That first flight and that screaming baby

My Alaska Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Seattle Tuesday afternoon provided a great refresher course on what’s great – and what’s not – about modern day air travel.

The great part: the people you end up talking to.

The not so great part: crying babies.

On this very full flight there was one inconsolable child who cried and screamed pretty much the entire flight. I was sitting a row behind the family and I could see that they were trying to remain calm and solve the problem, but nothing seemed to work.

I thought I was a hero there for a second when the crying stopped after I passed the little girl the frog-shaped flashlight I travel with. But after a few seconds, she went right back to weeping and everyone on the plane went back to rolling their eyes and plugging their ears.

That’s the not so great part.

The great part: meeting people who aren’t bored (yet) with flying.

In my row, there was a 15 year-old girl going home to Seattle who apologized for making me and Mr. Middle Seat get up so she could take her seat by the window. She told us she’d insisted her mother get her that seat because she was nervous about flying alone.

Mr. Middle Seat chatted her up during the flight and as we all got up to leave he asked her if she was still nervous. She was, she admitted, because now she was afraid she wouldn’t find her mother in the airport.

I offered to walk out with her and on the way she told me that on the first leg of the trip, she couldn’t find her friend for at least a half hour when she landed in Las Vegas.

After asking assorted – unhelpful – people for help, she ended up crying and calling her mother, who said “Do I have to fly to Las Vegas to get you?”

So we walked off the plane together, down the concourse, down two sets of escalators, past the baggage carousels and out to the curb. A second-nature trek for me, but definitely daunting and confusing when seen through the eyes of a newbie traveler.

My new buddy called her mom, who said she’d be pulling up momentarily. And I said good-bye to what I hope is now a more confident traveler already planning her next great adventure.