Nobody enjoys hearing the wail of a child on an airplane – it wakes you from your fitful uncomfortable doze, it drowns out even the sound of the engine, sets your teeth on edge and makes it hard to watch the reruns of Frasier. For parents, the problem is figuring out not just to keep your child happy but to keep them from making others unhappy.
Is the solution segregating passengers with child-free flights? An article this past weekend in the NYTimes quoted child-free passengers extolling the perceived virtues of such an arrangement. (Guess what, there’s a Facebook group for it.) Of course, as a parent, in theory I’d love to have a special area where kids could talk loudly, walk the aisles without my worrying about them bodging people, play on the floor. The NYT article quotes an industry expert who’s sceptical anything like that could come about, with an industry fighting for its life and the associated logistics problems.
Feministing suggests what we need isn’t child-free flights but family-friendly culture, where everyone amps up their tolerance levels and acknowledges that kids cry (you did too, when you were young). That’s a good rule to apply to everyone onboard – some people stand in the aisles, clueless, during boarding; some people hog the armrest; some people carouse during the universally acknowledged “sleeptime”. It’s easy to feel self-righteous about the person ruining “your” flight – although depending on whom you fly with, the airline might have already beat them to it.