How to do it

Why I’d like child-free sections on planes

What’s the most annoying thing on a plane? The early seat recliner? The armrest hogger? The kicker? The person who yanks your seat back whenever they get up? The baby?

I don’t know where the assumption has come from that babies and children are automatically a nightmare on planes. Of course they can be, and a screaming baby is no fun for anyone at 35,000ft, least of all the parents desperately trying to shush them. But I’ve had more problems at altitude with adults, who really should know better, than small children – my own or anyone else’s.

The real reason I'd like child-free areas on planes? It's not because of the kids...For me, the most annoying person on a plane is the grown-up jumping to the conclusion that under-five equals uncontrollable, loud, and instant peace destroyer. Which is why I’m all for child-free sections on planes.

Not because I think children should be segregated but because there are a lot of adults I’d like tucked away there. After the debate started up again on This Morning today, I saw some seriously nasty comments floating around.

‘I’d ban toddlers from flights, restaurants, cinemas, theatres & supermarkets…. If they were able to speak I think they’d agree that they don’t wish to be there either’ – my daughter adores planes, is wildly excited about going in a trolley at the supermarket and had a fantastic first time at the cinema recently. And she barely stops speaking to draw breath – she doesn’t like something, I know about it.

‘Why don’t parents who can’t control their kids suffer compulsory sterilisation and make the world a better place’ – (seriously, I’m not making these up). Letting your kids run riot? Ignoring them for a 10-hour flight while they make people’s lives a misery? No. But I can’t help feeling ‘control your kids’ is code for keep them absolutely silent and still.

I'm here to ruin your day!

I’m here to ruin your day!

Ignoring the fact that not everyone takes their child on a plane for a holiday, and ignoring the fact (as most commenters do) that not all children are seat-kicking, shrieking fiends, surely the only way to teach kids how to behave in a situation is to let them experience it.

Or perhaps they should be kept indoors where they can’t possibly irritate anyone, and then unleashed at 18 (presumably allowed out briefly for school). I’m sure they’d then waltz onto planes and trains, into restaurants and art galleries with aplomb.

Would I take my three-year-old to a Michelin-starred restaurant, all mellow atmosphere and intricate dishes at 10pm? Obviously not. Does anyone? Would I board a plane without trying to think of 900 ways to entertain her, keep her fed and happy until we land? No. For every rogue parent who puts noise cancelling headphone in and falls asleep on a long-haul flight, there’s dozens trying to ensure their kids don’t accidentally offend anyone – even when some people board just raring to be offended and muttering about child-free flights.

Family areas sound nice in theory but it’s not exactly practical for airlines when they’ll be empty for large numbers of flights and months of the year. As school holiday prices go a long way to subsidising travel the rest of the year (a whole other debate there), I don’t feel inclined to pay extra.


We made it!

So bring on the child-free areas in plane. Anyone who can’t bear the possibility of a small human nearby can pay extra to hide away in there. They get their guaranteed peace (inconsiderate adults permitting), I don’t need to deal with people assuming my daughter is secretly preparing to make their life a misery, and the airlines get more money.

Don’t want to pay extra? Fine. The world is full of children. It’s time to learn to live alongside them.


Images from Pixabay


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