Frankie Wallace is a freelance journalist with an interest in aviation news and politics. Wallace graduated from the University of Montana’s Journalism school and currently resides in Boise, Idaho. The views expressed in this article are solely his.
Fact: Kids act out and babies cry throughout airplane flights every day. It’s just the way it goes whether we like it or not.
Although it’s annoying for some passengers, and no picnic for the parents of fussy kids either, it’s the kind of behavior we’ve come to expect with air travel.
However, this status quo continues to be challenged while airlines ponder if there should be “child-free” or “child-only” zones on airplanes. Some international airlines have already implemented kid-free areas where a customer can buy a ticket for a seat that’s not next to a child. But U.S. airlines have yet to get on board with separate sections on flights.
You’d think, in an ultra–competitive airline market, more airlines would consider the idea of no–kid zones to attract new customers, boost their reputations, and build new public interest for airlines. Improving customer relationships potentially keeps airlines profitable in a challenging market.
The public interest is already there. A 2017 survey by Airfarewatchdog revealed that 52 percent of people think families with children aged 10 and younger should be required to sit in a separate section on the plane.
In the comments section of the Airfarewatchdog article, one person wrote: “Oh my goodness, a separate family section would be great….and i love little ones.” Another commenter said there should be entire “kid-friendly” flights reserved only for families:
“Once those parents experienced what it’s like to be subjected to other people’s children, they’d most likely decide to drive instead, removing at least one of the indignities of airline travel for the rest of us. If a parent can’t keep their kid from kicking the seat in front of them for the entire duration of a six hour flight, then the parent and the kid should be banned from flying, don’t you all agree?”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it seems absurd for people to expect their flights to be kid-free. In 2012, a Mom.me contributor blasted the notion in a letter.
“I’m sorry, do my kids’ occasional whines or cries bother you? Well, guess what? The onions in your sandwich (or the greasy stench of the fast food you picked up at the gate) are bothering me. Same goes for your chubby arms and thighs that extend over the imaginary line to my seat. How about your obnoxious snoring or when you have one too many $6 mixed drinks and start rambling on in my direction with foul breath? Or your constant need to get up to go to the bathroom, or how you fall asleep just before I need to get up and you take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to unbuckle your seatbelt and untangle your earbuds before I can make my escape to the aisle? Annoying.”
While some of these opinions seem a little extreme on both sides, there’s no arguing that traveling with children can be a nightmare, especially if they misbehave and bother other passengers.
However, parents who take a proactive approach can make the experience of airplane travel with children less painful for everyone. Some tips include packing a fun kit, having snacks handy, not letting your child kick the seat in front of them, picking a flight that’s in line with your child’s current eating and sleeping schedule, and giving your family enough time to settle into their seats.
Even if there were separate family sections on planes, parents still need to be held accountable for their kids’ actions. Sometimes parents don’t realize how disruptive their children are being to others. “If you’re a parent and you live with that kind of behavior, you’re probably pretty resigned to kicking and screaming,” Airfarewatchdog editor Tracy Stewart told Business Insider. “If some stranger calls out your kid for misbehaving on a plane, those situations escalate so quickly.”
In such a hotly debated topic, how do you think airlines should handle seating of small children? There seems to be a growing movement to allow for child-free zones on airplanes, but is it a wise idea?
Featured image from Pixabay