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February 12, 2013

Child Free Flights: How the childless can be less of a pain in the… rear.

Air Asia has just announced that that they will be offering child-free quiet zones on some of their flights. As someone well out of the baby-toting years of parenthood, I can see how this will be appreciated by the many folks on flights who don’t have toddlers and don’t “hear the music” as my husband puts it.

I don’t enjoy ill-behaved children. As a parent, however, I realize that it’s a bit more complicated than it appears to the casual observer to keep a kid sane, happy and socially acceptable on a 30 hour marathon around the world. I’m not opposed to a few rows of “quiet seating” as it does more than isolate the childless from the irritating child, it isolates the irritating adults from the parents who are doing their level best, with more or less success, depending on the flight.

We can all agree that parents should do their best to make sure their kids are cooperative on a flight. But the flip side of that is that people traveling without young children (which is most of us, frankly) could really stand to work a bit harder at not being a pain in the ass and perhaps even stretching so far as to be part of the solution.

Would that be too much to ask?

Quiet-zones on flights are one part of the solution, but another part is treating children like people, not pets, and remembering what it was like to be little and out of control of your environment. Why not be a blessing to a struggling parent instead of one more critic, and find a way to be part of the solution?

It’s just good karma.

 

Posted by | Comments (30) 
Category: Air Travel, Family Travel, On The Road


30 Responses to “Child Free Flights: How the childless can be less of a pain in the… rear.”

  1. Nancy Sathre-Vogel Says:

    I like the idea of a kid zone on flights! Rather than designating a part where they CAN’T be, let’s turn it around and have a place where they CAN! And in that area, stock lots of coloring books and toys. Make it a fun place to be and parents with kids would be MORE than happy to sit there with their kids.

  2. Ava Collopy Says:

    I love the idea of child-free zones everywhere–planes, trains, restaurants, etc.

    People adore their kids and forget the rest of us don’t and don’t have to–they’re your responsibility. It’s ridiculous to say that the rest of us should spend our hard-earned money and time on toys and candy for your kids every time we travel.

    Personally, I was never allowed to misbehave in public; my parents explained where we were going, what we were doing, and why. My siblings and I never threw fits or screamed in public, we were raised better than that. Even from a very young age we would have been embarrassed to behave like that and never knew why other kids did.Here’s the short answer: bad parenting.

    People should try to stop being such self-absorbed, immature people after they have kids–yelling at their kids, texting/blathering on the phone instead of paying attention to their kids and expecting the rest of us to just suck it up because they felt like adding to an overpopulated world. Why get mad at others for shooting dirty looks when we have to put up with the results of others’ bad parenting after long, hard, exhausting days at work–i think bad parents should be more apologetic, like saying sorry for giving everyone on the bus migraine headaches because you never taught your little brat the meaning of the word “no”. When my parents said no it meant no and the discussion was closed.

    People should take responsibility for themselves and their choices, including having kids, instead of once again saying all the rest of should be responsible for your kids. And if people raised their kids better they wouldn’t behave like insane screeching monkeys, whiny crying obnoxious babies, etc. and well into older childhood. Child-Free Zones are a fantastic idea. So is birth control. So is not dumping your responsibilities on others. Think about it.

    As a woman who’s never wanted kids and doesn’t like babies or young children I’m sick of everyone trying to shove kids and babies down my throat. I see kids behave like asylum escapees then parents look at me and smile like because I’m a woman I’ll think it’s cute when i just want to SCREAM! Babies and children crying is the most irritating noise on the face of the Earth! And I’ve had many days ruined by screaming, out of control children.

    The idea of fun zones for kids to play on planes is good if the area is soundproofed. It’s ridiculous to think all of us should carry crayons, snacks, etc. for your children. If you’re so bad at parenting that you actually think every random stranger you run into should give you words of praise to you for your largely irresponsible choices and spend our hard-earned money on gifts for your kids you shouldn’t have had children. Clearly you’re incredibly spoiled–you sound like a rich kid who thinks the world owes you everything. I have enough responsibilities of my own supervising a night crew–I don’t need to supervise your children as well, or you. You chose to have children so you should take all the responsibility.

  3. rubin pham Says:

    Ava Collopy, so true and funny!

  4. Ajay Says:

    erm……..Ava…….chill. A screaming child ruins your entire day? Tough life you lead.

  5. Jennifer Miller Says:

    Ava… I’m laughing a little… I agree with much of what you say, in that children are the responsibility of parents, they should (and can) be taught to behave properly in public, and parents should set higher standards than many do. You haven’t met me, so you couldn’t know that I don’t have small children and when I did I never “let” them behave like morons and ruin other people’s days. In fact, many, many times I marched them right out of social situations precisely because our brand of parenting is very “others” centered, and your right to enjoy your day without the infringement of my children is among my highest priorities. I never once asked anyone else to carry stuff to appease MY kids when they were little, it never even occurred to me actually. I did, in fact, take total responsibility for their health, safety, happiness and respect of other people. It was only after these debates about whether kids should be allowed in certain places or not started raging (and they are RAGING, aren’t they ;) ) that it occurred to me that the appropriate course of action as a fellow human being, is always to try to ease the load of the next guy, whoever he may be. In this case, parents of young children. I’ve never once asserted that the responsibility lies anywhere but squarely with the parents.

    HOWEVER… population growth arguments aside, children are, in fact, people and they do deserve compassion and respect (as do their parents) regardless of how an individual feels about that. I am merely suggesting that as people who do not have young children (I’m including myself in that) a more appropriate course of action than BLASTING the young parent struggling, would be to be part of the solution. It really isn’t about children at all, in fact… if you were ill on a plane, having a horrible day, obviously struggling with your baggage, I’d do what I could to help you out. I would hope you’d do the same for me. I’m just taking that one step further and suggesting that perhaps we could do the same for children. It’s not something I think anyone should be MADE to do (because you’re right, it’s not their responsibility, it’s the parents) but it’s something that is GOOD to do, if you feel so inclined. I carry bandaids and a mouth shield for medical emergencies I might be able to assist in. I carry wikki stix and crayons for kid emergencies I might be able to assist in… you know why? Because *I* (who have no young children and have no vested interest in whether they howl through the flight or not, as it’s not my responsibility) care about *you* and your right to enjoy that flight. If that’s not something you’re interested in participating in, then that’s just fine. It seems a bit extreme to me to hand a child (or anyone, frankly) enough power that they can ruin your day simply by having a bad one themselves. Peace.

  6. Liberty H Says:

    Child free zones are a brilliant idea!

    Ava, not all noisy kids are a result of bad parenting. 4 month olds cry because it is their only method of communication. Special needs kids don’t adjust to change well, and their anxiety can make it appear as if they are poorly disciplined. Perfectly normal kids have their flights delayed and end up stationary for far longer than their little bodies or attention spans can handle. Traveling is fun but difficult with little guys.

    One of the nicest acts of kindness I ever received was from a flight attendant who noticed my sleeping baby and whispering to me before take-off “All babies fuss. When someone shoots you a dirty look, don’t worry. I’ve got your back.”

    We take off again in a few days. I’ll do my best to make sure my kids have a good attitude. Praying that the adults near us have a good attitude too.

  7. Jen Says:

    When something gets so under my skin and I find myself responding like Ava I realize it is a serious issue and problem with my life not what I am getting so upset about. Seems like Ava’s identity (read her blog) is about NOT being a Mom. Time to reflect. Happy/balanced people do not go around stressing about what they are not. They punch toddlers and call them vulgar names on planes.

  8. Tristan Says:

    I am a mom of going on 4 children. When my oldest was 19 months, she was overtired and cranky most of an 11 hour flight. She has always had a hard time falling asleep and the conditions still have to be right at the age of 7. People were yelling at us to shut our child up. One passenger called her Dracula. The lady in front of us in a rage turned around and tried grabbing her. Mama Bear came out of me when I saw her hand trying to get a hold of her. Not one person offered to help us or even said one encouraging word to us. The flight staff totally ignored us. I still have PTSD from that experience. What people like Ava don’t realize is that people with small children who are acting up can’t just get off the plane and believe me, they want off that plane more than anyone. More than that, a child is a person and can’t always be controlled. They can be encouraged, but on a flight, a child is out of their comfort zone and no matter how good a parent is at disciplining their child and not allowing them to get away with something, parents direct their children, but ultimately how the child responds is out of a parents’ control. I think it would be great to have an area on a plane designated for small children. It would probably make everyone happier.

  9. Jen Says:

    Wow…all I can say is, if Ava is the result of “good parenting” I don’t want to see the result of bad. ;) What a clueless response…

  10. Living Outside of the Box Says:

    Wow to Ava’s comment. And kudos to Jen in #9′s comment. I’m curious if Ava’s childhood must not have been very “ideal,” as it left her no desire to carry on any familial traditions and create a family of her own. It is scary, as you noted, that Ava’s identity is being a proud non-Mother. Perhaps we should applaud her for not procreating and subjecting a child to her disdain for childhood?

    Parenthood teaches us some of the most powerful lessons about selflessness, self-sacrifice, and general caring for another human being more than oneself. Parenting is also a refiner’s fire, helping us learn how to become better people each and every day. We could all use these lessons–whether we have the opportunity to become parents, or not.

    Your article and response to Ava clearly drive the message home: We are one big family on this earth, and we are all doing our best. Share the love, be forgiving, and be encouraging!

  11. Kel Says:

    Jen, I SO agree with you!
    The last flight I was on was about 3 1/2 hours long (not long by international standards I know!) A grandma, mother, and little boy of about 18 months sat next to me. Any mother knows that 18 month olds do NOT want to sit in a lap. They want to walk around and do what they want to do. The grandma looked at me with nervous sympathy and said that I may be in for a rough flight. But I smiled and assured her that it was not a problem.
    He fussed and cranked and then I realized I had my iPad with me. I have 3 kitty games on it.(Yes! there are iPad games for cats! lol) They have fish swimming and little bugs crawling. I let him hold my iPad and poke at the fish and bugs.
    He LOVED it! Giggled and smiled and was fine the rest of the flight.
    Children are people and with a small amount of compassion, a stranger CAN be of help.
    Kel

  12. Debbie Says:

    Children are people!! They are in the process of fashioning who they will be through all that they see. We used to fly alot when my children were small. The toughest thing is the ear pressure thing and helping the child to swallow and release the very real pressure. this is why babies and small children cry. I would bring juice cups, lollipops anything to help my childrens’ ears adjust. As adults we easily know to swallow. Surely we can have compassion on babies and small children who don’t know this is all they need to do.

    As far as Ava’s comment…I feel very ,very sorry for her not having the joy of any child in her life. Children are alot like adults….they are happy, sad, etc. Surely you are respectful to your friends when they go through those emotions. Why not help a child….

  13. Jean W. Says:

    I’m with Ava. I don’t have kids because I don’t want to hear them screaming all day. If you can’t control your kids, take a road trip, not an airplane. Babies probably don’t enjoy flying and a lot of people don’t enjoy babies on flights. First, let’s all pay for our own seats. Put each kid in a seat, not on a lap, unrestrained. Preferably on a family-only flight so the rest of us can read or sleep in peace.

  14. IamJentoo Says:

    I agree Grouchy-Adult-Free-Zones would be great for the kids. Less stress on them to make sure they don’t bother the ‘mature’ adults.

    Just think, when the child-less and child-haters of the world are old and need their diapy change it’ll be our children that will rise up and do that for them because they’ve learn compassion for fellow humans, no matter how irritating.

  15. Kristi Says:

    Wow, there are some amazingly childish and immature adults commenting on this thread. I’m shocked that adults could feel such emotion that basically results to a schoolyard bully-type attitude about small children. Obviously, their parents were less than ideal, as well.

  16. LaughingATyou Says:

    Ha ha ha – when Ava is old and all alone, who WILL change her diapers? I hope she doesn’t annoy any of the young, able bodied children that grew up to become her care givers. Surely it won’t be the children she didn’t have nor any of the ones she excluded in her child free zones.

    If it weren’t for people, the world would be perfect.

  17. A.Roddy Says:

    Do you want to know how parents are annoying?
    Laughing at You@having children just to take care of you in old age is selfish. Nursng homes aren’t just for childless folks. Visit any nurisng home and you se elderly who haven’t been visisted by their children in ages.
    Yes Children are people and I think most ppl understand that. There are a few rude people but there are rude parents who expect everyone to put up with the screaming kid. Special needs kids need special handling and maybe long flights aren’t suited for them. Maybe kids 5< shouldn't fly at all. If you can afford to make these flights with 4 kids I don't feel sorry fo any of you. This childless not by choice woman wishes she could take such trips. I wonder what the parents on here will think when their child decides to remain childless. This calls for give and take on both sides.

  18. A.Roddy Says:

    And it’s not our place to carry things for other people’s kids. That is your job. Besides planes have rules on what you can have.

  19. Nancy Sathre-Vogel Says:

    All I can say is that I urge every single person who would condemn a parent of a screaming child to take a step back and consider that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know the whole story. I am quite certain the people on my flight from Chicago to Idaho that evening back in 2000 had no idea what my children and I had just gone through.

    I will never forget the phone call telling me my father had suffered a massive heart attack and died. I won’t forget the frantic dash to the airline office to buy tickets out on the next flight. I’ll never forget stumbling through the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia airport with my barely-2-year-old twins shortly after.

    I won’t forget the first 7-hour flight to Germany, or the six-hour layover there. The next flight, a nine-hour marathon to Chicago, about did me in. And then there was the eight-hour layover in the Chicago airport that I, alone with my young toddlers, somehow managed to get through.

    By the time we got ready to board that final flight home, we were beyond exhausted. The three of us had been in planes or airports for 31 hours by then, and were a mere four hours from home where, I knew, we would find my grieving mother who had just lost her husband of 49 years.

    The attendants called for us to board and I had to disrupt my sleeping child to get on the plane. He didn’t take kindly to that – but what barely-two-year-old would? As I walked down the jetway toward our plane with one toddler in a backpack on my back and the other holding tight to my hand, I was exhausted beyond anything I had known possible, and the kid on my back was howling. On the verge of tears –from the overwhelming grief from losing my father, utter exhaustion, and frustration at being powerless to comfort my screaming son – I entered that plane.

    I made the walk of shame through the aisle as every single person looked at me with “the look.” On top of all the other emotions I was feeling came the sense of overwhelming guilt. I was about to inflict my screaming child on all those other passengers.

    Tears welled up in my eyes as I wrestled with my carryon and attempted to get my one child into his seat and my other child off my back. Life, at that moment, was about as low as it gets.

    And then an amazing thing happened. An older woman who was sitting across the aisle stepped up to help and, as I thanked her, I mentioned that we had been traveling for 31 hours already, with only four more to go. I told her that we were on our way to my father’s funeral.

    And everybody around me heard.

    Everything changed in that moment. Suddenly, people were compassionate. They understand why my son was having his melt-down. It didn’t stop his screaming, but once they knew what we had been through, they were more understanding.

    As it happened, my baby fell asleep as the plane taxied to the runway, and he slept silently the entire flight, but even if he hadn’t, I’m sure people would have understood.

    When you’re faced with a screaming child, take a moment to think. Think that that parent and that she’s probably more upset about it than you are. Consider that maybe, just maybe, that parent and her children had been 31 hours in transit on their way to a funeral. You just don’t know.

  20. A.Roddy Says:

    No we don’t know the situation always but parents need to step back and think. Maybe 2 yr olds aren’t ready for for such flights. If anything children like stability. Wagging them all over the world unnecessarily is exhaustion and disruption for them. There is no way my parents would have taken us on such long trips at toddler stages. Like i say it is a two way street. Just like when the parents of a 3 yr old got kicked off the Delta airline, think of how many people had somehwre to go in a hurry. Perhaps this cihld was just too young. There is other peopel beside syou in the world regardless of your parental status.

  21. A.Roddy Says:

    And this ‘everyone owes me atiude’ toward parenting is what causes the Jon and Kate Gosselins of the world. To no 14# we all have different likes a and dislkes. Where does it say we must like a certain demographic?

    “Parenthood teaches us some of the most powerful lessons about selflessness, self-sacrifice, and general caring for another human being more than oneself”
    If parenting is a cure for selfishness how do you explain the Gosselins like I mentioned? Britney Spears anyone? It doesn’t take being a parent to be caring and sacrificial. 1 in 3 pregnancies are unplanned. So it means most kids are not here because the parent actually wanted them.

  22. Trey Says:

    I have not had a problem with a child on a plane, but there have been plenty of times where there are adults that cannot handle themselves. I live in a tourist hot spot, and when I visit my parents in the Carolinas, the flight down is filled with tourists wanting to “have a good time”. No problem with children, just adults with copious amounts of alcohol. Remember that flight attendant that jumped off Jet Blue? Must have been quite the flight with so many children on boa…. oh wait… you mean there has never been an incident like this involving children? But so many complain about children. Could it be that some people just like to complain? Asshole adults on planes… now that is a problem.

  23. Trey Says:

    A.Roddy, I would so like to find someone like you on a flight and meet them in the airport after to explain the importance of not being an asshole.

  24. MrsMac Says:

    You had me right up until you suggested that I need to provide stickers, crayons or some other amusement to hand out to screaming children I may meet whilst travelling. I get that kids have their days, and that sometimes its all parents can do to keep from pulling their own hair out. I empathise and will tolerate that. I absolutely do not get why, on top of being understanding and patient (which is fair) I also have to make sure I carry around entertainment for your kid. You are on your own there.

  25. Lois Says:

    WOW…Apparently I live in a bubble, where people care about others around them. I personally know the author, and she NEVER would have expected ANYONE to carry items to entertain her children while they traveled. However, I DO know that she now carries herself small items to entertain OTHER PEOPLE’S children because she’s btdt with her own kids and knows how tough it can be. Nobody notices the kids who behave themselves, and the parents who do everything but stand on their heads to make that happen; but let one small person have a meltdown because they’re too little to understand and all of a sudden it’s headline news. What happened to grownups being grownups?

  26. Ava Collopy Says:

    I wrote that post when I was in a cafe with two moms with toddlers; the kids were practically screaming while the moms kept chatting with each other without any consideration for all of the people who were there and that is what I see a lot of.

    It ruins the whole day because it’s constant throughout the day; on buses and trains, at grocery stores, in the library, etc. If it happened once in a day it wouldn’t ruin the whole day.

    It’s funny that one of you said you saw my website and you thought my “whole identity” was in not being a mom. Apparently you didn’t notice the novels I’ve written, poems I’ve published, all the travel, that I’ve volunteered for charities/non-profits and given blood–partly because my mom needed a transfusion after a birth.
    YOU honed in on my not wanting kids; it was a tiny footnote at the end of a much bigger website.

    I mention it in my author bio to remind women that we don’t HAVE TO have kids. From early childhood girls are basically told, mostly by women, that we have no choice. It’s just a friendly reminder that there is a choice. Most authors with kids mention it in their bios so why shouldn’t I mention this?

    It says a lot about several of YOU that you automatically assume a woman who doesn’t want kids is riddled with psychological problems and will live and die a lonely, worthless life. Could you be more misogynistic? I think not. You’re two steps away from saying all women should go back to living in the kitchen, having no careers, etc.

    I’ve had friends with kids over the years from ages 2 through 20 and they were well-behaved, loved, and likeable because their parents did a good job, which is why I respect their parents.

    It’s funny that some of you thought I must have had an awful childhood; I said my parents told their kids where we were going, why, etc. so we never had a reason to act up. Do you people really think good parenting is child abuse? Apparently yes.

    By the way, literally thousands if not millions of people have had and are still having babies just to get on Welfare/public assistance. Then they don’t put effort into raising their kids right because they really don’t care. Let’s get real here–parents are not martyrs. You chose it, it’s your responsibility, you shouldn’t push the burden on everyone else, and that’s exactly what people do all the time–in person or through Welfare.

  27. No Way Says:

    No, I will not extend extra grace to children on planes just because I was a child once too. I was never a screaming baby on an airplane. So no. Just because I was a baby doesn’t mean I will extend anything to a child who is ruining a flight.
    No, I will not give haggard parents the benefit of the doubt. Why should I when your child is making my flight miserable? You don’t know where I’m going, how important it is that I be ready and refreshed when I arrive. You give me the benefit of the doubt and either sedate the baby or don’t fly with it.
    No, it would not be the “end of the world” to talk to the parent instead of giving a dirty look. If I say an “encouraging word” to the parent, they will be the one giving me the dirty look because nobody wants to be told that their special little snowflake is being disruptive, no matter how polite you put it.
    I’m not bringing things for someone’s baby either. That’s ridiculous. I’m not spending my money on toys and markers that are not going to help the situation anyway. Why don’t the parents buy toys and markers?
    I will treat children like people when they act like people.

  28. No Way Says:

    Also, people’s response to Ava is sick and a shining example of how entitled people have become, and how nasty people are towards those who don’t wish to parent. It’s disgusting. She didn’t say anything wrong, and yet you all responded to her as if her suggestions were to harm the baby. How dare she not want to be confronted with a screaming, kicking baby right? How dare she not tolerate your special little snowflake while he or she completely ruins all of the peace and calm on a flight? How dare she not agree to take on YOUR responsibility that YOU signed up for? (And when we say “YOU”, we don’t mean the author of the blog, we’re talking about the parents). Just because you chose to have children does not mean we have to endure harassment from those children. No.

  29. Ava Collopy Says:

    Also, when people let their kids scream, throw tantrums, etc. in restaurants, theatres, etc. I want to walk up to them and demand my money back; when I spend my hard-earned money to go out and they ruin it I’m entitled to a refund, and not from the establishment since it isn’t their fault. But most parents, most people it seems, are too selfish and self-absorbed to think about OTHER PEOPLE.
    I don’t talk loudly etc. in public places because I respect that other people are there trying to enjoy themselves and that we should all have respect for each other and try not to ruin an outing for someone else. Other people don’t have the same opinion, as evidenced by things like people having kids just to get on welfare, and they don’t have to pass a pee test to get the welfare money but people like me do have to pass a drug test to get the job that pays for their welfare and their kids.
    Furthermore, I see tons of parents letting their kids run around stores and touch everything even when they have snotty noses and rub their noses then touch stuff. First of all, someone could just run up and abduct their kids if they’re 2-3 aisles over. They should be kept by the cart (as my siblings and I were) for their safety and to keep the OTHER PEOPLE there from getting sick. And they should be at home resting—you shouldn’t drag a sick kid out.
    Also, little kids shouldn’t be out during afternoon nap time or after 7-8 p.m. They should be at home sleeping. I don’t have kids and even I know that so what the hell is all these parents’ excuse? That’s all just plain bad parenting.
    By the way, one poster here said they had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a time they were traveling and the staff and patrons around didn’t all come over and take care of their child and tend to their responsibilities for them. PTSD is NOT a joke people. War veterans and rape victims get PTSD; spoiled brats who couldn’t believe no one would come over and do all their work for them don’t suffer PTSD.
    I used to have a friend who’d been sexually abused by her family growing up. She might wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares—and THAT is PTSD. When you belittle PTSD you may as well be spitting in the faces of all actual, real trauma victims/survivors.
    And if parents are such wonderful martyrs why are so many of them child abusers? Have you ever watched Steve Wilkos’ show? You see things like moms pimping out their 14-year-old daughters. Being a parent, i.e. getting knocked up/getting someone knocked up and possibly through grossly irresponsible sexual behavior that clearly included unprotected sex, in itself doesn’t make someone a great person; more compassionate, more caring. Some parents are the worst people in the whole world. And most people aren’t raising the future presidents, judges, lawyers, and human rights activists of the world, they’re raising the future street walkers, drug dealers, and abusive spouses and parents of the world. Please come down from the pedestals you’ve put yourselves on and live in the real world with the rest of us.
    Incidentally, I’ve always believed no one should have any more kids until all the kids that are already out there are adopted. People run to fertility clinics selfishly obsessed with passing on their typically marginal genetics (as most of us have average genes after all) rather than putting one and one together, i.e. if you want kids and can’t have them and there are kids out there who want parents and have none you should adopt them. But no one would think like that because it would be UNselfish.
    And by the way, what if your kids act up the whole plane flight and there’s a brain surgeon on board trying to get sleep? You really don’t know what all the OTHER PEOPLE there are doing and should think about people other than yourself. If parents are so unselfish why are they dragging their young kids around and making them miserable in the first place? That’s thinking about themselves and not the kids.

  30. Ava Collopy Says:

    I’m currently working on a new book and website project to represent ALL different women.
    Submissions open through September 1st, 2014.
    Writing from or about women. ALL welcome to submit.
    Full guidelines here: http://allvoicesheard.weebly.com/

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