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Hell in the air b*tch session

NYT columnist David Brooks is usually a turd, but I agree with him on this one – Pain, Agony, Despair: Flying With Children. Read, come back and comment.

On some recent flights, we’ve experienced: 1) parents desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to corral their children by yelling; 2) parents completely ignoring their kids who are acting out (guess they gave up long ago); 3) parents getting pissed at other passengers for even mildly mentioning that they need to monitor their kids in flight (I wouldn’t even dare do that one). Even if Kate and I had “noise-cancelling” headphones, it wouldn’t have mattered in some of these cases.

I received an email a couple of months ago about an entry on my wedding page (about kids on one of our flights) from a mom that berated me for saying this:

We got in around 1:30 PM PST, after a long heinous first flight with squealing, screaming, out of control kids torturing us the whole flight. I thought Kate was going to explode, lol. It was one of those cases where the parents were obviously children too.

I was accused of not being sensitive to the fact that it’s a long flight and that kids get bored (this was a two-hour leg). I had to write back and explain that this child kept getting unbuckled and running down the aisle, standing and jumping on seats and was completely wild.

The poor flight attendant, who couldn’t seem to get the mother to do anything to control or monitor her daughter (the mom was sitting a row in front of the kid, talking animatedly to a friend, blissfully “unaware”), asked nicely, then asked tersely, and then blasted over the PA: “‘Tiffany’ please sit down now and buckle your seat belt!” Even then, the mother didn’t get up to do it, the daughter did it herself.

Trust me, this isn’t about dislike or intolerance of kids (my cousin just had a baby last week that I can’t wait to see) — I just don’t get it. My mother never allowed us to fly/travel and behave that way, and that included multiple 10-hour Amtrak trips from NC to NYC when we were small. Then again, both of us were more easily amused than children traveling today – they seem to have an extremely low threshold for boredom. We could handle coloring books, reading or other “primitive” forms of entertainment that existed back in the day. We had no iPods, portable DVDs, GameBoys, etc. — a good portion of today’s kids have all of those things and it still isn’t enough to keep some of them still, even for a couple of hours.

What on earth is the solution? “Family-friendly” flights or sections on the plane?

And if they allow cell phone use while in flight, that will put me over the edge. What is so important that it cannot wait until the plane lands?

(Hat tip, The Green Knight).

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding