What is the most annoying thing about air travel? Is it the long hours? The endless security checks? The fact that all the flights seem to depart or arrive at the most ungodly hours? How about the cramped leg room, or the fact that most airplanes are FREEZING? Maybe it’s the chatty person sitting next to you, or being split up from your travel partner?
While all those things are horrible, there is one thing that most people hate more. Crying babies.
We have been on 11 flights with our son Jacob, and he isn’t even a year old yet. On every single one of those flights he has been perfectly behaved – even the 15 hour flight from Brisbane, Australia to Vancouver, Canada. But despite his great track record, I am getting extremely worried about our upcoming 18+ hour flight from London to Australia. You see, Jacob is now 11 months old and he has reached a certain stage. It’s the stage where he has discovered the power of the scream, but he is too young to properly communicate or reason with. Awesome.
So I turned to the internet for advice and tips for air travel with an older and potentially more noisy baby. I was shocked with what I found.
There is so much hatred out there for babies on airplanes. It seems like most babies are guilty until proven innocent when it comes to air travel. Many people want to ban children all together from flights, some blame the parents for being so “selfish” for traveling in the first place, while others seem to react with outright violence.
Like this article I found about a man slapping a toddler who started crying because his ears hurt during the descent.
There are just so many things wrong with this situation.
1) While hitting a child is wrong and not the best way to punish a child – hitting a strangers child is abhorrent. It’s assault, and that’s what he ended up being charged with.
2) The child wasn’t doing anything wrong. Note that the child has only started crying during the descent. Apparently the possibility of 10 minutes of crying from a baby was too much for this man to bear. All he had to do was restrain himself for a few minutes, and the plane would have landed and he would never have to see that child again.
3) The poor child was only crying because he was in pain. Being physically abused by a stranger is not going to remedy that pain and make the child be quiet. In fact, I can 100% guarantee the kid really started screaming after the man hit him in the face.
Then I found a story about a family being kicked off a flight because a baby was crying during boarding.
But most appalling were some of the hateful comments from people who seem to have forgotten that they were ever children themselves – or who are so entitled that they can not look past their own selves and desires.
“If I’m flying for work and need to dedicate my time to finishing a presentation on the plane, I should be able to without distractions. Bringing a baby that can’t behave on a flight is incredibly selfish. Our taxes already go towards putting your brats through school.”
“Yes, babies cry… but don’t make that MY problem. The onus is on YOU to control your little monsters, and politeness demands that YOU take whatever steps necessary to minimize the annoyances your little noisemakers bring.”
“I want to know what the hell you’re doing bringing your infant child on a plane in the first place.
If it’s a vacation, your child isn’t going to remember it.
If it’s for business, the child shouldn’t be coming along anyway.
If it’s a funeral, a family visit, anything sentimental at all, the child still won’t remember it.
You could have easily left the child in the hands of someone else. Your desire to go somewhere or show the child something are no reason to, without any sensible reason, bring the infant somewhere that will inconvenience others.
The same can be said of parents who bring said infants to public places that others go to enjoy themselves – restaurants being a big thing here. Your child does nothing except lower the enjoyment that other people are paying for.”
I could write several posts in response to some of these comments but I will start with this:
1) Believe it or not, you will not be the only person on the flight
It’s not just babies that are annoying on flights. There are also chatty people, drunk people, smelly people, and people that like to hit me in the head with their luggage. But we don’t go on rampages saying that all smelly and/or chatty people should not be allowed to fly. Or that the companions or drunk people are selfish for traveling with them. Believe it or not – you will be sharing your plane journey with other people, and it is likely that some of those people may not be in your top pick of companions. But I’m guessing you only purchased one seat out of many on the plane, and I don’t think a guarantee that everyone would meet your own personal standards was in the fine print.
2) A plane is no different from a bus or a train
I don’t understand why a crying baby is more easily tolerated on a train journey than on a plane ride. Some of the trains and buses we have taken in Europe have been longer than many of the flights, and yet we only seem to be the target of hatred when we are on a flight. Whats the difference? In both cases you are in a confined space with a baby, but somehow it is infinitely worse when it is a plane. And for the record, my son was way more annoying on our last long distance bus ride (and very well tolerated by the other passengers) than he was on our last plane ride. In fact he didn’t utter a peep on our last plane ride, but that didn’t stop people from giving us the death stare as we boarded.
3) The baby has a right to be on that plane
Believe it or not, we all had to pay for our tickets on this plane – baby included. I pay up to 30% of an adult fare to fly with my son and he doesn’t even get his own seat or his own luggage allowance. We all have paid for a ticket to get us from point A to point B, and most airlines don’t offer much more than that.
4) The baby is just acting like a baby
Babies cry. They don’t know how to express themselves in any other way. The baby can’t act like an adult because it isn’t an adult. But you know what – you can act like an adult.
5) Getting angry at the baby or it’s parents is only going to make you more miserable
What did the man achieve by hitting the baby that was crying during descent? Nothing – other than making the baby cry more and getting charged with assault. By getting angry at a baby for doing what is natural for a baby is not going to make the baby be quiet. All you are going to achieve is to get yourself worked up and more angry. You know what would make you less miserable? Ignoring the baby. Put on some headphones, watch a movie…. do anything other than get yourself worked up. Everyone will be happier for it, you most of all.
6) Believe it or not, there is someone who feels even worse about that crying baby
And that’s the parents of the crying baby. Parents are very much aware that the sound of their baby crying is disruptive and annoying. Most parents will be doing everything in their power to ease whatever discomfort their child is feeling. Giving them death stares or verbally accosting them isn’t going to make their job of calming down a child any easier.
I’m interested to see what you think….
Do you hate crying babies on a plane?
Can you tolerate babies better on buses or trains?
Do you think parents are selfish for traveling with young children?
Let me know in the comments.