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Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

A Sun Country Boeing 737-800 at SEA

If I had to sum up my recent Sun Country Air flight experience with one word, it would be: “kids.”

It is not the airline’s fault that I was surrounded by kids on my over three hour flight from Seattle (SEA) to Minnesota (MSP), but it did make my experience a little less enjoyable.

Now, I am not one of those who complains every time a kid is next to me. I know I was there once and I know that parents are just trying to get somewhere with their family. But when I have a gaggle of kids surrounding me and not behaving, I can’t help but take notice. Luckily the airline came through and over all I would still say I had a good flight experience.

Standard economy seating in the Sun Country 737

Standard economy seating in the Sun Country 737

Purchasing the ticket was quite easy and standard on Sun Country’s website. When comparing one-way tickets, Sun Country had everyone else beat by $70. Yes, I have miles with other airlines, but the $70 cheaper was too tempting. Plus I hadn’t flown Sun Country in years and wanted to check out how things might have changed.

Sun Country is a fun little niche airline. It started operations in 1983 and is based out of Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. They run a fleet of Boeing 737-700 (7) and -800 (10) aircraft. As the name suggests, the main purpose to take people from MSP to warm and sunny destinations. Because of this, many of their routes are operated seasonally, but flights to Seattle are year round.

A diversity of routes, mostly from MSP - Image: Sun Country

A diversity of routes, mostly from MSP – Image: Sun Country

All their planes are configured with 12 First Class seats.  The premium cost gets you free food, a larger seat, free digEeplayer  and smoother check-in process. However, when purchasing my ticket, I was looking in the economy section.

At the time of purchase, I had the option to pre-pay for my checked bag (I actually checked a bag this flight), but didn’t do it (I don’t know why), so it cost me $25 at the ticket counter vs the $20 online. I also had the option to pony up an extra $10 for a premium seat, which just means one near the front of the plane. After knowing where I ended up, that $10 would have been a great deal.

Checked in my bag and only had my laptop and magazine

Checked in my bag and only had my laptop and magazine

Check in at SEA was a breeze, and I was greeted by a very friendly agent. All I had for a carry-on was my laptop and a copy of the most recent Airways Magazine, so getting through security was not too challenging.

Having no carry-on gave me the benefit of boarding early (with all the kids). Good thing too because I was able to get settled before I was surrounded. Seat 27F — window.

Lift off from SEA

Lift off from SEA

When everyone was settled, I had a kid sitting next to me (probably 6-7 years), behind me (probably 5-6 years), two kids in front of me (2-3 and 5-6) and a number of other kids spread around my area. These other kids were quite young — I could tell because they all took turns screaming during the flight.

Right after take off, I tried to take a little nap. However, the kicking of my seat and loud talking kids around me stopped that from happening. That’s okay though, I really didn’t need the nap.

Food on the flight. Set me back $6 but was good.

Food on the flight. Set me back $6 but was good.

Being in the back of the plane gave us the benefit of having meal service first. I was a little hungry so I decided on a $6 GoPicnic snack pack with some crackers & cheese, apple sauce and Jelly Jets (airline shaped gummy candy — awe yea).

Even though I had a small child next to me he seemed to not have enough of his own space and kept running into me as I was trying to eat. Good thing I have a lot of patience.

The flight crew were very attentive, but they seemed a bit tired — like they have been doing the job for a long time. They were good and attentive with the children at least.

The gummy jets looked a little like fish, but whatever

The gummy jets looked a little like fish, but whatever

After the trash was picked up, the kid next to me played some sort of baseball game on an iPad. I can tell you exactly how the game went. The Yankees beat the Dodgers 13 to 1 — he was the Yankees. This kid announced every single play out loud, like he was at a stadium where people needed to hear him. It was quite annoying and although the mother sitting next time him told him to simmer down a few times, it didn’t work. That nap was just not going to happen.

I was able to distract myself with my iPhone and magazine until we were on approach to land, where my window becomes my entertainment.

Just cruis'n

Just cruis’n

Then as we were about to land one of the kids (not sure which one) started singing Old MacDonald. Then other kids joined in. Soon we had a choir of kids singing the song and although I probably should had been annoyed, I found it quite entertaining and cracked a smile. Although the smile did not last long.

Once I was getting off the plane, I was shocked. I looked at the floor where all the kids were and it was TRASHED. It was like they took out all the items in the pockets, threw them on the floor and then took their own trash and threw it on top of the pile. Then only half their food got in their face and the rest ended up on the pile of garbage. I cannot blame the kids for being kids, but can surely blame the parents since they did nothing to clean up.

My row, the row in front of me, next to me, behind me were all a big mess. I  felt bad for the clean up crew — at least I left my little space tidy.

Even with the kids, I made it safely to my destination, well fed and ready to go. Minus the kids, the flight experience was positive and well worth the money saved. I just hope that my next Sun Country flight has a few less kids or at least some more responsible parents.

   David Parker Brown – Editor-in-Chief & Founder 

David started AirlineReporter in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn't imagine living anywhere else in the world.

 @ARdpb | Flickr |YouTube | david@airlinereporter.com

18 comments to Flying on Sun Country Air Surrounded by Children

  • JL Johnson

    You had me at “airline shaped gummy candy — awe yea” :-) Seriously though, great to get a look at their service. I’ve long been a fan from the ground, someday I’ll make it aboard. Some day.

  • Plane Crazy Joe

    Dave, I had a brat sitting behind me, last August, on a SEA>ORD flight, who REPEATEDLY kicked my seatback – for a couple hours, throughout the flight!! His alleged mother, sitting next to him, did NOTHING to control or disciple her brat!? Finally, I’d had ENOUGH! I stood up, turned around, and BLASTED her! She then had the audacity to ” go off ” at me!? There’s no shortage of morons in this country – especially younger ones!!

    That was another – of MANY – Flightmares I’ve had on United

    • I don’t have kids myself, but I know I would be very mindful of what my kid was doing to other passengers. I know that you can’t always help them crying or getting squirrelly, but you can stop them from kicking the seat!

      David

      • Plane Crazy Joe

        Dave, neither do I have ” kids “. But I DO have common SENSE! Sense enough to apply the ” Golden Rule ” always and everywhere!

        Another irritant I encounter when flying is when the passenger in front of me fully lowers his seatback to within a foot or so of my face! Consequently my viewing of the IFE screen is SIGNIFICANTLY impaired!! ( At my age, my eyes don’t work as they did when I was younger! ) This also makes it difficult to maneuver in / out of my row; to visit the ” honey pot ” or to break the monotony by doing a walk-around of my cabin. I had one of these inconsiderate morons … on a recent DAYTIME flight from LHR>DFW. I had to deal with THAT throughout MOST of the flight!

  • Plane Crazy Joe

    Correction: I meant ” discipline ” NOT disciple!

  • Rob

    David, As a former employee of Sun Country I’m sorry you had a bad experience. I have seen the F/A battle with kids all the time. The Flight crew will call OPS ahead and let the groomers know what to expect on the ground. They have real good portable vacuums believe me. I am surprised that the F/A’s didn’t move you closer to the front, unless the plane was full.

    You should give them a try again sometime maybe SEA-IFP-SEA. You could do a two for one report, one on SY and the other on IFP. FYI they now have 19 737’s with the arrival of 808SY & 819SY. 820sy & 821SY are due in Nov. That will make 21.

  • What an entertaining flight – for the reader! :)

  • Rune Gravengaard

    Sounds like you need a pair of noise cancelling headphones or just custom molded in-ear monitors. The latter have saved me a bunch of times when travelling surrounded by kids :-)

    I can recommend JH Audio, but others will do as well :-)

  • James Burke

    Bit different from my SY experience MSP-MDW surrounded by… nobody. Pretty low load that flight. There were weather problems in Chicago (shocker!) and my self-made connection on Porter was looking unlikely. The customer service from SY and PD was outstanding, and I was switched to flights the next morning without any problems whatsoever. Kudos to SY and PD!

  • Simon

    I’ve flown Sun Country just a few times, but each time has been fab. A couple of times I paid a really reasonable fee to move to First and the service was exemplary. If I wasn’t so invested in earning United miles I’d look to them more often.

  • Just hand out NyQuil. (I kid, I kid!)

  • Jeff

    I flew SEA>MSP last year, with very similar reasoning: it was cheap and I was curious. Seems like a nice little airline. I’m sure if I lived in Minneapolis I’d always keep them in mind.

    I’ve got a friend who is an FA at Alaska and about 5 months ago he told me the latest rumors had AS working to make a cash deal for SY to get quick access to additional 737s, crews, a mid-west mini-hub with service to existing destinations and operations ready to go in the Bahamas & Central America. He also has a hundred other AS rumors that never come true. It guess they’re not bringing in junior flight attendants to the buyout negotiations!

  • As a former flight attendant I empathize with your Sun Country experience. As a passenger, I’m sure you, others and myself always worry about being “trapped” on a flight with screaming or uncontrolled children. Once, during my flight attendant career we had an unaccompanied minor boarded on a one hour flight where we offered a service of coffee, juices and doughnuts for about 150 passengers – we were busy! This kid was a demon child. He yelled, he pushed buttons, he ran up and down the aisle and totally upset the normal people onboard. I finally took him by his hand, led him back to his seat, buckled his seat belt and sternly warned him to stay there and to be quiet (very un-flight attendant-like). On flights where kids are out-of-control or crying or making noise, most passengers expect and even ask the flight attendants to do something about it. O.K. . . . what do they expect and what can a flight attendant do? Nothing much really. If the parent can’t or won’t be responsible for their own “precious darlings,” a flight attendant cannot be a disciplinarian in their stead. Back to my demon child. . . when we landed, a deplaning passenger in military garb said to me: “There’s (meaning demon boy) a prime reason for birth control.” LOL

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