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?


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

  1. David says:

    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

  2. Michael says:

    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 with it. Screaming bloody murder in flight many times made me sink down into my seat embarrassed but I look at it this way I rather dealt with in for 2 hours flying down than 24 hours driving down in the car. Guess I am a bad parent too!!

  3. Ron says:

    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.

  4. Neil S. says:

    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.)

  5. Phil says:

    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 I would have been sympathetic, I would have observed your futile struggle and while annoyed would have been more understanding of the situation and could relate. ‘Dicks’ parenting system was similar to the one I grew up in. We were conditioned to behave appropriately and we didn’t travel on aircraft until I was 8 as my parents were horrified at how I would have acted. I remember one instance where my sister threw a fit in a restaurant. My mother picked her up and took her outside. My dad requested the meal to-go, paid and left. I remember being lectured that that was not behavior that was acceptable and going out to a restaurant was a treat. We didn’t’ go back to a restaurant for some time but when we did the problem had corrected itself because we viewed it as a reward. Today, I constantly see parents letting their child scream their heads off while they just sit there and eat with total disregard for others.

    A restaurant is a much different environment than an aircraft, but my point is that kids will melt down…it happens, but the real issue is how parents deal with the situation. If others see your struggle, they will likely be sympathetic. If you do nothing they will hate your guts and think about throwing you out an exit.

    That said, I see a revenue stream that US airlines are passing on, children fee sections. I believe Air Asia has implemented this on some of their flights. Another option, why not force families to the rear of the plane? When I am traveling with my family (3 small nephews) we always choose to sit in the back for quick access to the restroom. I would think that a reservation containing a child under say 10 years of age could trigger a set of seats, maybe the last 5 rows. Knowing this system is in place, people could reserve seats well ahead of this section. If you fly Southwest you are out of luck though.

    Our first child is on the way and due in July. Our first flight with the little one is in February for a family vacation to Florida. I will be bringing ear plugs for every passenger on that flight as a courtesy and will likely offer adults in my immediate vicinity an adult beverage if it gets out of hand to smooth over any issues.

    • Matt B. says:

      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.

  6. 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? 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 says:

      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 says:

      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, I only recall one incident of bad behavior and frankly, the kid had a point….(that’s another story). Not that it doesn’t happen, even with the best laid plans. But obviously engaged parents, doing their best, generates sympathy and understanding. the “stuck up” or oblivious parent rightfully earns disdain.
      You, Brett, should be able to travel any time. Just let me know your seat assignments so I can apply for the upgrade….

  7. TomAustinTX says:

    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 says:

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

  8. Noah says:

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

  9. Andrew says:

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

  10. TimH says:

    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 or person free cabin. You are paying for a seat – nothing more.

    Also, weren’t the CO 747s out of service by 1980? So some guy that flew in the 1970s is telling you how great of a parent he is TODAY? I’m betting by now, his mind has done some creative editing on some of the times his tykes were less-than-perfect…

    • Gary Smedile says:

      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.

  11. David SF eastbay says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 great!

        To your point that it would only “save a few bucks” – wow, sorry Mr. Rockefeller, but 80-90% of a full cost airline ticket is a lot of money to some people. Not you – I know you inherited Standard Oil and some railroads from your grandpa – but to we normal folk, the additional cost of an airline ticket can basically price us out of taking a trip altogether. Insisting on no lap-children ensures that only rich(er) people fly with kids under 2.

        • Phil says:

          “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 flew out of their arms during a hard landing. Why risk it?
          If that one extra ticket breaks the bank, continue to save and go on a vacation next year. My child’s safety is more important than whatever vacation/destination I may be headed too

          • YOWzers says:

            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 look to cars to determine our plane rules. Except when we’re tying to back up a baseless point, apparently.

            5. That last sentence presumes that lap-babies are in any more danger than non-lap babies, an assertion which you haven’t demonstrated (see points 1-4). It also ignores what we know about the relative safety of various modes of transportation – if you price people out of flying, they will drive, which is a much more dangerous form of transportation than flying, lap-baby or no lap-baby.

            • YOWzers says:

              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 says:

          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 under 2 being held in an adult’s lap whenever the seat belt sign was on (or lying on the floor between an adult’s feet and a bulkhead, as per the then-accepted practice with an infant in a brace-for-impact situation) risked serious injury or death by being thrown out of the adult’s arms or crushed by the adult’s body or feet in (to summarize in plain English) a crash or an instance of severe turbulence. Given the forces to which a commercial passenger jet could be subjected in such a situation, a child could not be effectively restrained by an adult’s arms and body, or feet, (and could in fact be seriously injured or killed by the arms, body and/or feet of the adult trying to restrain that child). Because the science and the evidence supporting that conclusion was unequivocal, and even though my children had flying privileges and grandparents across the continent, my husband and I did not allow them to fly in a commercial passenger jet until they were older than 2 years and big enough to be safely restrained onboard.
          An interesting sidenote: in our research, we did come upon one instance in which not being mechanically restrained appeared to have worked favor of an under-two child: in a crash that no other under-two children survived, an infant who had been placed on the floor between an adult’s feet and a bulkhead did survive when (and, it had been concluded, because) it was thrown clear of the a/c (which broke apart at that bulkhead).

  12. 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 says:

      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 says:

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

        • Jason says:

          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 says:

            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.

  13. Skinny says:

    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 really get from LAX to Indy? A 30 hour drive? Or probably a similar number of hours on a train? Clearly you have time for that. Maybe a private jet? Yup, all parents can clearly afford that. You paid for a ticket (at the same price, I would assume) just like Dick would have. Nobody said air travel was supposed to be relaxing. It’s not a trip to the spa or the library. If Dick (or anyone else) can’t handle some children on a plane, maybe they should be the ones investigating other means of travel.

  14. jazzybit says:

    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$$!

  15. MeanMeosh says:

    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 to let my little nephew bang metal pots and pans on our new wood floors. That generated a cease-and-desist order, though my nephew and I reached a compromise solution where he was allowed to use plastic cups instead…

    Speaking of the same little nephew, I once volunteered to drive him and my sister all the way from southwest Florida to Texas and back when he was about a year and a half old. I love driving, and had excess vacation time to burn, though I guess volunteering to spend 1,200 miles one-way in a car with an 18-month old makes me some kind of masochist. The trip actually went mostly alright, except for the time my nephew decided to launch a toy full force at the back of my head while we were doing 75 on the interstate. That was fun. Believe me, the reign of terror isn’t exclusive to air travel!

  16. Joanna says:

    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 experiencing the world.

    I love parents that think they are the best at what they do, and their children are always perfect. Because, as a parent, you know nothing is further than the truth.

  17. Jon says:

    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 the best you could to help calm your son down, it’s all good – kids will still be kids!

  18. Laura La says:

    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.

  19. David says:

    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 use a binky anymore. But if that is what will diffuse the situation then give the kid the binky (or bottle or toy or whatever). There is always something to calm a meltdown.

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

  21. Maren says:

    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.

  22. bill says:

    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 respect themselves and others, especially in PUBLIC places, chances are neither do you. After all, children are little reflectors of their parents. Come on parents, do your job, and be adults and teach your children!

  23. 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 them to the world. And if someone is rude to them or annoyed they are sitting next to them on a plane? Well then we give them permission to fart on them the whole plane ride.

    (I kid. I kid.)

    • TrulyCranky says:

      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?

      • 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 says:

          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.)

  24. Ken says:

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

  25. Emjay says:

    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 came in for a landing…and THEN the attendant had to come down the aisle and forcibly buckle in one of them………. all while Mom and Dad ignored these truly obnoxious children. There was more but thankfully, I’ve erased most of that from memory.

    My point is that YOU were responsible. No parent can do more. You’re absolved even if Pope Richard didn’t offer absolution.

  26. JayB says:

    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 sit down, and maybe he’ll have a heart attack somewhere during the trip, why do they allow these people to fly? Where are his….? Whatever!

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

  28. Sean Mc says:

    “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.

  29. Patrick Dee says:

    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 to me that Richard was indeed a real “Dick” in his evaluation of your parenting skills. That’s just my opinion – your mileage may vary.

  30. Mile High Joe says:

    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 says:

      +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.

  31. Pete says:

    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

  32. Southeasterner says:

    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?

  33. TrulyCranky says:

    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 attendants to supervise them since that is their job.” No, that’s your assumption, because it’s inconceivable to you that 10 and 12 year old people could have learned courtesy and responsibility. It may be decreasingly rare, but it’s not inconceivable.

  34. Neil S. says:

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

  35. Sean says:

    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 sitting down, I think it’s ok to take your kids/s to the bathroom, do a lap or two up the aisle to calm them down, etc. You might get some grief from FAs, & other dicks on the plane, but again your goal is to keep your kids happy & yourself calm. Looking forward to the next trip report.

  36. mirabella says:

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

  37. BJ says:

    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 :-)

  38. grrljock says:

    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!

  39. JM says:

    Someone needs to strangle Dick with his own ascot.

    JM

  40. micah child says:

    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.

  41. southbay flier says:

    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.

  42. M says:

    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 what I really mean.)

    1) Why are so many parents SO against a non-child section on a plane? Like many others, I have experienced many a crying baby next to me, a kicking child behind me, and a toddler who wants to run up and down the aisles. I’m not a parent yet, and honestly for the time being – travel is hard enough for me as is! If I’m willing to pay a percentage extra to have a child free zone (KEEP IN MIND – I AM NOT SAYING CHILD FREE PLANE – and I realize this may mean that I either have to deal with a non-child free zone or waiting for a later flight based on availability), what exactly about that is wrong of me? I hear complaints about people overweight who spill over into other seats – and are forced to pay an extra seat fare, but if your kid’s feet are constantly kicking into the back of my seat and you’re not paying extra that’s OK with me – but can i have the choice to pay extra not to sit in front of your kid?

    2) Why do parents always seem to bring very young children to nice restaurants? I’m not sure if this is just a phenomenon in my area or what, but it seems like every other date night with my boyfriend we end up seated next to the food throwing or screaming toddler. Am I missing something in thinking that if you’re going to invest in a really nice dinner that maybe a bit of money on a babysitter seems reasonable too? Again – I realize toddlers are like this! It’s natural for kids to be loud and kinda wacky, but my experience as a paying customer is decreased being seated next to them. Again, I am willing to spend the extra money, I just want to be able to enjoy my experience too! It’s not a romantic night with my boyfriend when a toddler behind me is screaming his head off and neither parent takes them out to calm them down or deals with the situation if they can’t calm them down.

    3) If people are so adamant about these social interactions and situations – why exactly aren’t they taking kids outside more or meeting other families and cooking dinners and chatting over meals? I have heard people back up taking their kids out to fancy restaurants with “well, should we hide them inside and make them a recluse?” type argument, but when their kids are home they let them watch TV 24/7. Is this just my perception?? Why are people so set on the kids MUST be allowed in restaurants but the last time they actually made them spend an afternoon outside with friends is not within memory.

    4) Is it that unreasonable for us to expect your kid to have manners or at least be disciplined? If your kid is a) racing up and down aisles b) kicking everyone’s seats c) crying to high heaven d) pointing at people (esp I have seen this with a friend with a disability) and commenting loudly without any explanation/discussion from the parent e) throwing a temper tantrum – Why shouldn’t we be upset when parents don’t seem to intervene?? Or! If you have said something to your child – at least say something to the adult who is being irritated – like “I’m sorry, she’s just worked up. Usually take-off is hard for her. If she doesn’t stop in a little bit, I’ll switch seats with her or we’ll make something work.” Why exactly am I OBLIGATED to deal with your kid just cause you are passing on human genes? At least acknowledge the irritation to others – A simple “I’m sorry” or “Thanks for your patience” goes a really long way and I’d be willing to forgive 99.9% of child flight irritations, but have never had any parent offer me one, no matter how long their child was kicking my chair for. Or for goodness sake – if your kid is running madly up and down grocery aisles and bumps into me three times at least give me the sheepish ‘I’m sorry” grin. I don’t need a ceremony or something, and yeah I’m probably the 500th person you have had to, but to be frank (and hopefully the only actually rude thing I said this post) I didn’t bring your kid to this store and if you can’t keep them settled, the least you can do is be polite to me for gently stepping out of junior’s way, even if I am the 500th person!

    • CF says:

      M – Absolutely, A lot of good things to discuss here.

      1) I don’t really have a problem with that myself, though it does make for a very difficult logistic challenge for the airline. What happens if someone doesn’t disclose that they have a child and the back is oversold? What if the parents aren’t sitting with the kids and the only way to get them together is in this child-free zone? It’s just a really difficult thing to handle and hard to guarantee. Plus, I don’t think we’d see that many people willing to pay extra for it.

      2 and 3) Not questions I can answer for you. I have no interest in bringing my toddler to a nice restaurant because it would stress me out too much. It’s everyone’s right to do it if they want, but I just don’t see why you’d want to do that to yourself. We want to socialize our kids as much as we can as well, but sometimes you’re exhausted or you need to get things done. And TV is the one thing that can give you an extended break.

      4) Yes and no. It is unreasonable to expect a toddler to have manners. (I assume we’re talking about toddlers here, because they older they get, it changes.) Toddlers don’t know these things yet, and even if they do, they aren’t going to always abide by it. Kids cry. That’s the way it is. That’s not a manners issue. Kicking seats? You can tell the kid not to do it (and you absolutely should), but it’ll probably result in a tantrum of some sort. The point is that you can’t control behavior of a toddler, but you should try to do everything humanly possible to fix the situation. That definitely includes apologizing in my opinion. To me, the worst thing possible is when a parent just ignores the kid. It’s tough, especially on a long flight, but that’s what you have to do if you’re going to fly with a toddler.

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