No Apologies for Babies on Planes
March 8, 2012
by Matt Villano
© Flickr user jyri, CC Licensed.
Another month, another ridiculously counterproductive article about babies on planes.
This time, in an opinion piece on CNN.com, the tone is self-reflective, the author publicly pondering an upgrade to first-class with his wife and two-month-old child. Over the course of the piece, the dude hems and haws about offending other passengers, about violating some sort of unwritten rule. In the end, he practically apologizes for moving on up, justifying the decision in the name of comfort and checked bags.
Sure, the piece got people talking—more than 450 people commented on the post itself, and nearly 20 friends forwarded me the link within hours of the story going live.
And to be fair, the article references relatively current events relating to the subject of babies on planes, and attempts to include perspectives from physicians and travel experts such as Henry Harteveldt.
Still, this piece—like pretty much every piece on the subject—thoroughly ticked me off.
My pet peeve always is the delivery. The hand-wringing. The mea culpas. This whole notion that we parents somehow bend the rules just by bringing babies into the airplane environment.
Here’s my take, plain and simple: If an airline is going to sell me a ticket and I obtain that ticket in the same fashion as other passengers obtain theirs, I am just entitled to bring aboard my baby as others are entitled to “carry-on” potentially annoying stuff that Federal Aviation Administration regulations allow them.
Like a propensity for loud-talking. Or snoring. Or a knack for passing silent-but-deadly gas.
You don’t read essays by halitosis-sufferers, wondering if fellow passengers will “kill them” for rotten-onion breath. You don’t hear business travelers advocating segregated areas for passengers who insist on lunch of Indian food from the airport food court.
How are we parents any different?
Let’s be honest. In an age where Pan-Am is nothing more than a (pretty lousy) TV show, flying has become an exercise in patience. There are a lot of people, crammed into tiny metal tubes for long periods of time. Under these conditions, everything is magnified, for all of us. The sooner fellow passengers recognize that this reality applies to all of us, the better off we’ll be.
As for my family, we’re taking our baby, R, on her first flight next week. If she behaves, great. If she cries, my wife and I will do everything in our power to calm her down.
If we don’t put forth maximum effort to soothe the kid, that’s our fault, not R’s, and fellow passengers are more than entitled to hate us accordingly. But if we’re trying like heck and the baby won’t stop crying, so be it. Fellow passengers never will hear an apology from this father. They’ll just have to deal.