Frequent traveller: Baby blues

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  • Anonymous


    In which our correspondent makes a special request to parents travelling with their children – strap them in and shut them up…

    Before we begin, may I state for the record that I don’t have a problem with children – especially when they are muzzled. Believe it or not, I was once one myself, and were I not one of those abhorrent women that decided they preferred globe-trotting to babysitting, I may even have tried motherhood out.

    No, it’s children who interrupt my travelling life that I have a problem with – or, more specifically, the parents of such children, who as I see it fall into the following categories:

    The hard-of-hearing parent

    You all know this one. Presumably listening to little Crispin or Flora scream their way through their infant years has affected the hearing of this mum or dad – why else do they feel the need to speak to their child at the top of their voice, subjecting everyone else to the minutiae of their lives?

    Take the mother I recently encountered on board, who bellowed in a ridiculous baby voice: “Has Raymond done a poo? Yes, I think you have! What a clever boy, to have done a big poo!” I know your child has defecated, because I can smell it. Stop talking, take him to the toilet and why don’t you create a five-strong queue while you’re at it, as you attempt to clean him up in an area you couldn’t swing a hamster in?

    The overindulgent parent

    Typified by the mums and dads who buy their toddlers a Trunki. You know what Trunkis are – those stupid little pull-along cases that let your little darling think they are a bone fide member of the travelling public. Yes, let’s take up all the space in the overhead locker with a plastic monstrosity in the shape of a Gruffalo containing nothing but a teddy bear and a colouring book. What a brilliant idea.

    But have you ever seen a child looking after their own Trunki? Of course not – after spending the flight crying until they vomit, banging the back of the seat in front and getting up and down to the toilet every ten minutes, they have tired themselves out. So instead you see these parents trudging towards immigration with their kid in one arm and dragging the Trunki along with the other – tripping up any unobservant travellers while they’re at it. Magic.

    The school-dodging parent

    Folks, you have 12 weeks of the year to whisk your children off around the world. That’s 84 days, or 2,016 hours, or 120,960 minutes. This I know, and if I am honest, try to plot my trips around if possible, so I am not besieged by bratty kids in the airline lounge or deafened by them on the plane. So why, oh why, do I then find my peace disturbed in term time by harassed parents with red-faced, sombrero-sporting munchkins in tow? Are you too posh to holiday with the hoi polloi, or too cheap to travel peak-time? Or are your little ones so clever that they don’t need to attend the whole school year?

    The queue-jumping parent

    Well, not strictly queue jumping, as airlines seem to think it’s a good idea to board people with kids first, along with the business passengers. So having paid a premium for my flight, I then find myself jostled out of the line by some overbearing mother with three wailing brats attached to her leg. Board them last when they’re less likely to hold the whole plane up.

    The make-yourself-at-home parent

    Yes, it’s lovely that business cabins are becoming more spacious and luxurious. That doesn’t mean you can use every extra inch for the entertainment purposes of your child. Take a recent flight to Asia, when one couple commandeered the space around the bulkhead as a play area for their boy. Toys and books everywhere, and after all that the child wouldn’t even sit still, running around like a sugar-fuelled lunatic. People, here’s a novel idea – strap them up in front of one of the rubbish animated films they clog the in-flight entertainment system with. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakwell isn’t on there for my benefit.

    The saint-like parent

    Still, they’re not all bad, like one father I recently encountered on board. I must admit I cast around for spare seats when I saw him and his charge plonk themselves down next to me on a flight home from Europe, but even I was impressed by the way he dealt patiently with the unending questions of his sweet but inquisitive boy. In fact, so heart-warmed was I that I swapped seats with the child so he could watch us come in to land. And then I leaned over and muzzled him.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Two words: play outside


    why make such a wonderful post anonymous?


    genius – so true though!!

    A couple of years ago I was on a flight home from LAX watching a movie. This kid appeared out of no where and threw an apple at me – hit me right in the cheek and gave me a faint black eye!

    Needless to say I was less than impressed especially since I got no apology from the parents – mainly because they were nowhere to be seen!! Kid picked the apple back up from my lap, giggled and diappeared off to the back of the plane.


    Obnoxious kids in business class

    There is an extensive forum on “obnoxious kids in business class” and this adds nothing to the debate. It is the usual diatribe from the “do you know who I am” brigade who do not pay for their tickets and yet happily criticise their fellow passengers for having the temerity of traveling in with those who will pay for their pensions in later life. I might add and who invariably pay their own fares and increasingly at no discount to the adult fare.

    No doubt the poster is remaining anonymous as he was the utterly objectionable individual in 3A on board a Qantas flight recently who threw a complete hissy fit as the doors closed at Heathrow. Why…well because there was a baby 6 feet behind him. He huffed and puffed his inflated ego to such an extent I thought he was going to burst.

    The infant meanwhile was serene and quite accompanied by her serene and composed mother who ignored the tantrum of the overweight and overbearing bore in front of her.

    He moved to another seat and 6 hours later the cabin was entertained, if that is the expression, to the sounds of his snoring and flatulence simultaneously.

    The infant slept; the mother did too, and had it not been for the bore in front, I think the other 10 in cabin might have had some sleep too. Alas it was not to be.

    When will we have a wheeze of a posting on just “the obnoxious in any class?” they outnumber kids by a country mile.


    I think I wrote a comment to a similar diatribe about 30 years ago – which dates me.

    There is every likelihood that many of these parents are more frustrated and stressed than you over the charges they have to bring along on the plane. Many of their actions and reactions can probably be explained by their concern and stress, not least bing afraid of generating venomous looks from “adult ” passengers who are so lacking in empathy that they cannot generate a minimum of understanding of the trial the child and parent can go through – stuffed in a tin box at low pressure for many hours.

    I typically, particularly from Asia, find up to several children – of all ages – spread around the Business class cabin. Very seldom do I find that they cause any nuisance, apart from what is natural to expect.

    Worst of all with the posting, it is just a venting of frustration without any goal or solution in sight.


    However many complaints there are about noisy children (and yes I have made some in the past) in the main they are from people who dont have any. Children = Noise is not always the case – as – Adults = “snoring and flatulence simultaneously” is not always the case.

    However, the day you dont hear a child crying or laughing at all,…… is the saddest day of all.

    Earplugs and “sleep enhancement” usually does the trick.


    @MartynSinclair – Nice response.

    Clearly this post was just to get a bit of interaction going. I’m in social marketing so I appreciate that one.

    Before I had a child I would have probably agreed with everything you said. However, as we all have to grow up (eventually) and have offspring of our own (hopefully) you too will eventually become one of the parents you so despise. The simple fact is that a child can be controlled up to some point but when they get tired you have no hope.

    I agree with @MartynSinclair in that it is also a cultural thing. European kids tend to be far more unruly than Asian kids. Look at all the ASBOS.


    Binman – We all know adults on planes can be as disruptive as the kids – I’m sure we’ve all experienced that situation!

    And not all flights taken by posters on this forum are business trips. It is a little annoying when you’ve paid 2k for a return flight and you are kept awake half the night by noisy kids.

    I know in that situation it’s generally no one’s fault – not the airline, kid or parent – but it doesn’t change that fact valuable sleeping/relaxing time (which you’ve paid a heavy price for) can be lost because of it.

    I just thought the post was well written and a bit of fun and clearly to be taken with a pinch of salt. I can’t imagine the writer really muzzled the child next to her!


    Oh what a refreshingly politically-incorrect essay! I’ve been lucky I guess, but I enjoyed the humor. I have been known to sweetly ask a loud parent if her child is hearing impaired, but only when I’m really in a cranky mood. For those of you who were offended, lighten up!


    Brilliant Anonymous. Totally agree.

    Please, now do an essay on ‘coughers’ and one on ‘two women talking loudly and incessantly for 9 hours’ (maybe I am not allowed to say that!).

    I came back from CPT recently in Club and had a cougher on the other side of the aisle, a snorer beside me and a screaming child behind me…and the flight was almost full. The CSD was very sympathetic and allowed me to sit on the crew seat at the top of the stairs for a couple of hours…just to escape the noise.


    What a load of tosh from a non-parent. Read the other posts on other threads. When are some of YOU going to grow up? As said elsewhere, it’s far more the egocentric so-called business traveller, who acts like a total prat and doesn’t even pay for his ticket who causes the problems.

    Rarely if ever have I had a problem with children. I found the posting offensive and typical of someone who has never been there. Grow up, BT. Idiotic and biased posting that is below your usual standards Tom.



    You missed the subject, Simon. It’s not about the children, it’s about the adults. Everyone deserves a comfortable environment – people of any age who make noise in publoic places need to learn some manners. Adults need to teach them manners, it’s part of parenting.

    I don’t know what a prat is, but thinking that business people don’t pay for their tix is really ignorant.


    With respect Judy, you don’t seem to understand the nuances of the English language. I need not comment further. You missed the point. Sorry I don’t have command of Hungarian to respond.

    I will say this. I own my Company. I pay for my tickets, in whatever class I choose. The vast majority of business travellers do NOT pay directly for their tickets as they don’t own their company. Quod erat demonstrandum.

    And please don’t call me or anyone else on this Forum ignorant. It is unnecessary and uncalled for.

    Regards. Simon

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