22 February 2010

Babies on a plane

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: travel

During my flight back to Houston, I was treated to a 2.5 hour flight with a screaming toddler sitting right behind me. And along with the wails and screams and cries, I received repeated kicks to my back.

Seriously, it was the best flight ever!

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate babies. They’re adorable. They’re entertained by giggles, tickles and peek-a-boos. And that fresh baby smell? Priceless. And lately, I’ve been a baby whisperer. Just sayin.

But even if you love kids (in small doses), I have never been on a flight where people don’t pale or hold their breath when a baby boards. Because you know, when a baby boards, there is a 50/50 chance that baby will start to cry. And you are praying that open seat next to or around you will not be filled by said child because loud cries in a confined space for several hours makes you want to kill yourself.

And this baby on my flight was a screamer. Goodness. She did not sleep at all during the flight and when she did calm down for 2 seconds, another baby (who must have snuck on the flight) started up.

When the plane landed in Chicago, people in the back of the plane got up and RAN to the front to be the first ones off. In 30 years of flying, I have never seen that happen, and I couldn’t blame them. I had a splitting headache and couldn’t get to sleep, making me super fussy.

But I get it, kids cry and sometimes they just need to cry it out, so there is no easy fix outside of tiring them out before the flight.

I need to look into buying those Bose noise canceling headphones though because this would have been the perfect test to that claim.

As soon as I got home, I took my birth control and remembered why the “No Way Baby” sign is at my desk.

Has this happened to you on a flight? How have you been able to survive that flight?


  1. Cassie says:

    I fly about every other week and have had similar experiences to yours. I’ve often considered keeping baby benadryl in my bag to offer to these parents! Just let your kid sleep through the flight! Is that wrong of me?

  2. E.P. says:

    I understand this happens and that parents can’t really control it, so I try not to get upset. But the last flight I was on was a redeye, and I didn’t get ANY sleep because of a damn baby crying throughout the ENTIRE FLIGHT. Which pretty much lasted the entire evening/morning.

  3. Amanda says:

    As a mom, and a traveler who’s dealt with screaming kids on INTERNATIONAL flights (not my kid, she’s perfect), I’ve made a promise to myself that I will always offer to help the parents of the screaming kid, even if it makes me look crazy. Offer to hold the baby, walk up and down the aisle, play peak-a-boo, color, offer then a candy or gum (with parents permission) to help them swallow and relieve their ear pressure, etc. And if I see a mom with multiple kids traveling alone, hello! I’m the first to offer help.

    If you have a suggestion that might help, PLEASE SPEAK UP. People are so afraid to help these days to everyone’s detriment. My dad said something once about not helping a family when the baby was crying but he knew a trick to help them (from flying with me). He said you can put cups with steam in them over their ears to help relieve the air pressure during take off and landing.

    Sometimes, you just have to accept that you are all on the plane together and do what you can to help.

    Thanks for being an understanding passenger Jess.

  4. This is the type of post that throws moms into a tizzy, but I’m with Nilsa — screaming babies might be uncontrollable but there is NO reason a child should be allowed to kick the seat in front of him. That’s a big, fat parenting fail.

  5. Stephanie says:

    You have an awfully nice attitude about babies on a plane. You shold give lessons on that maybe! I do love me some babies…but I have to admit that I cringe when they get on the plane!

  6. Lucy says:

    I recently wrote about being the mom of a crying baby on a plane, http://moderndayrickyandlucy.blogspot.com/2010/02/birth-control-reminder.html. Luckily, his crying was short-lived!

    Pre-baby, I cringed whenever a baby got on a plane. Post-baby, I cringe because I know other people are cringing when they see my little bundle of joy! :)

  7. What was the mom doing during all this?

  8. katelin says:

    oh man i was so thankful the baby on my flight was nowhere near me and was quiet the whole time or if she cried i didn’t hear it because i slept the whole time, haha.

  9. Nora says:

    The last flight I took from Orlando to StL was PACKED with children and babies since they were in town to get their dose of Mickey. With the exception of the two kids who sat behind me (one hacking the whole time, I contend that’s where I got my stupid virus! and one crying randomly cause he couldn’t fall asleep), it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Their little tales about meeting Mickey & Minnie were pretty cute.

    I have to say, though, unless I have a child who is over the age of four, i don’t think I’ll be flying around the country, unless, of course I have a private jet =)

  10. Akirah says:

    This has never happened to me and I pray to God it never does. I don’t even know what I will do! And I’m a baby-lover.

    I have, however, been on a flight where a woman behind me puked in a bag the whole time. That was pleasant.

  11. Kyla Roma says:

    So lame! I get that people have to fly here and there but when I do have kinds I’m not going to be a jet setting parent with an infant.

    I think the hard part is there are so many ways you can prepare kids for travel by getting them used to sitting still and quietly for longer periods of time, slowly. They’re just kids, you have to show them how to do this stuff, otherwise its kind of bound to be a nightmare isn’t it? Somehow I doubt this is something that a lot of parents do…

  12. Rebecca_C says:

    We have the Bose headphones and they are awesome but even those can only block so much.

    Two words for parents everywhere: Baby Benadryll

  13. Kate says:

    I carry earplugs with me at all times. Whether it’s a plane or the Metra on a Friday afternoon or in bed with my husband snoring next to me, those things come in handy a LOT.

  14. andhari says:

    Ugh I’m so not into noisy babies or little toddlers on the plane. They piss me off.

    ps. sending you indonesian fried rice recipe :D I hope you try it :D let me know what you think, it’s pretty different with normal chinese fried rice in the restaurants.

  15. This wouldn’t help the people who have to listen to the screaming, but when I was baby and my parents wanted me to stay quiet for something like a flight or church, they’d feed me a little bit of Benadryl.

    I’ve joked before that they should run a day care in the cargo hold, but I imagine I won’t make too many friends with parents if I repeat that too many times.

  16. Lacey Bean says:

    There was one flight back in like May where we were literally surround by babies/toddlers. It was insane. I luckily drowned most of them out with my ipod, but by the end of the flight, my coworkers and I ran off the plane, to our hotel, and then straight to the bar. And when I posted about it, an anonymous mother blasted me about it! Cause sometimes “the mother just cant handle them and needs to tune them out.” Well, gee, thanks for putting everyone else at the mercy of your screaming children, cause you can’t handle it!! Geesh.

  17. Erin says:

    It is definitely annoying. I always stop and wonder what possessed those people to fly in the first place. One of the reasons I don’t have kids is because I’m confine myself to one place until they were over the age of 10. Too much work (and stress) otherwise!

  18. Yes, it has. Many times. Including my red eye to London (that was fun!). I just grin and bear it. There really isn’t anything you can do. Once I actually sat next to a screaming 3-year-old but I could see how the mom and dad were working so hard to calm her down and I just felt bad because, yeah, it’s a lose-lose situation.

  19. jen says:

    omg. this is a huge pet peeve of mine. i think babies should ride in the cargo area or be required to fly on a separate plane. seriously. totally sucks!

  20. Melinda says:

    I have a Screamy McScreamerson toddler and even his whining and crying annoys me sometimes and I’m his mother. Unfortunately kids don’t know another way to express themselves besides crying, and they don’t take to being confined in one space for very long. As parents we are pretty much stuck being the people who ruin it for the rest, but it isn’t like we have much choice.

  21. You know, it’s not the babies who bother me so much. Sure, I’d prefer a quiet flight to one with a screaming kid. But, kids happen. There’s not much getting around having them on flights.

    What does bother me, though, is parents who have complete disregard for the fact they are in a shared space. It’s the parents who don’t try to control the kicking against the seat. Parents who don’t ask their toddlers to speak in an inside voice. Parents who let their kids race up and down the aisles, while clearly bothering other passengers. That’s what really gets me.

    Kids? They don’t know any better. Parents most definitely should.

  22. Allison says:

    I’m glad you aren’t a raving lunatic about it because I would have to cut you. They are kids and you know what, if we procreate, I guarantee you it’s going to happen to us somewhere. In the grocery store. In the mall. Or on a plane where we can’t jump for our lives.

  23. kimmy says:

    hehe, i remember flying from indy to chicago on a little embraer…you know, 2 seats on one side and 1 on the other. anyways, it wasn’t a baby, but the most white trash family you could imagine. the grumpy, smart mouth 14 yr old boy was sitting behind me sulking, cussing, and pushing his knees against the seat.

  24. Maggie says:

    once when I was in Disneyworld about to ride the Tower of Terror this mean old lady next to me told me that if I screamed she would shove her dirty socks (that were in her FANNY PACK) in my mouth. that shut me up pretty quick.

    Something to keep in the back of your mind.

  25. Her says:

    Is it bad that all I could think of was Samuel Jackson? Yeah?

    But really, my dogs flew for the first time last week, and they were NOT happy about the take off and landing and any time one of us stood up. I hated being those ‘dog people’ but they did okay for the most part.

  26. Maki says:

    LOL.. I know all too well about screaing babies. Actually I’ve been blessed with two most behaved girls in the world – I’ve never had problems with them screaming and crying like hell on the plane. Believe me, we’ve had fair share of flying from Hawaii – FL – NJ and we always get “what good little girls you have” when we land. If they fuss, I used to stand up, went to the back of the plane and rock them or went to the bathroom to try to calm them down..

    We have to do what we gotta do to keep them quiet and entertain them even when it’s not all that easy!

  27. mandy says:

    I am not a fan of screaming babies. I am not a fan of flying so I usually avoid it at all costs. I am more of a roadtrip kind of gal. When I do have to fly though, I listen to music loudly in an attempt to drown out the child sounds.

  28. Miss Grace says:

    I think babies and kids can ruin a flight for sure, but at the same time, what are those parents supposed to do?

    I guess I just view it as a crap situation with no real solution.

  29. jenn says:

    with traveling every week for work – i run into my fair share. i try to be sympathetic because i know the parents aren’t thrilled either, but it’s hard to be sympathetic when you’re beyond annoyed.

    one time when i was in first class, a man had his baby with him while the mom sat in coach about 5 rows back. and he changed his diaper on the seat. and let his kid crawl all over the seats and jump and throw his cheerios at the people sitting behind him. and scream “MOMMYYYY” at the top of his lungs for 2 solid hours. and didn’t show any remorse. i glared from across the aisle but it did no good. he was a clueless parent.

  30. Addict says:

    Haha This happens to me all the time! And I am terrible with kids…. I was born without the maternal gene.

    The worst is when toddlers sit behind you and kick and scream the whole way. Permenant turbulance. Awesome.

  31. tmc says:

    I’m not anti-baby but I certainly don’t want one of my own. No. thank. you.

    I can’t recall a time when I had a bad flight with screaming babies. I usually purposefully choose to sit at the very back on the plane where the engine noise cancels out just about every other sound.

  32. i just got home from a movie where there was a crying baby – i wanted to murder the parents.