Why I’m in Favor of Kid-Free Flights

Photo: Thinkstock
Photo: Thinkstock

Every time the subject of children on airplanes comes up — which is a lot — people get very touchy. Even I went on a bit of a rant when Tuesdays with Morrie author Mitch Albom complained about being annoyed by kids on flights a while back. But guess what? I’m all in favor of kid-free zones on airplanes or even flights on which babies are banned, like a couple of airlines in Asia are implementing.

Not because I wish to accommodate those people who prefer traveling sans kids; because of us moms who have no choice but to travel with our kids. It’s hard enough flying with babies or small children without the added stress of being seated near someone who clearly wishes he were anywhere else.

Look, most parents of screaming babies hate being on that plane as much as the rest of the passengers. It’s awful being in that situation and unable to do a thing about it. What are you going to do: Lock yourself and the baby in the restroom until the “fasten seatbelt” light comes back on? Buy all the passengers a stiff drink as an apology? (I’ve heard of parents doing that, BTW.)

I’ve flown with my kids a lot, often by myself. I know it sucks to have the kid behind you crying or kicking your seat. I know it’s annoying to be showered with pretzel crumbs when the toddler next to you insists on opening his snack by himself. Let’s not even talk about diaper blowouts or spit up. But know this: that poor mom is probably doing the best she can.

But here’s something people should know, too: not everyone hates kids on planes. I have had the incredible good fortune to sit next to all sorts of kind strangers when traveling with my children. The off-duty pilot, who was extremely helpful and gracious about me nursing my baby inches away from him. The grandma happy to play peek-a-boo with a cranky infant. The purple-manicured teenager who held my son while — horror of horrors — I got airsick on an especially turbulent flight. Even the business travelers who helped me fold up my stroller so I could get through security without losing a child.

Thanks to these child-free strangers, the skies were a little bit friendlier for this frazzled, frequent-flier mom.

What experiences have you had traveling with your kids? What do you think about kid-free flights?