Having just returned from my fifth commercial airplane trip with young children, I feel like I’m starting to get a hang of flying with kids. I’m also, begrudgingly, starting to get used to how people respond to me while traveling.
Most of the time, traveling with young kids makes me feel like a pariah. People cringe when they see they are on a flight with me and my young children. They cross their fingers and hope they aren’t near us on the flight. They pray there won’t be crying the whole flight.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really lovely people on our flights. A woman behind me on our last trip actually complimented me on how nice my children were on the flight (miracles do happen!). Another couple of older ladies chatted with me about my kids and were quite pleasant to talk with.
Then there are the other people.
The people who glare at me when my children are anything but totally silent. The irritated glances from people sitting around us when their seats get bumped. The woman who gave my son and nephew a cranky look when they were playing at the gate (we weren’t even on the plane yet people!).
And then there are the extremely rude fellow travelers.
Upon entering the gate on our return flight, an older woman stopped me to say: “Excuse me! You were sitting behind us on our flight over here and your children kicked our seats the whole time. If you’re traveling with other people, we would like to switch seats with them.”
After 45 minutes of my 15 month old screaming on a flight, I finally gave up trying to calm him in our seat. My husband stood up to distract him elsewhere, and people around us clapped. They actually clapped. I almost died of mortification. On that same flight, one woman thought it was helpful to constantly glare at me and press her hands over her headphones dramatically.
Or the couple walking past my husband as we deplaned, “The last thing I wanted to do was sit next to some woman yelling at her kids the whole time.” Well people, I guarantee the last thing that lady wanted to do was yell at her kids the whole time!
I’ve sat around other children on flights before. Are they the best seatmates? Of course not. Did my seat get kicked over and over? You bet. But what makes people think that children and parents don’t have an equal right to be on the flight? Since when does going out to a public place (like a restaurant, a mall, or an airport) guarantee that you won’t have to be around kids or noise?
Frankly, I’m sick of it. I paid for my seats just like everyone else on the flight. And I deserve to go on a vacation, as do my children! A seat in coach doesn’t mean that you won’t be disturbed by other passengers (I certainly didn’t love sitting near whoever was passing gas the whole flight). And if you buy a seat on any public commercial flight, you will probably sit by, oh, I don’t know, someone you don’t know who might have children. Sorry, but that’s how life works.
If you want a new seat, go ask the airline people at the gate. It’s their job. Don’t shame the poor mother that is just trying to survive with her children for the day. Have a little compassion and just the teensiest amount of empathy.