Dear Airline Executives, Pilots, Gate Agents, Flight Attendants and Childless Passengers,
There have been stories up the wazoo lately about Gremlin-like children ostensibly being fed espresso and shot up with Hershey’s bars and then unleashed unto the friendly skies. The reaction has been SHOCK! and OUTRAGE! What's this? Tiny people who can barely speak not doing exactly what adults expect them to for hundreds and hundreds of consecutive minutes? The horror!
I get it: You don’t want to sit next my kids, both of whom are under the age of 4, on your next flight. Well, guess what? I don’t want to sit next to them, either. But the fact that some people actually think there should be entire flights free of kids because of a few midair temper tantrums is absurd. Take Ruth Davis Konigsberg's piece this week in Time (“Should Some Planes be Kid-Free?”). It’s an absurd idea, because the fact is that the kids are hardly the problem.
This dawned on me recently when I was preparing to board a flight. Our reservation was turned upside down, due to no fault of our own. I subsequently learned I’d have to pay extra to move up to nothing-special seats near the front of the plane just so I could sit next to my 3-year-old. I informed the icy cold lady at the airline counter that this was fine with me.
“Someone else can have her for the flight,” I let her know quite earnestly. “I’m good.”
She looked at me sideways.
“No, really,” I said. “When I confirmed my reservations and printed out my boarding passes and checked in, we were sitting together. Because you screwed something up, I’m not going to pay extra for the privilege of having to play DVD operator, book reader, short order cook, song singer and butt wiper for the next several hours.”
And just like that, they managed to find us seats together that didn’t cost me any more money.
RELATED: Have Kids, Will Travel
Are kids second-class citizens? Am I paying a lower fare for my kids? The answer is no. To both. On some planes they don’t even have changing tables for babies in their bathrooms, but they still make me pay full fare when I fly with my kids, one of whom is still in diapers. How would you feel if there were no bathroom for you on an airplane?