Guest Post: Does Travelling With Kids Deserve All the Bad Media?
When my family walked on to the plane to Barcelona last summer we were extremely disappointed (to put it mildly) to see that it was an old plane with no in-seat entertainment. Seven hours without movies or TV, how would our kids survive? But the plane load of families survived, I can't even recall hearing any child cry for more than two minutes. But yet, the story you usually hear in the media is how people hate flying with kids. Why is that? My friend and travel writer, Corinne McDermott, the founder of Have Baby Will Travel, wonders too in her guest post.
Another day, another baby on a plane story. The most current headlines involve two-year-old Natalie Vieau and her family being booted off a JetBlue flight departing Turks & Caicos for Boston.
It seems that the toddler had a temper tantrum and the parents were struggling to get her into her seat. The pilot chose to kick them off and they had to spend another night away before returning home.
Maybe I'd consider this more newsworthy if JetBlue was reimbursing the Vieaus the $2000 they're out of pocket for additional airfares and hotel expenses, and apologizing for the captain's overreaction in removing them from the aircraft.
I'd even consider it newsworthy if tantrumming toddlers were a leading cause of delays and flight crew assaults like alcohol abuse or smoking. But babies are thrown off planes for such egregious acts like breastfeeding and saying "Bye bye plane". And while she may have held things up like former fellow bootee, 3-year-old Elly Kulesza, ultimately Natalie was subdued and seat belted by her parents. Still, they were asked to deplane.
The reason this is headline news is because stories about flying with babies and toddlers generate plenty of (often hateful) comments and ratings. Lots of people have a story about when they flew with an annoying child. But what about all those flights when the children are quiet and fun to be with? We never hear about those, and they are the norm.
But since the discussion about how horrible kids it is to fly with kids are in the mainstream media outlets, they’re starting to discourage new parents from the idea of travel, and instill fear in those who must travel with their babies to visit family or for work.
Over the past five years, I've flown with a person under three feet tall more times than I can count, and I'm pleased to report that the skies are still friendly. Nobody has been outwardly rude to me. Ever. Aside from the odd grimace when they see us coming, flight attendants and fellow passengers have been helpful and polite. Friendly, even!
That time both kids unleashed a tsunami of vomit all over us? Our seat mate on the aisle (I was flying solo) offered sympathetic smiles and tissues. Deplaning passengers offered verbal encouragement while I continued mopping us and our vicinity up. We didn't smell good, but people were kind to us anyway.
Over various flights, my kids have been engaged with countless rounds of peek-a-boo, nursery rhymes, and clapping games – all unsolicited but definitely appreciated.
And it's not just me. My community of family travel writers all eagerly shared tales of "angels in the sky" and helpful and kind fellow passengers, flight attendants, and even off-duty pilots.
Flying with babies and toddlers is work. But it's not the Hell it's made out to be - for parents or for seat-mates. And the work results in beautiful memories that will last forever. I remember my baby slaswon waving at a palm tree that was swaying in the breeze in Cuba. I don't remember being a human jolly jumper for three hours on a plane to get there. Well, I guess I do - but it was totally, totally worth it.
Corinne McDermott is a mama of two and the founder of Have Baby Will Travel – with a mission to inspire, motivate, and help families travel with babies, toddlers, and young children. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about a mother who went a little overboard and sued her preschool.