Today I planned to write about a very different topic, but somewhere early this morning I got side tracked by an unrelated conversation with a friend that got me thinking about flying with babies (no, I am not having a baby … I’ve already have three kids, currently aged 5, 7 and 12). As I thought about the challenges parents face flying with babies, and the annoyances passengers face when boarding a flight with a baby on board, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote back in May 2008, written while on board a flight with a screaming baby.
Rather than rewrite a perfectly good blog post, I have dug it out of the archives and four years later the post still resonates as if I wrote it this morning.
So … without further ado … Flying With Babies, For Those Of You Sitting Near A Crying Baby……Deal With It!
As I sit on my early morning Southwest Airlines flight from Providence (PVD) to Baltimore (BWI) I am inspired to write this while listening to a screaming baby slowly calming down and (hopefully) falling asleep. I can see this little boy’s face red and puffing, he’s been upset since the aircraft door closed; his discomfort grew as we accelerated down the runway and went into full-blown uncontrollable screaming a few seconds after our Boeing 737-700 went wheels up. What catches my attention really is not that the front of his Lightning McQueen shirt looks damp from his tears, but that there are dozens of adult passengers looking at the parents of this child with an intense sense of distain, a look of fueled anger … but why?
We all know that babies do what they do when they want to do it. The baby is not seeking to anger the roughly 130 people on this flight, however babies don’t know how to deal with the air pressure and the pain it causes. We’ve all had our ears pop and it hurts, now try and remember what it was like to be a little baby and unable to express your discomfort, your natural reaction was to cry. Ever flown with a mild sinus infection? Do you know the pain that causes an adult? Now be a baby and deal with this massive head pressure pain.
I am sure every single adult on this plane cried so loud at some point in their life that they nearly cleared out a plane/train/bus/movie theater/restaurant/grocery store. Outside of this pressurized metal tube, flying at 500+ mph (800+ kph) at 30,000 feet, you can pick up your screaming child and rock them to comfort them. In most situations you can pick your child up and walk outside, but let’s be real here, we’re sitting in a plane with the fasten seat-belt sign on, somewhere around 30,000 feet flying out over the Atlantic Ocean, crossing Long Island Sound, then back over the Atlantic Ocean. Where do these angry adults expect the parents to take this upset child?
If you’re on a plane and a baby is screaming I understand being frustrated. Before you start giving the ‘death stare’ towards the upset baby and the parents think about this … don’t you think the parents are more frustrated? Don’t you think the parents are trying to calm the baby down? Don’t you think if the parents could comfort the baby they would? Can you envision being in their place knowing that you have a planeload of passengers all staring at you in anger?
If the sounds of a baby on a plane bother you, and understandably they are irritating to listen to, go out and buy yourself a pair of decent noise canceling headsets. If the baby gets louder just adjust the volume on your iPod. Having distain for the baby and the parents gets you nowhere.
So my advice for all of you flyers out there when you hear a crying baby is this … DEAL WITH IT!
Happy Flying … and I’m watching the little guy sitting in seat 8F on his Dad’s shoulder doze off, so hopefully he’ll sleep through our arrival at BWI in 20 minutes.