I wonder if it?s FAA regulations to have a screaming child on every single flight, or just the ones I?m on. I dread getting a flight almost as much as I do going to the movies and for pretty much the same reason. Small children. I accept that not every 5 year old-or-under on a plane shrieks for no apparent reason, but the well-behaved ones are rare. And even then, I don?t really get to enjoy the silence because I?m all tensed up waiting for them to start.
Where are all these flying families coming from? That’s rhetorical, I’m not looking to find geographical patterns. What happened to family road trips? I understand that they take longer and are probably far more gruelling for you parents. But having offspring was your choice. Every flight I’ve been on recently has had at least 3 separate sets of small children/strollers,etc at the pre-board point. On Southwest, pre-board is great because once you get on, you can map out where the squealers are and sit as far away as possible. Or so you think. Just before the doors close, another 6 sets appear miraculously and take all the seats around you, so you can be assured of surround sound.
And what is it about being a parent that makes you totally oblivious to the level of noise and disruption your kid is causing. It’s only freedom of expression if it’s in your own home or among people who think yours is as cute as you do. A low sshhh, whispered after 5 or 6 random high-pitched squeals is as ineffective as smacking your dog on the nose with a newspaper after it’s done something wrong. Though smacking a child on the nose with a newspaper may yield better results
Sometimes the noisy little fucker in front of me will stand up on its seat and look back and stare at people. The stupid passengers wave and pull funny faces. Not me. I stare right back, right into their eyes with the meanest scowl I can pull off. Clearly the message I?m trying to communicate is shut the hell up, but that doesn?t necessarily come across and the resulting cry-baby tears are as annoying as the indiscriminate yelps.
Here?s the ?back in my day? bit. Back in my day, I ..well..I wouldn?t have traveled by plane because they hadn?t been invented at that point. My mother was still terrified of frozen pizza when I turned 15. But, had we flown when I was little (or indeed any age) I would have been strapped in, given a book that was way beyond my years and expected to keep conversation to a minimum. What harm did it do me? Apart from making me uptight, aloof, embarrassed and socially awkward in a group.
My suggestion and indeed solution is very simple. Sedation. People used to sedate their dogs before putting them on a flight, not so much now since a few of them didn’t wake up which is awful, but look, I’m not advocating putting the children in a cage in the hold. I’m perfectly willing for the child to be in its seat (cage optional) but gently sedated. How much more pleasant an experience this would be. The child would sleep through blissfully, the parent wouldn’t have to bring an extra suitcase full of crap to keep them amused and the rest of us wouldn’t have to jam on headphones the moment we take out seat and increase the volume to ear-splitting level to drown out the howling.
The only other irritation to deal with would be the cell phone users who are so important that they have to be on the phone right up to the point of take-off on their 45 minute flight and immediately back on it the moment they land. “Yeah hi, yeah just landed. Yeah, on the tarmac. Yeah, just pulling up to the gate. Yeah, unbuckling my seat belt.” Wanker. Give their seats to the dogs and shove them in the hold.