Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Children On Airplanes

I came across this post today, about people who want airlines to offer kid-free flights. The author, a mother herself, says she agrees with a certain Facebook group that says children are a "constant and annoying disturbance" on flights. This really bothers me for several reasons.

  1. Kids are victims of confirmation bias. Every time you hear a child squeak on an airplane, it confirms your theory that kids are there to disturb you. There could be 20 kids on your flight who you never noticed, and you only remember the one who was screaming. Look around, people! Most kids are doing just fine!
  2. The kid who is screaming has it worse than you. Trust me. Maybe his ears hurt but he doesn't know how to express that. Maybe he is just having a bad day. Ever had one of those? Try sympathy.
  3. It's not just kids who get loud on planes. Many times while flying, I have run into an adult who can't seem to control the VOLUME OF HIS VOICE or who whines about every little thing. Or a group of adults who think the entire plane full of people shouldn't mind listening to their loud, obnoxious conversations.
  4. It's not your private jet. You are not entitled to peace and quiet. It's a public place. You might have to tolerate some other people in situations like this. If your ears are so sensitive, get some really nice headphones. Or take a road trip.
  5. Most parents don't bring their kids on planes "just for fun." It's not like going to a playground. The flight is a means to an end. They are trying to get somewhere. Just like you.

If it helps you muster up some sympathy or tolerance, think about this: that family whose kid is bothering you might be on their way to or from a really sad place, like a funeral. Maybe they are all having a bad day, or a bad month. Don't add to it by being a jerk to them.

When you run into a child on a plane who you find annoying, try to get over yourself. Remember that you used to be a kid, and you might have one of your own someday. Try smiling at the child, or at least not scowling. A little bit of brightness in an otherwise stressful situation can go a long way.


  1. Man, I'm a kid myself and this is the first time I've run into an adult that understands kids or tries to sympathize with them instead of making judgements. News flash, there are a lot of adults who act like kids i.e whining, screaming. People try to be tolerant of them. But when it comes to kids they're just "Brats"? I don't think so. :)

  2. The "maybe their ears hurt" point is one I've been considering for a while. Personally, I experienced severe ear pain on airplanes up until the age of about 12, when it pretty much went away entirely. I wouldn't be surprised if other people had the same experience, since in the culture we live in, "good enough for adults" is considered "good enough", without regard for the needs of an entire portion of the population.