Battle In the Skies

by admin on September 13, 2011

Yes, readers, I know this looks like another “crying baby on airplane” story but the focus of the comments should be on the behavior of the two female passengers and whether either of them acted in a civil manner.

This happened to me about 2 weeks ago. I was flying home to Las Vegas after visiting the in-laws with my daughters (4 ½ and 21 months) in California. My husband booked our flight home and didn’t realize he booked us flying into Phoenix, switching planes and then heading to Las Vegas. Our flight left California at 6:45pm, so it was going to be a late second flight.

My 21 month old did great the first flight. She started whining the last 20 minutes of the flight, but nothing too bad. On the second flight, she started fussing about 20 minutes into it. At first it was just an annoying whine. I would try to comfort her, but it would upset her more if I tried to pick her up (we were fortunate enough to have a not full flight, so no one sat in our group of 3 seats). This behavior was out of the norm for her. She is normally my snuggle bug, so I was worried her ears might hurt. Regardless, I could not get her to stop crying.

About 30 minutes into the flight, a young female (maybe in her early 20’s), got out of her seat, walked up to me and asked, “Are you going to comfort your child so the rest of us don’t have to listen to her cry?” I looked at her, ready to respond, but before I could, the lady behind me stood and started SCREAMING at her. She was saying, “How dare you tell her how to take care of her child??? You don’t have the right!!!” etc. The girl who approached me told the lady behind me that she was, “So ghetto”, so the lady behind me started moving towards her saying, “I’ll slap the sh*t out of b*tch”, and other things I’ll let you use your imagination on. The flight attendant ran over and placed herself in between them until they calmed down and sat down. They would periodically yell things at each other, but nothing else happened.

As soon as we landed and the lights came on (night flight), my daughter stopped crying. It was quite awkward standing there waiting for the people in front of us to get off while a plane full of people stared at us. The lady behind me asked if the baby was ok, I said yes. The young female who approached me didn’t look in our direction once. As we walked off of the plane, we were pulled aside by Las Vegas Metro and (I’m assuming) airport security. I had to give a brief statement of what happened and after the flight attendants apologized to me, I was allowed to leave, while the 2 ladies who fought had to stay behind for whatever reason.

This is definitely a unique experience for me. I’m not quite sure what that young female wanted me to do. It’s not like I was leisurely reading a book while my child was crying. I was trying to calm her down, only to upset her more. I would have asked her if she would like to reason with my 21 month old and explain to her that her crying is bothering everyone, because she would surely stop after this had been explained to her (super sarcasm there). My husband used to travel from LA to Las Vegas every week for work and had almost 96 flights one year. He said there were always crying babies, but no one ever gave the mom a hard time about it. Most people understand. Like it wasn’t hard enough that I couldn’t comfort my child, knowing a whole plane of people were suffering through it as well.

Anyways, that’s my story! I’ll be flying again for a wedding in Indiana in 2 weeks. Hopefully my daughter does much better then. Thankfully, my husband will be with me for that flight. I’ll make sure to send any stories from the wedding I’ll be attending. It’s going to be an interesting one. I’m the best (wo)man! No tux for me, thankfully! Love your site.   0904-11

I flew with an infant and then toddler but back then, my pediatrician recommended giving my daughter children’s Benadryl before taking off.  It had the double effect of clearing her nose and sinuses of anything that could have caused pain during take-off and landing and it was mildly narcotic enough to conk her out (or at least make her relaxed) during much of the flight.  Addendum:  Please note that I consulted my pediatrician first about flying with a toddler and it was his recommendation to use Benadryl which is an FDA approved, over the counter medicine.   An airplane flight is not the time to try this for the first time since some children have the opposite effect of making them very hyper although if the intended effect is to clear sinuses then some hyperness should be expected as part of the treatment.   Talk with your own pediatrician before medicating a child for air travel.   About.com has good suggestions for flying with children.

I also came prepared with child appropriate snacks and small toys and books that I would reveal one at a time, about every hour, during the flight.  Examples of these items are:

* Cheerios
*  Smarties candy, safety lollipops, Gummy bears or gelled fruit snacks in little packets
*  Tiny flashlight with wrist strap
*  Hair-Do Harriett
or Wooly Willy (or the mini Wooly Willy ..great for travel)
Tickle Bee – I LOVED this toy as a child and my kids were no exception.  Hours of play.
Melissa and Doug Vehicle Maze (or the farm maze) – No loose parts to lose.  Great for travel.
* Magic slates or mini Etch-a-sketch

The above are not age appropriate for an infant but toddler to pre-school.  Travelers who detest children crying and fussing on planes might want to consider coming prepared with a pack of 4 mini Wooly Willys in their briefcase to hand out to kids.  Four dollars well spent.

{ 105 comments… read them below or add one }

ladycrim September 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm

What gets me is that a flight from Phoenix to Vegas is only about an hour. It’s not like the kid had been carrying on for the duration of a cross-country flight. Yes, I know an hour can seem like ages when a baby is crying loudly, but if the parent is trying to calm the child – as the OP clearly was – there’s not much that can be done short of grinning and bearing it. (And maybe keeping headache medicine with you.)

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Louise September 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

“They would periodically yell things at each other, but nothing else happened.”

So the woman who is upset by the fussing baby is yelling in the plane? Brilliant, I bet all the other passengers were thrilled she took a stand.

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PrettySticks September 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm

“There’s another factor too — there is an oxygen mask for each seat, which means that if you bring your baby as a lap passenger, your baby will not have an oxygen mask in the event of a cabin depressurization.”

That’s not entirely accurate – I just learned about this. My boyfriend and I had purchased two aisle seats, directly across from each other, for a flight. In the middle seat next to him was a man with an infant in his lap, next to me was a woman with an infant in her lap. They were talking to each other when we went took our seats, so they were clearly flying together. We thought it was weird that they’d purchased two middle seats. After we took off, the wife asks if we minded switching so they could all sit together. Sure. We didn’t care. But about fifteen minutes later, a flight attendant came by and said we would have to switch back, because each side only had *four* oxygen masks, so they couldn’t allow more than one lap infant to be in each side of a row. I also assume (though no one said this specifically) that the double mask is only over the middle seat, which is why the parents were seated there. (Incidentally, those seats were already taken when I purchased our aisle seats, which is why I know they weren’t chosen based on availability.)

As an aside, those babies slept through the entire flight… but so did the parents. Literally, immediately after they switched seats (both times), they’d sit down and conk out. Which sounds fine, except that means they weren’t supporting the child’s body at all, so my boyfriend and I each got to ride with half a baby sprawled across our lap. I’d be hard pressed to say if that was more or less annoying than crying. Especially because that meant the baby was blocking the controls so I couldn’t change the channels on my tv monitor. Horrors! ;)

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Stepmomster September 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

That sounds incredibly stressful, I don’t think you did anything wrong at all; often, flight attendants will make you sit down if you try to walk the aisles with a crying baby, just because it causes traffic jams.

While I admire the lady behind you for sticking up for you, it was absolutely none of her bussiness. The lady who approached you will get hers when she has children… that kind of behavior is like banking kharma.

The only time I have seen passengers get upset at a crying child was because the parents didn’t bring enough formula, the baby was sick and in pain, and they brought no diapers for a 15 hour flight. Needless to say, when we landed the parents were actually arrested at the gate and protective services in Switzerland took the child into custody for the investigation. It was a terribly sad, disturbing flight, and one of the most horrible and frustrating experiences I have ever had on a plane.

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Shannon September 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I don’t think it’s “irresponsible” to bring a child onto a flight, but I do think it’s not as necessary as the parents claim. They aren’t going to remember Christmas at Grandma’s anyway, so the parents are doing it for themselves because that’s where they want to go. And it’s not fair to the child if they are prone to ear pain. The child isn’t wailing because he’s poorly behaved, he’s wailing because he’s in pain and confused. So if the child has a track record of becoming inconsolably bonkers on a plane, don’t be selfish because you don’t want to miss Thanksgiving that year.

My grandmother came over from Australia once a year. I don’t recall her ever moaning that Mom should pack us on a plane more often, because she understood it was easier for her to come to us than it was for us to go to her. Having small children means your life isn’t as portable as it used to be.

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JGM September 13, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I’m sure someone has already pointed this out Miss Jeanne, but you can’t bring your own snacks anymore.

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admin September 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm

That may true on some international flights where the country of destination is concerned about foreign fruits and vegetables coming “ashore” but domestic flights there are no restrictions. In the last 6 weeks my daughter flew to Seattle with granola bars and protein bars in her purse and son just came back from El Paso having carried numerous snacks on board.

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spyderqueen September 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I was on a flight last year where the 20-ish guy next to me wouldn’t stop complaining that there was a small child sitting ahead of us on this flight. The child was astoundingly well behaved, with the exception of some complaints regarding her ears “popping” and only made noises for a little bit of the short flight…. as opposed to the guy who bitched the WHOLE TIME. So here’s a tip for travelers: Don’t be even more annoying than what you’re complaining about.

My rule is that if the parent is TRYING to calm the baby down, I don’t mind. Parents who just let them scream or who bring young children but nothing to distract them drive me crazy though. And yes, take offs and landing are very hard on small children who don’ t know how to equalize the pressure, so cut them some slack on expressing their discomfort.

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The Elf September 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

The screams of babies while trapped with them in an airplane is awful. Admin’s suggestions are great (even the Benadryl), but sometimes they’re just going to cry. I can’t blame the babies – flying isn’t a whole hell of a lot of fun as an adult, so it must be confusing and scary to babies even before you figure in ear pain from pressure changes. It does irritate me when I see parents basically ignore their crying children, even though OP wasn’t. I will say something if it goes on long enough and the parent isn’t trying.

Sorry, guys, but when a parent isn’t parenting and it does impact me, I am going to say something. You don’t just get to exist in a bubble – your child’s behavior impacts all around him. But I’ll do it nicely. Sounds like Lady #1 wasn’t being nice. As for Lady #2, it really wasn’t her business. She could have stood up in defense for OP in a much more polite way. I see fault in both parties.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered that the proper application of headphones and heavy metal can drown out most babies. Not all, though. That flight to Orlando…… (twitch).

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Caper September 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

@ Leslie : “But I would happily take six of them on a plane over the one drunken overgrown juvenile who somehow always seems to attach himself to me every time I fly”

Wow, were you on the same flight as me two weeks ago ?! While I was in the line for boarding, a guy in his 20′s who I can only assume was intoxicated came right up to me (like, left only an inch of space between us) and says “Hey, where’s your seat. Maybe we’re sitting together ;)” loud and obnoxiously while trying to look at my ticket. When BF says “She’s sitting with me” he starts calling BF cranky, and then starts hitting on my younger sister ! Then when we’re on the plane he’s yelling and swearing and trying to get our attention. 30 minutes in the air, he finally passes out *eyeroll*

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Allie September 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm

The younger woman’s conduct was not only rude, but probably criminal or at least quasi-criminal. I wouldn’t be surprised if both her and the other woman (bless her for trying to stand up for you, but why she was so aggressive and confrontational about it we’ll never know) were charged, and perhaps they will have difficulty with airport security in future. Lastly, I don’t get why these people would get themselves so riled up given that it’s such a short flight. I’ve taken longer bus rides. I know crying babies can be annoying, but there’s usually nothing that can be done about it, and if the flight’s not long, just consider yourself lucky.

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nrb September 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

@JGM ‘ve carried snacks on domestic flights, transatlantic, trans-pacific, and Europe to Asia flights recently. The only issue I’ve ever had was in the Bahamas, where we went through US Customs and Immigration prior to boarding on Grand Bahama Island. There the non-prepackaged things were confiscated.

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1667.shtm

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Jay September 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm

I’d like to think I’d just press the Call button immediately, without saying anything, if someone confronted me like that.

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Bint September 13, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Oh, please please please don’t ever offer a British kid a woolly willy! Ahahahahaha! That made me laugh so much!

A woolly willy is what a ram has!

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Ista September 13, 2011 at 5:13 pm

To those who say parents should wait until their kids are older before taking them on flights, what about nursing children? I have to travel for work regularly, and I am quite lucky that my bosses allow me to strap my boy into a carrier and bring him with me. He has been exclusively breastfed, until recently when I started introducing him to baby food, and if I couldn’t have brought him on a few trips with me he wouldn’t have had that advantage. Beyond that, what about separation anxiety in slightly older babies? Why put them through the trauma of having mom gone for a few days to work/visit her parents/go to a wedding just so that they don’t have to fly on an airplane? To a tiny kid, being away from both parents while they go on an evening date can feel like forever. Having their parents gone for several days before they are even old enough to count days on their fingers can be interminable.

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Angeldrac September 13, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Just have to share this story:
My colleague was on flying from Sydney to London (with a stop over in Dubai). She was next to a lady with a baby, which didn’t bother her because she was both a mother and a NICU nurse, so was used to babies (and tuning them out). It became evident very quickly that the mother had taken some sort of sleeping pill because she slept the ENTIRE FLIGHT to Dubai. Neither the passengers or the crew could wake her up! My colleague ended up taking care of the baby the entire journey – fed her, changed her, walked her up and down the aisles etc. I missed exacty what happened at the end of the flight, though – I don’t know what was said to the mother but I suspect that there wasn’t an occaision for the woman to actually get told off.
My colleague saw the mother boarding the same flight as her to London, and promptly asked to be seated far away from her.

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Erica September 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

@LovleAnjel, I respectfully disagree. Your future children wouldn’t remember these trips to visit your families. Once they are “old enough” to fly, then they would. The purpose of the trip would be so that the families (adults) get to see the children and so you (another adult) can see the families. When I hear a child screaming like that I know it is in pain. This is traumatic… why would you do this to a child just for a Christmas they won’t remember?

Yet, I respectfully agree. I would take screaming babies on a plane that I can drown out with my headphones over the rude and invasive TSA screeners *any* day.

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Tanz September 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Firstly, I’d like to echo Jan: those medications can have the opposite affect and so shouldn’t be used on a small child before a plane trip!

As to who was rude, both of the other women were: the first for butting into a situation where everything that could be done was being done (honestly, what did she expect – that the OP would say “Oh, ok, then” and reach for the child’s OFF switch??) and the second woman for escalating the situation (she should have gotten the flight attendant if she was concerned).

The problem is you can be the best, most prepared parent in the world and your child may still act up. That’s life and while the rest of us may dislike it we have to accept and deal with it, assuming of course the parent and child are in a public space that is not adults only or child inappropriate.

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AS September 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

@JGM : you can bring you own snacks to domestic flights within USA as long as they are not liquid. As the admin said, some countries don’t allow certain food items, but as far as I know, they confiscate them at the customs after you land and not before you start flying.

BTW, I have taken granola bars in international flights and no one questioned me.

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AKatC September 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Ugh! Sorry you had to deal with that Op! No one enjoys listening to a crying baby but anyone who has dealt with one knows that sometimes there is just no pacifying them! I will admit that I’m not usually thrilled with the prospect of children on an airplane but it isn’t due to the noise (I always have headphones with me) it’s only when there is a child behind me kicking my seat that I get annoyed. This happened to me quite frequently when I was a teenager as I flew to Florida (Disney) every summer so there was always a kid behind me. I never once said anything to the parents though, despite being annoyed. I always accepted it as just one of those things.
I have a newborn now myself and I can’t imagine how I’d react if someone spoke to me the way the OP was spoken to. I don’t think it would have gone over too well…

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starstruck September 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm

i applaud the lady for sticking up for you. however, she maybe could have been a little more polite about it. but yeah that was kinda awesome of her to do it. i really can’t stand it when adults can’t just be accepting of a fussy baby. i mean really, its a baby. i could see if there were rowdy teenagers or even adults, but a baby? come on people!!!! the only place i don’t agree with it is in a movie theatre, but thats just because it prevents you from hearing the movie at all . but a screaming baby doesn’t prevent you from flying, eating at a restaurant or such things. that young women will get payback upon entering parent hood.:)

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AriaDream September 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Wow, what an interesting story! I would say the girl who asked if the baby could be quieted was rude. The second woman, however, was INSANELY rude! Way to cause a ginormous scene and possibly start a fight. The girl got ruder after that, so they were both very much at fault. Some people…

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Kimberly September 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm

If your child has a history of allergies/sinus checking with your doctor about a medication for a flight is a good idea – but for all that is holy do not make the plane the first place you give it to them. My friend was on a flight recently with a very high toddler the bewildered parents gave him benadryl because “Everyone said it would make him sleep.” thankfully being hyped up was the only bad reaction the poor tyke had. Flight is not the place to try out a new med.

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Jennifer September 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Babies cry. They don’t understand why their ears are hurting. My brother got hyper on every med they tried to calm him a bit. You can be a great mom and do everything and they will still cry. Now I’ve been with Moms with kids on planes who just leave the kid next to me (I have no idea where the go), and while I’m good with kids, this is NOT okay. You have no idea who I am!

The young girl was super rude. Parents have just as much right to fly as anyone else. I’ll take them any time over the drunk ladies on my last flight out of Miami. They would not be quiet.

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Ange September 13, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Starstruck while a screaming baby certainly doesn’t prevent me from eating at a restaurant I would hope that any parent who HAS a screaming baby at a restaurant would have the decency to remove the child. That goes for any place where people should have the right to a peaceful time, eg anywhere in public where the parent has the ability to remove the child from the situation where it’s causing a bother (obviously this discounts planes).

OP I feel for you, I am not a fan of noisy children but if the parent is taking all necessary steps and nothing is working then of course they have my sympathy.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson September 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I just want to say how much I’ve loved seeing the compassion of so many list members. Yes, manners are important. But compassion is the root of manners, and IMO by far the more important quality. May you all reap the kindness you sow.

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Lexie September 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm

People have to travel. That is a fact. Sometimes those people include infants. I acutely remember the pain in my ears from flying as a child, so an infant would be in significantly more distress.

The first woman was unbelievably rude. Unless the mother had headphones in and was actively ignoring the child, there no need to question her parenting skills. This first woman could have phrased the inquiry one hundred different ways to communicate her discomfort to the baby’s noise, most of which empathize with the mother.

The woman who started yelling and defending the mother should have stayed out of it unless the first woman got physically intimidating or threatening, and then should have spoken calmly and clearly, and gone with, “This woman you are verbally abusing is tending to her child as she sees fit. You are only making the situation worse.”

The first woman was arrogant and rude, but the second woman threw petrol on the flame.

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stephanie September 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I think it’s disgusting and highly irresponsible to suggest drugging an infant or young child in order to get them to sleep through a flight. Really, a mother would rather risk their child’s short and long-term health for fear of their child crying and disturbing other people?
http://pediatrics.about.com/od/weeklyquestion/a/06_fly_benadryl.htm
have a look at the adverse reactions:
http://www.drugs.com/pro/diphenhydramine.html

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admin September 14, 2011 at 7:40 am

Stephanie,

Did you even read the articles you link to? Two of them refer to the dangers of OVERDRUGGING. Of course, exceeding the mandated dosage by giving too much of ANY drug is bad, disgusting and irresponsible. But that’s not what my pediatrician suggested I do. He suggested an age appropriate dosage. The pediatrics.about.com link you provided ended with this comment, “Is giving Benadryl for a plane flight really ‘drugging’ your child as some people suggest? That is probably going a little far, as Benadryl is an approved OTC medication and most people don’t consider it ‘drugging’ their child and wouldn’t think twice to give it to their child if they had hives or allergies.” Given under pediatrician supervision and the appropriate dosage, there is nothing inherently “disgusting”, “irresponsible” or evil about a Federal Drug Administration approved, over the counter medication.

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stephanie September 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Another link that highlights the dangers of DRUGGING your child
http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/22/drugged.children.parenting/index.html
Is this the done thing in the US? It certainly isn’t in Australia.

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Maria September 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

@JGM: to expand on what Admin wrote, it’s not true for international flights either. I’ve just flown from Denmark via Singapore to New Zealand and Australia. NZ and Australia are two of the countries with the absolute most strict custom rules. However, things are confiscated (or declared) at arrival – not when you leave. So bringing snacks and either eating them all on the plane or discarding them upon arrival (before you go through customs) is not a problem at all.

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Angeldrac September 14, 2011 at 3:17 am

The first woman was rude. The second woman wasn’t so much rude as she was insane! Nobody talks like that, unless they are on Jerry Springer. I think the younger woman was right when she called her “ghetto”. I dare say the yelling backwards and forwards through the rest of the trip was probably always started by the second lady, and the younger woman was simply responding. (Unfortunately, it’s this kind of character that is often portrayed to us foreigners as a “typical American” – and I know that she really doesn’t represent your country well at all)
Having said that, I’m glad the younger woman got yelled at – she sounds horrible. But, this experience will probably only enforce in her mind how “right” she was. Let’s just hope she learns better from her own experiences one day.

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Angeldrac September 14, 2011 at 8:53 am

Stephanie:
I think that depends on your particular social circles in Australia. I am a child health nurse in Australia and have known several of my clients to have used medication for their children’s travel, under their GP or paediatrician’s guidance. And it’s not just done to keep parents and other passengers happy, it’s also for the comfort of the child themselves (I know I would rather sleep an entire flight – I travel very badly).
Also, if you are going to refer people to articles, perhaps properly evidence-based, academic articles may be a better idea, rather than CNN and about.com.
(and, just in case you’re wondering, I would choose not to medicate my own child but for my own reasons. I have no problem with someone else doing so as long as it were done under medical guidance. I am simply speaking against you here because I feel your argument has been poorly supported)

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LovleAnjel September 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

Erica, I am not disagreeing that if a child is obviously in pain every time you fly, you may want to rethink traveling. What I objected to is all the people saying no children AT ALL below a certain age, regardless of how they react. That’s a little silly.

And again, why should my husband & I not see our families around the holidays because someone is grumpy around small children?

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Nadine September 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

@Calli Arcale:

“There’s another factor too — there is an oxygen mask for each seat, which means that if you bring your baby as a lap passenger, your baby will not have an oxygen mask in the event of a cabin depressurization. ”

That is not true. If the airline permits children riding an an adult’s lap, each row has an extra oxygen mask to accomodate one lap child. A row of three seats has four oxygen masks. A row of two seats has three oxygen masks.

If a family has more than one lap child, they will not be permitted to sit in the same row. Mom sits with one kid on one side of the aisle, Dad sits with the other on the other side of the aisle.

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Nadine September 14, 2011 at 11:09 am

One other comment, in general:

If you find yourself in a confrontation with another passenger for any reason, call a Flight Attendant to sort it out. Do not engage yourself with a confrontational passenger. FAs are trained to deal with all kinds of situations, and they have the legal authority to ask the other passenger to cease, move, whatever.

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Amanda September 14, 2011 at 11:23 am

@WildIrishRose: Benadryl and Dramamine actually have very similar active ingredients, according to my children’s pediatrician, so Benadryl settles the stomach just as much as Dramamine causes sleepiness.. I don’t use either for them on the plane because I don’t usually need to encourage sleep, but I was recommended the two by their doctor when my oldest started demonstrating severe carsickness at 18 months. We couldn’t take any road trip longer than an hour without her throwing up, regardless of whether or how much she’d eaten beforehand, and some shorter trips would also trigger it. Her doctor recommended the children’s version of the two medicines, and told us that they had very similar active ingredients, it’s just that the one in Benadryl was more likely to break down into something that would make her drowsy than the one in Dramamine. We currently use the Benadryl Fast Melts for her when we’re going on long trips because we can never seem to find Children’s Dramamine in our area stores.

The reason we generally avoid either on airplanes is because niether of our children have demonstrated any airsickness yet (that’s my specialty right now), and the pediatrician *did* recommend we not use them solely to knock our kids out, just to settle their stomachs. I think this is the general advice everyone should take regarding such medications anyway: consult your/your kid’s doctor and follow their advice.

@Calli Arcale: I agree that every child *should* be restrained in their own seat, but unfortunately not everyone can afford to buy an entire extra ticket for their children, which is why the airlines allow for lap children. Regarding restraining them, we found on one flight that the attendants won’t *let* you restrain your child outside of their own seat, most likely for safety reasons. We had one of those infant carriers that you can strap a baby into, like a Snuggli or a Baby Bjorn, and thought we’d use that to restrain our baby during takeoff and landing. Then a flight attendant came by and told us that we weren’t allowed to do that and had to hold her in our lap instead. I personally think it would’ve been safer for her to be in the carrier with me supporting her head, but on the airplane the flight attendant trumps my opinion, so we’ve gone with what she said instead.

And regarding the snacks in general, I’m personally very grateful that they’re not prohibited on flights. The attendants only have so much free food to go around (most of the airlines we fly actually charge an arm and a leg for their “snack packs”), so being able to bring my own snacks and feed my kids as they get hungry has been a life-saver.

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Boca September 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Again, as others have, I want to say check out any medication before any trip be it for yourself or your children. Many, many years ago I traveled with my family overnight on a train headed for Chicago. Twins were given what we later learned was to be sleeping medication. Those girls were about three. They cried and screamed and fought loudly for twelve hours. It was awful. The parents were frantic. We were angry for about four hours but then we all became sympathetic and supportive when we learned the story. The mother had given the girls the medicine when they boarded. Then the fun began. Natalie and Nadine, wherever you are, you must be around 54 years old now, what a memory you two gave us all.

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Kimberly September 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Both women in this story were rude – there’s no doubt about that. Whichever one you consider, both would have been better served to show some compassion when the OP was clearly doing all that she could to calm her child.

This reminds me of a really powerful lesson in compassion that I learned from my mom. An older child at the time (8-9, maybe), I was sitting next to her on a transatlantic flight once. Across the aisle was a young mother travelling alone with her infant son. The baby wasn’t being particularly fussy, but you could tell from the look on the young mom’s face that she was just flat out exhausted and needed a break. My mom started out by asking if she needed anything – a pillow or blanket, maybe? Did she want her to ask the flight attendant for a little milk for the baby? I will never forget, though, when my mom offered to hold the baby so that the other mom could relax and stretch her legs, maybe get some rest. The woman was so incredibly grateful, and I remember thinking at the time how awesome my mom was. And I was excited to help entertain the baby, so it was a win-win. Those around us eventually pitched in too, helping to carry the young mom’s bags when we landed. We could have all just ignored each other, sure … but a little compassion brought us together.

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Paige September 14, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Both of the women in this story were very rude to the victim. It is unfortunate but I must (shamefully) admit that I know how the younger woman feels. I detest the fact that I pay hundreds of dollars for a flight then have to listen to someones child cry for an extended period of time. This had never happened to me until one of my recent flights across the country; it was miserable to listen to this kid cry for an hour to an hour and a half. I firmly believe that if you are bringing a child on a flight they should be sedated in some way (like the benadryl idea) or they should just not bring them along. Simple as that.

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Genevieve September 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

@stephanie

My father is a pediatrician, an excellent one at that. He’s never been an advocate for over-medicating, but my brothers and I often joke that as young children we thought that milk you got on trips was always pink – we didn’t realize our parents were adding a dash of children’s Benadryl to help us doze off.

I’m of the opinion that medicine is for helping people to feel better. If the pediatrician recommends and approves the dosage and it’s an over-the-counter medicine, and it will improve everyone’s comfort, there is little harm in it. Long term side effects are clearly rare, or it would not be available over-the-counter and doctors would not be recommending it.

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nrb September 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Re: meds – this is another one of those places where reasonable people, and reasonable pediatricians, can disagree. My Mom’s a ped, and a grandmother – this was an interesting topic of a dinner debate among a group of her friends, all pediatrician grandmothers, all with infant grandchildren who happened to be flying around the same time. It was apparently an interesting debate – and a group of well-informed, well-traveled (with kids!) pediatricians who raised their own kids apparently could not agree on the best policies with travelling kids – my Mom was on one end – no Benadryl except for an acute allergic reaction that required it (and she’s travelled extensively on long flights with her 2 and now my son) her BFF was on the other – drug every child over 6 mos with an age/weight appropriate Benadryl dose before a puddle jumper (ditto, but with 4 kids and 1 granddaughter).

Various pediatricians express the opinion that diphenhydramine (Benadryl in the US and Canada – apparently a different drug is marketed under the Benadryl name in the UK) should not be given before 1, 4, or 6, while others are fine with it given at 1. It’s hard to sort out what’s best to do as a parent, and really there is often not one right answer. Sometimes as a parent you just have to make a decision and abide by what happens.

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Missy September 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Sometimes toys don’t work unfortunately. Years ago when my family was flying to Texas to visit more family, three little kids on the flight cried and carried on the entire flight. Their mother had brought along a bunch of toys. I saw the mess as I passed by their seats once and wondered if they wouldn’t forget a toy when they left the plane since toys were on the floor, seats, and backseat pockets. I don’t know if anyone complained to the mom, but a flight attendant talked to the kids toward the end of the flight. She sternly told the kids that if they want to see grandma in Texas, they need to behave. One of the kiddies was about 2 years old, still a toddler. But the other two were old enough to be in Kindergarten and maybe 1st Grade. Despite the toys, the one boy crawled underneath the seats up to my seat. Um, hello there!

Despite that incident, it’s still a good idea to bring toys, books, and candies like Starbursts (something hard to ease the pain).

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jdmbamom September 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Sorry, but I view commercial air liners as public transportation. You get the good, the bad and the ugly, and all of it for a fairly low cost (yes, low. Compare to how much air travel cost back in the 60s or 70s). If you want to be isolated from the crying baby, or any other of a myriad annoyances on a plane, I suggest you look into a charter flight, take a boat or drive. Yes, we should all try our best not to inconvenience others on planes and on trains, buses, and in other public places. But I am not drugging my child for the sake of your comfort. I will bring every toy I can fit into a carry on, I will plan the flight around her schedule, I will walk her up and down the aisles for as long as I can and I will sing her every song in my repertoire, but I draw the line at actually drugging my child. For the record – yes, I believe Benadryl is too harsh of a drug to be given for the sake of another person’s comfort. And my pediatrician fully agrees. If you’re so eager to medicate, I suggest a sleeping pill chased with a vodka tonic.

For the record, painful ears can be easily relieved by putting a hot moist towel into a paper cup and placing the cup over the ears. The moisture from the heated moist towel makes the pressure in the cup higher, which counteracts the drop in cabin pressure that causes ear aches while flying. For younger infants, nursing or giving the child a bottle at take off and landing will do the trick.

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MyLovelyBugs September 15, 2011 at 2:21 am

Hi! I’m the OP of this story. To answer the one posters questions about toys, yes, I had toys. I had Little Pet Shops, a V-Tech MobiGo (not that she can really play it, but she loves to push the buttons like crazy and change out the games), a TAG Junior, her 2 favorite stuffed puppies and her all time favorite: Mommies cell phone. She didn’t want any of it. I had numerous snacks. I even let her pick out some neon gummy worms from the over priced snack spot.

I had flown with her last summer and she did great. Her big sister always recieved compliments for being such a good girl on flights and we’ve flown once a year since she was born (she’s 4 1/2 now) This flight was an exception. We usually drive to Grandmas, but my husband was doing a tile job for her and needed to drive his truck out and there is not enough seats in it for a family of 4. We had a free flight and thought “Hey, they are such good fliers, it’s no big deal!” Little did we know, this time was!

And on the topic of the kids not noticing if they visit relatives until they are older: I totally disagree. The experiences children have even when they are too young to remember, shape who they grow up to be. Visiting family members who love them can only benefit them. My youngest may not remember her last 3 trips to Grandmas, but the first trip she wouldn’t go near Grandma. By the 3rd trip, she was running up to her. They do remember and soak it all in in their own way.

The last time I gave my youngest some baby tylenol for teething, she was up until midnight giggling and running amok. A giggling, crazy baby would have been better, but I’ve never needed to medicate before. They’ve always been so good on flights.

Thanks for everyones comments. It was an odd situation. But I was tough! I waited until hubby picked us up from the airport to cry! :D

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Gracie C. September 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

jdmbamon – I think it’s great the you follow the advice of your pediatrician, but please don’t pass judgement on others who follow the advice of their pediatricians, just because the advice happens to be different. I have not noticed (and I admit I haven’t read all the comments thoroughly) anyone saying, “Shut your kid up with drugs.” I have noticed many people say that at the advice of their doctor they gave their child a small dose of benadryl which makes their child more comfortable. It is for the benefit of the child, not the passengers. It has the added benefit of making the child more likely to sleep and not cry, so it works out to benefit the passengers as well, but I have not seen a single person saying, “I had to fly last week, and I didn’t want the other passengers to listen to my kid scream, so I just doped ‘em up before getting on board.”

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Enna September 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

I agree with admin on this one. I don’t have children but as a GP receptionist I am used to children crying in a waiting room because they are ill. Sometiems they are doing it to be naughty Expecting children to behave well 100% of the time is impossible. It’s different if the parent is doing nothing but there is a polite way to deal with this such as talk to a steward/strewardess.

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jdmbamom September 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

Gracie C – I did not say a single word about other parents choosing to drug or not to drug their children under any circumstances, including on flights. I would thank you not to put words in my mouth. My comment was a response to comment number 90, by Paige, who was of a firm belief that all children on a plane should be sedated. If that’s not equivalent to “shut your kid up with drugs”, then I don’t know what is. I don’t think a single dose of benadryl is a big deal, but I also don’t think that an average plane flight with an average child is a big deal either. IF my child was in pain, for whatever reason, I would address the pain, with medication, if needed. Although, as I pointed out there are more efficient ways to relieve the ear pain stemming from plan travel.

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Colleen September 18, 2011 at 5:34 am

You know, for ages and I still don’t know that it fails me now, any child crying or calling out “mum” would instantly make my head swivel. There is some primeval thing there that makes most women (and men?) go nuts when they hear a crying child. It takes a whole lot of sucking it up to ignore a screaming/crying child that is not your own. I have been there, attempting to quiet the crying child. I think it is difficult for everyone. Maybe neither of these women were mad but just did not help the situation???

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Cat September 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Too bad that airliners don’t do what churches do, and have a “cry room” for those with little ones. There’s first class, business class, and there could be “parent class” with a divider (sound proof, hopefully) in the back of the plane. If they showed childrens’ movies, cartoons, etc. it would keep all buy the youngest occupied. Parents could bring a book.

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The Elf September 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

I like that idea, Cat. That, and the proposal of child-free or family-friendly specific flights, seem to be the best of both worlds. Those that are not flying with small children could get a little more peace. Those that are would get a lot more help managing their babies. But whenever it is proposed, it comes off as “discrimination” and so it is unlikely to happen unless the demand is very high and those that want to fly with these additions are willing to pay extra. For the record, I so totally would pay extra if there was a cry room or a child-free flight.

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Gracie C. September 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm

@ jdmbamom – my apologies – as there was nothing in your post indicating who you were talking to I could only assume you were talking to the group at large, and were addressing the collective “you”. I stand corrected.

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