I’m sure you’ve all heard about United Airlines joining others in not allowing families to pre-board. I actually experienced this just before the announcement. I was heading back home from visiting family in Chicago traveling alone with my son. Basically, United boards first, priority and handicapped passengers first. Then they allow boarding by the numerical number placed on your boarding pass. The numbers range from 1 to 8 and we were number 6. I did see another mom board early. She had a newborn and a 3 year old and was traveling alone. We chatted after the flight landed (they were sitting directly behind us) and she told me that the gate agent told her that she should board last. We both thought that was odd. She basically said that she told the gate agent it might be disastrous if she didn’t board earlier. 
Of course an airline can do whatever they want. I can simply choose not to fly with them. Having the option to board a little earlier makes a huge difference for us. It is even more helpful when I am traveling alone. If I have to board in the midst of everyone else boarding, I am stuck in that long trail of people trying to stuff their suitcases in the overhead bins and find their seats. Also, I’m more likely to whack someone with my carry-on and/or child trying to squeeze through the aisle. If someone else is in the row with us, that person will need to move out of the way until we can get in and get settled. All of this could be avoided if we are already settled in.
What also bugs me is that, I usually have a backpack, my son’s little Skip Hop Zoo Pack and a My Carry Potty with me. All three items are smaller than those suitcases that people try to pass as a carry-on. With people trying to avoid paying baggage fees, they are taking up a colossal amount of overhead bin space that is there for everyone to share. I usually only need to put my backpack up there. It would be nice to have guaranteed space for those of us who carry a true carry-on bag.
When we have the opportunity to get on and get settled in, we don’t end up holding up everyone else on the flight. Installing a car seat takes time. I remember a time when we actually did hold up a flight trying to get our car seat installed. You need to request a seat belt extender and it’s just not an easy thing to do. The CARES harness has helped speed things up, but I prefer to get it installed before everyone else gets on and situated in their seats. 
I should’ve have known this was coming. Other airlines have done this as well. Given that United is one of the worst airlines, I wouldn’t expect them to be a any more understanding of the trouble that families go through to travel. I remember flying from London to Chicago and using the United lounge at O’Hare airport. It was dark, dumpy, and gloomy. They even passed out a drink coupon to you before entering in case you wanted a glass of wine. The lounge on the other end in London was even worse. It smelled so bad that we left. I cannot believe that business and first class travelers paid thousands of dollars for such horrible service. Ever since then, I’ve been personally boycotting United. Then there was the merger with Continental…
Some think we should just stay home. Some of the comments in the USA Today article are really insulting. My child is not a brat and doesn’t make the flight miserable for everyone. However, he is two years old. Anything can happen with children. Your flight could be delayed and nap time could get interrupted. I wish people would calm down and have a heart. I am a pretty seasoned traveler and I have to say that the most annoying travelers aren’t necessarily children. Sure I’ve been on flights with screaming kids. However, I’ve also been on flights with drunk adults (especially in business class) who get loud and smell. I’ve also had to sit next to people who smelled like the zoo! 
Before I became a mom, I used to actually feel sorry for people traveling with children. I didn’t see them as a burden. I will say that it is annoying when parents don’t make an effort to keep their children in line in public. A crying baby is one thing, but a toddler who is constantly kicking the back of my chair is really annoying. I am very understanding when I see a parent trying to control their child instead of ignoring them.
I am trying to avoid airlines with poor service at all cost. Sometimes you just can’t. However, if we have to board last and hold up the plane, so be it!

Check out my tips on using iPads to help with traveling  with little ones here.