Everyone loves to knock airline travel. The bland (or non-existent) food, lack of legroom, lost luggage and security hassles are all ripe joke fodder, but there’s one subject that generates more punch than punchline. Kids on a plane.
This topic has been in the hot seat yet again due to the recent headlines about Southwest Airlines kicking a mom and her 2-year-old son off a flight because the kid was too noisy. Apparently the boy was shouting “Go! Plane! Go” and “I want Daddy!” so loudly and repetitively that it was difficult for other passengers to hear the safety announcement, and so the family was asked to leave before take-off. Facing considerable backlash, Southwest has since reimbursed and apologized to the ejected travelers but stands by its right to remove disruptive passengers.
The array of comments this issue has generated on various websites and blogs is astounding. On one side are the Southwest supporters who applaud this decision, saying the other paying passengers in the cabin have a reasonable right to a quiet, comfortable, safe journey. On the other side are the sympathetic parents who know you can’t always control a young child especially in an exciting, unfamiliar, intimidating setting like a cramped airplane. Both sides of this debate have merit and there have been some good points made in each corner.
What disturbs me are the plethora of extreme, venomous, intolerant comments I’ve been reading from the anti-kid camp. They imply that most parents make no attempt to control their kids’ behaviour and just let them run amok with no care or concern for their fellow fliers. They then assert that young children should not be allowed on planes (or anywhere in public, for that matter), or suggest that the offensive creatures be medicated so they aren’t such annoying cabin-mates. One proposed that kids should be checked in a cage with the baggage like dogs.
True, it can be annoying when people infringe upon your personal comfort zone, but it’s kind of what you sign up for when partaking in public modes of transportation. Rubbing shoulders with strangers is always a crap shoot and kids aren’t the only unsavory characters out there. The 2009 Rudeness Poll by Travelocity identified a host of traveler types that we’d all rather avoid, including those with poor hygiene, coughers/sneezers, seat kickers, loud talkers, over-zealous recliners, arm rest hoggers, snorers and those who choose to consume stinky food in our vicinity. Unless you envision a world where these infractions warrant a deplaning, you’re probably going to have to suck it up and endure the occasional boisterous child in the sky.
Of course if any passenger, young or old, is disruptive enough to be deemed a safety hazard (be it a rowdy drinker, loudmouth lout or unruly kid) the airline crew has a right to take action. But most of these situations aren’t that extreme and just need to be endured for the few hours you are trapped together in the fuselage. Flying with a child in earshot can be a pleasant, indifferent or irritating experience depending on how you choose to react to it – as a grown-up, you have to take responsibility for your part in the equation.
Tomorrow I’ll offer some tips on how to make traveling with kids on a plane a bit more tolerable for everyone involved.
I agree, and cannot believe anyone would suggest kids being checked and stored like dogs. They’re human beings! A much more reasonable solution would be to store them in the overhead storage compartment