There are three parenting woes that top my most-feared list - lice, vomit and flying on a plane with my kids.
A trifecta of cringe-worthy experiences that most parents dread and most will likely experience.
Kid-free airplane passengers may think they’re the only ones who detest the idea of being seated beside a weeping wee one, but the experience is equally - if not more - terrifying for the parents of those fussy children.
I’m hesitant to bring my three children on an airborne long-haul, worried that a meltdown would make the flight unbearable for the surrounding passengers. The anxiety that this causes parents can be unbearable - anxiety that only occurs as a result of intolerant people who don’t realize that bawling babies are not a direct result of bad parenting.
Last February, a viral video was sharedby a passenger on a flight from Germany to New Jersey, showing a “demonic” child having a mega-meltdown mid-flight. As a result, frustrated onlookers placed complaint calls to the airline, begging for child-free flights.
Complaints such as this one are regularly making headlines, causing a debate surrounding the offerings of airlines. Should child-free flights be offered as an option, or should all passengers have equal access to all flights?
IndiGo, an India-based airline, introduced a child-free Quiet Zone, aimed at creating quieter sections for business travellers who are looking to get work done without the interruption of crying tots. On hearing the news, many parents protested the new zoning options, claiming “intolerance” and “segregation.”
While I don’t think sectioning off the plane into adults-only and family-friendly seating options would resolve the problem of child-induced noise pollution, I do think that the idea of child-free flights is worth consideration.
Offering a few rows to guests who are 12 years or older won’t make a difference when it comes to quieting a passenger’s surroundings, just like offering smoking and smoke-free sections would be counterintuitive.
But similar to family-friendly restaurants and adults-only resorts, I see no harm in separating the two based on personal preferences and lifestyle choices.
I once travelled from Vancouver to Florida, forced to fly with my puking, crying two-year-old son on my lap because our flight was full and the airline was unable to reassign our seats so that we could sit side-by-side. The worst part of the trip wasn’t that my child had suddenly become ill, it was the glares that I received from fellow passengers that made the flight so unbearable. No one was willing to switch seats and I felt isolated for an incident that was out of my control. Perhaps if those unfriendly onlookers had chosen to fly on an adults-only flight, my experience would have been more pleasant.
I take no offence to people wanting to separate themselves from children and would find it more comforting to travel amongst passengers who have openly opted to travel with families on board.
I think it’s fair for adults to want to travel without the burden of a boisterous brood and would personally appreciate having an option to choose based on my own travel needs.
Parents shouldn’t find the flight changes offensive - they should embrace the idea of unifying through a family-friendly flight option, lessening the opportunity for hostility and welcoming a change that could benefit all parties involved.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.