Flying with an Infant and the Airline Changing Table

Flying with an Infant

My wife had reservations about flying with an infant. “What if she cries for the entire flight? What if everyone hates us?”


I was excited. First of all, when the attendants announced, “All passengers traveling with small children,” we were going to board with “the elite” and “first class” travelers. (I was always curious what they spoke about before the economy class got on. Would there be a champagne toast?) Secondly, flying with an infant made the idea of air travel seem new again. I would have to pay attention to the pre-flight safety announcements, allowing the bored flight attendants to feel validated now that one passenger noted their demonstration on the workings behind a seatbelt. This would guarantee better treatment and possibly additional snacks. We were also going to receive special shout-outs from the flight crew: “If you’re traveling with a lap child…”


But most importantly, we were going to be able to use the penultimate feature of the airplane bathroom: the infant changing table. (As Seinfeld rightly observed, nobody is using the razor blade dispenser.) If you consider my enthusiasm misplaced, put it this way: every pilot’s goal is to use each button and switch in that cockpit. I can’t fly a plane. The airplane bathroom… that’s my, for lack of a better word, cockpit. (Inappropriate puns here have already been thought up.)


Now, I should point out that Seinfeld’s airplane joke, in which he notices all the tiny apparatuses and appliances in a plane’s restroom, ignores an inescapable truth that might indicate that the comedian had either never flown with kids or never diapered off of the Earth. The infant changing table inside this miniature space is huge.


In David Sedaris’s new collection, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, he penned a bit of insight that had been provided to him by a flight attendant: “‘You know how a plastic bottle will get all crinkly during a flight?’ [the stewardess] asked. ‘Well, it happens to people too, to our insides. That’s why we get all gassy…'” And for a baby, whose insides are more plastic-bottle-sized than adult-human-sized, they poop at extreme altitudes in the same manner that an over-burdened plane is forced to dump fuel. Thus, I quickly became familiar with the airplane bathroom and consequently the enormous changing table.


Flying with an Infant and the Airline Changing Table


Once I released the lever, the table fell from the wall with such volume that it had forced the toilet seat to close. I was pinned against the door as if I had entered into a melee. As soon as I had my daughter freed of her dirty diaper, we hit turbulence. While I kept her sandwiched between the table and my hand, the soiled diaper, fresh diaper, pile of clothes, and Vaseline slid about.


But like all parents, I managed. I had contained the contents inside the soiled diaper, kept the clothes clean from the bathroom’s countertop puddles that moved with the turbulence, and diapered and dressed my daughter at thirty-thousand feet.


When I stepped outside of the lavatory, the airline’s insouciance for the father’s struggle for recognition had stared me in the face, tainting that modicum of pride for which I had felt. On the bathroom door, to indicate the presence of a changing table in that world of miniatures, the image of a stick figure in a dress upstaged me. The fleshy stick figure appeared calm and in control. I could not believe that the airlines operated under this pretense and assumption. As if a father would actually change his baby while wearing a dress.


Flying with an infant


Posted on by Noah Lederman in Baby Voyage

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