Thursday, August 26, 2010

The new mile-high club

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.

26 comments:

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

I think this was one of the best articulated posts on the subject of traveling with kids that I've read in a long time! It's definitely a challenge, at times, to travel with kids. A little tolerance and patience from fellow passengers would go a long long way!

IASoupMama said...

Great post! When we've flown with our kids, we've never had problems. They have always behaved well and been easier on the other passengers than some of the adults have been. My kids would never drive a flight attendant to use an emergency exit... just sayin'

I'm guessing that flight attendants and other passengers would much rather deal with a bored child than a drunk and abusive passenger, or one so terrified of flying they practically climb into the lap of a stranger for some small turbulence (that happened to me -- suddenly a stranger was clawing my arm and hyperventilating -- not cool...).

Kids are not evil. They are not something you suffer through. They are people and should be treated like people. Especially mine because I make them say please and thank you and won't let them kick your seat, so don't be glaring at me for having the audacity to bring my children on vacation with me.

Dave2 said...

I travel frequently and just accept the fact that crying children are a part of flying. There's not much you can do but crank up your iPod and feel sorry for the poor parents who are trying their best to calm a frantic kid.

HOWEVER... there is a big difference between a crying child and an unruly child that parents refuse to control. Allowing your brat to kick the back of my seat or pull on my headrest or throw stuff at the back of my head or run up and down the aisles is NOT acceptable. Flying is bad enough without having to endure such behavior.

Loukia said...

Dave2 - I totally agree with you. Children shouldn't be throwing things or acting totally out of control. I get that - and I do my best to make sure my boys aren't acting like that, and if they do, I totally try to control it and will do whatever I can to make them stop.

Maria Melee said...

The worst experience I've had flying was next to a middle-aged man who seemed disoriented, constantly moved, starting crying, dropped his stuff on my husband, and just acted really strange and disruptive the whole time. I never thought to myself, man I wish they had a crazy old man section on this flight.

Missives From Suburbia said...

If by "family section" they mean "First Class", then I'm on board with the concept.

To Dave's point, there's a big difference between a child and a brat, but that's not limited to planes. It's annoying in restaurants, theaters, malls, on sidewalks, in my own home, etc. Most kids are not brats, and just because some are doesn't mean all kids should be treated like brats.

moosh in indy. said...

My (now 5 year old) has been on more than 43 flights in her life. I have come across assholes, I have come across some of the most friendly people in existence.

Kids have to travel too, any parent or grandparent knows this. Why people don't understand it is beyond me.

When I travel by myself I always try to accommodate a mom or at least give her a smile and let her know I've been there too. I've traded seats with buttheads as well, not for their benefit, but for the mom (plus it makes the butthead look even more like a butthead.)

My mom was the woman who would tell people to leave a restaurant if their child wasn't behaving, this struck so much fear into me for so many reasons.

That being said, as parents we have to be prepared to entertain our kids. That is our responsibility, if we're actively engaged? We're not doing anything wrong if our kid is still pissed off.

I still remember a guy that told his kid to "shut up and watch Dora" on a long flight, he brought her no headphones, no toys for when electronics couldn't be on and he didn't engage with her at all. Those are the ones that cause the stereotype.

Sorry, this whole thing hit a button, I am with you 100%, I would rather by flying with my daughter at any age than a sweaty and/or drunk guy who can't shut his yap.

Sasha said...

BRAVO!!!!

Neeroc said...

I loved your list of other sections to be created. In January we traveled with 2 other families, for a total of 4 kids under 3. You should have seen the look of horror on the other passengers faces. And yet, hardly a peep out of our kids while on each flight down and back adult fliers had medical emergencies - now there's a disruption! *g*

Alicia said...

Very well said!!! Good for you!! I travel often and I feel bad for the mommies and the daddies that have small kiddies crying! People need to be kinder and more helpful to each other!
I love that there should be a section for assholes!!! How about a section for people who have BO? Yukk!!!

Avitable said...

I don't mind kids on flights at all when they're just being kids. It's when they're brats and the parents have obviously decided that since they can't escape, they'll just let them run loose - that's when I have an issue with it.

And screaming infants aren't fun to sit near, but neither are obnoxious adults.

I just think I should get a special section and everyone else should sit at the back of the plane. That's right - I'm Rosa Parking everyone.

Elaine A. said...

How 'bout a section for people who bring food into the plane from the airport that smells up the ENTIRE cabin? (can you tell I hate that???)

And on the kid thing, like Dave said, kids will be kids but the ones that are out of control and the parents do nothing? Yeah, it's just like any place where children are and they aren't behaving. I think it gets under people's skin more on an airplane because there is literally no where else to go. Not saying they should be jerks about it. Just guessing that may be a reason why people get more agitated.

Anyway, my kids are always perfect so it's not an issue.

(totally kidding on that last part...) ;)

fanderson said...

I travel with my kiddos all the time and they are great!! Except for the one flight to AZ where my 3Mo old screamed all the way!! It was horrible for me and the passengers...I had a good crew but it did stink!! If I am flying my family is with me and that's the way I love it!! Family trips or nothing...we don't have caretakers so no choice!! ;) Great Blog!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Missives from Suburbia. Turn first class into a "Family Friendly" section, but at the same price as economy, and I'm on board! Otherwise...forget it. My kids are people too.

Marinka said...

can't we just put the kids in the cargo compartment and get it over with?

Nenette AM said...

I'm with you. I don't want to be in a special section, especially since I'm one of the moms who keep a close eye on my already-well-behaved kids and keep them reined in.

However, I do see the merits of a special section.

When my son was born, I worked for CineBabies, a company that partnered with Famous Players Theatres to have a Moms-&-Babies showing every week of new release movies. (This was before FP stole the idea and put CB out of business. Sorry, some bitterness there.)
Every Wednesday, we'd have a special showing in a baby-friendly environment -- lowered sound, some lights on (so moms could feed their babies), and several tables in the lobby with free diapers so moms could change their babies.

Moms really appreciated this because they could enjoy a movie without having to feel embarrassed or constantly apologetic to the non-parents in the audience. EVERYONE there had a baby so no one cared about the crying or otherwise disturbing behaviour.

So, in a special section of a flight, I could be all "don't look at me because my kid's talking loud -- your kid's been kicking my seat for hours!" :)

Lady Mama said...

I agree Loukia, it's ridiculous. (Oh hi by the way!) You said it perfectly when you said children aren't second class citizens. I've been on planes where kids have screamed (mine AND other people's!), and usually it doesn't last long because the parents deal with the problem as quickly as they can. Most people are understanding. I've had way worse experiences with people who wouldn't stop talking to me / people who smelled bad / people who fell asleep on me!

Lola said...

Business class is the best way to go!!!!! I fly a lot and don't like it when a stranger has half his/her ass on my seat when he/she doesn't fit on their own. I'm not judging but I don't need to be affected by that! I usually always fly business now or I fly Ottawa-Toronto during 'business hours' so things aren't as bad. A 'family' section is laughable because as you say, the plans aren't big enough and God save the poor souls who have to sit in the 'family' section because all the regular seats are taken:) Also, I wear my earphones whether I am listening or not. They are insurance that I don't have to talk when/if I don't want to!:)

Lola said...

p.s. BUT there are some nasty parents out there that don't discipline their kids on planes. It is NEVER okay to continually kick on the seat in front of you!:)

Lola said...

p.s. worse than screaming children-stinky adults! FOR REAL. I was on a plane once and someone complained about the man sitting in front of them. There wasn't really a lot of alternate seating options so they sprayed around him and he seemed oblivious. HE was very rough (it was a flight from VEGAS). I really think he should have had to leave the plane as he was inconveniencing a lot of people!

Jill said...

As someone who travels internationally with kids on a regular basis, this post his WAY too close to home. I LOATHE the passengers who stare, complain, and nary offer any help when I travel alone with 3 kids half-way around the world. I try. REALLY I do. I dislike my children's whining as much as anyone else. But frankly, sitting in a small seat with little legroom and not a lot to do is difficult for anyone, not just children.

While I would love to be on a flight dedicated to just families, the reality is I'd settle for someone to just offer a hand. Or better yet, acknowledge when my kids ARE well behaved.

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Agreed! Way to say it for us mothers!

CaraBee said...

Honestly, I wouldn't mind a family section. I'm not saying we should be relegated to the crap seats, but having an area where I don't have to worry as much about my kid acting like a kid wouldn't suck. And maybe fit a changing table in there, too. Thankyouverymuch.

I just flew this past weekend and everyone was super nice, both fellow passengers and flight attendants. Even the poor guy who had his seat kicked more times than I want to admit. There are nice, understanding people out there.

21st Century Mummy said...

Great post. The whole idea of a kids only section is rubbish. You couldn't make people who pay the same price as everyone else do that surely?

I'd like to sit in a snore-free zone, and far away from the person that takes up two seats, but you have to make do with who you sit next to.

I'm lucky as my 2 year old is a great traveller, probably because she's been on planes since she was a few months old. However I do think some parents let their children run riot and even as a mum myself, that can be very annoying. There's plenty of things you can do.

http://21stcenturymummy.com/2010/06/04/top-tips-for-stress-free-flying-with-babies-and-young-children/

Pres. Kathy said...

I hate when people are so rude to parents on the plane. I have been on many flights before Niko that I would try to help mothers out. Do people think we want our children misbehaving? Sometimes no matter what we do , they still cry!

Anonymous said...

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This made me think of this post! Absolutely agreed - I always feel bad for the poor crying baby (in pain) and the poor frazzled parents!

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