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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Acceptable Behavior

Browsing the SFGate, I caught this article about a family getting chucked off a plane because of their ill-behaved 3 year old pitching a fit rather than sitting in a seat with a seat-belt on so that the plane could leave on schedule. What surprises me is the bias of the article. Ask any flight attendant about unruly passengers, and you'll get a host of stories, usually including one about a tyrant child and parents who pass it off with "just let him be a kid". Bullshit. First of all, families with small children get on first. They have all that extra time so that they can get settled. If the plane is 15 minutes overdue for departure, that means you didn't use that time wisely. And whatever happened to acceptable public behavior? I would've been on 1-2-3 notice in no time if I hadn't had my butt in the seat with the seatbelt on. No, the rest of the plane does not want to wait for your little darling to settle down and shut up. They want to fly to their destination, make their connecting flights, and get away from the screaming toddler. I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the plane didn't give the flight attendants a round of applause after they booted the brat and parents.

But this article makes it sound like the airline was being completely unreasonable. Hardly. They refunded their tickets and gave them free tickets on top of that. They were more than generous. And the parents should be embarassed that their child is such a brat rather than defending the behavior. Our modern lackadaisical parenting is the problem here, not the airline enforcing Federal regulations. In the past, children were expected to behave much better, and our current low expectations do no service to the children.

3 Comments:

  • When I read that article, I felt similarly. Either some extenuating circumstances were missing from that report or those parents are going to have little control over their child and more problems in the future.

    By Blogger Kim, at 4:58 PM  

  • Having flown with a 2-3 year old a couple of times now, I can say that not all airlines let passengers with children load first anymore. I believe AirTran is on of those. It has something to do with studies that indicate the quickest way to load a plane, I believe. Of course, those studies don't take into account parents who have to bring a car seat down an ultra narrow aisle, install the car seat safely (not exactly a quick procedure), calm an excited child down, as well as stow carry-on luggage and get themselves situated as well. As parents we've taken the position that if an airline doesn't want to let us load first, we'll then wait to load last so we don't hold up the other passengers who need to pass us in the aisle. But we can only go so fast when doing so. Sometimes we send one parent ahead with the car-seat to get it installed before the child boards. But that's not always practical.

    All that said, I totally agree with you on the well behaved child thing. Our son knows that if he's not quiet at the count of three he'll be punished (time out, loss of toy, etc). We're stern but loving. He also has an indoor voice and knows how and when to use it.

    The one thing we can't control is his feet kicking the seat in front of him. So we usually ask for bulkhead seats. But when those are not available, there is not much we can do. An airplane seat with a car seat in it, just doesn't leave much leg room for toddlers. They don't let kids sit in exit rows either.

    Still we're more likely to get comments like "I didn't even know you had a child in that row" or "What a well behaved child" than a flight attendant asking us to calm our child down or leave.

    By Blogger John, at 10:06 AM  

  • I have to say, having flown to New York and Hawaii, with the baby girl that, just like John said, not all airlines let kids board first. And, a connecting flight isn't always on time to allow you the opportunity for the early board if they did. Also, a child cannot ride in its own seat unless he has a car seat, and let me tell you that installing a car seat on a plane is a bitch and a half and takes 15 minutes for that alone. The part about not letting them hold the kid in their laps during take-off sounds a bit odd, though. A lot of airlines should let the kid sit on your lap if its not getting in a carseat, because all the pediatricians say to try to breastfeed during take-off and landing and the only way to do that is to have the kid on your lap. Now little baby girl has always been a good girl on the plane expect for the time that the old man in front of her lowered his seat so low that he was laying on top of her (car seats afford even less leg room for the kid...so little room, you can't even lower the tray), but what if she did throw a fit which 2-3 year olds tend to do?? What's a poor parent supposed to do in this day and age? We'd be arrested if we spanked the kid's butt and if you think that a "time out" is going to work on a plane, well, then you've never had to discipline a toddler before.

    By Blogger wendy, at 1:17 PM  

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