Travel

Kids and Planes

Kids and Planes

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On Tuesday's program we spoke with George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com about a bold idea: create a special section on airplanes for people traveling with children, and another for adults only. It wouldn't be all that different from the old days, he opined, when there was a smoking section in every plane.

You can listen to it here.

Our listeners were pretty quick to respond:

"Mr. Hobica stated that smoking sections on airplanes were banned because they were "obnoxious." Far from it: they were banned because second-hand smoke is a **health hazard.** While screaming kids may be unpleasant, they are not a health hazard the analogy to smoking is not only in-apt, but offensive."
David S. Lefkowitz of Los Angeles

"I think we need special sections for rigid, rude people."
EdrieAnne Broughton of Vacaville, CA

"I'd ask my fellow travelers to remember these two points: one, all adults were children once too (and will all become the elderly as well with luck), and two, for some lone businessmen, one cry out of a baby can cause a headache...but for others, mindless chatter out of the same businessmen can cause one as well. It's all in your perspective."
Adrienne Meyer of Ypsilanti, MI

So, any counterpoint here? Or is that kid's section just not going to get off the ground? Chime in at will, please.

Comments

 

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It was very obvious early in the interview that Mr. Hobica does not have children. I would welcome a separate section that would shield my children from people who automatically assume they are fussy because they are being obnoxious or unruly. It is not so easy to calm a child who is having trouble adjusting to pressure changes or other discomfort, and having someone complaining in my ear to quiet my child is not helpful in a situation where a parent is stressed and self consious already. Maybe in that separate section they can have a place where you can change a diaper rather than trying to maneuver in the closet-size restroom.

Sent by Tiffany Halbrook | 7:32 PM | 8-19-2008

Oh, please. This separate kids section could work in the parent's favor - sit in the front, on first/off first, fed first (oh, wait, we don't eat on planes anymore). No more glares from people trying to, well, not glare. The kids could amuse and bemuse each other. You parents could discuss the facinating stuff parents all share. What's the beef? Everyone is so quick to judge - work the angles, folks...

Sent by Gretch | 5:44 PM | 8-21-2008

The homeward-bound business traveler is dog-tired, and desperately wants peace and quiet, plus maybe a nap. NOTHING is more annoying, disturbing, or disruptive than a screaming child.

As a longtime mostly business traveler with several million miles, I could tell you many horror stories about screaming children.The worst ever was a twelve-hour nightmare from Madrid to Atlanta. Five (5!) children screamed unchecked for almost the entire trip.

If you are lucky enough to have the flight attendant ask the parent to shut the child up, you are likely to be ignored. One woman actually told me she thought that I was being rude and inconsiderate. Such social dyslexia is apparently common.

I thought of a perfect solution many years ago. Like the children's screaming section idea, I doubt if it will ever be implemented: Put the child in an animal cage in the baggage compartment. If that's suitable for dogs, it's certainly suitable for screaming kids.

Sent by Dr. Bruce Noel | 12:09 AM | 8-22-2008

Most considerate parents don't take children at that may-or-may-not-scream-uncontrollably age to fancy restaurants. They don't take them to serious movies. They accept that making the lifestyle choice of parenthood includes accepting the fact that you'll be cutting back on these types of events for a few years. Instead, they take them to kids' movies where it's okay for kids to provide a running commentary through the entire movie, and they take them to "family" restaurants where it's okay for them to make a mess and run around. I mean, has anyone ever glared at you for bringing a child to the McDonald's ball pit? No, because it's socially acceptable in a way that bringing a screaming child on an airplane isn't.

So why should airplanes be any different? When you choose to become a parent you should also be aware that you're choosing to either give up air travel until your child is of a controllable age, or to be glared at if you choose to impose your child on other travellers. Creating a kids zone in airplanes seems like a good idea in the same way that having family restaurants is a good idea; it allows parents to still do the things that child-free people do, without forcing the best and worst of their children on others.

Sent by Susan M. | 5:27 PM | 8-27-2008

Hi NPR! Since there are longer posts, please print my entire letter, as I believe it has a different message than just the excerpt. Thanks!:
I fly for work frequently, with over 50,000 miles logged so far this year, so I have plenty of experience with sharing a plane's environment with others. I also am the mother of an active and talkative 3 year old. I listened to your piece on the poll about creating a separate section of the aircraft for kids, specifically the "advice" given by George Hobica on how to cope with sharing the air space with children, and I think the most important coping technique was missed: compassion. Of course, there are always the examples of parents who are not strict enough or children who are completely unruly, but for most cases, if fellow travelers had compassion for the parents and children in their midst, they'd find that the flight (and life in general) would go far more smoothly. I'd ask my fellow travelers to remember these two points: one, all adults were children once too (and will all become the elderly as well with luck), and two, for some lone businessmen, one cry out of a baby can
cause a headache...but for others, mindless chatter out of the same businessmen can cause one as well. It's all in your perspective.

Sent by Adrienne Meyer | 10:09 AM | 9-5-2008

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