What to do about a screaming child on board, according to flight attendants
- Kids on airplanes has become a controversial topic of late.
- With each new report surrounding a disruptive child on an airplane, the debate continues: How should airlines, parents, and flight attendants deal with the situation?
- We asked some flight attendants to weigh in.
How airlines, parents, and crew handle disruptive kids is a mounting and divisive issue, Business Insider's transportation reporter Mark Matousek reports.
In February, a YouTube video of a toddler screaming, climbing on a chair, and running through the aisles during an eight-hour flight surfaced. Commenters' reactions were deeply split between criticism towards and sympathy for the child and his parents.
In March, a video shared on social media shows a man and his young daughter getting kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight after the child reportedly threw a tantrum during boarding. Southwest airlines said the family was placed on the next flight after "a conversation escalated onboard" between the crew and the passenger. Other passengers and some on social media have criticised the crew and Southwest for how they handled the incident.
As Matousek reports, the idea of airlines introducing "child-free zones" is gaining traction. More than half of the 4,000 travelers Airfarewatchdog surveyed in 2017 said families with children under 10 years old should be required to sit in a separate section of the plane.
Since playing the blame game rarely leads to real solutions, we asked flight attendants to weigh in on what they think airlines, parents, and flight attendants can do when kids are being disruptive. They had a few thoughts:
There isn't a whole lot the airline can do to stop the disruption
"Airlines can't handle disruptive children. Besides advising the parent that the kids need to talk quieter, sit down, or not kick the seat in front of them, there's really nothing we can do."
Flight attendants can sometimes compensate nearby passengers
"I'm not sure there's much that can be done with a fussy, over-tired toddler. I've seen it in action, and it's very difficult for everyone around. I give free drinks when I can, but not everyone drinks liquor."
"If a passenger is uncomfortable throughout their flight, they should definitely tell the flight attendants to see if they can be accommodated."
"Ask to change seats if there are any, use ear plugs, drink a lot of vodka. Crew can help to a certain extent."
Tell the airline
"If the flight is full and they can't change your seat, I would reach out to the airline and explain the situation to see if they will provide credit for their next flight."
Let the parents handle the situation
"Parents should always have entertainment and food for kids."
Parents should come prepared
"As an uncle who just traveled with his two-month-old nephew, the best strategy to flying with a baby is to get them fed and sleeping before the plane takes off and to make sure you have a pacifier to help pop their ears."
As should passengers
"Passengers should put on their earphones, listen to music, or watch a movie."
"This is why you should always bring earplugs and an eye mask! There's not a whole lot flight attendants can do besides politely tell the parent that their child needs to sit down or lower their voice. Parents have it hard flying with kids, especially on long flights."
Child-free zones probably won't work
"Whether you have a child-free zone on the aircraft or not, you're still in the same metal tube in the sky. There will never be an enclosed area due to security reasons."
And they may not be fair
"Parents shouldn't feel segregated for having children, and they're not the issue — the people who are bothered by the children tend to become more disruptive then the child."
Ultimately, everyone needs to be patient
"We all need to be patient with each other. Who can control a screaming child?"
"Babies cry — its a part of life. And sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. Give those mamas and papas a break.
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