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airplane childEvery so often you see a travel article about people who think babies and kids should be banned from air travel or moved to a separate section of a plane. These curmudgeonly business travelers assert their right to a library-silent, no-wails-allowed flight. They outline a mile-long list of grievances from squirmy infants grabbing their iPads and magazines to kindergarteners kicking the backs of their seats. As if the disappearance of people under 12 — make that 18 — would make flying so much more pleasant.

To everyone who has shot daggers at the bedraggled parents with the crying baby, daring them to even think of sitting in their row, I’d like to present the view from the other side. As a travel professional, who has flown many times with my son in his two years of life, including a solo cross-country flight without Daddy, I have learned many new things about flying since I became part of the diaper set. Here are some tidbits I’ve gleaned that might make you think differently about flying with babies onboard.

Families need to travel. I spend 40 hours a week writing/editing/talking about travel. I would be a hypocrite if I suddenly stopped flying just because I had a kid. My family lives across the country, I love to explore new places, and I want my son to be exposed to a variety of people and cultures. I’m not going to do that solely within road trip distance — and nor are many other families.

You can predict where babies will sit. Smart parents choose seats in two locations on a plane — the back of a domestic flight and the bulkhead on international flights. While most travelers avoid the back of the plane, parents flock there for easy bathroom access and extra time to hunt for dropped pacifiers while everyone else deplanes. International travelers book bulkheads because this is where the in-flight bassinets hook up so babies can sleep on long-haul itineraries. Kids will be scattered throughout airplanes, for sure, but avoid these two areas or you’ll really be in the baby zone.

10 Reasons Every Plane Should Have a Family Zone

Babies will not scream the whole flight. Except in rare cases of illness or colic, babies do not scream nonstop for an entire five-hour flight. They’re most likely to cry while you’re still on the ground, likely because parents are delaying their next meal until the airplane takes off because nursing or sucking on a bottle helps with the pressure change. Once the airplane levels off, it actually becomes baby heaven — white noise plus vibration is the magic combination that makes most children sleepy.

It’s toddlers you really have to worry about. Babies can be soothed and older kids understand threats (and the power of in-flight movies and video games), but if you’re going to fear anyone, be afraid of toddlers. They’re willful, mobile and vocal, and do not respond to logical arguments. And they love to throw things.

Don’t blame the parents. At least, don’t blame them until you see them ignoring disruptive children. Most moms and dads I know freak out about being “that family” on a flight, so they come prepared with new toys, stickers, coloring books and toddler apps to distract young ones, and they’ll start shushing the instant a disgruntled peep emerges from their child. I’ve even heard of parents handing out goodie bags and drink coupons to their neighbors on long flights. So please don’t judge sight unseen.

Airlines don’t make it easier for families. Airlines might roll out the red carpet for their super-duper-elite fliers, but kids don’t have expense accounts. Many carriers will not guarantee families seats together in advance, seating 3-year-olds with strangers while Mom is two rows back. Frazzled parents are left to beg the gate reps or flight attendants to facilitate swaps. (Please move if you’re asked. If you think flying with kids is bad, try sitting next to a preschooler who is half a plane away from her parents.) Also, not all airlines let families with small children board first. We are really trying not to bump into you as we drag kids and carry-ons down narrow aisles, and don’t mean for our children to be in your face as we quickly stow our bags, but there’s nothing we can do about our Group Four boarding placement.

Kids are curious. You may think it’s annoying that my son is staring at you over the back of the seat, but he’s likely fascinated with your beard or your colorful shirt or your electronics. Babies love to stare; they’re not trying to be rude. If you’re feeling friendly, engage a kid who finds you fascinating — peekaboo is a winner every time. It will buy a harried parent a moment of peace, and you’re guaranteeing no screams for at least two minutes.

The Hue and Cry Over Babies Onboard

Kids are just acting their age — please act yours. Little kids aren’t miniature adults. Their growing brains can’t understand the need to sit still and be quiet in public. They learn by being curious and exploring their environment, and don’t understand why certain things and people are off limits. And, depending on their age, the only way they know to express themselves is by crying. You, on the other hand, are old enough to hold down a job and book your own plane tickets. You should be mature enough not to throw a tantrum when your seatmate isn’t to your liking, to understand that a kid being a kid is not the parents’ fault, and to realize that making someone else feel bad will not make you feel better or improve your flight. So grow up. I’ve been more bothered by adults’ B.O., rude manners, snoring and incessant attempts at conversation than any baby’s vocalizations — and you don’t see me trying to get those people kicked off my flight.

— written by Erica Silverstein

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116 Responses to “An Open Letter to People Who Hate Flying with Kids”

  1. acruiseguy says:

    Yeah, what she said!

  2. Aubrey says:

    Love this! And from the other side: I’m a non-kid-haver who loves sitting by kids. They can be really cool to be near – their enthusiasm is cute to watch and is often contagious. I’m all for kids on a plane. After all, it was my own travels as a kid that made me the travel-loving adult that I am today — all kids should have that opportunity, without judgement from cranky adults.

  3. Jeffrey C says:

    None of these things interest me in the slightest. On my last flight a kid had a sixth sense about when to scream… all the way from the time the door closed to about a minute before we were allowed to use personal electronics (like noise cancelling headphones and MP3 players that help me deal with the situation).

    Substitute a smoker for screaming kid and see how much support you get.

    • Jane says:

      I am not interested in the slightest either and I’m even a parent. However, I’m also one of those people who don’t appreciate screaming children in movie theaters or restaurants either.

    • Ursula says:

      I agree. I don’t know why the people who insist on taking infants and small children on flights want to make us “understand”. When someone is screaming for hours, and sometimes, it’s the WHOLE FLIGHT, our heads ache and why should we “understand”?

      Oh, families HAVE to travel? Well, there is the car…and what other places do you take your child? I’ve heard that parents take their kids into bars on cruise ships. Somethings are just not age appropriate.
      The other passengers have NO CHOICE on the plane, and you force them to listen to your screaming kid. I’m more sympathetic about infants, but the 3, 4, 5 year olds who are allowed to shriek or talk loud, or have a temper tantrum, should be dealt with.

      • Digit says:

        Agree wholeheartedly. Keep those unruly tots off of enclosed flying objects unless absolutely (medically) necessary. I just got off a flight where the kid literally screamed and wailed for a solid hour. And before a parent chimes in with “Well…you were a kid once too!”, my parents didn’t bring me on a plane until I was older.

        No one needs to be subjected to that kind of noise.

  4. Debra M says:

    Although I can sympathize, you are forgetting that frequent travelers don’t want to be by screaming children have their reasons such as they might need to prepare for meetings at the other end or have to catch up on work. Not everyone can take travel time off. Personally I have found that a combination of earplugs & noise cancelling headphones have provided a safe haven from chatty adults & screaming babies alike. Nothing will protect you from the dreaded toddler – particularly when mommy & daddy think it’s cute when they kick seats, throw things, etc. Other travelers paid for their tickets (& don’t get a discount when they get crappy seats by screamers old or young), just show them some respect & do what you can with your offspring. They will be happier & you might get fewer dirty looks.

    • Ursula says:

      It’s just so wrong that the airlines will NOT do anything either. I was on a flight where a kid continually kicked my seat. So I turned around and said to the parents,
      This has to stop. Well, it never did. So I summoned the flight attendant who didn’t want to get involved. I said I paid for a seat, not a kick-me-seat.

      I find the airlines care more about families, than single or childless people, or even business travelers.

      • Brad Flynn says:

        @ Debra, Ursula;

        One question,

        Have either of you had children? And if so, have you ever been in a position where you are depending on the mercy of others, alike your child depending on you to take care of them? As a responsible parent I speak against the rudeness of others and ask for mercy. For those who show mercy, obtain it.

  5. Mark says:

    re “wont scream for the whole flight”

    anecdotally… I listened to a baby cry ALL the way from Madrid to to JFK.

    Maybe it was an ear infection and pressure, who knows…..but it happens.

    Having said that, parents should try to avoid the long haul for a short time visits.

    • Brad Flynn says:


      I disagree. We need to practice tolerance and show love to others. When we are upset or agitated by a child disrupting our flight, our heart is exposed, and from the heart- the mouth speaks.

      We need to put others first and do good to eachother instead of seaking our own comforts. This is an issue of selfishness, and I am seeing my selfishness in reading these comments.

  6. Patti says:

    I’ve flown with my daughter since she was 4 months old. She is now 31. I was smart enough to give her a bottle at takeoff and landing (knowing her ears were going to hurt) when she was a baby and strict enough to teach her to act responsibly as she got older. She was also taught at a very young age, that the world did NOT revolve around her!

  7. Katy says:

    I just wrote my own little article about this topic too. http://kgaffney.blogspot.com/2013/06/no-kid-zone.html

    I think kids get such a bad rap on flights! The airlines seem to do everything they can to NOT help you and leave you fending for yourself. Kids can be annoying on flights, but so can the constant chatter, the armrest hogger and the giant person who leaves you squished in the corner.

    But yes, a child crying from ear pressure or boredom…what a nuisance.

  8. rjt says:

    The only one that bothers me is the parents who don’t care and think it is cute that their child runs around the plane or screams. If I see a parent is trying, that’s okay. Although I can see both sides of the argument.

  9. Kevin says:

    Some toddlers can be quite a good distraction. I’ve played with toddlers who peer over the back of the seat for a whole long haul flight. It really made the journey go quicker.

  10. Patricia says:

    As one of those “business people that complain about crying kids” AND as a mother, I can sympathize with both views. My two children started flying, domestically and internationally, when they were less than a year old. Now, at 33 and 27, they fly everywhere on their own and love it!! They are certainly global kids and I’m thankful for that. When I see parents struggling to entertain a curious and inquisitive toddler, I pull out stickers, mini bottles of bubbles, a coloring book and new box of crayons, finger puppets, and an inflatable paper ball. I have NEVER met a parent that was not appreciative. I have also received “thumbs up” from fellow passengers. Now, tell me….what’s so difficult OR expensive about being a part of the solution rather than adding to the problem…?

    • kasia says:

      Oh God, where to start? What’s difficult or expensive about it? For me even 1$ spent on a stranger’s child would be expensive. Keep in mind that some people dislike children (screaming or not) and have no interest in playing with some stranger’s child on a plane. Especially when they have work to do.

      • Ursula says:

        I agree. That’s the responsibility of the parents…not the other passengers, to quiet their children. I refuse to bring crayons and toys so other people and their rude kids will behave. This poster may have gotten her “thumbs up” because other passengers feel so trapped, but do they want to start buying toys for their flights? Heck no!!

    • Brad Flynn says:

      Well said patricia

  11. Lisa says:

    I have traveled with a 6 month old (who was a dream) and an 18 month old (a lot more fidgety and curious) before. In my experience, I think I’ve stressed out a lot more than anyone else on the flights about trying to keep my child entertained, quiet, etc. to ensure a pleasant flight for all.
    Of all the tips provided, I’d agree with the last point most of all. All adults alike should understand that children aren’t intentionally trying to disrupt your flight or make it unpleasant for you. But children are naturally only thinking about their own needs/wants, etc. It’s us adults who should be less egotistical and more understanding.

  12. RoadWarrior says:

    I just completed a transcontinential trip that a baby cried all the way from Atlanta to LA. ALL THE WAY, that means 5 hours of non-stop screaming. That gets hard on anybody’s nerves.
    I have 3 kids that I’ve flown with and most of my fellow passengers had no idea the kids were there. I planned weeks in advance and had goodie bags to keep them amused, bottles to suck on for the ears, or gum to chew. Snacks and naps were carefully timed to guarantee good behavior, etc. In short, I worked at it! I fly regularly for my job and every week I see parents who are completely oblivious to their kid’s needs. They let them run wild around the airports, aisles of the planes and even through TSA security checkpoints. You can tell by looking that they DON’T CARE. The parents that do care, take care of things properly and have well behaved kids. I can forgive a baby crying because their ears hurt so long as I can see that Mom or Dad did their homework and planned ahead, but the family with small kids that is RUNNING for the plane because they didn’t plan for the flight…. I have no patience for them.
    I spent the return trip having a 12 year old boy traveling with his grandparents kick the back of my seat all the way from LA to Denver, when I lost it. His Grandma was quick to defend him until I pointed out all his misdeeds. She promised better behavior. He was good until St Louis. By the time we hit Baltimore I had lost all respect for her. As the plane landed at BWI, she cheerily announced that they were in “Washington DC” and began regaling him with all the fun they would have. I looked her in the eye and said, “That’s great, but we’re in Baltimore”. By the time she figures that one out, she might understand just how much your fellow passengers can affect your travel experience.

  13. texasrdh says:

    I have been on a flight where the 3 or 4 year old behind me kicked the back of my seat. I tried looking back and glaring at the parents who did nothing until I specifically asked them to make their child stop doing it. I have waited for flights where children were allowed to run around as if they were at a playground. When my son was small, I took books and games to keep him doccupied while waiting for a flight. He was never allowed to kick the back of any seat – airplane, theater, etc. The problem with parents today is that they do not want to make the effort to keep their children occupied so they won’t annoy other passengers. I feel that I paid my dues and feel terribly disrespected when parents today don’t pay theirs.

    • lol says:

      Those parents me included let our kids run all over the airport to tire themselves out. My kids slept for the first three hours of our flight because I let them play while our flight was delayed. If you don’t like flying with kids then take a private jet, we have just as much right to be on a plane as anyone else.period.

      • kasia says:

        If your kids act like monkies, they have as much right to be on a plane as monkies.

        • Brad Flynn says:

          No kasia

          Children aren’t miniature adults, they don’t perceive the world and others with your level of maturity. Show mercy, show love.

      • Fun Times with Babies says:

        You have no right whatsoever to bring your screaming untrained animals on the plane and destroy the peace and quiet of every other passenger on the plane. We will continue to complain until you are corralled into areas of the plane where we don’t have to put up with you or, God willing – you’re only allowed on certain child allowed flights.

        The smokers were the key. We dealt to them, they can’t even smoke in parks now. People like you supported us while we took away all their rights. And now YOU are next. Two words you will be hearing a lot of soon – ‘noise pollution’, be ready :-)

  14. Adrienne says:

    I have no problems with children whose parents are attentive. It’s the parent who ignores the child like it’s not his/hers that make me nuts! I once flew cross country with a screaming kid directly behind me who had crapped his diaper early into the flight. All of us around him were treated to a disgusting and smelly situation which his parents ignored. And I’m supposed to smile and tolerate this, while feeling empathy for the parent?? Give me a friggen’ break!

  15. Jackie MacDougall says:

    If parents cannot control their kids when going out or travelling, then I say leave them home or stay home yourself with them.

    What the heck do young mindless parents of today think we did when we raised our kids? Did we inflict them on all those around us to satisfy our whims and fancies? Absolutely not. If the kids could not behave they stayed with a babysitter or with grandma.

    One crying brat disrupting a plane full of people? Where’s the logic in that argument??

    Jackie MacDougall who cannot stand monsters and brats.

    • Andrew says:

      I can tell you im 18 with a kid and personally i dont care what other people think. My daughter is 9 months old…shes going to cry at some point…..shes acting her age. And why should we have to sit at home and not travel? Just because of what other people are gonna think? Why should i care what complete strangers think? Suck it up, its a couple hours of crying off and on, you were screaming and crying once too.

  16. Doreen says:

    I am one of those people (a senior) who feel parents are responsible for their child’s behaviour whether it be on a plane, cruise ship or restaurant, to make sure they have done their home-work (toys , games ,change uncomfortable diapers etc) and it is a pleasure for the rest of us. I had a child that I did not take to adult movies,or trips until he was old enoughg to behave. Teach your children to behave properly in public and respect other people’s space.

  17. Diana says:

    I too have been on both sides. Not all parents ignore their children,but enough do to make this an issue. Until my kids were old enough to sit/behave for long periods,every trip was in a car. Did it make for long trips…yes…but if I couldn’t tolerate my kids boredom,why would I subject someone else to it? Let’s be honest,if a child can’t take a 2hr car ride…a 5hr plane ride is definitely going to be a problem. I believe children should be able to travel..starting in small increments and working up to larger/longer as tolerated. Not only is this good practice for children,parents can see what works best to keep little one occupied.

    • Erica says:

      Well that’s a nice idea in theory, but what about us military stationed overseas? Should we “drive” from Germany to U.S.?

  18. Tracy says:

    I think every parent should dose the child with Benadryl right before boarding and everyone’s happy. Problem solved. The children get sleep, the parents can enjoy the flight as well as the rest of the plane. And, it not going to harm the child.

  19. Fly girl says:

    I’m a flight attendant – I tell all my anxious, nervous parents to relax! If you relax the kids will relax, plus you’ll never see these passengers again!!!

  20. Karrie says:

    One word – Benadryl :-)

  21. Karen D says:

    OMG LOVE IT!!! Although I’ve never traveled by air with a baby or your child myself, I would rather sit near them then a smoker or an alcoholic any day.

  22. Shari P says:

    I flew with my two children on a regular basis from babyhood to teenage. I would never have done what some parents do today. You can never blame babies or young children, but some of the parents need to be scolded. For instance, you don’t shake a bottle of formula and then open it up, for it will explode on the passengers all around you – yes, I’ve been dumped on, big time. If your child cannot be soothed by sitting and comforting with nursing, bottles, food, toys or music, then you need to be walking them up the aisle to give them a change of scenery; if your child is screaming on the plane because they want the extra cookie, the plane ride is not a place to be teaching them the lesson – give in for the sake of those around you. If your child is eating, please do not let them stand up leaning over on the seat so the items fall out of his/her mouth or hands onto my table or worse, in my food. I don’t mind saying hello to your baby, but you are the parent and should be watching over your child, not me. Really, courtesy has gone out the window.

  23. Kit Cosper says:

    My kids have been traveling forever. When my youngest were 3 and 5 I was commuting from NC to CA twice a month and occasionally they would come to CA if I had to stay for an extended period. After a year they all had Gold status on USAir and we sat up front more often than not. On one flight from SFO to CLT my son (then 6) was in 4F (a window) and I was in 3C (an aisle) The gentleman in 4D (aisle) refused to swap with me. Fortunately my son was impeccably well-behaved and just sat flipping pages in his book, releasing the occasional deep sigh. (As in, “I can’t believe this guy is being such a tool.”) By the time they were ready to close the door prior to pushback the gentleman relented and swapped seats with me. My son never uttered a peep.

    • nikki says:

      may be your son should swap seat with the guy. who wants to get up for your peep breaks and the occasion cart bumped my elbow accident? I always pick the window seat. and I solemnly use the bathroom on the plane and I sure as hell will be mad if u wake me up every 15 mins or so for your peep breaks.

  24. Jo says:

    I am not a frequent business traveler. I am lucky to take one international vacation per year with friends. The overnight flights are bad enough, without having to deal with screaming babies & kids kicking the back of your seat with the parents doing nothing. On my last flight to London, a baby literally cried before we took off and did not shut up until the stewards were bringing out breakfast. I try to get some sleep on these flights, but no one, including the parents, got any rest. I have some other tips. Keep the baby awake thru the day so he will be tired & more apt to sleep on the flight. What is wrong with giving him some Baby Tylenol or something to help him relax and sleep so everyone can have a quiet flight. Sorry, but I pay a lot for my flight & do not appreciate parents totally ignoring the fact that your baby is crying for hours or kid is kicking my seat with no intervention from parents to stop. It is rude.

    • Elaine Taylor says:

      Oh dear gods, keep the baby up? What is wrong with you??? Babies sleep WORSE while over tired. Keep the baby up, and you guarantee trouble. As for drugging a baby… I am fairly sure off label use of medicine on minors could be considered a crime. No, drugging babies is a little short of a clever thing to do.

    • Bonni says:

      Jo, You can tell that you are clearly not an experienced parent of a pet or human, or at least I hope not. It is NEVER ok to medicate children so that they will sleep. Children sleep worse when they are overtired as well. Parents just need to plan ahead and teach your children to be well behaved. Adults complain like babies, but use their voices instead. If you dislike it so much, use noise canceling air phones. If the kids are really naughty, address the parent in a calm, respectful manner and tell the attendant. Chances are the parent is petrified that their kids are being obnoxious.

  25. Cheryl says:

    We fly a lot, just as likely to get a stinker – cigarettes, bad breath, BO, etc. – as a fussy child. None of them are pleasant and I can only hope they are on a short flight. The poor parents stressing over how to quiet them have my sympathy Bit I think can make it even worse.
    The obnoxious little kid with the parents ignoring him throwing stuff over the seat, running up & down the aisles swatting people
    papers & books after numerous requests from the attendants to sit him down, kicking my seat and leaning forward and screaming through the gap in the seats – also was the one riding the luggage carousel on other people’s bags – is a whole other story. I think that whole family needs to be grounded for life at the very least. Thank god only a 2 hour flight.

  26. Duncan Faber says:

    For me, the secret to traveling with my little girl is to always pack an extra pair of leggings in my carry on. That way if she spills something on her pants, or gets cold, it’s easy for her to slip them on. Plus, they pack really small! My daughter’s favorite brand is http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/girls-capri-leggings but obviously there are lots of places to get them.

  27. lol says:

    I have just as much right to be on the plane with my kids noisey or not as you. Don’t like restless kids on planes then don’t fly!

    • Tracy says:

      Yes you do, but it does not give you the right to allow your child to act anyway they want. Which from the sound of your message, you do. Whether you have manners or not, it’s your responsibility to teach your children how to act in public. If you are not capable, have someone else do it. I don’t think most of us are talking about noisy kids, but the ones that are out of control and have no manners, i.e. kicking the seat back, throwing temper tantrum, running up and down the isles and bothering other passangers with the parents not doing anything about it.

    • kasia says:

      Yup, and I have every right to get drunk, act obnoxious and then barf on your kids’ heads. Don’t like it, don’t travel with them :)

    • Fun Times with Babies says:

      “I have just as much right to be in buildings, parks and public spaces as you. Don’t like my cigarette smoke then don’t go into buildings, parks and public spaces”

      Response: LOL – then we systematically took away every single right they had. And here you are with the exact same argument as the smokers. Your tears will taste oh so sweet.

      • Hannah says:

        Fun Times with Babies: the argument for smoking is not the same as travelling with children. At all. Here’s why smokers were banned from planes and children wont be:

        1. Smoking is a recreational activity. One can quite easily refrain from doing it for a few hours so you can reasonably expect a smoker not to do it on a flight. You can’t however, expect parents to abandon their children if they need to fly somewhere. Having children is a LIFELONG, IRREVERSIBLE choice (unlike smoking).

        2. Smoking is done by adults. A mature grown-up is capable of disregarding their own needs during a flight in order to respect fellow travelers. Children are not cognitively developed enough for this yet so its hardly fair to penalize them for something they have no control over. Its also not fair to penalize the parents as they have no control over the child’s natural urge to cry.

        3. Smoking is detrimental to the health of all passengers on board. The sound of crying is not.

      • Ursula says:

        Agreed. These moms want to be treated special. It’s the Kid Kard. Just like the ones who try to get out of work early or take off all of the time because they “Got a kid.”

  28. lol says:

    Now this is a statement I can agree with.

  29. Mary Foley says:

    So many of the folks complaining about children act as though kids are the ONLY aggregating part of travel. There are so many irritating people and procedures about traveling–why pick on the kids? They’re no worse than the overly chatty seatmate, or the armrest hog, the overhead hog, etc. Just take a,deep breath, smile at everybody and it’ll be over soon.

  30. Elaine Taylor says:

    Actually they have every right to being their child on the plane, whether you like it or not. Deal with it, or don’t. If you choose ‘don’t’ all you will do is make people more unhappy, including you. So long as they are paying safety rules and not dangerous, they have a much right to be there as you do. Suck it up.

    • Gary says:

      Wish we could strike a deal–I’ll put up with the unsupervised rowdy child if I’m allowed to smoke cigarettes on the flight. Seriously, though, please try to understand that not everyone adores babies and children. Thanks :)

    • nikki says:

      my way of dealing with it is add more to the chaos. screaming/ singing back to the family with a Christmas song, , ask to switch seat with their parents, so THEY can deal with their seat kicking kids. kick their toys away if u r fortune enough to have them throw toys into your seat. throw food back at them if those r food. let them have their taste of medicine. stand up in the aisle and let their kids run into you and somehow bump their ass and cry. LET THEM DEAL WITH THAT. and TELL THEM TO SUCK IT UP.

    • Ursula says:

      My flight costs the same as theirs. Why should I have to “suck it up”? They aren’t sucking it up. They are the ones imposing. If you can’t control your kids, you shouldn’t take them on a plane, train, bus, etc.

  31. Susan E says:

    I am a grandmother and not bothered by the children. Instead, I feel for the parents as I know I would have felt embarrassed if I were in those circumstances. If the crying,etc. does bother me I put on the headphones and watch a movie, or just leave them on and Read. Susan ECPT

  32. Cali flyer says:

    Ok what people who chose to have children forget is we who do not, should not be subjected to the torture!! I love children have plenty of nieces and nephews but siblings don’t fly because the kids are miserable and the flight would be miserable for occupants. I don’t care if you have a puppy, kid, CD player whatever, it should not interfere with the peace of others! I understand you all want to bring the whole liter but why should I suffer because YOU had kids??? Selfish I say and certainly not the children’s fault hire a babysitter or better yet stay home!!

    • Hannah says:

      Cali Flyer: You were a child once were you not? Other people have had to experience your crying and tantrums

      • Ursula says:

        Nothing of this has anything to do with all of us having been children.
        Most of us were raised a lot more decently than some of the brats now.

        Second, none of this has anything to do with any poster who was a child and may have had a tantrum. Long ago, no one flew with small children.

        You’re trying to shame them down, and in that process, you lose logic.

        • Hannah says:

          Oh Ursula, don’t be so naive! ALL children cry, please do not try to convince me you never cried in public as a child. That’s utterly preposterous.

          This is how I know you don’t have any children. Before I became a mum, I once thought like you. I though I knew it all and thought every crying child was a result of bad parenting. I can now say I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG!

          It doesn’t make the blindest bit of difference how much money you have or how “decent” you are perceived to be, your child will cry. Alot. At around age 5 children are cognitively developed enough to respond to discipline so a good upbringing starts to show in their behavior but until that point, no chance! They are biologically driven to satisfy their most basic needs (hunger, thirst, tiredness, boredom, sometimes nothing at all!). I know many mums from various baby groups from all walks of life, rich and poor. But they all had one thing in common: their children cried every now and then.

          It actually does matter that we were all children once. Some people think because they have chosen not to have any they are exempt from being around them (and the noise associated with them). But they are not. Children are a part of society and if you want to be part of it, you’ve got to put up with them! Sorry :)

  33. Jim says:

    When I fly with my kids, I always bring noise canceling headphones with me so I can’t hear them crying. It gets really annoying.

  34. Gigi says:

    I don’t have kids, because I don’t want them, I don’t like them, I don’t need them. So why should I have to deal with kids when their parents seat, forget about them and start snoring. If they had them they have to take care of them, control them or stay home. Period

    • Hannah says:

      I don’t agree with parents making no effort to console the child, but more often than not they do try extremely hard but to no avail. But you were a child once were you not? People no doubt had to listen to your crying when you were a baby but you refuse to put up with the crying of today’s children? You can’t remove yourself from society like that you’re either a part of it or you’re not.

  35. Gary says:

    I have endured screaming babies and children on flights, with no parental supervision. When I board, I find myself looking pensively to see if any mothers and babies/children are getting on the plane, almost praying they will not be seated next to or near me. Obviously children aren’t going on business trips, so as a courtesy to other passengers, have the grandparents or relatives go visit where the baby resides, instead of taking the child on a flight to see them. That’s what I would do if I had children. We are a captive audience on these flights, and can’t simply walk away to have some peace and tranquility. Not everyone thinks childrens’ antics are cute or amusing–just the parents I guess.

  36. Rebekkah says:

    Can I be honest? I don’t mind kids on flights – they are kids. However….what is absolutely NOT considerate are those parents who take their kids on red eye flights, especially leaving Sunday landing on Monday, with people who are going STRAIGHT to work after the flight.

    My comment isn’t for those parents who have to take the flight (e.g., funerals, the flight was the only flight, extenuating circumstances). For those families, I respect it.

    My comment IS for those who had other options but thought “it’s more likely my kid will sleep”. More likely it generally means that the child will at some point scream, wake up the whole plane, and those who are walking off the red eye going to work are done for the entire week.

    Please – be considerate in that way. Parents should try (I know it’s not always possible) to avoid these monday flights if possible. It’s painful enough going to work on a red eye- it’s even more painful to stay up the entire night listening to a baby who’s family had options to NOT fly overnight.

    • Maria says:

      What are we really supposed to do? If you go in with the kids wakeful then they scream and bother everyone. If you try to go on a night flight hoping they will sleep and they don’t, they bother everyone too. There’s no winning

  37. Deborah Fisher says:

    When will the airlines understand that they depend on us more than we depend on them? They need to make accommodation for all types of passengers. I truly believe that establishing a “bawl”-room section between the tourist cabin and the first/business class cabin, to be available as an option for families with infants and/or toddlers, and with sound-absorbent bulkheads on both sides, makes some sense. It might lessen the stress of all parties, including the flight attendants, who who would be able to concentrate their attention on the special needs of this subsection of the travelling public with them seated together instead of coping with widely scattered pockets. I notice that the truly wheelchair-bound , if there is more than one such on board, are similarly clustered in one area for much the same sorts of reasons. Oh, I know that this sort of arrangement will trigger more fees from the airlines: what else is new? I repeat, this should be handled as an offered accommodation, not as a compulsive segregation and certainly not as act of discrimination. Are there any carriers out there who will at least TRY this idea?

    • Dan says:

      If a ‘”bawl”-room section’ is created for children then a “Brawl”-room section should be created for drunk adults.

  38. jenn says:

    really? the author has a problem with being in a separate “child friendly” section? why? why do you feel the need to subject people to your children whether they want to be or not? why would you object to being in a special section designated specifically for those with children? do you think that your children are somehow so special that everyone should meet them and get to know them because they’d obviously love them if they gave them a chance? or could it possibly be because you know those sections would be stickier/louder than the regular areas? are you actually objecting to being subjected to the same sort of noise/chair-kicking/”curious” child behavior that many other people don’t want to deal with from your kids?

    • Ursula says:

      Because she doesn’t want to have to put up with other peoples’ kids…but she doesn’t care if everyone else has to put up with hers.

  39. jane says:

    Right on Jenn. Classic answer.

  40. United1143 says:

    I feel horrible. I was on a flight to Chicago, and there was a family of 4, mom, dad, son 4, and little girl, about 2 yrs old. Mom sat in the aisle seat, reading and watching a video with headsets. Dad was seated in the middle seat in front of me with the two children on either side. As he watched golf, the 2 children squirmed, and the daughter whined, cried, and screamed pretty much for the whole flight, well up until I asked the mother if she would sooth her little girl, who was screeching quite constantly at this point. She had an incredulous look, as if I had crossed a line. Perhaps I did, but I too was incredulous at her and her husband’s inattentiveness to their child.

    The husband turned around and told me to shut the f…. up and threatened to deal with me when we got off the plane. I took his advice, and shut the hell up. I am sure they were frustrated by long travel, but these parents seem to take little notice of the disturbance that their daughter was causing. (I tried to do be responsible and bring ear plugs, but they were ineffective, as the decibel level of the screeching was beyond their rating.)

    My fellow passenger, who was reacting as well to the noise, asked me if I had learned anything from the experience. I regretted saying anything at all and felt bad for the reaction that I provoked in the father. He lost it in front of his son, ouch. Perhaps I should look into those noise canceling head phones. Then again, I just don’t like flying, paying all that money,and putting up with all the inconvenience and rudeness – so I won’t be flying anytime soon.

    • wat says:

      You shoulda punched him in the face

    • Ursula says:

      I would have hailed the flight attendant, and told her that I asked very nicely for the parents to calm their child down, who has been screaming. I would have said that father threatened me with physical violence once we got off the plane. Should wear a Go-Pro and record it.

  41. Kittikat says:

    The world doesn’t revolve around you and your spawn, and this is exactly the type of entitled attitude that makes me hate flying with children.

    If your toddler runs around and throws things, then a plane isn’t a safe place to be unless you can restrain your toddler. Simple as that. If you can’t parent your children then YOU are exactly who I will blame.

    As for your snotty command about “please move if you are asked” have you considered that other travelers might have PAID to book their seats in that location for a reason? Contrary to your opinion, your children are not the only people that matter on this flight, and lots of people pick specific locations on the plane for specific reasons. Why should I give up a seat that I have picked because it has a window seat, allows you to stretch out in the aisle, is near to the toilets etc? If you want seats together, pay for them, don’t expect other people to kowtow to you just because you think your kids crap gold nuggets.

    I don’t have problems with kids staring, but screaming, throwing things, kicking the backs of seats, that is all appalling behaviour and if you can’t control that you’re a failure as a parent and should be banned from flying.

    I’m sorry if you think I’m “throwing a tantrum” because I already have poor hearing and a kid screaming in my ear for four hours doesn’t help. I’m sorry if you think I’m throwing a tantrum because some dirty skank decided to change their baby on the tray table on the flight. I’m sorry if you don’t think I’m entitled to the seat I paid extra for because YOU were too cheap to do the same.

    I don’t think kids should be banned from flying, but on long haul flights I totally support a family section of the plane. That way your kids can all annoy the crap out of each other rather than people flying without kids.

  42. cfjulia says:

    Regarding medications. A fraction of the recommended dosage for a child of Benadryl should not stimulate overly. It also helps the ears, as it is a decongestant. I may suggest Dramamine to keep the child from getting airsick. Again, weight and age appropriate dosage. May cause drowsiness. Works well on adults too. Just my humble opinion, brought by ten years of working in these metal tubes.

  43. rileyinc says:

    Re the comment that they won’t cry the whole flight………Honolulu to Sydney……10 hours…….2 that cried non stop………..2 that cried intermittently then non stop for the last 2 hours. Hell.

  44. Nancy Clark says:

    Wow I am amazed by people. We had no choice to fly with our 10 month old. The military PCS to Germany wasn’t a choice. There were 2 weeks of sleeping on a floor then 3 connecting flights a six hour lay over and then 9.5 more hours on the last flight. Yes everyone was on edge but we did the best we could to keep him happy. We even passed out goodie bags to other passengers who looked frustrated. Please remember flights are hard for everyone and even if you plan its never perfect…I find that a little kindness goes a long way. (That’s for both sides of this blog)

  45. Fred Pohl says:

    If I go ashort distanc I prefer to travel by train at least you’re not crapmed in

  46. Ralf says:

    I am a grumpy traveller. I hate other peoples’ kids if they act up. As a paying customer I am entitled to fly in peace and quiet. I am not above poking some snot nosed brat in the ribs or accidently elbowing it in the head if it is screaming or kicking my seat. Same goes for the parents.
    Don’t sit near me! GRRR.

    • Hannah says:

      No you’re NOT entitled to fly in peace and quiet! You’re only afforded that right if you fork out the money to hire a private plane!

      As for elbowing toddlers in the head. That’s absolutely disgraceful and you are disgusting.

      • Ursula says:

        How is he not entitled to fly in peace and quiet? Do the airlines advertise or put on the small print to the flight, that one will be subjected to screaming and kicking and other annoying behaviors?

        Keep your children to yourself.

        • Hannah says:

          Ursula, where in the terms and conditions does it say the plane will be quiet?

          Anywhere you go where there are other people there is always going to be noise. This is common sense. I should not have to be telling you this.

  47. John says:

    Just got back from yet another long haul flight with a screaming baby and other children kicking the back of my seat and screaming. When asked to desist the family became abusive.
    Why are families allowed to do this – we pay top fares and babies pay nothing for a ‘lap’?!
    Maybe i am a grumpy bugger but why can i enjoy rather than suffer flying?

    • Ursula says:

      It’s the airlines. They know people will fly and put up with this crap. They know people will complain, but in the end, the airlines prefer the families, so they let them get away with the rudeness.
      When you can, drive, take a train, etc.

  48. Mark Bishop says:

    I strongly object to small children being allowed on airplanes. I am there to work before meetings. I usually try and get Business Class for the peace and quiet and am very annoyed that children are allowed in BC. It’s not a playground. They are YOUR children, not mine and not my responsibility.

    There should be adult only flights as there are adult only holidays and hotels.

  49. Tom says:

    No on is entitled to fly in peace and quiet on large public flights. If you want peace and quiet then book a private jet or an airline that advertises no children. Most children have their own tickets just like all the other passengers. If you don’t like the flight conditions, then don’t be on that particular flight. If you can’t handle the product you are buying then don’t buy it. Plain and simple. STAY HOME OLD FOGEYS!

    • Ursula says:

      No, your children are not allowed to HARRASS and bother other passengers.
      You don’t have that right.
      If you bring your children on a plane, you are responsible for them. Period.

  50. momoftwo says:

    Author says about toddlers: “They’re willful, mobile and vocal, and do not respond to logical arguments. And they love to throw things.”

    Well, yes, that is why toddlers need to be DISCIPLINED and kept busy and entertained.! It’s not because the “like kicking the chair” that they should be allowed to kick the chair!!!

    Traveling with small children is extremely hard work. Any parent of small children who thinks they can spend the flight reading or watching a video, is a rude to others and a bad parent. I have 2 children and live abroad, have needed to travel extensively when they were small to visit grandparents.

    I NEVER would have tried to get a free passage for my 1 and a half year old child by trying to take him on my lap for 6 hours. I always purchased seats for the children even when they were babies. Likewise I ALWAYS paid for reserved seats to be sure our family was kept together, of course you can’t just save money and leave it to chance!

    I ALWAYS prepared extensively for the flight, quiet toys, games, activities, snacks, and drinks. And this was before Ipods and tablets. I NEVER thought I could just put some earplugs in and read a book during the flight. The ENTIRE flight was dedicated to keeping my kids quiet, respectful of others and happy.

    Needless to say I HATED flying with my kids – because it was such hard work!

    Many parents do today like I did. But unfortunately quite a few do not. If you don’t make the (hard) effort to control your kids and keep them content on the flight, you should be prepared for other passengers to (justifiably) snap at them.

  51. Snap says:

    My son was good on flights as I made sure I always had bottles, extra clothes, blankets and toys to keep him occupied. Plus I would interact with him the whole time he was awake. Once we took a flight where the girl next to him fled to a nearby open row at first sight of him. He went on the behave as usual — napped through most of the flight and didn’t utter a single cry the entire time. At the end of the flight we were complimented by all the other passengers sitting around us. Incidentally, the girl that fled had another girl with stomach flu put next to her by the flight attendant as it was the only open row available. For the entire flight, the poor girl with stomach flu looked liked she was going to vomit any minute. I caught the prejudging girl looking wistfully at the seat she vacated, but I course she didn’t have the nerve to come crawling back!

    • nehc says:

      Ah – I can understand her point of view. It’s nice that you were the exception. It’s too bad more parents weren’t like you!

  52. Tired says:

    Just did a 15 hour flight with 3 infants on board taking turns screaming. The 5-6 hour flights referenced here are a joke. One father would bring his screaming infant to the front of our section and stand there, I’m assuming his wife needed a break….at some points he’d come forward to our section crawl into an unoccupied seat netween two people and try to get some sleep as his baby was keeping everyone else awake further back.

    Say what you want about people getting annoyed but no one wants to listen to that in any circumstance and certainly not in one where you have no option to leave. Trying to deal with jet lag on a long distance vacation is made a lot worse when you can’t sleep due to disruptive noise.

    I don’t have to entertain your kid that you feel should be free to stand on their seat and peer over top of me when I just want to get to my destination and get free of the annoyances your sweet uncontrolled child has been putting me throught for hours.

  53. sweets says:

    thank you SO much for the validation! I know I am often bothered more by some things than others would be, so it was great to read the same thoughts that swirl around in my own head and other perspectives as well.
    Don’t know if I support a ban on babies/kids flying. But parents should seriously reconsider flying until their children are old enough to behave and not have painful reactions (ear, other) to flying.
    If adults were screaming, crying, running, throwing or kicking seats, they would be put off the plane or arrested.
    unfortunately, noise from other seats invades my paid seat space, so we all need to be considerate.
    Also, I still struggle to understand how having an unrestrained baby in your lap is at all safe for said baby or anyone that baby may land on if thrown from his seat.
    I can’t help but believe it is just the airlines’ way of keeping new parents interested in flying as they won’t have to pay for that extra seat.

    • Ursula says:

      The parents don’t care. They are rude to the other passengers. They want you to “understand” and think their kids are just having a hard time.
      The airlines are the problem because the flight attendants do not tell the parents to keep their children in their seats and to stop crying.

  54. Lidia says:

    Ignore the ignorance. You prove you are the better person because adults who are bothered by tantrums just proves that they don’t have the maturity nor patience when it comes to children and I hope they don’t have any. Not a parent, but I am a child care worker with a Master’s in Child Development.

  55. DD says:

    Look you a parent now. I’m sorry it is not all about you, or were you want to go and what you want to do. Get use to it your responsible for your kid. Babies wont remember going somewhere. If you need to do it for family ok but they also need to understand you have a kid now it not all about them. Just think of others that is what your asking but most parents with kids on flights are not doing the same. You wont stop getting hate for having disruptive kids on pains but you can try on your end the best you can or just wait till 4 or 5 years when if you raise them well they’ll be mostly fine.

    • Dee says:

      Sorry, but it’s not all about YOU, either. It’s none of your business why anyone is traveling and babies are people who have just as much of a right to be on the plane as you do. Crying babies are just one of many things that suck about air travel, but in the end, we all survive.

  56. Hannah says:

    DD: I took my my 20 month old son to Portugal last month. He had an absolute blast and was good as gold on the plane, there and back. I’m so glad I didn’t follow advice like yours or else we would never have gone. No, he probably won’t remember it. But me and my partner will always remember our first holiday as a family and we’ve got so many videos and photos we can show him when he’s older. Why on earth would I sacrifice an experience like that just on the off-chance he cries on the plane? A mildly uncomfortable/undesirable event which just isn’t proportionate to the huge sacrifice!

  57. Um says:

    People don’t pay for expensive airline tickets to entertain or engage with other people’s children. Yes, babies cry on planes because of the pain of the pressure changes. That’s exactly why they shouldn’t fly until they are older and can better deal with it. There is no excuse for a toddler to kick a seat for hours, especially after being asked to stop. I realize that is more the fault of the parent than the child, but it doesn’t make the flight any easier for the person who must put up with it.

    The level of entitlement expressed by many parents in this thread telling people to just “suck it up” or “learn to deal with unpleasant situations” is ridiculous. Why don’t you travel without your children or just stay home until they can deal with the tedium of long flights? I’m 50, and I didn’t travel long distance with my parents until I was 11. When I was little, we traveled by car. My parents also often went places without me, and I never felt left out or anxious. It’s this whole “take kids everywhere even when it’s not entirely appropriate” attitude that ruined the world for everyone.

    Get over yourselves, parents. The world doesn’t revolve around you, either.

    • Loren says:

      People are not paying expensive tickets to live on the plane. They are paying to get somewhere, and you will get there with or without a screaming child. Unless the parents are truly not doing anything about the situation – which I have never witnessed myself – then yes, you should put up with it a little. The world doesn’t revolve around you, people need to get places – places which people can’t just drive to. Some are military families stationed abroad… whatever the reason. It is a mean of transportation, not a spa.

  58. Exhausted says:

    Sorry but none of these things convinced me. I traveled on a 16 hour flight from Buffalo to Dubai on my way to India and had to suffer with screanimg twins under 1 years old for the entire flight. Each eould take turns screaming while the parents walked up and down with each one through the aisles. I had such a hard time sleeping. On top of that not to mention the kids up to 8 years old kept kicking my seats on domestic flights in India. The parents didn’t seem to care much probably because the majority of them let their kids act like spoiled brats.

  59. Loren says:

    I have yet to witness a parent who ignores their kids during a flight. If you think the crying kid is bothering you, but not the parent – clearly, this is a fabricated excuse. We live in a society, the world doesn’t revolve around one single passenger. Flying is a mean of transportation and children have the right to use it. A lot of people fly with children for several reasons including medical, visiting family etc . Living in society mean you will have to endure unpleasant moments not just on a plane, but in any public venue. If you can’t, then live in a cave.

  60. Loren says:

    I have yet to witness a parent who ignores their kids during a flight. If you think the crying kid is bothering you, but not the parent – clearly, this is a fabricated excuse. We live in a society, the world doesn’t revolve around one single passenger. Flying is a mean of transportation and children have the right to use it. A lot of people fly with children for several reasons including medical, visiting family etc . Living in society mean you will have to endure unpleasant moments not just on a plane, but in any public venue. If you can’t, then live in a cave…

  61. Me311 says:

    An open letter to parents who travel with their children:

    Once upon a time, parents were the grown-ups and waited until their child was old enough to understand “Sit down and shut up. You’re embarrassing me!” before flying long-distances for vacation.

    If it’s not a family emergency that requires a baby to be present, be an adult, make an adult decision, and choose a mode of transportation that won’t ruin the experience for everyone else.

    Nobody cares how much the baby gets on the nerves of the parents. That’s your problem, parents. Why you think you have the right to make your baby my problem is bewildering.

  62. Maribeth says:

    I flew from Chicago to Honolulu with a kid screaming the ENTIRE flight. He screamed even harder during the descent. In my row there was a well behaved kid to my right and to my left. The kid to my left was pissed because the screaming kid kicked her chair during most of the flight. The lady two seats down from me complained to me. The mother and father never even tried to soothe the kid. The dad just kept his arm over the kids chest during the descent, like a seatbelt. Never once did the mom or dad or talk to the kid. I walkedoff the plane with a migraine. The lady two down from me had a headache too. The kids in my row kept asking me what was wrong with him. He was about 3 years old. I am a parent and can tell you the parents did nothing!

  63. Emily says:

    I don’t understand why the author of this blog post is against the idea of having separate areas on planes for families with children. We’re not saying the kids can’t fly, we’re just saying they have to stay in an area (which is equally as nice and well attended as the rest of the plane) where they can’t bother others. I have autism, and subsequently have an extremely difficult time dealing with noise and stress. Noise stresses me out and makes me very anxious and agitated. I fail to see why I deserve to have my sensory system thrown through the wringer and my higher neurological functions shut down (very literally) just because some parent doesn’t want to sit with their screaming kid in the “children-only” section.

  64. Jaime says:

    Packing hundreds of diverse people into the fuselage of an airplane without the possibility for escape for hours on end is an effective recipe for conflict to erupt. People have to have a safe place to vent which is why this blog is so important and purposeful. In the end I think we all have to face the reality and fact that a plane full of very different people is not going to be the the ideal or even a reasonable place to seek consensus or much of anything having to do with an understanding. Can we hope together to accept the uncomfortable necessity that mutual respect, tolerance and patience are all much better than ignorance, passive aggressive behaviors, rudeness and risky escalations? Fly in peace with your neighbors!

  65. Sarah says:

    “(Please move if you’re asked. If you think flying with kids is bad, try sitting next to a preschooler who is half a plane away from her parents.)”

    No. What a gross sense of entitlement parents get. I am not moving to accomodate you and your problem. Take it up with the airline. Odds are I reserved my seat well in advance and probably paid extra for it. Don’t make your problem into my problem. Get a flight attendant to sort it out for you.

    As a reminder, not all seats are equal. I am certainly not moving to a middle, or futher back, or down a class. You had better offer me something better than what I have and it is my seat to give away, not yours to demand.

    If you are going to use your child as a threat and say something along the lines of “Fine, you can sit next to my 3 year old”..I will call that bluff. I am not going to babysit your kid. It can eat the inflight magazine and choke for all I care. Not my circus, not my monkey.

  66. Dan says:

    For every flight I have been on with a child making things difficult I have had two flights with an adult acting like a child. Much of the time it is alcohol fueled. When was the last time you heard of a flight being diverted because of a child? When was the last time you heard of a flight being diverted because of an inebriated adult? Much more common isn’t it.

    If the airplanes are going to have a special section for people with kids then it would make just as much sense to have a section for adults who are drunk. If kids are not allowed to fly then booze should not be allowed for similar reasons.

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