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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I think they did the right thing

I hate hypotheticals. I use 'em, 'cause sometimes there's no other polite way to exemplify a scenario you want to critique.

Otherwise, I think it bites when people get on soap boxes and say what they would have done in a particular situation. Conveniently, we'll never know, now, will we?

So I'm thrilled - not in a ghoulish sort of way - when something interesting (good or bad) happens and gives us a real incident to comment on.

For the past few weeks I've been thinking about this story. Thanks to my guy Drew for posting the link on his blog back when this first went down. But if you don't want to click the link here's the abbreviated version:

Mom, dad, and 3-year-old daughter board an AirTran plane in Orlando, Fla., to fly home to Boston. But the 3-year-old loses it on the plane. It depends on who you ask, but it sounds as though the 3-year-old didn't just cry and squirm. According to the article, she refused to take her seat, she was climbing under the seats, and she was hitting her parents.

There is a federal aviation rule that says children 2 and older must be strapped in before takeoff. Then again, I'm sure there's a rule that says everyone on a plane, adults and crew included, must be strapped in before takeoff.

Still, the flight had already been delayed 15 minutes at this point. So the flight crew made the decision to kick the family off the plane for the disruption.

The parents complained that they weren't even given time to console and calm their daughter, and get her into her seat belt.

The airline's position was how much longer should the other passengers have had to wait for the girl to get calm or for her parents to gain control?

The family was reimbursed the full cost of their tickets and given vouchers for free fare anywhere (that airline flies) on a later trip. And they were put on a flight home the next day. But they said they'd never fly AirTran again.

My first reaction was good riddance. Planes are uncomfortable enough and often late enough without an uncontrollable child holding them up even more.

My second reaction was it really didn't seem like the flight crew gave these parents much time to get their child in check.

So give a little credence to both sides, and I'm going to give the airline a slight edge.

I know the kid was a toddler, and I know we all have stories about how we would never have acted up like that 'cause our parents would've beaten us like orphans. But I'm not so sure it's that black and white when you're dealing with kids that age. I imagine no matter how well trained a kid is, when they're that young sometimes they're just gonna misbehave.

Still, I side - just barely - with the airline.

What do you think?

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43 Comments:

  • Never in a million years would've I behaved like that, even as young as three. Granted, we never flew anywhere so I can't offer an example.

    But I do know that my folks instilled in my a well-defined sense of etiquette at a VERY young age. I would've been terrified of acting out, no matter how scared I was of flying. I would've sat there in my seat and — at worst — maybe choked back tears. At best, I'd try my darndest to sleep, and even pretend if I had to. That's what I did when they'd take me to the doctor. And I HATED going to the doctor.

    A long way of saying I think the airlines did the right thing, though it's hard to really say until you're right there in the middle of the situation.

    Regardless, those parents need to learn how to control their child. Screaming is one thing. But biting, kicking, and running under the seats is another. Sure, give 'em sometime to get it under control. But if the flight was delayed 15 minutes because of the kid, that means the kid was probably acting out MUCH longer than that (after all, families with small children get to board first).

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 2:41 PM  

  • It's about freakin' time.

    These people can't control their child and they get two free flights out of it and they're still bitching.

    I am a parent. My children went through that stage. Well, not my son but my daughter did. The parents should have been glad of the opportunity to get the kid off the plan and calmed down, happy to have gotten another set of free tickets. Two people were slightly inconvenienced by having to wait for another flight vs. a plane full of other people, having to listen to a tantrum for God-only knows how long.

    I'd fly AirTran in a heartbeat.

    It's about freakin' time.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 3:10 PM  

  • The parents should have given her baby Benadryl 15 minutes before they boarded and she probably would have slept through most of, if not the entire, flight.

    By Blogger Balou, at 3:34 PM  

  • I have to side with the airline. Those parents should have been able to give that kid "the look" and put her in check. Anything less get your butt off the plane and wait like the bad parents - let your kids run amok- jerks that they are. I have sat behind a kid on plane that made me want to jump out in mid air! Put them off now!

    By Blogger Angie, at 4:07 PM  

  • I was a nice, shy kid even at the age of three and have little tolerance for beligerant (and even bellicose) children.

    They're just miniature assh*les.

    I emphathize with the people who sat their for a quarter-hour in their cramped economy-class seats (I'm assuming the family was not flying first class), trying to quell their own fears of flying in a giant, antiquated piece of crap while listening to some spoiled brat.

    I am amused to observe modern parents ASK their children to PLEASE come here or do this and that.

    The word please kills me. How long should the flight be delayed? Ninety minutes? The tantrum was their problem, not ours.

    By Blogger Matt, at 4:15 PM  

  • I have children who have thrown fits like that. Complete irrational screaming conniption fits.

    I picked them up, strapped them in the car seat and held them, dragged them or did whatever I had to do to get to where we needed to be.

    It sounds like the parents let the kid run things. They were unwilling to physically place the toddler in the seat and strap him in.

    How hard is that? There were two physically able parents there.


    The airline was 100% right on this one, they gave the parents a quarter of an hour to get the kid under control. The delay probably caused a huge ripple effect with connecting flights. They just couldn't wait anymore without the hundred or so people on the plane missing their connecting flights.

    AirTran was very generous with their free tickets..too generous.
    These parents must have immediately called the media and whined about how poorly they were treated..boo hoo.. pathetic.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 4:31 PM  

  • Well given that I have no kids and have no siblings with kids I think I'm a total expert on raising kids. LOL

    I give the edge to the airline here. I think we have situation here where Dr. Phil would say that the child is in charge of the parents instead of the other way around.

    Maybe they are "new age" parents where they don't believe in correcting their kids and all that stuff. Which is perfectly okay with me. Until they expect everybody else in the whole world to be have to put up with their screaming out of control kid.

    By Blogger Jay, at 5:12 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Tsahai, at 5:35 PM  

  • I definitely agree that it's on the parents to get their kids under control. Yes, kids are little drunk people. They are frequently hilarious, and often totally irrational. But if you teach them how to deal with their feelings constructively, a "temper tantrum" doesn't go as out of control as this kid's did.

    And if the kid is really out of control - that's what checked baggage is for.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:37 PM  

  • The airline did absolutely the right thing. Honestly, I think they waited too long. If you've ever spent more than thirty minutes in flight with a brat, then you feel the same way.

    Modern parents have a big problem. They forget that their children are simply small extensions of their body that sometimes use their brains. So when their child is acting up and stalling the flight, it's the same as if the Dad is acting up and stalling the flight (pet owners--you need to heed this too--leaving your dog's crap on my lawn is as insulting as if you did it yourself). It's like your arm jumped off your body and started slapping people. Should anyone have to sit still and tolerate that? No. If you want to keep you arm, you need to come gather it and apologize before I destroy it.

    This is how I feel about bratty children. If you don't want me to beat your child, verbally abuse them or otherwise perform whichever disciplinary function I think is necessary to instill the order your child is disrupting through their unruly behavior, you need to do it first and apologize to me while you're doing it. Don't look at me all cockeyed or sassy because I had to do your friggin' job for you--you wouldn't even have to meet me if you were at all sucessful at being the alpha in your home.

    So this is what to say when a parent gets pissy with your reaction to their brat--"Lady, I didn't get the pleasure of knocking you up--I shouldn't have to put up with your untrained crotch fruit."

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 5:52 PM  

  • Agree, agree, agree with the airplane's plea. I'm a poet and didn't even know it! Can't stand uncontrollable kids. My parents would have never put up with that.

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 7:54 PM  

  • You think it costs nothing to delay aircraft that is burning up fuel on the tarmac while they wait for kids to settle down? You think when the jet flies faster to make up for lost time that that's cheap? Airlines kick passengers off as a LAST resort. Side with the airline.

    By Anonymous The Sarcasticynic, at 8:02 PM  

  • If the child had been insisting on walking off the edge of a cliff the parents would not have hesitated on picking her up and saving her, regardless of the screaming objections. In other words, parents know quite well how to control three year olds, but they choose not to do so. Heaven help them when she turns 14.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 8:09 PM  

  • The airline was in the right for making them leave. This line says it all "The airline's position was how much longer should the other passengers have had to wait for the girl to get calm or for her parents to gain control?"

    Your kid is acting up, well, I'm really sorry, but that's your problem to deal with - not the other passengers. If you can't get your child under control, that's YOUR problem. Being inconvenienced is part of being a parent, but the other passengers should not have to pay for it as well.

    I think it's nice that Airtran gave them free tickets. It wasn't THEIR fault the kid was uncontrolable.

    By Blogger fiwa, at 8:22 PM  

  • I am on the fence. I have a child with autism and it could be that this child had a learning disability that made her a small monster at that given moment. My son has proven to me time and time again I have the patience of a saint and in no way do I resemble my parents in the discipline department as I have only once lit up his hind end for acting the fool. My parents, God bless them, had very short fuses and we feared them.

    By Blogger C, at 10:38 PM  

  • As a parent of an unusually calm child, I know that I'm blessed. However, some of her friends (even at the age of 13) can be panicky.

    Still, they make drugs for that. Then again, having a husband as a nurse is a clear advantage for me.

    I still think it's possible they have discipline problems at home - which is all too common these days.

    They got a good deal in the end.

    By Blogger Tiggerlane, at 11:29 PM  

  • I'll side with the airlines. They made every effort to appease the family with an alternative flight and vouchers.

    If the airline wasn't so accommodating, I would side with the parents.

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 12:03 AM  

  • Planes are scary enough, I couldn't take a child screaming while I would be clinging to my arm rests..

    By Blogger Winter, at 12:03 AM  

  • I think the airline was in an uncomfortable position and had to make a tough choice - please 3 people or 112? Would you rather lose 3 clients or 112? As difficult as it was, it was the right choice in this particular case.

    As for the parents, I am all for positive parenting alternatives I choose not to beat the crap out of my kids) but there is no way my kids are going to act the fool in public and get away with it.

    There was no reason they couldn't have put the toddler in a seat, strapped her in and then consoled her to their hearts' content. If they can't control her now, they won't be able to in 10 years when she hits her teens.

    As for the topic of drugging your kids with over the counter medicine to "calm" them down or knock them out, not something to take lightly. I'm always floored when people say this.

    For one, Benadryl (even the children's version) shouldn't be administered to children under 6 without consulting a physician first. Also, some side effects can include motor impairment, flushed skin, rapid or irregular heartbeat aka tachycardia (that'll scare the crap out of you as a parent!) and the complete opposite effect you were going for - excitability.

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 12:14 AM  

  • I am 99% in agreement with the airlines on this one. The other 1% is in my opinion they went too far by giving free vouchers for another flight. Don't get me wrong I can see WHY they would do that, but it was clearly above and WAY beyond as far as I am concerned. As for totally blaming the parents, I can't really say that I agree with it being ALL their fault. Sure our parents would have done what was necessary to get us in the seat and to behave. Hell I am 38 and if my mother called me right now and told me to go to my room, I would probably do so. That said parenting today is SOOOO not like it was back then. What used to be called spanking is all to often nowadays called abuse. Had they pulled that childs pants down right there in front of God and everyone(like my mother would have) there is a good chance SOMEONE on that plane would have reported them to family services. Perhaps they could have(or even DID) pulled the parents aside and said 'I'm sorry but this plane is taking off in ten minutes, if she can't behave by then we will have to ask you to leave because we can't make the other 112 passengers wait.' In fairness, I had plenty of time to think of that response not on spur of the moment like this crew had to.

    BD

    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 12:53 AM  

  • Kids shouldn't be allowed to hold adults hostage, especially those traveling in a time window.

    It is not the responsibility of the other travelers or the airline to grace a tots tantrum.

    The buck stops at the parents...

    By Blogger Pamela, at 1:33 AM  

  • I agree with the airline and have no compassion or sympathy for the parents point of view. The parents reaction seems like a perfect example of why their kid behaved the way that he/she did.

    By Blogger captain corky, at 5:58 AM  

  • With the airline on this.

    OK, so the child may be autistic or something, but these days diagnosis is so the parents should know this, & travel prepared to deal with it.

    Otherwise - yup, they're parents, they have to realise this & handle their children rather than letting the child rule them.

    & you can spank a child without removing clothes, not that it usually helps that much by the time their already hyper.

    Anyone thought of developing 'scream proof' headphones - for parents & others who have to put up with such tantrums. BTW - by the time a child gets to age three they should be growing out of throwing tantrums.

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 7:02 AM  

  • I think the airline did the right thing. In airline time, fifteen minutes is a long time. That could mean the difference in someone missing their connecting flight or shuttle to the hotel, etc. It was the right and considerate thing to do.

    By Blogger GrizzBabe, at 8:42 AM  

  • My kids are 18 and 20 - or close enough to count as that.

    I was all for "positive parenting," too -- I was positive if their little asses didn't behave in public, I was going to give them a few swats on their behinds. I only had to do that a few times, they got the picture.

    You can't "talk" to or "reason" with a three-year old, I don't care what Dr. Spock or Dr. Phil or Dr. Fill-in-the-blank says.

    Like I said, my kids are 18 and 20 and I haven't had to resort to punishment in a long time. They both still live at home, though (the 20 year old in between college terms) so if I had to, I would. And they would let me, and accept the punishment, because they respect me as a parent.


    People make parenting much more difficult than it has to be. You're the parent. S/he is the child. It's that simple.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 8:48 AM  

  • I beleive there's a real market for kiddie quaaludes. Maybe I just have great kids with great temperaments, but they just didn't throw tantrums...EVER.

    By Blogger Lee, at 9:01 AM  

  • As the parent of a 1 1/2 yr-old who's turning out to be VERY rambunctious, I'm learning that there's a difference between a kid who is very curious and active but still listens to his parents and one whose parents either quickly gave up or never started to discipline.

    That said, even the best-behaved kids can have awful days where they just melt down. In this case, where the kid was running all over the place and all that, I side with the airline, because that sounds more than a kid who was crying or scared.

    Still, after reading all these comments, I'm compelled to say that it's very easy for people to tsk-tsk parents and criticize their parenting skills when they have no clue what that child or parent are really like. I've witnessed a lot of intolerant, rude behavior towards moms and dads simply because their kid was crying. And well, a small child who has limited communication skills who's on a plane, where they may feel overwhelmed or scared, is going to express that fear or discomfort somehow.

    Also, even when you're a parent who has good, effective discipline skills, there are still going to be times when you can't comfort or gain "instant" control over your child. It's one thing to see a parent who just doesn't give a f*** as their kid runs around like a reckless drunk; it's another when the parent is trying but having a hard time succeeding. And I have to say, I think it's unfair when the latter is the case and people are rolling their eyes and sighing. The parent is aware, you know, and they most likely feel like shit.

    By Blogger Tere, at 9:50 AM  

  • Tere, you're right. But when your child is in melt-down phase, and you can't do anything about it, you don't have the right to bitch when the situation is controlled by a third party, i.e., the airline taking you off that flight and giving you not only a later flight, but another free trip somewhere else.

    It's the whining about having to take a later flight that really gets my knickers in a knot in this case.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 10:13 AM  

  • I have a six year old and a fifteen month old, and I still side with the airline.

    The plane was already delayed. Those people needed to take off. For safety's sake everyone needs to be buckled in. If you are the parent of a child who is resisting efforts to follow a very basic safety procedure and thus hold up take-off, you need to go. A debate about the child's behavior or whether these folks are the most awful parents in the world is pointless. The plane needed to leave and the child was preventing that.

    The parents are clearly in the wrong in this situation. They were not the only passengers on the plane, and they would be well-served to remain cognizant of the fact that there were far more people being inconvenienced by their child's actions than they were by being put off the plane. The first time I heard this story I couldn't believe that two adults would behave so selfishly in demanding that the airline (and all those passengers) wait for them instead of graciously bowing out the door and taking a later flight.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 10:29 AM  

  • Being a parent, I.....oh, hell! I stand by the airline.

    Yes, kids will misbehave. It's happened in restaurants, theaters, grocery stores...you name it.

    Unfortunately, this was not a place where the parent(s) could have removed the child from the vicinity until she calmed down.

    This tantrum was mucking with the schedules of scores upon scores of other people and something had to be done. As Spock said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

    Could the airline have given the parental units a litte more time to calm the kid down. Yes. But I can't say with any autority becasue I don't know how bad the tantrum was or if there were any signs that she was calming down.

    I think it's damn decent that the airline gave them vouchers. After dealing with a freaked out kid, they don't need the headache of trying to organize new transportation.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 10:47 AM  

  • are you kidding me? i hate to rag on parents because as one my self, i know these situations occurr. but am i being rediculous when i say she should have read "what to expect on your toddler's first flight"? there is a plethora of information available to new parents on how to handle almost any situation. i am definitely not a 'pill solution' parent, i.e. giving kids a pill for whatever ails them, but i have read in a few parenting magazines that the first time flight can be very stressful for a small child. ears popping, the noise, unfamiliar surroundings, the list goes on and on. the best thing these parents could have done was to have a contingency plan in case something would go awry with their child.

    ...and it's okay for their child to hit them but not the other way around? LORD HAVE MERCY!

    how about some chamomile tea to calm him/her down? how about some benadryl to put that kid to sleep??? i have two kids; i am not saying i am a better mom, but my kids DONT EVER act out that way. it's half about giving your kids some 'home training' and half about BEING PREPARED FOR ANYTHING!

    Happy Belated Valentines to YOU!!! :-)

    By Blogger cucuclaire, at 11:45 AM  

  • I side with the airline. Considering parents with small children are allowed on board first, to give them the extra time to get settled, they had much more than 15 minutes.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 12:14 PM  

  • Just like C, I have an autistic child, so I think maybe the kid has a disability and the parents don't know yet or haven't been able to find techniques to control her.

    It definitely sounds like a major tantrum, going under the seat and hitting her parents. I, personally, would had asked for a chance to leave the flight and rebook, before being asked.

    But I have developed inmunity to rolling eyes. Listen people, some parents are oblivious, but some others are well aware of the tantrum their kid is throwing and are as mortified and/or ashamed as you are. How about offering help (respectfully and non-judgementally, no need for parenting lesons here). You can offer help with bags, for example, or distract the kid a bit. Sometimes they react to strangers better. At lest don't make the atmosphere more unbearable for the parent. A toddler is a toddler, but you are supposed to be an adult.

    As far as disciplining somebody else's kid, make sure it's not mine first. That's a line you don't cross unless you are prepared to take consequences to the fullest.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 12:19 PM  

  • Claudia said "Considering parents with small children are allowed on board first, to give them the extra time to get settled, they had much more than 15 minutes."

    That is SO true. I completely forgot about that. Yet another dimension to think about when ruling on this. Though it seems everyone is siding with the AL on this one.

    SWF41 said "You can't "talk" to or "reason" with a three-year old, I don't care what Dr. Spock or Dr. Phil or Dr. Fill-in-the-blank says."

    Reason? Probably not. But I would hope that by age 3 year a child would understand enough to comprehend what their parents are saying to them in a situation like this. I have a 19 month old and a 32 month old and we started implementing time outs as soon as they were old enough to understand. They are well behaved at home and in public settings. I don't think we are exceptionally blessed in their personalities I just think that we let them know early on which behaviors were acceptable and which were not. Believe me, they understand more that we give them credit for.

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 1:19 PM  

  • Sheesh, you guys aren't playing.

    OK, so here are my two bit responses:

    ThirdWorst, I agree 100%. I know I wasn't a perfect child. But I just can't recall - and I do have a few memories from being a toddler - ever not straightening up the minute my folks told me to. Even when I was grumpy I knew better than to drag it out. Who knows?

    SWF41, "about time?" All I have to say is amen! I do feel for the parents, but as someone who has been unlucky enough to sit through looooooooooong waits on the tarmac I hate any sort of unnecessary delay of takeoff. So I'm with the airline.

    Balou, on flights where I'm feeling uncomfortable or sick or am really tired prior to takeoff, I take a Benadryl and it knocks me out usually before we're even off the ground, and I'm 6'3"-plus and 200 pounds. So you're right. It would've worked on a toddler.

    Angie, the look is deadly. That look used to put the fear of God in me. What's funny is now I see my sister use it with her kids. Works on them too. My mom taught her well. What used to scare me with my dad is he never gave a look. He just had that stoic poker face when I acted out in public. That was always a sign that I was gonna get it when I got home.

    Matt, "they're just little a--holes." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Sorry, that made me spit my coffee...not far though.

    Hammer your technique sounds like it would have worked fine for these parents if they'd simply laid a hand on the kid, to hold her or strap her down. I agree on the tickets. I wouldn't have given 'em freebies.

    No worries, Jay. You and I are the same kind of "expert" in this case. I don't have any young'ns yet either. But it seems like we're on track. All the parents commenting here agree with us. And that does sound like something Dr. Phil would say.

    Anonymous, I like that "...kids are little drunk people." I have a couple of pretty big suitcases. I'm willing to loan 'em out. Just don't make the air/breathing holes too large.

    Thanks, BD. Now I'm pondering "untrained crotch fruit." Not the image I wanted while I try to create magic with words this afternoon.

    I like the poem, Erica. Straight to the point. Dr. Seuss couldn't hold a candle to you ;-)

    Sarc, I hadn't even thought of the fuel costs. Good point.

    WoW, when she turns 14, they'll be on Maury trying to find her babydadddy.

    Fiwa, those free tickets really were nice. Too nice. Next time I fly airtran, I'm gonna lay down in the aisle and pound my fists on the floor. I'll stop when they guarantee me round trip to Prague and throw in my hotel costs too.

    C, I think the big difference though is if your son was having a bad day before you guys got to the airport you'd be responsible enough to tell the airline folks about his condition and let them know he might be a little excitable. But you can handle him and if they can bear with the nose momentarily you will get him into his seatbelt. I'll bet the airline would sympathize and give you time to get the situation under control. This little girl didn't have autism. She was just being a brat.

    Tiggerlane, again I speak sort of out of turn 'cause I have no kids. But there's no way I believe the kid was just acting like that on this flight. I'll bet she does the same things at home too.

    Evil Spock, that's interesting. Without the freebies, you'd go with the parents. I'm curious about why? You may convince me to get back on the fence.

    Winter, you sound like Mrs. B. Flying can be "stressful" for her. I'm pretty sure a screaming child would send her running up and down the aisles like Marge Simpson. Anybody remember that episode?

    Dayngr, I promise I won't joke anymore about drugging children...unless I really am just joking. Seriously though, I had no idea about those side effects. Guess I won't be giving Benadryl to my kid(s) when they're toddlers.

    BD2, well said. The parents were in a bind. Even if they do spank, you're right. They couldn't risk it in front of other passengers. And I snap to attention when my mom calls too. And I'm over 30 as well.

    All jokes aside, Pamela you are correct. But here's a hypothetical: how do we stop really smart kids from holding their parents hostage? I've seen kids, even really young ones, who were so savvy to social norms that they'd act out as much as they knew they could 'cause they knew their folks were too scared to swat their behinds or their hands or whatever.

    Captain, like I said, in 10 or 12 years the kid's gonna be on Maury telling her mom to go play in traffic or trying to locate her babydaddy.

    Bronchitikat, you raise an interesting point. Reading all these comments I've been curious about the age a child grows, or starts to grow, out of tantrum behavior. By 3, then? I swear, I'm taking notes on all of this stuff 'cause I hope I'm in those parents' position in a few years, minus that kid acting out and the wuss reaction from me.

    Grizz, like I said to Sarc, I hadn't even considered this outside factor: missing a connecting flight. You are so right. If I missed a connection 'cause my plane was held up by a wild child I'd want to plant a boot in those parents' behinds.

    SWF41, that's deep. I like that your kids, who still live with you, respect your disciplinary hand even at 18 and 20. Very cool.

    Lee, from what I've heard you are definitely lucky. I haven't heard many parents say their kids never ever threw tantrums. Tell me you're secret. I want to know before my kids even arrive, so I can be prepared. And if they do ever make kiddie qualuuds, I'll be first in line to get 'em. Or do they already make 'em?

    Tere, you raise good points. Again, my disclaimer is everything I say on this topic is guesswork. I have no idea what it takes to calm a kid, other than what I've observed other good parents do. I'll just keep listening, watching, and reading. But kudos to you and all the other parents who know how to keep their kids in check and who carry themselves with balance even on those days when the kids aren't in check.

    SWF41, my knickers really got twisted over the refund, the subsequent free flight, and the free vouchers for later flights.

    Queen, I do get the impression the parents were a little short-sighted about how their situation was affecting the other passengers.

    Kevin, that's also an interesting issue. In almost any other public place - like a resaurant, or a retail store, or church, or whatever - the parents would be able to take the kid outside and calm 'em down. A plane's unique in that they have to handle their business right their on the spot, with an audience. Again, I feel for the parents but the airlines' hands were tied, I think.

    Claire, it sounds like you have it under control. Chamomille tea? So that stuff really causes drowsiness. Yet another note to take. Anyway, thanks for the Valentine's wishes. Happy belated V-Day to you too.

    Claudia, props to ya. Yet another factor I hadn't considered: parents with small kids, like the sick and elderly, get to board early. So these parents may've already had 15 minutes or so to get things calm. My sympathy is fading.

    Alex, the offers for help are a good idea. I just wonder though how many people are messed up in their own right, and so it doesn't occur to them to help someone else. For example, I'm a calm flier, at least outwardly. But I am always agitated when I fly. I hate the cramped space. I hate the security lines. I hate the nose-blowing, germ passing, hyper crowds gathered in the gate area before takeoff. And that stuff usually agitates me so much that I'm making a conscious effort to ignore everyone else. I'll take you up on your challenge though. Next time I'm flying, if I'm not super agitated, and I see a parent in distress sitting next to or near me I'll offer that sort of help.

    Dayngr, I can't add anything to what you've written. Well, I couldn't regardless, 'cause I'm not a parent. But you know what I mean. Well-written.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 2:31 PM  

  • as a middle aged white mother of 12 children, i'm going to have to say that the flight was completely in ther wrong!! that mother should have been able to stand in the middle of the isle topless, breast feeding her toddler until that child calmed to the sated state of a vegetable!!

    oh wait.. i'm not a mom. hahahahahaa!

    two things that piss me off on flights... screaming children and people who think that no one else will smell that sbd they just released in an overdecorated tin can.

    this is why i teleport everywhere. :p

    By Blogger Yasamin, at 3:39 PM  

  • Yas, what are you smokin? LOL. I want some, now, at work, not after I get home later.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:15 PM  

  • Wait, in case my bosses are reading, that last comment didn't come out right.

    I do not believe in left-handed cigarettes at work or at home.

    And if I did believe in 'em, I wouldn't inhale.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 5:15 PM  

  • I wasn't on the plane, so I don't know the exact circumstances, but I seriously believe between the parents and the flight attendants they could've gotten the brat in its chair.

    I'm just wondering if they exhausted every option before opting to get them off the plane. I think the airline was more than compensatory if they didn't explore every possible option, so I'll give the airline a pass.

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 5:44 PM  

  • The 2 times I've flown with my son, at 3 and 9 months, both times on American, we were not allowed to board first or early. We asked and were told no, that we had to wait until our boarding group number was called.

    Both times I mentioned that parents are normally allowed on earlier (like people in wheelchairs or unaccompanied minors), I was told that was no longer done.

    By Blogger Tere, at 10:28 AM  

  • I side with the airline.

    I know that kids can be like spawns of hell at that age. Obviously, I cannot remember what I was like at that age, although I'm sure I was prone to some supermarket crying fests and obnoxious behavior that made people rue the day that my parents fell in love. I'm pretty sure that every child is.

    But too often now, I see parents who simply cannot handle their children. It's not just the random flare-up...it's a lifestyle. I truly believe that this is a modern development, and that 50 years ago children were lightyears ahead of today's children behavior-wise. Although I do admit that I wasn't around 50 years ago to observe and document my findings. And if I had been, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have even though to document them because children are supposed to listen to their parents and obey them and that shouldn't be extraordinary.

    There is no doubt in my mind that I was a child from hell some days, and maybe this was one of the child's worse days. But there is also no doubt in my mind that I was absolutely terrified of my father - and if I was acting like that on a plane, he would have grabbed my arm and looked at me in a way that would make me shit my pants (not literally.... I hope.) If I had kept up with the tantrum, my mom would have strapped me down and if I started biting, my dad would have held my jaw shut for the entirety of the flight. They would have been mortified, I'm sure. And I would've been in a hell of a lot of trouble once we got somewhere private, I'm sure. But they would do what they needed to do to get me under control. Although I am aware that in today's ultra-sensitive society, parents can be pretty afraid to do anything other than talk to their kids for fear that people will accuse them of abuse. Any physical contact immediately goes under scrutiny from everyone.

    Still, I think parents are too concerned with being their children's friends, and don't understand that sometimes being a parent means BEING IN CHARGE. My parents didn't beat me and I had a good life. And although I did my fair share of testing my limits, we both knew that they were ultimately in charge. I'm glad that my parents terrified me when I was a child. Hell, they still do.

    I know I really said nothing new or revolutionary here. But I had to put in my 2 cents regardless.

    By Blogger hyacinths and biscuits, at 2:07 AM  

  • I have four million miles. On American alone! Children, by and large, are a pain when they fly. They get bored, loud, hungry, antsy... and in all honesty, one has to put up with this. However, in this case, when the sheer wimpiness of the parents delayed the flight for everyone and there is no end in sight... the airline was right. Out. Be done. Learn to control your kid. Show some spine. I would have thrown the parents off the plane without even the ramp.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:55 AM  

  • Parents who expect a plane full of people to wait for them to calm their child have no hope of raising a well behaved child. Look at the role models.

    As a parent of a two, four, and six year old who travels on a regular basis I know all about meltdowns. There were times I had to strap my child into their carseat (which is a necessity on a plane) while they were kicking and screaming because you do what you have to do.

    Would I have liked unlimited time to calm my child down? Of course.

    Although next time I'll let them scream it up for a while and get some free tickets from the deal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:55 PM  

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