Jeff Lutes

The Day My Family Nearly Parachuted From a Commercial Airplane

Filed By Jeff Lutes | March 31, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: deaf people, family life, gay couples, gay relationships, humorous blog post, kids, Las Vegas, laughter, vacation

Years ago my family went to visit relatives in Vegas for New Years.

lutes-stein_family_2008_small.jpgAlong with our children, we took a 10-month baby boy that we were fostering at the time and one of our dogs (which Southwest allows because my partner and two of our kids are deaf). Upon landing, we waited at baggage claim only to discover that our luggage had been lost. It never was recovered, but that was just the beginning of our vacation from hell.

The relatives we stayed with in Sin City were fighting and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. At the New Year's Eve party I managed to get food poisoning and spent the next 48 hours either sleeping or running to the bathroom to greet my porcelain friend. Finally, we boarded our flight for home. Little did I know, there was one last ghastly act in this melodrama.

Upon take off we gave the baby a bottle of milk because we read in some darn parenting magazine that it keeps infants from screaming as the plane climbs to 30,000 feet. It worked, but ten minutes later this sweet baby awoke to reenact a scene from The Exorcist. His eyes bulged as he violently hurled sour milk over at least two rows of unexpecting passengers. It was a mess beyond belief. The flight attendant graciously began to clean up passengers, seats, carry-on bags, walls and the floor - probably using the airplane's entire supply of paper towels. Another attendant smiled and walked the length of the aircraft spraying disinfectant with the charm of Miss America. Just as the passengers calmed down and the stench began to subside, the unthinkable happened....

Our precious little dog took a huge dump smack dab in the middle of the aisle.

Now things were dangerous. If the pilot had taken a vote I'm quite certain the passengers would have agreed to toss the queer-deaf-viral family out the emergency exit. It seemed like decades, but we finally landed and cruised to the gate. As we exited the airplane, the flight attendant said - and I kid you not - "Thanks for flying, pooping, and barfing with Southwest!"

Bill Cosby once said, "You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything... you can survive it." I guess what's important is to embrace all of life's experiences, even the unpleasant ones, and try to find the humor in them. Sometimes conflict leads to connection, heartache turns to joy, and periods of stressing transform into blessing. Couples and families that can access comedy in the midst of life's dreadful moments tend to be much more resilient than those who emphasize the negative.

Besides, we learn from every life experience. On the next flight to Vegas, I'll know to carry on our luggage, pack the family-size bottle of Pepto-Bismol, and put a diaper on the pooch.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Regan DuCasse | March 31, 2011 1:18 PM

It will ALWAYS amaze me how such tiny little babies can spew what seems like GALLONS of puke and in ways where it can travel and get into and onto everything.

I feel for you bro. The fact that you and your husband have these beautiful children (and a dog) in your care speaks to the volumes of patience and compassion you have.
No decent person can get mad at that!

Rick Sutton | March 31, 2011 2:39 PM


It is more challenging to travel with a deaf person. People don't think about it, but it requires extra effort. Southwest makes it virtually effortless. Snooty folks call them the "Wal Mart of the Sky," but I've always found them to be affordable and adaptable. And very calm.

The dog. Why in the world did you add that layer? Are you a glutton for punishment? LOL As a flyer, I don't appreciate animals in the cabin, unless they're caged. And I love animals.

OMG I laughed so hard at the flight attendant's goodbye. I had to read the whole post to the entire room because they wanted to know why I was laughing so loud and in tears. Thanks for that, Jeff. I needed that this morning!

Glad you enjoyed it Bil. It was fun to share that memory. We've all had those experiences - right?

Jeaneane Hill | April 1, 2011 7:32 PM

What a story! Makes me think of all my barf with kid stories too. Thanks , jeff