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Flying With Children - revisited.

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Is discrimination towards children on flights acceptable? where should the line be drawn?
11 years ago, October 31st 2009 No: 1 Msg: #91535  

But, I suppose I cant expect singles to understand what it is like for parents when the kids are taking up one ear with their complaints and demands, while the general public are taking the other with theirs.

I think my daughter is in fact all the bad passanger things rolled into one little bundle, making her the worst passanger ever to be stuck beside on a 10 hour flight. Amazing what love can make me put up with. Though, I seriously wonder sometimes why I dont just leave her at home so I can relax while travelling.



Quote by deleted_49612



I think drugging children on long flights should be acceptable - nothing that would harm them obviously - but - it's an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. A travel sickness tablet should knock most of them out for about 6 hrs 😊 (look for the ones with the drowsy side-effect Dimenhydrinate Diphenhydramine being the drowse inducing part...)

Snoring, farting, stinky, halitosis ridden seat mates - had them all - I get a window seat whenever possible - and if my neighbour isn't someone super interesting - I put in earplugs, eye-mask, pull up a hoodie - and pop myself a drowse inducing travel sickness tablet and sleep as much of the flight as possible. It's the seat kickers that are the only ones I can't ignore... which brings us back to children 😉

Mell - I have every sympathy for parents - it must be tough trying to keep everyone happy in situations like that. It sounds like you're one of the parents that at least tries.... the ones that don't are the ones that annoy me.



Quote by Ali



I have to agree with Mell here.

Now I have had a seat kicker behind me whose parents seemed to do nothing about it, not even to verbally chastise him, which is irritating. I will give anyone that! Seat kickers and those people who put their knees on your seat and thereby constantly shove it up and down are quite annoying.

But when one is not a parent, one thinks that the world belongs to single people and that one is therefore entitled to bemoan the presence of children (particularly those Western children who we don't photograph for our blogs) and their involvement in an adult world. However, this is a totally ethnocentric view of children, which I think is a bit ironic since this is a travel site which some might conjecture is for the purpose of expanding our own limited world views. Outside of cultures in much of Europe and the Angloworld, children are actually viewed as equally valid members of society and major contributors to the social atmosphere without whom life would just not be worth much, and it would be as shocking and rights-affronting to suggest that they just stay at home, be drugged on transport, or should be "seen but not heard" as it would be to make such a blanket statement about any other category of persons; say, women, or the disabled, for example. Can you imagine if someone made the same suggestion about women or the disabled? There would be rioting! The idea that children are a nuisance and not worthy of the same respect for their right to be vocal as we afford adult strangers (even if we think they are loud or obnoxious, there is a basic understanding that you don't have the right to tell them to be quiet) is NOT a universal ideal. Readers of this survey should recognize the distinctly North American cultural subordination of the "priceless but useless child" in these results, especially those readers on a travel forum.
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10 years ago, October 31st 2009 No: 2 Msg: #91546  
B Posts: 5,187
@Jen (partly playing devils advocate here)

It's not about the size or the age of the person - it's about the impact they have on other peoples' already uncomfortable journey.

If an adult behaved the way I've seen some children on flights - they would be tackled by an air marshal, cuffed and arrested at the next airport. But because it's a child - the rest of the flight is expected to ignore the problem. How can that be right?

In the majority of cases the child itself doesn't actually need to travel - it's there at the behest of the parent or guardian - who choose to travel long haul with a child when there are other options available - such as holidaying closer to home.

Maybe a solution is to just have age restrictions on some flights? - you want to travel with a child - then take them on a "family friendly flight" - which those without kids can avoid. Or put all those travelling with children at the front of the plane so that they can only kick other parents and children in the back of the seat.

Also acceptable behaviour for everyone changes in context - an adult who's actions would be tolerated in a public place - say singing loudly or jumping around - on a flight would quickly be requested to stop behaving in such a way - by both the flight crew and other passengers. Why does this not apply to children?

When I have kids - if they cause real discomfort for others travelling - I will sedate them - for the benefit of everyone including the child. Reply to this

10 years ago, October 31st 2009 No: 3 Msg: #91567  
Ali,

While I partly understand where you are coming from, I also think you miss the irony in what you say and how you completely corroborate what I previously posted. You say that the child doesn't actually need to travel (and depersonify the child by referring to the child as "it") when you completely overlook the fact that these "people" (presumably differentiated from children, not people) who are on an "already uncomfortable journey" also don't actually need to holiday so far away if they can't hack a) the discomfort of a plane and b) coexisting with others in a social environment!

What you suggest, even if playing devil's advocate, is shockingly discriminatory. You are first assuming that all children will be little terrors and therefore grouping all those little muskrats into one category with their parents, the evil spawners who had the audacity to think that they have the right to determine where their children go with them, rather than total strangers. Therefore parents with a perfectly well-behaved child should be sent to airplane purgatory, where they will be punished with all the seat-kicking those little impish beings will inevitably dole out, for being brazen enough to set foot on a plane with their child. (Who, by the way, are not all necessarily traveling for holiday purposes.)

More to the point, though, this is encouraging mandatory segregation of different social groups, based on the prioritization of one group over another, by saying that certain people should not have the same right to inhabit a particular public space as others. Assuming that single adult Western holidaymakers’ rights trump those of children's or other adults who happen to be parents demonstrates a real arrogance on the part of independent travelers....an arrogance of this type is one that most travelers on this site would probably be loathe to demonstrate in the third world where they would be viewed as culturally insensitive and probably racist and imperialistic (for example, would you suggest that women with children in Mali not be allowed on the same sardine-packed 10 hour minibus ride as you?), but we seem to deem it acceptable in the confines of our "own" society (which is arguable anyway if you are on a long-haul flight transversing the globe).

Yesterday I went into the card shop and a mentally retarded man came in and was singing a Backstreet Boys at the top of his lungs the entire time and unfortunately didn't have much of a talent for pitch. However, it really wouldn't be appropriate for me to suggest that he be kept away from the public sphere so as not to cause an uncomfortable shopping experience for me, to segregate him from the social atmospheres that we "normal" people inhabit. Neither does it seem appropriate for me to bemoan someone in a wheelchair getting on an already crowded city bus which is just going to diminish the standing space even more, even if it impacts my discomfort. Yet you seem to say we should apparently not have any extra understanding for people in different developmental stages than ourselves, like the disabled…or children?

What is really boils down to here is that whatever the travel offense -- a loud snorer, a chronic bathroom goer, or my personal pet peeve, the guy with a cold who ends up not only negatively impacting your 12 hour journey but your health for a week afterward (none of which, by the way, would be tackled and cuffed by an air marshal but can be just as annoying as a seat kicker) -- the complainer must really ask himself one thing. Who is the problem here, everybody else that I can't seem to deal with, or me? It is society that creates the "problems" of the child, the disabled, the racial inferior, etc. that one doesn't want to sit near, it is a socially constructed individual view that certain “problem” groups’ rights to mobility should be subjugated to the comfort needs of “normal” groups, and it is a uniquely societal view that an answer to these "problems" is segregation or medicalization.

(By the way that is a huge can of worms to open as well, as you will find many even in the West who are staunchly opposed to medicalizing children just to make adults more comfortable in their little adult world and to "ease" the job of parenting. I'm not convinced that putting drugs into a child would be for the child's best interest, but what you would do with your kids is your choice.)

I've had many an uncomfortable flight, and many an awkward, anger-inducing, and downright horrible travel experience as well....but at the end of the day, this is life, with all its fascinating and desirable aspects come the less comfortable and irritating aspects too. If you (not you personally Ali, but the proverbial plural 'you') are unhappy about it and can't find a way to change your own perceptions of the "problem" perhaps it is a sign to either a) find a different mode of travel yourself, like hiring a private charter so you don't have to deal with all those undesirable people mucking up your social world, or to b) stop traveling!


Happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy. -- The Dalai Lama



If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. -- Marcus Aurelius


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10 years ago, November 1st 2009 No: 4 Msg: #91577  
B Posts: 5,187
Jen - I'm not sure why you've brought Aurelius and the Dalai Lama into the discussion - just because someone doesn't enjoy being kicked in the back doesn't mean that they are not in a general state of happiness...

I agree with you that people who travel when sick are actually the worst offenders - maybe airlines should temperature test on check in? - or could this be shockingly discriminatory against hot people? - just because someone has a high body temperature doesn't mean they have a contagious illness... it's a pretty good indication though.

> "Yesterday I went into the card shop and a mentally retarded man came in and was singing a Backstreet Boys at the top of his lungs"

There is a huge difference to tolerating certain behaviour in a store - where you're free to leave at any time - and on a long-haul flight. I'm sure the person in question would be requested and then told to shut up on a flight regardless of any disabilities. It's about the context.

Proposing that parents with badly behaving children on flights should be allowed or encouraged to sedate the child with something mild such as a travel sickness tablet is in no way discriminatory. I'd suggest the same for anyone behaving badly in that context. In fact many adults already self medicate - encouraged by the airlines in the form of complimentary drinks - one of the initial effects of alcohol is a sedating and calming one.

Yes - suggesting that children and accompanying adults fly in a different section is discriminatory. But age based discrimination is accepted in many areas already - societies have age limits for driving, voting, etc not because all children of age 12 aren't capable or mature enough but because most aren't. Obviously not all children are going to cause problems for other passengers but many do.

For an educated person having a child is a choice, travelling with the child is another choice - they have made that choice - responsibility for the child's behaviour should be taken by them. Sadly, some parents refuse and I would support airlines if they took action to ensure it. Fines? Segregation? Refusing to carry people on future flights due to child's behaviour?

If an airline refused to carry children - would you travel on that airline when not travelling with your child? - I would. If the airline had the cheapest fare by far would that change things?


Forum discussions like this tend to make people polarise their arguments - my actual views are one of the many shades of grey that lie in between our posts - people that start complaining as soon as a child sits near them on a flight are as bad as the parent that makes no attempt to get their child to behave well. On flights I personally am only annoyed by the seat kickers - and I'm sure Marcus Aurelius would approve of my stoicism in that regard - but I will turn around and say something to the child or parent if it persists - usually - "Hi - could you try not to kick my seat?"
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10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 5 Msg: #91705  

Now I have had a seat kicker behind me whose parents seemed to do nothing about it, not even to verbally chastise him, which is irritating. I will give anyone that! Seat kickers and those people who put their knees on your seat and thereby constantly shove it up and down are quite annoying.


This reminds me of a teenage girl who was sitting behind me on one flight. My seat was broken, so wouldnt lock into any position. The girl was leaning her knees on my seat, so everytime I moved in any direction her knees on the seat would push it forward. After a while I turned around to ask her to put her to take her knees off my seat. Before I took a breath to say it, she told me I am to make up my mind about which way I want to sit. :0. I said, ''look, this is my seat, and it is broken, so would you take your knees off it. '' She took her knees off the seat, for the rest of the flight, but tried to bitch about me, with the other teenage girls sittting in her row. At least they had the good sense to not to get in the middle of it.
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10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 6 Msg: #91707  
About children: I totally agree with what Jen says in Msg 14. As well as that, our societies are set up to a large extent for the protection of family units. Childless people, especially the double incomed with married persons tax breaks often forget that they are profiting from a system that gives them an income that is really geared towards supporting a family. Instead of appreciating the great financial luxury this gives them, they often take it as their due, and even resent how much families are costing tax payers, and also even resent the presence of other adults with little children in any public place they go. It is a great pity that as countries become wealthier, they tend to breed this self centred attitude. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 7 Msg: #91708  

When I have kids - if they cause real discomfort for others travelling - I will sedate them - for the benefit of everyone including the child.


I used to be childless and single, so I know where you are comming from with this comment. But, what you dont realise yet is just how often you would need to sedate your kid/s for the sake of keeping everybody happy. Neighbours, churches, restaruants, supermarkets, even kids being noisy in playgrouds will cause complaints..... As for drugging them, to convenience yourself" Well, it wont be just for one night, you will have not only weeks of broken sleep, you will have months of toddler tantrums, you will have the every day in and day out of the usual child chaos and noise in your house..... Your tolerance for noise, demands on your attention, mess... will be tested to the limits. When you have had several hours of this, before you even board the plane, will you be able to push almost beyond your patience boundries to respond to that single on the plane who is ''politely'' suggesting that you drug your kid? This is what we as parents have learned to do. Most of the time we manage to calmly respond, at other times it is all too much so we put out heads down and tune it all out, as well as the added critisism about how how horrible our children are and how we are not doing anything about them, out of ''lack of consideration''. You would need to drug your kids for years, if you want to be comfortable.

Yes, you could leave them at home. But remember that you and your partner will likely take a big dip in income after you have children. One of you is not going to be working or working a lot less or else there are childcare expenses and babysitter expenses. Leaving our kids at home with a babysiter so we can have a romantic night out, or a nice quiet plane ride is an infrequent luxury for most of us. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 8 Msg: #91710  

But because it's a child - the rest of the flight is expected to ignore the problem. How can that be right?


Because children cant be expected to control their emotions as skillfully as an adult can(or potentially can).

In the majority of cases the child itself doesn't actually need to travel - it's there at the behest of the parent or guardian - who choose to travel long haul with a child when there are other options available - such as holidaying closer to home.


You as a passionate traveller will probably already be able to imagine the sense of fulfillment and pleasure you would feel at introducing the world to your little girl or boy. Travelling with them is not easy, but we only get one chance to include ourselves in their childhood.


Or put all those travelling with children at the front of the plane so that they can only kick other parents and children in the back of the seat.


It is one of the greatest senses of relief, when parents board a flight and discover that they are sitting with others with kids, instead of a single.
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10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 9 Msg: #91720  

What you suggest, even if playing devil's advocate, is shockingly discriminatory. You are first assuming that all children will be little terrors and therefore grouping all those little muskrats into one category with their parents, the evil spawners who had the audacity to think that they have the right to determine where their children go with them, rather than total strangers. Therefore parents with a perfectly well-behaved child should be sent to airplane purgatory, where they will be punished with all the seat-kicking those little impish beings will inevitably dole out, for being brazen enough to set foot on a plane with their child. (Who, by the way, are not all necessarily traveling for holiday purposes.)


All kids go through difficult stages, and some have difficult temperaments. It is a fact of parenting. There are some parents who claim it is not so, but I wonder if they may be giving what they consider to be the socially acceptable opinion. The parents with the unruly kids need the patience of other passanges even more than any other parents do.
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10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 10 Msg: #91724  

Who is the problem here, everybody else that I can't seem to deal with, or me? It is society that creates the "problems" of the child, the disabled, the racial inferior, etc.


My personal theory is that the reaction adults have to child behaviour is not the same as racial etc prejudice. I think, it is unresolved feelings comming up from their own childhood that cause them to overreact to parents and little children. Feelings that started when their parents did not have enough attention to give them etc, because there is at least one childhood memory every adult has of when their parents could not or would not give them all the attention they wanted or needed at a particular time.
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10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 11 Msg: #91727  

....the complainer must really ask himself one thing. Who is the problem here, everybody else that I can't seem to deal with, or me?


That is a good question. We as parents also have an opinion about whether it is our children, or somebody else who is the problem. I think many unknowingly aggrivate an uncomfortable situation, and make it intolerable.

.... but what you would do with your kids is your choice.


I am not so sure that things like that should be completely our choice. There is a point where doing what we want with our children can cross the line to abuse and/or neglect. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 12 Msg: #91729  

For an educated person having a child is a choice, travelling with the child is another choice - they have made that choice - responsibility for the child's behaviour should be taken by them. Sadly, some parents refuse ....


Not much I can say to this, except it is a way too simplistic view to put on it. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 13 Msg: #91731  
12 posts merged into this topic from: Who are the worst airline passengers? Reply to this

10 years ago, November 2nd 2009 No: 14 Msg: #91791  

10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 15 Msg: #91793  
B Posts: 5,187
Mel > "But, what you dont realise yet is just how often you would need to sedate your kid/s for the sake of keeping everybody happy. Neighbours, churches, restaruants, supermarkets, even kids being noisy in playgrouds will cause complaints..... As for drugging them, to convenience yourself" Well, it wont be just for one night"

I do realise and I wouldn't propose sedation in these situations - a long-haul flight is a special situation - no one can leave, it's stressful for many and the impact of bad behaviour/noise is amplified hugely due to the close proximity - it's not comparable with any of the other examples. It wouldn't be just for my convenience either - but the flight crew, the other passengers and even the child - it's much better to sleep through 8 hours of flying that to stay awake. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 16 Msg: #91801  

It's not about the size or the age of the person - it's about the impact they have on other peoples' already uncomfortable journey.



Ali's quote sums my opinion on this perfectly. I have no problems with children sitting near to me - once when working on my laptop on a flight, a curious child kept looking in my direction, so I spent the next half hour showing photos stored on my computer of different parts of the world. I've done the same with adults as well -for me it is equal treatment. Generally, children and adults sitting near me have been well behaved throughout all of my flights, but their have been exceptions.

Anyone who is noisy for prologned periods where I am in a confined space and cannot escape, then it is a big issue for me - it is irrelevant of their age, ethnicity or any other factors. Usually I just put my noise-supression in-ear headphones and play my music, but sometimes it is not possible (take off, landing, or I am watching a movie and the provided headphones are not noise surpressing).

Thankfully, I have never requested to move seats or to tell someone to be quieter on a flight - but there have been occassions when there has been a continuous ruckus at the other end of the cabin and I thought "If I was sitting nearer to that row, I'd be requesting another seat."

The underlying issue here is of parents disciplining their children. I do not have children, but my two youngest brothers are 9 and 11 years younger than me, and so when I was a teenager I needed to praise and berate my younger brothers at many different times for their behaviour - and even when they misbehaved (which usually did occur) it would not be for long. They both knew that any prolonged period of bad behaviour would result in consequences from my parents. There are some children out there who know no such consequences for their actions, and this is where problems occur.

I can understand that for some children (and adults) flying can be uncomfortable - especially with the air pressue blocking ears, causing dry throats and the like - but I put this into a separate category to those people whose behaviour is plainly inconsiderate or ignorant to those around them - and their age is of no consquence. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 17 Msg: #91825  
I would never drug my child for the convience of myself or others.

I wouldnt mind though, if all the parents are put in a certain part of the plane. In fact, it would be a relief. People complaining, more than doubles the already exhausting job of parenting.

I also understand why Jen would be opposed to this segregation. I consider it to be less than ideal, because isolation is the greatest cause of depression in women, and depression does not make us better mothers. Also, children need a lot of attention and the more adults that provide the better. As in, 'It takes a whole village to bring up a child' philisophy. But, being constantly harassed in an child unfriendly society is not good for either parents or children, so sad but true that segration is the best option available to us.

I do realise and I wouldn't propose sedation in these situations - a long-haul flight is a special situation - no one can leave, it's stressful for many and the impact of bad behaviour/noise is amplified hugely due to the close proximity -


But, you mentioned before that you use ear plugs, eye mask, drug yourself .... during long haul flights. Surely, this is enough to dull even the effects of the seat kicking? I think, you might be letting kids bug you a bit more than they warrent.

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10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 18 Msg: #91841  

There are some children out there who know no such consequences for their actions, and this is where problems occur.

I can understand that for some children (and adults) flying can be uncomfortable - especially with the air pressue blocking ears, causing dry throats and the like - but I put this into a separate category to those people whose behaviour is plainly inconsiderate or ignorant to those around them - and their age is of no consquence.


I dont think random passangers on flights should make sweeping statements about random parents and children who are also on the flights. Basically, if the only contact you have with these parents and children is on this one flight, you dont know anything about them, the cause of their childrens behaviour or their parenting techniques.

...I do not have children,..[/quote
Exactly! And you cant base your opinions about what should be done on childhood memories. You have to be in a real parenting situation to have a realistic view of what can and cant be done.

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10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 19 Msg: #91861  
I take you point Mel - and do agree even the best parents can have days when there children become uncontrollable and vice-versa. I've seen my friends' angelic children having horror days - it happens to the best of them!

Just a point of clarification re my memory of having young children around - this is a very clear memory and not a distant childhood one. When I was 20 years old, my two brothers were aged 11 and 9. My father was away a lot on business and thus the two older children (myself and my sister who is 2.5 years younger) had to share the duties with the two youngest ones. It gave both my sister and I a strong understanding of the pressures and work involved in being a parent - and that pressure and work is very, very considerable.

Interestingly, neither me nor my sister have any children, nor is it our intention. We discussed this a few years ago and the reason for our decision was the same - we both knew of the immense work involved in being a parent and each decided on pursuing a different course in life.

So it may not have been an actual parenting situation that my sister and I were involved with, but it was much closer than many people would presume. Reply to this

10 years ago, November 3rd 2009 No: 20 Msg: #91863  

Interestingly, neither me nor my sister have any children, nor is it our intention. We discussed this a few years ago and the reason for our decision was the same - we both knew of the immense work involved in being a parent and each decided on pursuing a different course in life.


There is more to it, than immense work. If it was just immense work, it would not be worthwhile for any of us.

So it may not have been an actual parenting situation that my sister and I were involved with, but it was much closer than many people would presume.


Not, Is not, Not, Is not..... I will break this chain now, by not putting forward another argument.... :D 😉

Having or not having children is a choice everybody should have. I dont really understand when people want to remain childless, but I dont have to. I know childless people who have actually had themselves sterilised in their 20s. I wanted to be sterilised after having a baby because one is enough, but I certainly would have felt that something is missing if I had no children at all.

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