Kids Who Scream On Planes; What To Do, What Not To Do [Flightmares]

ACROSS AMERICA — Empathy for parents flying with disruptive young children only goes so far, some readers told us for Flightmares, Patch’s exclusive reader-sourced feature on flight etiquette.

Our question dealt with children who throw shrieking tantrums, not crying babies who have no way other than crying to express themselves. It’s become a polarizing topic, according to comments on viral videos that show misbehaving children.

One in March shows a man and his daughter who were kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight after the kid threw a tantrum during boarding. Another showed a shrieking toddler climbing on seats and running through the aisle on an eight-hour Lufthansa flight from Germany to New Jersey.

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In Europe, Coredon Airlines will have a dedicated child-free zone on its Amsterdam and Curaçao route, starting Nov. 3. A survey of 1,000 U.S. adults last year showed some widespread support for adult-only, child-free flights. And many are willing to pay a premium or the privilege.

But how do you handle it now? The answer is simple for a Milford (Connecticut) Patch reader. Nothing.

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“Feel empathy for the parents” of very young children, and especially those with babies, the reader said, adding, “I feel bad for the babies because their ears hurt and they don’t know why.”

An Across America Patch reader said that “unruly, obnoxious adults are the source of every terrible flight I’ve ever had.”

As for parents whose children don’t sit still quietly, “have some empathy and leave them alone,” the reader said.

Other Patch readers said it’s OK to ask parents to parent.

“I’m inclined to politely tell the parents that I’d appreciate some consideration and respect from their child,” said a Dunedin (Florida) Patch reader

“Speak kindly to the parents,” the person said. “If it persists, I get up and tell the flight attendant. If it still isn’t handled, I go to giving a bad review online.”

On a flight from California to North Carolina, “the flight attendant did nothing to the parents of the 5ish-year-old that was screaming at the top of his lungs and running up and down the aisle for a full 15 minutes, and then off and on during the five-hour flight,” the reader said. “Absolutely unacceptable.”

The reader left a review and pledged never to fly that airline again.

A Huntington (New York) Patch said flight attendants should be trained to handle the situation. “If you have something positive, help out,” the reader said, “but be very careful.”

‘Start Shrieking Back’

“Jump out of the plane?” one Patch reader cracked.

The reader didn’t describe the exact situation that provoked the exaggerated response, but said, “It was horrible.”

What’s more, the reader said, “if I pulled that when I was that age, I got a well-deserved whooping.”

Control what you can, and prepare for what you can’t, other readers said.

“Ask if they have disposable earplugs,” a Chicago Patch reader said. “Then, before you fly again, lay in a supply.”

“I plug my ears with earplugs I always carry with me,” another reader. “I have sensitive ears and have difficulty with many noises.

“I don’t fly as often as I used to, but a crying baby has been on a flight with me,” the reader continued. “It makes for an annoying time, but it seems the baby usually quits crying in a reasonable amount of time.”

A couple of readers send non-verbal signals, including an Across America Patch reader who said, “My stink eye is withering” and claimed to have “had to use all my powers to find my zen.”

“I turn up my headphones and glare at the kids,” said a California Patch reader who describes flights with shrieking children as “awful.”

“Start shrieking back whenever they do it?” said an Attleboro (Massachusetts) Patch reader who was probably joking.

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About Flightmares

Flightmares is an exclusive Patch feature on flight etiquette — and readers provide the answers. It will appear monthly on Patch. If you have a topic you’d like for us to consider, email beth.dalbey@patch.com with “Flightmares” as the subject line.

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