Update: I Am a Bad Parent and Kids Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Fly

After yesterday’s trip report on my painful journey across the country with my kids, I received a lot of feedback. Most of it was empathetic or at least found the humor of it all hilarious. But one stood out. One guy, let’s call him Richard, or Dick for short, is apparently the greatest parent to have ever lived. He decided to lecture me on this subject he knows so well. To summarize.

Reign of Terror All My Fault

I figured you all could also benefit from his vast wisdom, so here it is. You’re welcome.

Not just for you, Brett. Everyone around you on the plane was inconvenienced by your decision to take ill-mannered children with you. There are other ways to get where you are going that don’t risk exposing many other travelers to this annoyance.

My children never rode on a commercial airliner before age 4, and never misbehaved. Once, when they were 10 and 12, they rode in business to Hawaii on the upper deck of a CO 747 while my wife and I rode first (reward tickets all around). When I went up to check, the FA said that others in the cabin were not to happy at boarding, but that the kids had simply read their books in silence for the whole trip, and that she had had to be a little pushy to get them to accept a beverage at the start of in-flight service. They were never rude to others in public, because they were raised to respect themselves and those around them. It started when they were infants, and has persisted now that they are in their 30s.

Tantrums are the result of parents who provide rewarding feedback. Think about it.

It’s become clear to me that Dick is absolutely right. Every parent knows whether or not their child will be “ill-mannered” in every situation. I mean we had no doubt that our son would be a nightmare on this flight, so we should have simply driven to Indiana instead. If only I had Dick’s knowledge before purchasing these tickets. Next time.

I’m so very grateful to have learned what a horrible parent I am. Thank you, Dick, for setting me straight.

Aren’t you all feeling enlightened?

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66 Comments on "Update: I Am a Bad Parent and Kids Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Fly"

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David
Guest

CF – you are responding to what appears to be a web troll. Don’t rise to the bait and just let it pass – spending time playing with your kids will make you and your family far happier instead of responding to an anonymous person on the web

Michael
Guest
Wow what a “Richard”!! Brett I was in your same position last year my son who is 2 and my wife last year flew from Milwaukee to Tampa he was a terror for the two hour flight there and back we had him as a lap child but at least we were on the 717 and had the 2 seats together. All he wanted to do is stand up and have the people behind us pay attention to him. We brought food and toys and I also paid for wifi and gave him the ipad and wanted nothing to do… Read more »
TomAustinTX
Guest

Wow what a “Richard”!! LOL!! …but now I have to clean the coffee of my keyboard.

Ron
Guest

Wow, thank you Mommy Dearest. No wire hangars!

I feel bad for those kids. I am sure one is in rehab and the other in therapy now.

Neil S.
Guest

1. If you’re going to be a holier-than-thou troll and send nastygrams, use spellcheck.

2. Couldn’t the same email be written to Dick about leaving his kids alone in a different cabin?

3. And while I don’t have kids, I’d love to be in the room when a conversation about respect is had with an infant.

Cranky, keep doing what you’re doing. (Oh, but next time please walk to Indiana.)

Phil
Guest
I read yesterday’s post and then saw your tweet about the email from “dick” and was really looking forward to today’s post. Having been on many flights where small children have thrown a fit, I have been the annoyed passenger. In many cases parents seem to be totally oblivious to their child’s behavior and in those cases maybe those families shouldn’t fly. On a recent trip from PIT-SFO I had a 5-7 year old child keep kicking my seat while the mother slept. So happy she enjoyed her flight while her kid kept me from enjoying mine. In your case… Read more »
Matt B.
Guest

I’ve flown in the Air Asia X child-free zone. Once I paid for it and once I was just placed there. Although the barrier is definitely NOT soundproof, it does help a little. I flew KUL-MEL and I could hear kids in back screaming but I was quite glad to be in a nearly empty mini-cabin without kids.

A few months ago I was traveling with my brother, sister-in-law and 8-month nephew and the flight was very delayed. My nephew learned how to squeal on the airplane on a 1.5hr flight. I have a lot of empathy for parents now.

Mike
Guest

So let me make sure I understand this, Dick left his 10 and 12 year old children unsupervised except for a short checkin? Oh wait, he expected the flight attendants to supervise them since that is their job. What an elitest, pompous, arrogant… Not to mention I think his own example demonstrates a horrible parent quality. As a father of four I love it when people critique others parenting skills only to hold up examples of their own bad habits as a model of good parenting. I just smile and nod politely plotting my escape.

haolenate
Guest

I’ve seen parents actually trade seats with their spouse/kids midflight — so Parent A + kid is in first, B + kid 2 in Economy; and they’ll swap. Not a bad idea, give both parents some time in comfort :)

but I agree, I’d be one of those business class passengers with a “WTF” look on my face to the flight crew seeing 2 “unaccompanied minors” in business….

Gary Smedile
Guest
Absolutely. you have it right. “Dick” is all wet. As a family of 5, the only time we split up in cabins was when the seat availability didn’t allow to be together (non-revving “in the day”). at that, at least one parent was with the kids. We set expectations, plan for contingencies and do our pro-active best to keep things under control…. better yet, have the kids be model passengers…. unlike some of the adults we encounter. Of all the family travel we have done, starting with the first (and at the time only) child when he was 13 months,… Read more »
TomAustinTX
Guest

As someone who flies a lot… I’ve had to put up with more cranky, drunk, smelly, rude, pretentious, and loud ADULTS! A few cranky kids please!

Pilotaaron1
Guest

For me that’s everytime I flew to Vegas. Many adults decided to start the party a little early.

noahkimmel
Member

There’s only room for one Cranky on this blog!

SEAN
Guest

Sorry noah, there’s currently room for four cranky members. Don’t forget about miss Cranky & the little cranky’s.

noahkimmel
Member

@Sean, thanks for the correction!

SEAN
Guest

You got it – besides it’s all in good fun anyway!

Andrew
Guest

Love it. I hope when I have a 2 year old “Richard” is stuck next to me on a flight with my kid.

TimH
Member
Planes are quasi-public places. Unlike most quasi-public places, you can’t readily get off and leave them. But other than that, they’re the same as others (and the same as a subway car or bus). Sometimes, kids throw tantrums. It’s what kids do. Sometimes, adults get drunk or unruly, or people forgot to take a shower the day of their flight… and the day before… and the day before… and the day before. Is it annoying? Yes. Do I try to never be that person to others? Yes. But on an airplane, you have no RIGHT to a quiet, noise, smell… Read more »
Gary Smedile
Guest

and the kids also probably got one of those “don’t make me come back there and ….” lectures prior to boarding. He probably thought the 747 was the family wagon.

David SF eastbay
Member

At least Richard didn’t suggest to dress your son in a Snoopy costume (to fool airport staff) and put him in one of those dog kennels in the cargo hold.

At least now you know in years to come you can dump your kids in coach and ride in first class on free tickets. Maybe this is the furture of the A380, put all the children on one level and their parents on the other.

haolenate
Guest

We just had someone yesterday at the airport try to tell our manager and agents their lap child is 23 months old.

Too bad I run the res system and told them “wow, he’s been 23 months for 7 months now.. we need to call Department of Health..”

At least Brett has typically always bought a seat for his keiki instead of doing the horrible lap child to save a few bucks.

YOWzers
Guest
Every time cranky talks about this he or someone else starts going on about how lap children are ridiculous and / or dangerous and / or ‘horrible’. They aren’t – there is little to no evidence regarding safety. Brett tried to find some numbers when I pressed last time and he found something like 9 incidents of lap children getting injured over the course of a decade, or some such. Basically, what statisticians would deem “not significant”. The anti-lap child bias is built on assumptions, gut feelings, and anecdote. You guys should go work for the TSA, you’d get along… Read more »
Phil
Guest
“Insisting on no lap-children ensures that only rich(er) people fly with kids under 2” What do you plan to do at age 3,4 and onward? Does that mean you just won’t take a vacation? Or do you intend for your child to sit on your lap until it is socially unacceptable? The lap baby issue is one of common sense. If you wouldn’t hold a child on your tap in a car why would you hold it on your lap in a plane? Its pro lap baby people that would be the first to sue the airline after the child… Read more »
YOWzers
Guest
1. You fly less, yes, but also children costs less at that age (generally) and you are (generally) less desperate to visit family and get some help / sleep. Additionally, people (generally) make more money as they age, so that helps too. 2. “Common sense” = you have no real data. Thanks. 3. Any actual examples of litigious lap-baby parents? No? Just more anecdote? Or in this case, invented anecdote? Great. 4. Cars ? planes. If they did the whole idea of getting up and walking around and being served drinks on them wouldn’t be allowed either. Clearly we don’t… Read more »
YOWzers
Guest

The ? between Cars and planes in point 4 was meant to be a does-not-equals sign. Should have gone with !=. Sorry everyone.

Leslie in Oregon
Member
Yowzers: Re “there is little to no evidence regarding safety (of children sitting on laps)” and “The anti-lap child bias is built on assumptions, gut feelings, and anecdote..:” The “anti-lap child bias” is in fact based upon the laws of physics. As a Pan Am purser and a lawyer, I was active in the movement to allow parents to bring onboard child safety seats to restrain their under-age-2 children whenever the seat belt sign was on. Our advocacy was supported by, among else, our review of the commercial passenger jet a/c incident reports existing in 1978, which established that children… Read more »
Jason Steele
Guest

I travel with 2 young kids all the time, all over the world. It sounds like you had a tough time but did just fine. Anyone who doesn’t want to travel in the presence of other people of all ages should simply charter a private jet to their destination.

Jason
Guest

Somehow the whole public transportation part of this argument always seems to be ignored by the dicks of the world. You bought a seat Dick. Not the whole plane.

TrulyCranky
Guest

So, “public” is a magical place where courtesy and consideration are unimportant?

Jason
Guest

As proven by your own comment, courtesy and consideration appear to be relative because you don’t seem to want to offer the same to the parents of the child who are understandably struggling to control a difficult situation. I’m sorry but if you want to be completely insulated from things that may happen in a public space, stay out of the public space. And that includes the first class cabin.

TrulyCranky
Guest

What’s understandable about it? The parents either knew that their child was not able to behave in public, in which case I don’t understand their choice to bring the child, or they don’t know — which is even less understandable.

Skinny
Guest
I’ve flown a few times with my son (now 2 1/2) and the trips have been hit or miss (SYR-MCO round trip when he was just under one was great, PHL-STL-SAT roundtrip when he was nearly 2 was stressful for both my wife and I). I think the important thing is to be attentive and try and quiet them down, which you clearly did. People around you respect that. When Mom is sleeping or both parents are too busy with their movie, then it is a problem. An airplane isn’t a daycare center. And what other means are there to… Read more »
jazzybit
Guest

Really “Richard”! I am a seasoned traveller and have been in situations of traveling with two toddlers by myself and yes occasionally they are cranky. Better a cranky toddler than a drunk, rude loadmouth adult; wonder how I would categorize you? Probably just a loudmouth know it all that left the flight staff to care for his children! What an A$$!

MeanMeosh
Guest
Was his full name Richard Head by chance? Just checking… I’ll echo what pretty much every other reasonable person says (no kids myself, but have done several trips with little nephews, so I can sort-of feel your pain). Kids are going to do strange and irritating things sometimes; my mom reminds me that I was guilty of said strange and irritating things many times when I was little. I usually shrug it off as long as the parents are doing what they can to address the behavior. I’ve really only felt the need to intervene once, when my sister decided… Read more »
Joanna
Guest
I would be fired up with his comment too. Unlike Richard who didn’t take his children on a plane until age 4, I am proud to say that our children rode on airplanes before the age of 1. I am proud that they had passports at the age of 3 and 5. They have more “stamps” in their passports than I did at the age of 25. I am proud that they travel well (aside from one incident on an international flight when our spirited daughter was 3). I am proud that at a young age my children are already… Read more »
Jon
Member
We’ve all of course been on flights with small children screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s annoying at best, and downright insufferable at worst. However as Phil said, when a parent is making a concerted effort to calm their child, things are quite a bit different. IMO, the bad parents are the ones who set their kids down at the front of the plane, kicking the seat in front and jumping all over the place – just letting them wreak havoc for the entire flight without even an attempt at calming them down. As long as you did… Read more »
Laura La
Guest

Chin up, Cranky. I fly over 100k miles per year and rarely see out of control kids. Sure I’ve seen loud and upset ones accompanied by parents trying to do everything possible to calm their children, but those don’t count.

I look at parents trying mightily to get their very young ones to settle down, and (a) think there’s no way I could handle that either and (b) headphones and an adult beverage will make the rest of the flight easier for me.

sundevils
Member
Dick didn’t say you are/were a bad parent. He was questioning your judgement about flying with children. Given what happened I, too, would question your judgement were I on the flight. I have a daughter (now 13) and she has never cried or fussed on a plane. Why not? Good parenting, which means we are prepared for what might happen. Too many parents try to solve for long-term on a plane rather than doing whatever needs to be done to immediately diffuse the situation. Yes, I get that you (generic you, not the original poster) don’t want your child to… Read more »
hawes.daryl
Member

Does this mean that Cranky got “Dick’ed” ???

maren.woodlock
Member

I was one of the eyerollers about unruly kids on planes until I became a parent and realized that no matter how good my parenting skills might be, there are times when a child acts like a child and you have no control over it.
I just flew back from Portland and there were six infants on the plane. While there was a little intermittent crying, it was not horrible.
If you want no distractions and complete quiet on a flight, maybe you shouldn’t fly commercial.
I hope none of Dick’s kids are serial killers.

bill
Guest
I wonder if anyone has actually stopped and really considered what Richard wrote, rather than respond out of emotion? He does make some valid points. We’ve travelled with our children (3) since they were infants (weeks out of the hospital). I can assure they’ve never behaved in the manner in which the cranky flier describes the behavior of L’petite Crankies. We’ve always gotten those “looks” when boarding, especially when they were little, but almost every single time either half-way through the flight or upon deplaning, received compliments on how well-behaved they were. Seriously, if your children don’t know how to… Read more »
Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs
Guest
Unless your ticket comes with the caveat that what you are purchasing is guaranteed to be peaceful, quiet and child free people need to buck up and realize that when traveling via a public mode, ie a commercial plane, you have to put up with the good, bad and ugly, and sometimes that means children. Sometimes it means drunk adults. Sometimes it means smelly seatmates. If you can’t deal with it fly private. And I am certain that my children, who have been flying internationally since they were born, know more about respecting those around them because we have exposed… Read more »
TrulyCranky
Guest

That something unpleasant exists, and even that we must put up with it, doesn’t mean we can’t deplore it, or suggest that different behaviour is laudable and something to strive for.

If someone wears overwhelming amounts of perfume, so as to make those nearby ill, or just irritated, is it wrong to suggest that an alternative exists? Is it wrong to be unhappy that they inflicted their choice on innocent bystanders?

Andrea, Passports And Pushchairs
Guest

There is a difference between being unhappy about it and declaring that no one who wears perfume should ever fly. We all started out as babies, and many of us have families who live overseas, where we have no option other than flying to see them. Or maybe we just want to expose our kids to the world so they don’t grow up to believe that everything should revolve around them, including the right to fly on a public plane without what some would perceive as nuisances.

TrulyCranky
Guest

As others have commented, there are choices. For example, bring the relatives to see the child.

As far as exposure to the world, that’s great — I was flown as an infant, was flying domestically with my parents by 6, and international unaccompanied (back in the days when it really was unaccompanied) at 10. I was able to behave in public without making a nuisance of myself at all of those ages.

(If you’re under the impression that international travel is broadening for an infant, please obtain some academically rigorous Child Development education.)

Ken
Member

Maybe you should have kept “Dick” in your pants, problem solved? LOL!

mj625c
Member
Yep…it would have been a different thing if you both had not tried to anticipate and quell your son’s behavior, but no child is going to be satisfied for very long regardless of the age of the child or the level of class the child occupies. I’ve been on a flight where pre-flight Mom purchased a quantity of sugary goodies for each child, then plopped all three kids on the plane and let them fight, hop around in the aisles (and fight in the aisles), yell at Mom and Dad, be told to sit down and buckle in as we… Read more »
jaybru
Member
Who among us hasn’t had the onboard experience with some rambunctious, screaming child, and his or her parents who seemed totally oblivious. Happens on planes as well as other places. But, I’ve experienced trips, even over the Atlantic, with someone’s child sitting right next to me who was just priceless. Perfect kid, perfect seatmate. On the other hand, there are those old people, like me, who every once in while I’m sure some fellow travelers think, if that old fart can’t see well enough to find his seat, can’t stow his own bags overhead, can’t even hear the announcements to… Read more »
John Dubpernell
Member

Hey…… dick head….oops I am sorry it’s….. Mr Dick Head…..end of story….

Sean Mc
Guest

“Richard” seems like an overly entitled flier. The guy who complains to the airline because he didn’t get upgraded or blames the flight attendant because he didn’t get his first choice of meal. Give him no mind although you can than him for the inspiration for an amusing post.

pddee
Member
I think most of us have been on flights where there have been some issues with little ones not being up to the challenge at that particular time. That “particular time” can come up at any time and is, accordingly, unknown when one makes the ticket purchase. To those who might be offended, I would say they ought to do what I do anyway, challenges or not – put your noise-cancelling headphones on and enjoy your trip. While I have no children, I certainly can appreciate the unknown many parents go through in taking flights with little ones. It seems… Read more »
Mile High Joe
Guest

Frankly, I took the entirety of Cranky’s post yesterday as trolling and chose to not respond. He knows that this topic elicits massive & passionate response when it’s broached online and undertook to provide us with his own first-hand account of the misery he inflicted on the passengers. Seriously, isn’t that just asking for … engagement? And he ended with a promise to do it all over again in September.

Matt
Guest

+1
I would gladly pay extra for a child-free flight. Experience of a 7-year old or so kid kicking my seat, flicking my head, and generally being a brat for 2+ hours burned me. I totally respect the right of children to fly, but I personally endured some long drives until my son was emotionally mature enough to be a respectful passenger. Very few times when flying is required/grandparents can’t make the trip. Still doesn’t excuse boorish response from Richard, but if you put out a troll-bait post, expect trolls.

prhassinger
Member

I’ll be honest, I cringe when I see a kid in a premium cabin, but as like to recall…. I cried all the way from Paramaribo to Lisbon on a KL DC10 and smashed over a big 80s lamp in the Clipper Lounge in JFK… And I was usually like that Dick’s kid… Very well behaved…. What comes around goes around

Southeasterner
Guest
As a soon-to-be father and frequent flier these stories terrify me. Since we will be having a boy part of me does wonder if there is a correlation between the child’s gender and behavior. I would say a majority of my negative child experiences on flights involved boys while the neutral/positive experiences involved girls. I also have one sister who has three daughters and seemed to never have an issue flying them around when they were young while my sister-in-law with two boys wouldn’t dare board a plane. Any studies on gender and behavior on an aircraft out there?
TrulyCranky
Guest
I’m amazed… actually, I’m not amazed, I’m just disappointed. It’s not about children, it’s about people who are able to behave in public in a polite and courteous manner, regardless of their age. Richard’s children were predictably able to behave, therefore he believed they could be in public. Mike says: “So let me make sure I understand this, Dick left his 10 and 12 year old children unsupervised except for a short checkin?” You’re assuming that Richard and Mrs. Richard never checked on them, but otherwise: yes. Here’s the key: they didn’t need supervision. “Oh wait, he expected the flight… Read more »
Neil S.
Guest

The real question is “Has Richard sent another note with more lectures, given today’s post?”

Sean
Guest
I have two boys, almost 4 & 2 respectively, and we traveled with them last year, and while painful at times, it was overall a good trip. You can’t predict what kids will do in the air v. on the ground. Do everything you can to prevent tantrums, but the reality is you won’t, and the sooner you realize that not everyone around you is a Richard aka Dick (judgmental adult w/ no kids, or judgmental adult w/ kids) you will relax & so will your kid/s. The one rule I break is the seatbelt sign. Unless the FA’s are… Read more »
mirabella
Guest

Goodness gracious, another trip in September? Well, bless your heart……we always bought tickets for the grandparents to travel to us.

BJ
Guest

That is funny. Reminds me of some people I know. Their kids are in their 40s now and are completely disfunctional and dont talk to their parents.
I once swapped my work paid business seat to an economy for a lady who looked tired and was going to nurse a baby for the flight. What a pity that they didnt end up next to that prat – that would have set him off :-)

grrljock
Guest

Oh, what a Dick. Silly us, why does it never occur to us that if we sit our children in Business while we sit in First that they would be perfect angels? Seriously, though CF, I thought your post yesterday was an honest recounting that parents can appreciate. We do what we can (snack bags, iPad, new toys, what have you), but sometimes kids just. decide. to. be. difficult.

I love the fact that the fist comment points out how fleeting that is, and how in a few years we’ll be missing those times when we could cuddle with them. Perspective!

JM
Guest

Someone needs to strangle Dick with his own ascot.

JM

micah child
Guest

I don’t have kids, and I do enjoy flying, and have been on the receiving end of other people’s child flying issues including vomit not making it to the baggie.

I once had some some tell me how they would drug their kids juice bottles to have them sleep on long flights. Tempting, but something that I don’t recommend. I usually bring noise canceling headphones for flights and that seems to help with most crying children issues for me.

southbay flier
Guest

Usually, it’s adults who piss me off in the sky when they do a myriad of things that annoy me. A crying baby/child can be countered with a pair of noise canceling headphones with loud music. The only time a baby bothered me is when it was kicking the seat for the duration of my 1.5 hour flight and the mom thought it was cute. I came really close to finding another seat on that plane.

M
Guest
As a non-parent can I ask a few questions? This is not aimed directly at you – It sounds like you really made an effort, but rather more general questions I have really wondered for a long time about these issues. First let me clarify – I am not a parent yet, not by choice, but because it hasn’t happened yet/there’s some doubt about whether it’s possible. Just to give some background on me and my situation. My questions are these (And please, try not to take them too offensively, I’m trying to question them in a way that explains… Read more »
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