Yesterday, a friend on Twitter showed me this article and asked what my thoughts were. Because it's kind of hard to say in 140 characters what I really think, I decided to blog about it.
A recent poll released by a travel website asked if people would like a 'family-only' section on flights. Almost 60% of the people who responded were in favour of a 'family-only' section. Another 20% said they prefer child-free flights. The poll was released after a 67 year old passanger on a Qantas flight sued the airline after a 3 year old screamed on her flight last year. The woman complained about pain in her ears. Cry me a river.
The idea of making a 'family-only' section on an airplane, to me, is laughable because HELLO - airplanes are SMALL. Even the biggest airplane I've been on is small. Noise travels. And children are not second-class citizens.
It's absolutely ridiculous to propose a 'section' for children. As if children are less important passengers than anyone else! (Wait. If my children can fly for free, I might be in favour of sitting in our own section. Now that's something to think about!)
I would like to propose another section - a section reserved for assholes.
For the people who give dirty looks to moms on planes who are dealing with a baby who won't stop crying. As if the mother really wants her baby to be crying! Trust me, as a mom I can honestly say it's not easy dealing with a crying baby on a plane. We want our children to be happy. We don't want our children to have sore ears, or feel sick, or get bored, while flying. We also *know* we are getting dirty looks from mean people who have never been in our situation before, and we have to deal with their attitude, too. Can't we all just get along, damn it?
A close friend of mine who has no children told me she once asked a mother to make her baby stop laughing because it was bothering her. I think I was in too much shock to answer her.
I'd also like to reserve a section for people who won't shut-up!
Just because I'm sitting next to you doesn't mean I want to talk to you. Stop it with the small talk. If you see me nodding, and looking disinterested, it's a pretty good sign I don't want to talk to you. I'm nervous enough flying and thinking of ways to stay alive in case the plane falls out of the sky, that I really don't want to hear about how much fun you had on your vacation or if I know Bob from Toronto because I live in Canada.
And how about another section, for people who take their shoes off and have smelly feet? Disgusting!
Or... how about a section for people who fall asleep and snore really loudly? Surely we don't all have to be subjected to that annoying sound. Making a section for people who snore makes sense, right? What? You think those people would take offense to that?
My children travel by plane often—my 2 year old has been to Florida twice, to Bahamas, and to Washingon D.C. My oldest son, who just turned 5, has flown even more, and is a better flyer than most adults I know. I have no terrible experiences about flying with my children, except the time I flew alone with them and had to use the washroom, bringing both boys with me into the already tiny room. That was not fun.
I bring a carry-on filled with items to entertain my boys on flights—lots of snacks, DVD players, games, Play-Doh. I do whatever I can to keep my boys happy, entertained, and quiet. I am respectful of other passengers, always. But sometimes my children will cry or yell or do things that children do. And there is nothing I can do to change this. Even before I had children, I would smile at the parents who were trying to console their crying baby. Rather than give dirty looks, how about offering the parents a hand? Ask to hold the baby, smile, play peek-a-boo... that's so much more well received than giving dirty looks.
Chances are, a 'family-only' section on airplanes is not going to happen. The logistics behind that are too difficult, and flying is already hard enough.
If you don't like children, too bad for you. Put your earplugs in, have a glass of wine, and relax. And if I happen to walk by miserable you and my baby throws up on you, you sort of deserved it.