By Gregory K. Taylor
We’ve all been there with the screaming kid either seated behind us or outflanking us in an adjacent seat. The mom feverishly shaking, rocking, bouncing the little darling on her knee, while sticking her little pinky in the child’s mouth simulating a pacifier, and finally in an act of total capitulation, gets up and walks the angel up and down the aisle until the echoing passenger area returns to relative silence.
It’s bad enough that the flying public has to guard against propelled microbes unleashed into the cabin by sneezing passengers, and the incredible-shrinking leg room with the new “slimline” seats in steerage (think Titanic) that can bring about ones demise from deep-vein thrombosis, but do we really have to be subjected to an additional assault on our psyche from screaming kids?
Flying, for the masses is a painful, inhospitable, depressing experience--particularly, on long hauls of ten hours or more; and that’s after you’ve been meticulously stripped of the dignity you arrived at the airport with by the TSA inspection team and sent on your shoeless, belt dangling, bedraggled way.
You know the nightmare has just begun when you observe the numerous baby strollers parked at the gate entrance for “gate checking” and the reverberating gangway with the high-pitched plaintive voices of those little people who are impatiently waiting for the jostling adults to finish shoving, cramming, and squeezing their carry-on luggage into the overhead bin.
Once seated--the horror begins! The doors are shut and the head Flight attendant (with microphone in hand) states in a low foreboding voice, “Cabin crew prepare for takeoff.” The screaming babies are matched only by the crescendo of the gigantic-roaring turbines which are spinning at maximum RPM as the plane hurtles down the runway. Once you are free of ground effect, then and only then, is the bedlam truly grasped on your flight to perdition. Pay no attention to the illuminating/audio signal Call buttons on the overhead console--these Red Alerts can’t save you from the kicking assault to your spinal chord you’re about to experience. The Lilitputians have seized control of the flight for the next ten hours, so hunker down for the inevitable and take solace in the fact that you’ll book passage in the bilge of a container ship before you fly on a plane with kids again.
If the above nightmare seems familiar there are things you can do to possibly avoid such a calamity. Here are 7 suggestions that just might work.
1.) Although Ticket Agents can’t give you manifest information, you can ask if there are children seated near you. Most agents will provide this information. Some foreign airlines with fewer restrictions on information will give more specific data about your surrounding passengers. To my surprise, I’ve been given the sex and age of the person that would be seated next to me. So, try a little delicate diplomacy and you’ll be surprised the information you can glean.
2.) Avoid bulk-head seating—the first row of each section. Families with kids try to book these areas for the additional leg room and bassinet mounts (for diaper changes) that are sometimes provided on the wall.
3.) For flights of 3 to 5 hours, try to book the Red-Eye. Odds are you won’t encounter too many kids on these off-hour flights, and if you do the little darlings should be fast asleep in short order.
4.) Try to avoid seats in the very back near the galley, toilets, and crew resting area. Parents like to book these seats for the convenience factor, but for reasons unknown crew members state that babies cry more when they (the crew members) are trying to rest.
5.) Do book seats next to emergency doors where only able body adults are allowed to sit. In the event of a disastrous emergency the individuals in these seats must be able to unlatch the emergency door which precludes, in this area, the seating of children.
6.) Avoid seats near all lavatories. Parents take their screaming babies there for cry-it-out sessions not to mention the constant traffic of people.
7.) Of course, if one can afford it fly business or first class. One doesn’t see the average family flying with kids in these sections of the plane. Any crying babies that might be in first or business class are often taken to the economy class until the noise subsides. However, coach passengers are not allowed to take their screaming babies into business or first class.
I realize in today’s rat race adults are exposed to kids more than in the past. I grew up when we the kids ate at home avoiding restaurants and rode in cars to avoid public conveyances. My kids rarely ate at restaurants or flew in airplanes. Not that we couldn’t afford to do so, but I was always cognizant of my surroundings, and didn’t force my kids behavior on other people. That kind of thoughtfulness, like many other things, has gone out the window. It’s all about my needs and to hell with how it affects someone else. So, for those of you who would rather fly (or eat) in a peaceful environment, perhaps, you’ll find these 7 strategies useful.
If you have more STRATEGIES that the flying public can benefit from please add them to the comment section.