“A few weeks ago, Malaysia Airlines announced that it would ban infants from flying in the first-class cabin because other passengers had complained about squalling babies. And last February it was rumored that Virgin Atlantic and British Airways had been pressured to consider child-free zones and even child-free planes to appease business travelers who, according to a travel survey, listed unruly children as their No. 1 travel-related complaint.”
A Restaurant to Ban Kids Under 6 — Older Customers Complained About Rowdiness, ABC News, July 13, 2011, via Etiquette Hell, which I think is a little too tough on the parents.
Now, I have nothing against kids, but flying isn’t fun for me in the first place, so I would pay extra for a kid free flight. Or a flight with a sound-proof kid area.
When I flew back from Almaty Kazahstan in 1996 it was a 2 stage flight. The stress started when, at 3AM Almaty Airport time, Kazakh Customs noticed that I didn’t have an entry stamp in my passport. This was because the thugish driver who picked me up on my way in just muscled me through customs without getting the paperwork right. He probably thought he was doing me a favor. However, because I had a work visa stamp and the thugish driver who was dropping me off said something I didn’t understand, but probably went like “If you don’t put her on the plane, the next stop is the mental ward,” (I was very stressed by then, I’d been in Central Europe for 3 and a half years and Almaty for 4 months and y’know, I’d just run out of inner resources I think because I hadn’t heard my native language on a regular basis [I think this is why some exiles lose it] I’m from LA, I thought I was tough, I’m not tough), so they let me board. It was an 11 hour KLM flight and there were no kids on it. They showed “The Bridges of Mardson County” or whatever it was called, so I got to have a good cry on the flight.
So, we get to Amsterdam, yay! Amsterdam! It’s still morning on the same day I left, I’m exhausted, but the duty free mall is too awesome not to do a little shopping. I toy with the idea of buying some Chanel No. 5, but I just don’t like it so stick with my usual Arpege. We all get on the plane, I’m thinking about sleep, the plane is jammed with happy Dutch people going to Los Angeles. No sleeping for me. There was also an international pack of unruly kids keeping the stewardesses busy, particularily when the kids decided the door wells of the emergency exits were a good place to play. I wasn’t involved, but some of the better rested passengers set up a kid-monitoring relay to alert the stewardesses to when the kids were doing something particularly alarming (which was far too often). The movies were “Waterworld” which I kind of like no matter how much it sucks, and “Apollo 13” which should NEVER ever be shown on an airplane. Never. Anyway, I got home, HOME!, at noon the same day I left after traveling for 24 hours and proceeded to have jet-lag for 3 days. It was wonderful.
However, this wasn’t the toughest baby flight. That was a 9 hour non-stop LA to Heathrow on Virgin where there were half a dozen babes in arms in my part of coach. The stewardesses were surly on that flight, too. I think Virgin is overrated. On the way back, a steward nearly thew a family off the plane because they wouldn’t strap their toddler in her seat. They finally did and then she then ran amok after take-off and the flight staff had to get tough again. The in-flight entertainment wasn’t working, so I was glad I had a book. I’m not so sure I’ll be flying Virgin again because I think it was overpriced and overrated. I know they’ve got a good reputation, but I wonder why after those two flights.
Full disclosure: If I’m dining alone, I kind of enjoy a good view of misbehaving kids in restaurants. Though I know it’s a character flaw on my part, I find it highly entertaining.