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A few years ago, I was traveling back from a quick trip to Denver.  I don’t normally do flight review posts for random flights on ULCCs like Frontier, since ya know, what is there really to say about flying on Frontier? But occasionally something interesting happens that I think might merit a post.

Setting the Scene …

I actually had something interesting happen on my outbound CVG-DEN flight as well, but you’ll have to wait for that story. :-). On my flight back from Denver to Cincinnati our flight left a little after 4 p.m. I’m an elite 100K member with Frontier, so I had picked a “stretch” seat and was sitting in Seat 2D.

(SEE ALSO: Why Frontier Airlines Elite Status Is the Only Airline Status I Have)

There was someone in the window seat (2F) and nobody in between us. Pretty much the entire plane had boarded and I was getting hopeful that I’d have an empty middle seat (always a bonus). But late in the boarding process, a family came onboard. The husband and wife and their lap child sat in Row 3B and 3C (someone else was in 3A) and they directed their son (around 7 years old) to the middle seat next to me (2E).

What to Do When Someone Else’s Kid Is Next to You on an Airplane

I think most families try to sit together when possible, but this becomes a bit more of a problem on low-cost carriers where you have to pay for pretty much any seat assignment. While waiting until the last minute to check in can be a great strategy to get a good seat on Frontier without paying, it only really works if you’re traveling by yourself. What I suspect happened here is that this family didn’t check in until they got to the airport and by that time, there weren’t really any seats available together. So that’s why they were split up. I am generally not a fan of asking passengers to move to worse seats to accommodate other passengers (even families), but I would move to a comparable or better seat. In this case, nobody asked me to move.

Of course I am a father of six, so I’m not going to leave this kid to suffer on his own, and I have plenty of experience dealing with kids. He was having trouble figuring out how to buckle the seatbelt, so I and the lady on the other side of him showed him how to do that. At first, I was not 100% sure he spoke English, as his family was speaking another language when they were boarding. But he ended up speaking English just fine. He asked me to help him lower his tray table, so I had to explain to him that he couldn’t lower it while we were taking off.

After that, I just tried my best to help him feel comfortable and explain what was going on. We talked a little bit about where he was from and where he was going. I showed him a bit about the plane and what was going on and then helped him lower his tray table and set up the snacks that his dad had given him (Chips Ahoy and Mountain Dew). I was working on some Kakuro puzzles offline and I had him “help” me with my addition and subtraction. :-). But about an hour into the flight, the flight attendants had apparently relocated the passenger in 3A, so he moved over to sit with his family. I was actually a little bummed. 🙂

Flashing Back to a Similar Flight

My mind kept flashing back to a similar situation, also on Frontier, but where MY family was on the other side of things. This was in July 2011 and we were flying from Indianapolis to Denver to visit family. This was before I got into miles and points and before I really knew much about airplane travel, and we “only” had 5 kids (with the oldest 10 years old). Similarly, our family was split up and the gate agents weren’t really able to help put us together. The best that they could do was put my wife and two of the kids together in the back of the plane, while I was up in the front somewhat near the other three kids. I think it was something like I was next to one, across the aisle from another, and the third was a row up. I still remember this grandma-style lady sitting next to my 9-year-old and being so super sweet, including buying him a cookie off the Frontier menu. Even to this day, I can’t think of that experience without it getting a little dusty if you know what I mean. 🙂

Bottom Line: Be a Good Person

Yes, it is not always an ideal situation when families are split up or when someone else’s kid is sitting next to you on an airplane. My best advice is to just do your best to be a good person and stay sympathetic as possible. Snacks and screen time are big winners too, of course! I was glad that I was able to help out this family and reduce their overall stress of flying with kids that day.

Have you ever had someone else’s child sitting next to you on an airplane? How did you handle it? Leave your experience in the comments.

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