flight cancellations + stranded in NY with a 1 year old.

(not the fun, Manhattan, I heart New York, either...)

Oli and I had quite the adventurous end to our Florida trip. One I hope never to repeat, but in hindsight I can actually see some good from it. Namely, that we bonded big time. But as often happens, the good came from a trial.

Brad called me hours before we were to fly out from Tampa warning me that there was a huge blizzard in Montreal and that our flights could be delayed. He warned me to pack extra diapers and baby food pouches (those things are amazing when you're traveling!) in case we had an extra few hours at the airport. No problem and noted. I packed two extra diapers and enough food for one extra meal, knowing that Oli also eats whatever an adult does so he could always munch on my airport dinner too.

We got to Tampa to learn that our flight was 2 hours delayed. Frustrating, but we saw this coming. I should still make my connection to Montreal in New York because there was a big window of extra time there. We passed the time easily enough and had a fun encounter running into the parents of an old friend of mine.

Airports and planes are relatively simple with kids, especially if they're under two. Sure, there are the concerns of their little ears popping at take off and landing (any sucking can help though - so feeding or soothers or good old fashioned pinkie fingers are helpful), diaper explosions, and the baby crying the whole time (only the latter has ever happened to us after six flights with two kids). But then there are the perks. Kids under two fly free ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. If you can scrounge enough money up to fly somewhere, your babe is on the house, except a little tax tacked on (Oli was $20 to fly to Florida, for example). And the line bypasses. We never waited in line for more than 5 minutes - to get our tickets, check our baggage, pass through security and customs, and board the plane. We boarded BEFORE the first class passengers and were treated like gold. And lucky for me (and everyone else) Oli was a dream to fly with and was only smiling and giggling the whole time. But don't be too jealous, I flew to France with the kid last year and he cried for oh, about 7 hours, so I've paid my dues :)


Once we were in the plane headed for New York there were technical problems and our nightmare began. The plane was on the runway for over an hour and so instead of being two hours delayed we were closer to four hours delayed once we got to New York. Just in time for me to miss my connection to Montreal.

But there was still hope! That flight was massively delayed too! Oli and I had enough time to grab dinner even, and chat with my friend's parents again which was lovely.  And Oli was still content as ever. Our airport expenses were really piling on ($10 soggy sandwiches, anyone? $5.99 fruit smoothies for the kiddo? Gah.), but that's traveling right?


Because it was weather related, the airline was under no obligation to provide housing for anyone on the flight, and the next available flight to Montreal was New York was the next evening at 9pm. The thought of 22 hours in an airport was terrifying to me. We had two diapers left and had been spending more money than I was comfortable with on food. Plus, how do you spend the night with a toddler in a public space?! I ran to the customer service desk to make sure Oli and I were their first clients and by then my face was covered in tears. They explained the airline's position on the cancellation being weather-related but I wasn't backing down.

And I had a good case too - I didn't have enough diapers or food for my son and the airport didn't sell either (baby food, that is, though obviously there were restaurants). So it was either my negotiating or my sobbing, but they made an exception just for us. They paid for a car and hotel for us to and from the airport and arranged me the soonest available flight to Montreal, which was the next day from another airport in New York, still at 7pm. That didn't solve the diaper or food situation, and they didn't offer to may for my food expenses that I'd obviously encounter living in a hotel for 24 hours, but it was better than anyone else on my flight was faring so I was grateful. Did I mention little boy was WIRED?

Oli and I finally got to the hotel at 11pm, and a crib wasn't brought to our room until midnight. I made a make shift bed for him, but we didn't need it in the end. We ate at the hotel restaurant which was wildly overpriced and not very good, and it felt like we were bleeding money ($5.99 for a "diaper kit" or 1 diaper and 6 wipes), but we were safe and headed home eventually. And we had free wifi. Hallelujah!

Since we didn't have our luggage, I had to buy a lot of essentials (contact solution) at the hotel gift shop as there was no pharmacy in walking distance and paying for a cab would cost around the same in the end. Brad was so encouraging the whole time through e-mails, even though he was also thrown for a huge loop thinking he could finally return to work and be off 24/7 primary caregiver duty. As we were running out of diapers, he was running out of food, creativity and patience with our 2 year old (who can blame him!?) No one in our family had it easy those two days.

Thankfully our flight on Wednesday evening did take off, and was actually only 50 minutes! Arriving in Montreal was so sweet. I joked that it felt like the Promised Land but instead of milk and honey, it was flowing with clean clothes, my own bed, Brad, and Lily. Brad had something scheduled for Wednesday night so Morgan greeted us at the door with freshly baked cookies. As if on cue, Lily cried out from her bedroom and Oli and I were all too glad to go see her. Oli went right for her and after smothering her face with kisses, we all eventually were tucked in and asleep.


Moral of the Story:
 load your carry-ons with EVERYTHING you need and more:
Double the diapers you need, double the food, extra set of clothing.
And I now am convinced it's worth it to buy the travel-sized 
toiletries: contact solution, tooth paste, deodorant, etc. They may
cost a lot at the drug store, but they're more in the hotel gift shop!
Or, always fly direct :)


  1. Sorry to hear you and your little one had to go through such an ordeal. Glad to hear you did make it home safely. I'm interested in hearing how you handled dealing with Oli on a 7 hour flight with him crying the whole time! We're considering taking a trip this summer and could use some advice.

  2. wow, so sorry you had to go through that. i remember flying from Fl to NY with a sick 6 month old (at the time) NOT A GOOD IDEA. the flight was also delayed but I always remember my mother telling me "you never know what can happen, always carry more than what you need" and I did.
    Sorry you had a bad experience, but at least your home safe :)