Last week a 2-year-old girl had a tantrum. Why is this headline news? Well, because, that 2-year-old girl and her family got thrown off a JetBlue flight as a result of her tantrum. Is this headline news because toddlers delaying flights is a real issue facing the airline industry, causing frequent disruptions and threatening the safety of flight crews? Well, according to this ABC News report, it has happened at least three times since 2007. Hmm. Is it headline news because stories like this garner hundreds of heated comments resulting in lots of page views for the news websites? Ding ding ding -- bingo.
In this most recent case, the Vieau Family was returning to Boston from the Turks & Caicos islands. With no other flight options that night, booking new airfares and an extra night in a hotel cost them $2,000. Turks & Caicos can be a pricey island, but because it's so safe and clean, it's very popular with families. When I flew home from there with my daughter, there were 15 babies on the plane. And you know what? One or two of them might have cried a little. Somehow we all survived.
That same ABC News Travel section had an article about alcohol on planes less than six months ago. In it, the author gives seven examples of passengers acting inappropriately on airplanes -- in some cases assaulting flight attendants -- and mentions that he "could go on and on." That article received a grand total of 17 comments, most agreeing with the author. I recall the series Airline on A&E a few years back, and while I don't remember any misbehaving toddlers or negligent parents, I think the drama, for most episodes, was a response to people drinking too much.
It's my guess that alcohol is the cause of frequent delays and threatens the safety of flight crews. Research by Britain's Civil Aviation Authority found that almost half of air rage incidents were connected to alcohol abuse. And yet there is never talk of banning booze on airplanes or at airports. (Thank goodness, since I do enjoy an inflight Bloody Mary once my children are safely ensconced in their toddler headphone and iPad coma.)
Here's what's really alarming about all the news headlines about babies on planes: It frightens new parents and may prevent them from seeing the world with their children. Truthfully, in all our flights, we've never had anyone be outwardly rude to us -- even on my solo flight to Florida where both kids threw up all over me. Our kind seat mate kept offering tissues, although there wasn't much I could do with them. I wrote about my first experience with a toddler on a plane over four years ago, and sadly the public's attitude seems to be getting worse.
The Internet is a far crueler place than most airplanes, and no one would dare to be as rude in person as they are behind the anonymity of a computer. But this piece in Jezebel fairly accurately details all the online vitriol towards those traveling with kids in tow.
And is it ironic that most of those most vocal against travel with babies claim their love of travel began in infancy?