Should Kids Be Allowed to Fly?

Have you ever been on a flight with a screaming toddler or baby?  I certainly have.  My babies have even, at times, been the screaming culprits.  Thankfully, my children generally travel well. 

I’ve been embarrassed for other parents when I’ve seen them struggle with their toddler who didn’t want to buckle up when the fasten-the-seatbelt-light was on.  Honestly, I’ve also been annoyed.  However, since I entered the world of parenting five years ago, I have become more patient and compassionate of such situations.

It seems, though, that children get a bad rap when it comes to flying.  Who says that the young, honeymooning couple without kids, the elderly, or even the business man should get priority? 

For whom are these public flights designed?  I was shocked to hear that there was even a discussion about whether or not kids should be allowed to fly.

I understand that everyone wants to get to their destination safely and comfortably.  Everyone – including families with young children.  Without the ability to fly, these young families would instead endure endless hours of driving to their destination, or boating across the Atlantic.  Not always a feasible option.

Shouldn’t a little more consideration be given for every traveler?  That bright screen on the laptop might keep the baby awake across the aisle.  That tall guy’s long legs might be crowding your foot space.  Two other women may be telling stories so loudly with colorful language which you’d prefer your eight-year-old not hear.  

There’s got to be a way for everyone to fly together.  Here are a few of my ideas:

1.  Air travelers need to realize that since it is public transportation, there might be a few inconveniences.  Those inconveniences might include sitting next to a man who is taking up one and a half seats, listening to a baby cry for half of the flight, or having to stand in the lavatory line for 10 minutes.  Public anything means that you have to deal with the public.

2.  Parents should do their best to control their children.  This sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen parents who let their kids run up and down the aisle unattended, throwing things, and bothering passengers. Sure, there might be a baby who cries on the descent because her ears are hurting.  (Breastfeeding on the plane is a great way to curb this problem.) But toddlers shouldn’t be allowed a free-to-roam pass from their parents during the flight. Instead, parents should play airplane games and keep them busy.

3.  Notice a need that someone has and help them.  If an elderly woman can’t lift her carry on to the overhead bin, jump up and help her.  If there’s a single mother traveling with kids, at least give her a smile.  Better yet, play peek-a-boo with her toddler for a few minutes.  Keep your voice quiet so the tired business man can get some rest.  In short, have consideration for other people.

Public travel means we all have inconveniences and we all have obligations to help each other make the trip as comfortable as possible.  If you’ve chosen to take public transportation, such as a plane, decide to make it a better experience for all travelers by going out of your way to help others instead of getting annoyed or upset. 

And if you don’t like it, you should consider buying your own private jet.  :)


  1. says

    I don’t think there’s any danger of airlines barring children from flying the friendly skies. They’d lose too much money. But your tips on consideration should apply to everyone, not just people traveling with children.

  2. Richard Stooker says

    Hi, Jeri,

    I mostly feel sorry for the kids. If a trans-Pacific flight seems endless to me, it must feel like eternity for them.

    I have a hard time not running up and down the aisles screaming, so I’m surprised that more kids on flights don’t have to be physically restrained. In general, I think most of them do very well.

    I’d say that people who want to get away from the kids should just pay a bit more money so they’re sitting in business class instead of in the cheap seats :)

    Your plea for tolerance and consideration is good. The difference between flying and other public business areas is that if somebody bothers me for whatever reason, I can move away from them. I don’t have that freedom on a fully booked airplane. I’m sure that tends to make all of us a little on edge.

    Once on a plane I played peek a boo with a baby, but I must have bored her, because she fell asleep right after . . .

    Glimcher Realty Trust

  3. Jeri says

    It’s nice to know of some people who do things like playing peek a boo with a baby. That makes us traveling mothers happy. :)

  4. David says

    A good article, but ended rather confrontational with the “get your own private jet.”

    First, airline travel is not public. Not public like your local government subway and bus systems—those are public, funded with taxpayers dollars. Air travel is private. Therefore there is a real need by the owners (shareholders) of these private companies to set a standard of conduct. And that means no screaming, crying, babies/children. Hold on there Mom’s, put the firearms away for a minute; children DO NOT appreciate travel—they are MADE to do it. Grandparents, get off you backsides and go visit your grandchildren. Mom’s, stop showing your mother’s that you too can be moms by hauling you entire brood across the country. Children should not be allowed to travel until the can be expected to behave within acceptable social norms.

    So yes, travel by car IF NECESSARY. Then the crying, whining, constant arguing, bickering, cajoling stays within your family.

    • Jeri says

      Thanks for your comment, David. I think air travel is public in the sense that it involves the public community since it is a shared form of transportation. My children have grown up traveling, and I think they actually enjoy it. We are one of those families who travel with our children by air, mostly because it would be impossible to travel to North America by car.

    • Riley says

      I think that air travel is in a sense, public. I understand your argument but I am a kid,11 years old. I have flow over 100 times including some trans-pacific which is impossible by car. Most people that I know enjoy air travel, I even push for longer flights. I understand that it is annoying to hear a crying baby but I think families shouldn’t be grounded. If the family is willing to pay for it, they should get the seats.

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