll over when someone just assumes no one else is in a hurry, short on time, or acts like their time is somehow more valuable.
        Long story short, most people are willing and able to help, jump in there & assist, or let people go ahead if asked.
        Do not get me started on the social fabric in Russia.

  8. Rianic says:

    I get frustrated w airlines bc they always split my kids up. One time, United had my three year old sitting two rows ahead of the rest of the family.

    • swak says:

      Don’t know if you can, but I take each of my grandchildren to Disney when they turn 8 and when I order my tickets I automatically pick the seats also. Mainly so that I can get a window seat so the little one can look out the window (none of them have been in a plane before). I fly mostly United.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      Is there an airline left where you can’t choose your seat online either when purchasing the ticket or during check-in?

      • Sasha says:

        A number of airlines will not let you choose seats if you are buying through a 3rd party or a partner.
        For example, if I am flying to Europe and I am buying a ticket with a connection on Lufhansa, and the second leg is operated by a partner airline, I cannot choose seats for that second leg.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        I have to say, for all the issues I constantly have with Lufthansa, that is something they know how to do. Their online booking process is so easy and you can choose pretty much everything in advance. There is an insane selection of preferences for the menu if you fly business or first, not that I’m the one actually flying I just book the ticket. Singapore Airlines too.

    • MC2 says:

      Yes! I do not travel very often but went to NYC from the west coast with my 5 yr old & picked my seats ahead of time but didn’t specify that we should stay together (I put in his birthdate) and both flights- to and from- they put my kids rows away from us. What?! I told the flight attendant and he told us to look pathetic, ask for someone to move and said that it might help if my son cries. No joke. They just pushed us along to get on the plane, stand there with all our stuff and beg for some poor person to switch seats. No one moved for a while until some poor man (who was a dad) said okay.

      The flight back, same thing, so I went to the desk early and they printed me a new ticket next to my son right there. I boarded and a lady was in that seat- they printed me a ticket to a seat that already had a passenger & a ticket. I looked at the lady with my ticket and she stood up, ready to fight “this is MY seat- look at my ticket?!” Yes I know, I said, they just gave me the same ticket. What the hell. Was I supposed to battle her with my son?! The attendant that printed my ticket was nowhere to be found. I feel like I have to get educated and some weapons before trying to fly with children again. And then you find your seat and people glare at you for having a kid…….

      United Airlines sucks.

      • Bridget says:

        Really? One of the last times I flew I was asked if I’d be okay with switching seats so a family could be together – the flight crew made sure it happened for the family (also, I said yes). What a weird way of going about it.

      • swak says:

        Guess I’ve been lucky, but my seats that I chose ahead of time never were changed and I pretty much fly United.

      • MC2 says:

        Yes- really. The flight crew just had us go on board and yell if someone wanted to switch us seats. I couldn’t believe it & it didn’t feel right to anyone on that plane. I was the parent with a kid, already getting glared at for daring to bring my child on a plane and now I was yelling for a seat. It was a terrible experience and once I got into my seat and buckled my kid in, I cried. I will never fly United again.

    • DesertReal says:

      People are more than happy to switch seats with you once you get on a plane. Its not a big deal. Trust me when I say no one wants to sit next to your 3 year old.

  9. Tania says:

    I don’t care either or about preboarding parents and kids with all their stuff, yeah they need time to get settled. What irritates me is the same parents holding up the deplaning process because they want off ASAP and don’t wait to take their million bags off while us regular folk with one bag are stuck behind them for 10 minutes while they get their stuff together

  10. Lightpurple says:

    Zoey flies coach?

    • Ashley says:

      Actually that doesn’t surprise me…I feel like I remember something about her financial details coming out during her divorce and she was surprisingly frugal and conservative with her money.

  11. HappyMom says:

    Isn’t it only Southwest where you don’t have assigned seats? I thought American had designated seats-in which case it really doesn’t matter when you board, right? Your seat is waiting for you.

    • OTHER RENEE says:

      I fly Southwest a lot and they have assigned seats too. I think many years ago they did not. The problem nowadays is that many airlines have things like gold star and premiere members who are paying to board first. Basically just titles to part you from your money for the privilege of getting on board a few nanoseconds before the herd. I find it hard to believe she was told she can’t board early but I wasn’t there so who knows.

      • HappyMom says:

        It’s not really assigned seats though-you are assigned a spot in line-where you sit is up to you once you board and see what’s left. They do have Family Boarding-between A and B.

      • OTHER RENEE says:

        Happy Mom, you’re right actually. It’s A, B and C. That isn’t technically an assigned seat.

    • Sasha says:

      It is still hard standing in line with a squirming/ crying kid, a child seat, a stroller, a diaper bag, a milk bottle and what not while there are hundreds to people around you.
      And if you board last there won’t be an overhead space left. So you have to stand in line to try to get in while there is some overhead space still.

    • MC2 says:

      They’ll give you assigned seats (this was my experience) and then switch them when you show up. I had assigned seats and then they suddenly all changed the day of- twice.

  12. Nicole says:

    There’s no mommy wars about this…boarding with children under two is a courtesy every airline provides (or so I thought) so parents can get on the plane and settled with all of their bags and an infant. It also speeds up the boarding process. I’m baffled as to why she wasn’t able to board early

  13. Bridget says:

    I’ve flown with small children and without. Pre-boarding is nice, but it’s a privilege, not a right.

  14. Pam says:

    I love the ability to preboard with my infant especially since so far no other adult is with me. It also gives the flight attendant to go over special instructions with you. Change tables on planes are the worst, just saying.

  15. Kate says:

    Surely this is something you should pay for barring disability? First on gets first dibs on the overhead compartments, and thus gets away with taking up more space than others and can actually cost others time and money even though they actually followed the carry on guidelines to the letter. Everyone else pays for the privilege, so I’m not sure why parents should get it for free?

    • Timbuktu says:

      @Kate, so you are OK with someone being a jerk to others as long as they paid $20 for it, but got forbid a family gets ahead of you?
      I think your assumption that families take up more overhead space is quite false. I buy 3-4 tickets when we travel, but we never place 3-4 items in the overhead, it is usually 1-2: i simply cant carry 3 carry ons when I travel alone with 2 children. Whereas if 3-4 different people bought the same tickets, they would most likely have at least 1 carry on each. Plus, most of the things you need for kids, you want handy, so under the seat in front they go. So, I would argue that families – at least my family – have positive, not negative impact on overhead space. The most blatant abuses of overhead space I have observed had nothing to do with families, with 1 glaring exception where the Dad was an astonishing jerk.

      • DesertReal says:

        I’m with Kate.
        It’s not an assumption.
        More people (i.e. families) = more things.
        It’s more like… what’s that word again?
        Oh yeah! Logic.

    • SLM says:

      Only a small portion of the early boarders are paying additional money. Some travel more frequently, so get it as a perk with their air miles. The military fliers are not paying more but get pre-boarding. Nor the elderly or disabled. A majority of fliers are not paying more. Families with small children should preboard because it will make the process easier for everyone else, I promise you.
      The reality is that you want me and my kids on the plane first, because if you are boarded, you are going to get hit with bags or carseats or backpacks that can’t be controlled and my kids will try to crawl in your laps as they go to wrong seats. They will slow the entire plane loading process down, and it happens no matter how organized we are. We take up less overhead space because we must check a bag every time. I can not carry it on with all the other crap and their backpacks must go under their seat with all the gear to keep them relaxed.
      When I travel alone, I like to board last. Trust me, being in that little 18 x 24 inch space any longer than necessary is no gift.

  16. Nicole says:

    Went to the OB today, pregnant ladies get seen first. I understand why, but my raging endometriosis does not. Either way, I respect that. I have to say the little boys meeting and playing in the waiting room makes the fact I’d like to rip out my insides easier to take. And I look forward and not forward to hopefully having a wee one to take to Hawaii to meet my in laws. Now that plane ride will suck. Don’t they all? Either way, I’d gladly wait for anyone who needs to board first. If we do it at a doc, why not a plane?

    • Bridget says:

      That’s weird. An appointment is an appointment, unless the pregnant ladies in question had an emergency. Def not standard practice.

      • Nicole says:

        Really? Holy crap. I had no idea.

      • Konspiracytheory says:

        Sorry – double post.

      • Jesie says:

        Yep, super weird unless every pregnant woman who’s ever gone in before you has had an emergency, which you’d probably notice as many would be in a bit of a state.

        I’d be finding a new OB. Pushing you to the back of the queue because a pregnant woman showed up to a routine appointment with plenty of time to spare isn’t remotely acceptable.

  17. Thaisajs says:

    This happened to me once when my daughter was a baby and I still had to bring a car seat on the plane for her to sit in. They wouldn’t let me board early (I asked) and (as a single mom) I had to carry the seat, the diaper bag and my kid on the plane as people were in the aisles putting bags up. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t help but bang some people with the seat and I had an awful time installing it with my kid hanging off me in the Baby Bjorn.

    The next time I flew (same airline), I appealed to the gate agent for help and she let us on early. Even before she announced that the first class folks could come on board. I think these things are sort of hit or miss, but I find it never hurts to ask for help. Just saying that magic word can really make a huge difference.

  18. Dani says:

    That’s so strange. We fly AA a lot and it’s always first class/business then families with children. There are times I’ve asked at the gate to board with first class sand was never turned away. But usually we wait to get on last, because who wants to be on a plane with a toddler for an extra hour besides fly time? Not meeee.

  19. HeyThere! says:

    As a mom of an infant that flies…it’s annoying as hell to not be able to board first. My experience with AA was the same. But to make it worse, by the time we called to board the plane, all the over head bins were ‘full’ so my carry on, with 80%of my babies things for the long flight, had to be checked. It was ridiculous!!!! I was livid. It was such a mess, such an inconvenience for me as a mom trying to care for her infant-while trying to keep said infant happy to help other people who paid good money to not be miserable(listening to my crying baby). Welp, we all lost that day. Baby was miserable, I was miserable and so were the passengers. The same dang thing happened on my two return flights!! I was ready that time and only had my ID in my massive purse then loaded up so much baby stuff because I knew the bins would be full. Side note: that’s BS. As a paying passenger, who is allowed a purse and a carry on because I pay for it, why does this keep happening to me?? About 10 people on the flight had to check their carry on bag. Being totally inconvenienced the entire flight. They also broke my lap top and wouldn’t claim responsibility! I will never travel AA again. My lap top and other expensive items were in my Checked bag. After nicely arguing with the flight attendant for ten minutes that I can’t check sensitive material, I was told check it or get off the plane. So I checked it and they broke my lap top and I didn’t have the things I needed to care for my child. I was allowed a diaper bag but it was full of bottles of water, formula and bottles. It took up all my diaper bags space!!! Screw AA.

  20. Umila says:

    I wasn’t able to pre-board early with my infant and I don’t see it as my ‘right’. I get really annoyed with people talking about ‘courtesy’ when we’re already living in a luxury country. I’ve definitely lived in worse areas and I’m grateful to be living where I am now with my child. Of course it is nice to be able to board early, but sometimes we have to shuffle. I’m actually more concerned with older individuals or people with impairments being able to board first. Flying is stressful for everyone. The only time I’ve ever boarded early was when I was an emotional wreck and my husband had been stabbed. The airlines were so generous in accommodating me and making me comfortable. I feel guilty that I was treated special. What’s to say that *your* case is worse or more stressful than someone else’s? Not going to do it.

  21. JaneDoesWork says:

    I’ve never understood why someone would want to pay more to get on a plane early, EXCEPT if they have a larger carry on that needs to be stowed, which always seems to be a problem these days. That said, I don’t have kids and I wish they had not done away with this. I just started a new job 3 weeks ago and I’ve already had 4 flights (I’ll be traveling a lot) and every single time boarding was a nightmare because of parents traveling with young children. I don’t blame the parents, kids just require a lot of stuff to travel, and that can only be moved along so fast. Airlines should let them book early so they don’t hold up everyone else trying to get to their seats.

  22. Nighthawk says:

    AA is full of it. We have a toddler and the first time we flew with him we were told “We don’t allow pre-boarding for boarding with small children anymore.”

    My wife jokingly said “What if I say “Pretty please?” and they replied also laughing “I wish we could, but we’re not allowed to.”

    We also tried the “Ask politely” game on the flight back, but were denied.

    No big deal, but AA is bullshitting here if they claim they will accommodate requests.

    • stinky says:

      Exactly. Sounds like management-media-damage-control blanket statement made to put a lid on the squawking … when in fact they may not even KNOW of the newest lame policies being dumped on the terminal staff (right?) The thread alone demonstrates that everyone is experiencing different stuff on the same carrier. im flying SW tomorrow and am dreading the hell out of it and its only a 400 mile flight (1.5hours)
      I confirmed w/ “pre-check-in” exactly 24 hours ahead of the flight (precisely to the minute) and I’m STILL in Group B boarding. so youre all correct – you have to pay money if you wanna go on first anymore.

  23. Tess says:

    I have three young kids and we travel a lot. Living on an island means we fly 5-10 times a year. Aside from the few times we’ve splurged on first class, it’s always a crowded, greasy, dirty, grumpy, stinky affair. I find airline staff to be pleasant and helpful almost all of the time but the overall conditions are rotten for all of us, staff included, and it’s just plain miserable. (First class on the other hand, makes me want to move in and stay for ever. The difference is astounding!)

    Anyhoo, to the point, on the airlines I fly, smaller planes still always board families and people with disabilities first, sometimes even before business class. Larger planes now board by zones – business class then back to front, which does make sense for efficiency.

    Personally, with kids I would actually prefer to board last. We would all much rather have a little extra freedom in the airport than be locked in our seats for an extra half hour watching everyone else board, a never ending stream of fellow humans staring at me as I try to nurse a fussy baby while passing out all the doodads that the older kids need to keep from going bonkers before the in flight entertainment systems kick in.

  24. Wren33 says:

    I have had mixed results with this with different airlines. Some do, some don’t, some cutoff with infants, some are more vague about “small children”. But really, it is a courtesy to everyone. If you are trying to settle multiple children, and install car seats or harnesses, you are getting in everyone else’s way. The issue is that so many airlines have created so many categories of passengers that board before the general boarding (first class, advantage, advantage plus, advantage premium, etc.) that the whole purpose or boarding the last row first gets totally lost and it is all chaos in there anyway.