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Traveling on a Plane Without Children

Posted by Kristen on September 20, 2010 at 7:06 AM in Traveling
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240.JPGI was one of the last to board the plane last night. Coming back from a business trip we had attended together, Derek was on the plane leaving after mine. I was all alone heading home to our kids after a glorious weekend. Parted from my roller carry-on bag due to space issues, I headed down the aisle toward my seat, past several overhead bins with available space which would have been perfectly acceptable for my bag. I'll admit now that may have soured my mood enough to contribute to what happened next.

I climbed into my window seat past a gentleman who was chatting with the woman in the row ahead. I contemplated offering to trade seats so they could be together but something told me she was glad to be seated away from him. As I sat down, I noticed a family of four I had seen in the waiting area just a few minutes before were now seated a few rows back. The three- and four-year-old's bags were loaded with toys and activities for the three hour ride. I was glad it wasn't me.

They were in the midst of deciding who would sit where when the little girl realized she would have to sit beside her father and across the aisle from her mother. At about this moment, the little brother realized he could sit by his mom but not by his sister too. The children began to alternate wailing and sobbing. The noise was deafening. The plane door had yet to be closed by a flight attendant.

The man beside me groaned out loud. My heart sank to my stomach for the parents behind me. I heard her negotiating ("I can hold your hand across the aisle, see?" "Your sister can come over here with us in 15 minutes." "The rules say you have to sit in your OWN seat now but you can sit on mom's lap in just a few minutes.")

"Screaming kids. Great." My seatmate seemed very thrown by this turn of events. His companion turned around to look (as did several other people) and my seatmate declared, "I may have to violate FAA rules and wear my earphones for the first 10 minutes of the flight." Other people started to complain.

The frazzled mother piped up above the hum of the dissent. "We understand, people. If we could, we would change places with you. They'll stop crying in a few minutes. They just both want to sit beside me. I'm really sorry." I saw at least 3 other motherly-looking women snap their heads back in her direction along with me to give their visual support. My seatmate was not impressed.

"I can't even believe this. I can't do this."

Really? You can't do this? I instantly thought about giving birth three times and was somewhat surprised that two despondent children on a plane ride for three hours would be "undoable." Trust me. The last time I said "I can't do this," I was giving birth to a 9 pound baby. I can understand if we are two hours into a screaming fit involving a child with an ear infection that is losing his mind with pain, but these are two tired children that just want to sit with their mom for takeoff and it's not possible.

"I know," I replied to his latest concerns. "If only she would stop poking them with a fork."

He looked at me in stunned silence. I looked at him with the look of a mother who has had screaming kids on a plane and suffered the disapproving looks for things beyond my control. I glanced down at my hand and proceeded to insert one of the $ .25 earplugs into my ear.

Two minutes later the kids were silent. Ten minutes after takeoff, I got up, went to that mom and told her she was a good mother.

It was the least I could do. We parents have to stick together.


Amber writes...

Listening to kids cry is unpleasant. We all know that. But is it really necessary to make it even MORE unpleasant by creating a hostile environment? I declare that it is NOT.

Renee writes...

Good for you. Why can't people put themselves in other's shoes and show a little compassion?

Nicola writes...

You are ace. I thank you as a long distance train traveler who has had people comment unfavourably to her about her parenting.

Introvertster writes...


Liliana writes...

What we don't know, we can only judge. What we do know, we can truly feel for. We have had to take plane trips - 9.5 hours long- about twice a year for the past 3 years with 3 small children. EVERY time, we have been put in the path of at least one person that has helped us and truly felt for us. There deed will not be forgotten.... your compassion will go a long way =)

frogmama writes...

I'm glad you said something to the man and to the mother. She handled the situation graciously.

Devina writes...

Just were that crying child at one time.

Lisa writes...

The last time we flew, our kids were 4 and 5. Flying to Chicago was a bear. My husband and son were in one row, and had a plesant woman with them. My girl and I were across from them. Unfortunatly we had a gentleman who was not "kid friendly" on top of that he was a bigger guy, so she kept kicking him and that was with me holding her in my lap trying to get her to sleep. Now on the flight back we had an extremly considerate flight coorordinator. When we checked in she said, I notice u are traveling with toddlers, we have extra space in first class would you like to bump up for $20 more for each of you. That was the best money spent!! The kids were doutted on, only 2 people per row, our own first class bathrooms and the kids behaved the best they had all trip because they were happy (and this was. 5 1/2 ht flight)

Karen writes...

On Monday I flew 10 hours with my 16 month old and it was sheer hell! My husband wasn't with us and I got little support in any way! Thank the lord for the Delta flight attendants who saved my sanity!! A young German Couple sitting behind us snapped at my son twice which was shocking and upsetting!
At the end my backpack's zipper broke and by then I could roll with it..
At luggage one retired man said I did well with him and it felt so good to hear!
Where's the love??

Carrie writes...

See, this is why I've been stressed for three months about our upcoming 6 hour flight with my 3-year-old and my 15-month-old. They're good kids, but that's still a long flight and my toddler in particular hates to be still. Other passengers will be stressed for a few hours and maybe slightly inconveniences, but I've been worrying and planning and fretting since we bought our tickets. I wish travelers without kids would give parents more grace. We are trying our best! Good for that mom for speaking up and good for you for reassuring her!

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