Parents: Deal With A Screaming Toddler

Work brings me to Honolulu again on my favorite Hawaiian Airlines 767. Fortunately, since the last time I wrote about this sad plane, I’ve learned that Hawaiian plans to mercifully retire their remaining 767’s by next year. Anyway, during my flight yesterday I was front row as a two parents simply decided they weren’t going to deal with a screaming toddler. Instead the parents opted for the “bury my head in the seat and pretend it’s not happening” method. Of course that helped exactly nobody on the plane.

Plane Etiquette

First things first, I believe all children should enjoy the magic of travel. Americans don’t travel enough as it is, so the more we get in the air, the better. Furthermore, I think kids are as entitled as anyone to be in first class. I know that’s a never ending argument in the frequent flyer community, but if somebody pays for a seat, then it’s theirs, age be damned.

Now if you’re going to fly with a child, I do believe that comes with an extra set of responsibilities to the people around you. Of course there’s going to be a small outburst here or there, but it’s how the parents deal with it that makes all the difference. Just try everything you can to calm your child. Granted, I’ve only flown with a baby once, and she was just 10 weeks old. This particular child was 2+ years old which has it’s own set of challenges, but effort is everything.

All Hands On Deck

In the case of the toddler yesterday, the parents just didn’t seem to care that much. Once the kid started screaming, they appeared to try some sort of tablet to calm her down. That failed pretty quickly. Next the Mom tried to forcefully tell her to stop screaming while the Dad buried his head into the seat in front. Spoiler alert, this predictably failed.

Making matters worse, most of these episodes were mid-flight with the seat belt off. Rarely did the parents take her for a walk down the aisles. At one point she tried to curiously walk away, then the Dad dragged her back and the screaming ensued. I wanted to pick her up myself and walk around. It was crazy.

Old planes, crying toddlers at 35,000 feet

Be Prepared

Everything I’ve read about flying with little ones suggested you should always have something new ready for the child. Have a new toy, a new show for the tablet, or food/treats stashed away. Anything that can quickly shut down a tantrum. It doesn’t look like that was the case here.

Bottom Line

I’m convinced that babies get a bad rap on planes because the parents aren’t trying. If this particular couple was doing everything they could to calm the baby, I’d have had a lot more sympathy for them. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have cared at all. Instead, they clearly didn’t board the flight with a plan in mind and it went horribly for everyone. Parents:  Develop a plan pre-flight and make the comfort of your fellow flyers a top priority next time you fly!

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