The Airplane Courtesy Bag

by admin on October 1, 2012

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

lauren October 1, 2012 at 4:48 am

I dare say, that’s actually a pretty nice thing to do…

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Jennifer October 1, 2012 at 5:19 am

I think that is such a considerate and wonderful thing for those parents to do. They are taking the initiative to not only let people know they have babies but also give them a baggie of candy and the offer of ear plugs! This is fantastic and I applaud that family.

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Skittle October 1, 2012 at 6:22 am

That is awesome! After flying from Phoenix to Pittsburgh with a pretty bad hangover from a weekend in Cabo and having to hear a pair of infant twins and their older toddler sized sibling scream the entire flight, I would certainly appreciate an effort like this. I can’t imagine flying with small children is even remotely easy, so the extra effort of the parents in this story is beyond amazing. If only the rest of society was so thoughtful and caring.

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Louisa October 1, 2012 at 6:26 am

Fantastic! Defuses irritation before it starts through consideration. Am stealing this idea next time I fly with my babies.

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Katie2 October 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

This is so sweet :)

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CaffeineKatie October 1, 2012 at 7:09 am

Knowing people like this are raising kids gives me hope for the future!

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Shannon October 1, 2012 at 7:32 am

I think writing the note from the 14-week-old boys’ perspective is a bit cheesy, but hats off to the parents regardless.

The message behind it is that they will be doing their best to keep their babies from bothering other passengers, instead of shrugging off their responsibility or getting defensive. To me, it’s bad enough when a baby is yowling on a plane, but worse when the parents have zoned out and are doing nothing to soothe the child.

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Brighid October 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

I really have mixed feelings about this. I’m going to be a plane with my 7 month old three times in the next month and will transfers comes to 9 flights. Am I expected to make packets for everyone on all nine flights? It’s a sweet gesture, but it sets the rest of us parents up for failure. I have no idea how my child will behave on a plane, she’s pretty good everywhere else. I would hope that no matter what the other passengers will see a mom with a young baby traveling alone and know that she’s doing the best she can without being given free candy. I don’t want to listen to my baby scream either!

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Margo October 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

I think the message is a good one. Brighid, I don’t think it’s necessary to prvie something like this for the entire plane, but some for the few rows closest to you, and carring some spare sets of earplugs is a courteous gesture. If nothing else, as SHannon mentions, it differnetiates you from the parents who appear oblivious to the effect that their baby/child has on other passengers.

Sometimes the simple act of acknowledging that yes, there is an issue and yes, it does effect others goes a huge way to defuse any potential problems.

Even a note without any sweets or ear plugs could achieve this.

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June First October 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

I think this is delightful. It shows preparation and it’s considerate.

Brighid, I disagree with your comment: “It’s a sweet gesture, but it sets the rest of us parents up for failure.” Maybe you could just say something to your seatmates that it’s the first time your baby traveled, and you are going to do your best to keep them occupied. That said, I think it’s great to over-prepare for your baby’s first flights instead of just winging it (no pun intended).

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Kovi October 1, 2012 at 11:12 am

Brighid: I don’t think most people are ‘expecting’ this of anyone. Those particular parents are going out of their way to do a generous gesture. To automatically expect this of someone would be an etiquette blunder on the part of that person.

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Nina J. Hodgson October 1, 2012 at 11:15 am

Not all parents with children aboard a flight are clueless. Several years ago while waiting to board a flight to San Francisco from London, I noticed a couple with a very new infant in the boarding area. “Oh joy,” I thought to myself, and actually I was right. Between the two of them that couple walked all the way from London to San Francisco rocking that child in their arms. Not a peep. Needless to say, a planeload of passengers was grateful, and a bit awe-stricken.

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Enna October 1, 2012 at 11:34 am

I’m wondering how many ear plugs the parents brought? Some planes can be really big. I would think ear plugs would be provided on planes anyway to allow people to sleep esp if they have had long journey or jet lag. A really nice thought from the parents though.

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Pam October 1, 2012 at 11:39 am

I think a few bags to give out in case the baby was crying would be nice. Alot of people on the plane would already have their own “earplugs” as in iPods, etc. and planes are kind of noisy all on their own and that white noise does go a long ways in deadening sound down the aisle!

I think the bags show that the parents are thinking about the comfort of other people – that is nice and the definition of good manners.

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Library Diva October 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I don’t see how one treats baggie that happens to be making the rounds on the internet sets everyone else up for failure. Certainly, no one expects this, that’s why someone posted the photo of it in the first place, and why it’s gone viral. Just be courteous to your fellow passengers, a quick smile and something off-handed like “I’ll do my best to keep her quiet” will help everyone’s jangled nerves. I feel for you, Brighid. Flying sucks so bad these days. Between the ever-evolving carry-on regulations, the surprise fees, all the checks and scans everyone’s been subjected to, and the stresses of confinement out of one’s element with a lot of strangers that are inherent in flying anyway, it’s just a really unpleasant experience. I hope it goes well with your baby.

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Anonymous123 October 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

In a way, I agree with Brighid. This is setting up a precedent, similar to giving gift bags to every child at a birthday party. However, I also agree with the Margo that the message is a good one. I just don’t see the need to create an elaborate gift bag and write a note when a face-to-face conversation with your seatmates would accomplish the same thing. I also believe that face-to-face conversations help us get to know each other better and estabslihes that we’re “real people”.

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Lo October 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I agree strongly with Shannon and Margo.

Especially with Margo’s observation that the note itself would be enough for most people. It sure would be for me! Reasonable people understand that babies can be loud and difficult to console on flights. I’m sure a lot of people would find it easier to deal with if offered an advance apology by the parents. There’s a gulf of difference between “My kids are noisy, deal with it” and “My kids might be noisy and we’re sorry and we’ll do the best we can to miminize your discomfort.”

Planes are a special situation anyway, because with a crying baby there’s just nowhere to go!

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Ralphie October 1, 2012 at 1:11 pm

It certainly is a nice gesture, but I’m a diabetic and I can’t tolerate earplugs for more than a few minutes at a time. There goes my two ‘defenses’. 14 weeks is also a bit young to be flying – but at least they’re not running up and down the aisle screaming “BATMAN, BATMAN”… (yet).

I shouldn’t be the one to throw the first stone, however. I flew cross country in an unpressurized prop plane with I was less than six months old, and screamed the entire way. The airline banned my family from flying with them for a year, and me ‘until I could behave myself like a normal human being’. My mother was only 22, I was her first – and she was ill herself. That airline hasn’t changed much in 40 years, and it’s one that I avoid whenever I can. Old habits die hard – now I snore and keep everybody awake that way.

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Brighid October 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I agree that it’s a very nice gesture. I would hope it’d be enough that I smile and introduce myself to my seatmates and say I hope it will be a pleasant flight for everyone. I’m sure they’d appreciate me feeding her a bottle at takeoff much more than to expect to fumble around for ear plugs or candy. I think I just resent the fact that people might assume that I don’t care about their comfort just because I don’t have a pre written note. Can you tell I’ve been extremely stressed out about this flight? However, maybe this could become a precedent. I hope I get some candy and a note from , “Mr I’m going to hog both armrests” or “Ms Hope it’s ok if I recline as far back as possible”

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kendrajoi October 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I love this! 14 week old twins need to fly too, sometimes! Good job, Mom & Dad!

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Lacey October 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

This is really nice – and I knew that there would be a parent on here basically commenting that parents don’t need to make nice gestures.

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Morty'sCleaningLady October 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

How nice to give out goodie bags! That said, I’m not amused that the mother self described as a ‘portable milk machine’. That just seems so crass to me. The mother carried the children for nine months, bore them into the world, and takes care of most of their needs. She isn’t a cow.

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Brighid October 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Lacey — my comment was that a nice gesture does not necessarily have to be a tangible item. It can be what I will be offering in spades all day, smiles, warm greetings, sincere apologies where warranted. Decent human behavior and kindness should be worth more than a few hershey kisses. It will be my first flight with my first child and I am terrified, and it’s largely because I fear coming into contact with that sort of attitude.

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Debra October 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

My in-laws brought bags of earplugs on all the flights they took because their baby was a screamer. (Poor thing had GERD so there was some good cause for it.) They’d pass them out to something like three or four rows in front and behind. Earplugs are cheap and consideration for others doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hand out candy or explanations every single time. :)

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Iris October 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Brighid – honestly the one thing that I have learned is that if you are stressed the baby will pick up on it and respond accordingly. Try to relax, people aren’t going to lynch you. If you are doing whatever you can to comfort and entertain your child MOST people recognise that and can sympathise. Use the internet to look up ways to keep a 14 month old happy on a flight and go prepared. If you FEEL prepared chances are you will be more relaxed and your baby will pick up on that. I have flown with many really calm toddlers and parents so chances are you’ll be fine. There will always be someone who complains of course – I bet on Nina’s flight someone got off and whined to their friends about the parents that wouldn’t sit down – so accept that, do your best and enjoy the flight.

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Leighanna October 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Four kids, nursing each one for two/plus years. I was a cow.

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White Lotus October 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Got on a long international flight to find myself seated next to a babe in the arms of her father. The father regarded me, clearly a tired middle-aged business traveller, warily. We went up. The baby went off. I told him, and I am telling all of you, “It is the pressure changes in their little ears. They can’t help it. What I did with mine is teach them to pop their ears as soon as possible. Just get them to mimic the moves. (Demonstrating the hold your nose and try to blow out manuver.) It really does help.” Yes, it was noisy, as this little one was very little, despite my Bose headphones, and yes, the father was doing all he could, which really isn’t much. But that is the real issue for tiny ones. Show you are doing your best, apologize and offer earplugs. Sing and dance down the aisles when you can, or go to the back and do it. I don’t know why, but it helps. Really, showing you are doing your best is the most courteous thing you can do.
Bigger ones simply need to be taught common courtesy and decent manners. Practicing how to behave on city buses helped mine prepare for planes. It is courteous to teach one’s children how to behave inoffensively and mind you before turning them loose on the world.

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TimeLady October 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Lacey, I think you got the wrong end of the stick with Bridhid’s comments. As far as it reads to me, she isn’t saying parents don’t need to make nice gestures, just that she feels this is perhaps going a bit far.

As a parent due to make a long-haul flight (admittedly not for a while yet) with my young son I think this is both adorable and a little unnerving. I agree with Brighid insofar as there *will* be people who will have seen this image and have the attitude of “well why haven’t *we* been offered this sort of courtesy?” “*We* have to put up with the child, *we* should get some compensation” etc etc. I’m not saying everyone on a flight will – heck, perhaps on mine or Brighid’s flights there won’t be a single person with that thought process – but the world is not a perfect place where everyone is understanding of everyone else. I’m an exceedingly paranoid parent with regards to those around me; I get twitchy every time my son makes a loud noise in public (be it a scream or a laugh) because I am *so* convinced I’m being judged as a bad parent for his behaviour and that I’m putting these people out by not being able to explain to my 20-month-old son that shrieking indoors really isn’t an acceptable form of behaviour. (Of course I can talk to him, but he really doesn’t understand yet :( This lack-of-communication phase is driving me batty!)

Unfortunately, and I know people won’t want to hear this, children will be children. There really is only so much a parent can do to keep a child occupied in a confined space for a prolonged amount of time. I applaud the couple mentioned in comment #12 from Nina- that’s amazing! Unfortunately, it’s just my son and I, so I don’t think I’ll be able to manage walking the London-Columbus flight, especially given how heavy my son is now! Like Brighid, however, I will be exceedingly apologetic at the beginning of the flight, and certainly every time my son makes a peep. As Library-Diva mentions, the carry-on restrictions are becoming ridiculous, so there will only be so much I’ll be able to carry to entertain him. Needless to say, I will use my behaviour and actions as the courtesy, because my purse just won’t stretch to the printer ink, paper, earplugs and sweets, as much as I think it would be quite fun to do.

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Kate October 2, 2012 at 1:37 am

I don’t mind too much when there is a baby or young toddler getting upset on a plane. Yes, it’s annoying, but they can’t help it, and as others have said it’s probably a scary experience for them.
What I really can’t handle is when older children misbehave and their parents do nothing to control it. I’ll smile sympathetically at you if you have an 18 month old who can’t stop crying, but I might give you a dirty look if your seven year old has been kicking the back of my seat, hitting the seat, yanking my hair and yelling the whole time.

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Evelyn October 2, 2012 at 1:42 am

TimeLady: I’m just like you! I worry way too much about what people will think of my children, to the point where I’m afraid that I’m being a constant killjoy to them… However, I persist since to me, the alternative would be worse. I will never accept that it’s okay for my boys to throw tantrums in public, yell on public transportation, etc. That being said, sometimes there is just no way to calm a screaming infant, and to me, that is a totally different matter. Hopefully, the people around you will understand as well.
As for tha orginial picture, I agree that it’s a nice gesture, although I believe the note would have been enough – perhaps even leave the earplugs to the stewardesses/stewards so that one doesn’t have to worry about finding them in a state of panic…

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The Elf October 2, 2012 at 6:48 am

I’m one of those horrible childfree people.

I have to admit, my heart sinks a bit when I see babies board my flight. Sometimes they are good as gold, sometimes they wail the entire flight. I can’t blame them – flying sucks for adults. Imagine what it’s like for an infant! Their ears hurt; I get it. I don’t get angry when babies cry. I get angry when parents are oblivious and do nothing when babies cry. There may be no way to stop it, but I’d like to see parents make the attempt. A note – no need for candy! – would go a long way to say “Hey, we know it’s bad and we’re trying.” FWIW, I’d rather see Nina walking her baby than having to HEAR the baby, if you get my drift.

What I’d really like to see are special child free flights on common routes, especially routes used most by business travelers (like the NYC-DC run). You’d want to pick a route like that to make sure there are plenty of other flights available for parents. You can even make exceptions under certain circumstances, like bereavement fares. Even if you charged a lot extra for the childfree flights, I bet those flights would get sold out quickly. Or, reverse the concept, and make a special family-friendly flight and orient the whole thing towards kids with a Disney movie and kid snacks. Think of it – no chance of your kid seeing porn on the business traveler’s laptop. No hairy eyeballs from the other passengers because everyone already has been there/done that. Flight attendents ready with the extra diapers and coloring books.

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MichelleP October 2, 2012 at 10:24 am

Wow. This is a very nice gesture and there have been at least half a dozen remarks about how there’s something wrong with it. Good grief.

If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. It’s a nice thing to do and no one will think less of anyone who doesn’t, as long as the parent makes effort to minimize discomfort or at least apologizes when that doesn’t work.

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Ann October 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

It’s an adorable gesture.

But, when it comes to flying I’ll take a crying baby over an obnoxious drunk, loud talker or bathroom hog any day of the week.

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TimeLady October 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

@Evelyn: Not much fun, is it? :/ I am also unfortunate enough to be in a friendship group swimming with those who are childfree and OH so vocal about how much they dislike kids. It makes the whole paranoia thing a million times worse.

@Kate: I agree wholeheartedly. Young kids, as a general rule though I know all are different, usually can’t understand the “whys” of a matter, so can’t understand why Mummy/Daddy is telling them off/trying to stop them from doing whatever-it-is they’re doing. Older kids, though…whole different story. Even if they don’t understand fully, they still have a grasp of what is and isn’t acceptable. And if all else fails- bribery! (I’m only half kidding ^^; )

@The Elf: I have to admit, for a brief second there my heart sank: I was half expecting a huge long rant about how selfish parents are (because honestly, I’ve seen them) but thank you *so* much for *not* living up to my paranoid expectations! I absolutely love the idea of either childfree or family-friendly flights! It would be a brilliant gimmick, and just think of the friendships that could be forged!

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The Elf October 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Not me, Ann. Flight Attendants all have strategies and policies for adults who are disruptive. But babies are another story altogether, and with good reason. Telling a baby to quiet down doesn’t do much good!

That and I seem to run into far more crying babies (and misbehaving older children) than obnoxious drunks, loud talkers, and bathroom hogs on the flights I’ve been on.

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NaLa October 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Brighid, skip the note and candy. Have the following printed on an adorable little t-shirt:
I just met you
And I’m only a baby
So I might start crying
Forgive me maybe?

Everybody loves an internet sensation :) Seriously, the note is a clever idea, but I always feel bad for parents of little ones on airplanes anyway. I’m sure it’s tough!

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Alicia October 3, 2012 at 7:18 am

Last time I flew from europe there was a tired mom and a 3 month old baby next to me. They had been flying all the way from China. Anyway nothing had been working and she apologized that the other three flights the baby had wailed for hours. Starting at takeoff I started looking straight at the baby and as big and silly as possible made my mouth as wide as possible ahhh like and then into that oooo kissy position. I did this for a minute or two and the baby then started imitating me and in doing so popped his ears. As soon as his ears popped he was willing to giggle for a few minutes and then sleep. I have never had a more grateful seatmate.The kid slept and played with some fuzzy animal for the rest of the flight until landing where the two of us did the ahhh oooohh thing again to make him pop his ears.

Everyone should know one little trick like that

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The Elf October 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks, TimeLady.

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Ralphie October 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

There is at least one carrier (Malaysia Airline, a non-US based carrier) that bans babies and children under a certain age from flying 1st class on 747-400 and A380 class aircraft on long-haul flights between Kuala Lampur and London, Amsterdam, etc. 1st class passengers were complaining about paying many, many thousands of dollars for a ticket, and then having to listen to crying infants for 17 hours straight. The airline was simply responding to market demand from its most lucrative seat-fillers. However, I doubt if we will ever see it here on LAX-JFK or ATL-SEA – an attorney would probably have a field day suing the carrier for age discrimination.

I believe in family-friendly vs. business friendly flights. Maybe business flights are early in the morning and early evening. Maybe family friendly are mid-day. Maybe prices drop slightly if you are on a ‘matching’ flight. Maybe just a few flights to test the concept?

One thing for sure – with the hubs, feeder systems, and multi-segment flights, the logistics would be nearly impossible.

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Stepmomster October 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Ok…so here is the secret to popping a babies ears or getting them to take medicine taught to me by a discharge nurse 14 years ago.

1. Popping ears for infants- put a bottle/pacifier in their mouth as soon as you feel YOUR ears pressurize, blow on their face and they automatically swallow, its a reflect when they are drinking or sucking on a thumb or pacifier. Just a quick WHOO will do, like blowing out birthday candles. Works every time.

2. Medicine – place the dropper in the side of their mouth far enough in so the medicine dropper is above the tongue, but not enough to hurt them, squeeze, blow on their face, and baby automatically swallows. This worked on dogs and cats and babies for 14 years, never had anything spit back out.

I would suggest that you never blow on a strange babies face, as that would be a germ no-no and the parents might get upset, just tell them how to do it and it works pretty good. If the baby is crying and won’t take a pacifier or bottle you can often blow and they swallow and look at you surprised for a second, enough to pop their ears.

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grandma too October 4, 2012 at 12:40 am

Several years ago I was getting settled into my airline seat while the man sitting in the row in front of me was settling his two toddlers into their seats. He looked over the back of the seats at me and told me I might want to change my seat. I told him I wasn’t scared, I had 11 grandchildren. He then told me that they hadn’t had their naps. I told him I was a little scared. They were angels and great peek-a-boo players.

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Colleen October 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

You don’t need to prepare everyone else around you (although as others have said, a kind word may help) just prepare yourself and your child.

A few years ago, I was on a flight to Florida, and a family sat down across the aisle with a preschooler and a baby. I’ll admit, I prepared myself for the worst. But it wasn’t. As soon as they sat down, the parents got everything set up. They had an empty bottle that they’d brought through security and a bottle of juice for the baby, and lollipops for the preschooler. They gave them both to them as soon as the plane took off, and even offered lollipops to the parents of other small children nearby. They did the same thing for the landing, and had toys and books to keep the kids occupied on the flight. Not a peep was heard from either of them.

A little effort goes a long way.

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Cher630 October 7, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Babies cry…it’s part of life. Does anyone live in a sound-proof home, work in a sound-proof office, or travel in a sound-proof car? I feel bad for the parents with infants who scream. I’m sure they are just as frazzled as the rest of the travelers, and even more so since they have to deal with people shooting daggers out of their eyes.

I DO NOT like when parents ignore their children, no matter who old. If I see a parent trying to quiet a child, I am grateful. If I see a parent completely ignoring their disrespectful or annoying child who is running up and down the aisles and bothering people, than I get PO’d. If you are traveling with children, you as a parent must do all you can to occupy that child, whether it’s a bottle, food, toys, books, whatever quiets the child. Who cares if it’s a bag of skittles and your iPad. Let them have it!!!!

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TravelingGal October 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

This just isn’t planes… years back, I took a midnight to 6 am (bigdog) bus from a major city to another not quite as big to get back to college and work. Bus was FULL, and most of them were college kids doing the redeye. And expecting to sleep.

Mom got on with a toddler (guessing 18 months) and by discussion with others that I overheard, she was taking trip and relay further to another town, to see dad who was coming back from overseas, going to his base. She was living at parents while he was gone.

Kid was wound up. We figured he’d conk. He did NOT. He made noise the entire trip (babble mostly, and nonstop). Six solid hours. She tried everything and she even (I hate to report but it was back then)slapped him twice, separate occasions. He’d CRY for a short bit then shut up for a few minutes. The entire bus sighed as his mouth turned off… and he’d start up again.

She had treats, she had sippy cup, she tried rocking him, she had toys, nothing. He ran all night. An entire americruiser unloaded in the predawn and trust me there wasn’t a non grouch in the batch after we all figured we could sleep that trip. I feel for the mother and being next to her understood what was going on but it still didn’t make for good bunking when cooped up with everyone for 6 hours.

I can feel for if you have to fly with little ones, but, just the attempt to deal with it goes a long ways on the rest of us. If you do have to fly try to make it daytime hours if you have one too small to walk up and down the airport terminal and tire them out before you get on (I’ve seen this with larger families, where the older kids were hiking a smaller one around to get them to pass out during flight).

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Quantum October 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

The effort made by the parents is a very nice gesture.

I’m reminded of September 11, 2001. I bet my life that, if anyone in any of those planes could have known of his/her tragic fate, that person would’ve opted for a flight with a possible screaming baby instead.
I’ve been on many flights with screamers, too. No one likes to hear a child cry, especially not the kid’s parents. They don’t cry just to annoy you, though. I would hope that mommy and/or daddy would do all that s/he could to calm baby.
In this day, though, a screaming baby is the least of my problems; I’ve dealt with much worse in my 30 years. I’d rather that than deal with self-centred, cruel, self-entitled adult creatures who call themselves human, among many other problems. If you think of how much of society’s ills are caused by grown people, having to listen to children is a pleasure; in many ways, they are more civil than many adults conduct themselves.
What if we got our priorities straight? Terrorism is a major threat these days, on air, across seas, on land. In the larger scheme of things, would you rather need to worry about your keeping your life or just deal with an annoyance of everyday life? It’s time the adults be reasonable.

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