americanairlineskidsIt’s rarely a good idea to read bad reviews of an airline before flying, but having done so, American Airlines managed to surpass expectations on our recent international trip.

Our departure from Beijing (me and three young children) was relatively seamless as we worked our way into all the family lanes along the way before boarding. And once on board our American Airlines flight 186 to Chicago, the flight crew was very pleasant and accommodating.

We were given water after asking while waiting to take off. And throughout the Beijing-Chicago flight we were helped, and pleasantly, when needed. Often on previous flights, flight attendants have helped, but with a huff and a puff like they were doing us a big favor. But on AA186, we were treated always politely. The next domestic leg was also fine (the flight attendant offered my kids gummy worms to suck when one was crying, though it was from exhaustion rather than ear pressure).

But during the long wait in Chicago, when my three boys were literally bouncing off the walls and I was using my last ounce of strength to contain them, I heard barely whispered comments from staff, some along the lines of “My boy’s only 9 months, but when he’s bigger…(I presume behave perfectly)”. Surely people for whom travel is their job should understand what travel can do to kids.

But overall a good experience. One other plus: In-seat entertainment. One downside: no kids’ meals.