The predicament is overwhelming: Aunt Sue and Nana and Uncle Rob have just been dying to meet that precious bundle of joy. Pictures uploaded on Facebook just aren’t close enough to the real thing, so during a lapse of what can only be explained as insanity, you agree to fly cross-country, baby in tow, to appease the family fan club.
That home for the holidays visit can quickly become a nightmare for both parents and surrounding passengers unlucky enough to be in the “scream zone.” The entire ordeal of boarding a high-flying Petri dish of germs and funny smells is uncomfortable enough, let alone trying to sleep or relax while an upset child wails in your ear.
So it may come as no surprise that a recent poll carried out by Skyscanner, an airfare comparison site, indicated that 59 percent of travelers would like a “families only” section onboard flights. A further 20 percent believe that the airlines should offer “adults only” flights where children wouldn’t be welcomed abroad.
Should an idea like this actually be put into motion? Have we become a society less tolerant of the nomadic family just trying to get to Grandma’s house? Or does the avid business traveler have the right to travel in peace and quiet?
Once a passenger claimed she couldn’t watch her son on the redeye to New York because she had an important meeting in the morning and needed to rest. She proceeded to wrap up in blankets and a pair of earplugs while her child kicked and pounded the seats around him, almost causing an instant riot.
Other parents, however, come well prepared only to be defeated by extenuating circumstances.
Another passenger’s daughter had what I refer to as the “catastrophic baby meltdown of 2007.” After countless tries with toys and blankets and bottles, I was handed little miss meltdown while Mom sought refuge in the lavatory for a few sacred moments.
Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she explained how all the things she packed for her little one was no consolation for her absent father, currently serving in Iraq.
Watching children board our flights over the years has heightened my level of patience to rival that of a saint. One must remember that public transportation is indeed public, meaning you will come in contact with a wide spectrum of people.
Some of our passengers have to understand that a well-prepared family might still encounter the disoriented child, afraid in their new surroundings, longing for a familiar habitat.
For those who feel their children don’t need boundaries and think it’s cute to watch little Timmy run rampant, think again. Not only is it irritating to other passengers on board, it can also be dangerous to let them loose in a dark cabin. This blatant disrespect pushes that 59 percent to corral families to their own corner.
Chances are “adult only” flights will never fly the friendly skies. So for those parents who think their children are someone else’s problem in a metal tube flying at 37,000 feet, may I suggest the bus?
Vanessa Gomez is the City Times copy chief