1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Children on Airplanes

by Suzanne Fluhr on April 7, 2012 · 21 comments

How many Baby Boomers (or grown-ups of any age) get on an airplane hoping that no babies or small children will be seated near them?

I admit to an involuntary scanning of my nearby seatmates when I board a plane, hoping not to see any wee ones.  As anybody carrying a baby or with a toddler in tow struggles up the aisle, my brain starts silently intoning, “Please don’t sit here.  Please don’t sit here.  Please don’t sit here.”  I feel really badly that I do this, because that used to be me with the diaper bag and that cute little blonde toddler on my hip.  My worst trip as that person was twenty-three years ago when he was one and a half and we flew from Philly to Pittsburgh to visit my in-laws.  We must have bought tickets at the last minute because my seat was in the last row, between two businessmen, with the child on my lap.  They weren’t smiling.  I tried not to let any cheerio dust or apple juice get on them.  I don’t recall any smelly or leaky diaper scenario—but maybe I’m just repressing the memory.

So, I admit to some ambivalence about Malaysia Air’s new policy of banning all children under the age of twelve from the upstairs seating on its jumbo jets—even from the upstairs economy class.  This is an extension of the policy it implemented last year of prohibiting children from the first class section.  Apparently, a survey of 1,000 business class fliers prior to a 2011 Travel and Meetings trade show, found that 75% of business class airplane passengers are “irritated” by children in business class.

Newsflash:  You could have saved the money you spent on the survey.   I’m willing to go out on a limb and guesstimate that 75% of all airplane passengers in every class have at some time been irritated by a child on an airplane.  But, I’ll go even further.  On every flight, in every class, someone is being irritated by another passenger—-and many of the irritants are well over the age of twelve.  If you fly with any regularity (once a year is sufficient), you will be familiar with the following scenarios:

  • The yakkers seated behind, in front or next to you who just WILL NOT SHUT UP;
  • The guy next to you who hogs the armrest—for six hours;
  • The large husband and  large wife (we’re talking seat belt extenders) who have chosen window and aisle seats, leaving you squished in the middle;
  • The person next to the window in your row who had five cups of coffee (or beer) in the airport, and now needs to use the bathroom every time you just manage to fall asleep;
  • The person who decided there was no need to shower just to get on an airplane.
  • That same person who slumps over onto you every time they fall asleep—-and who drools.

Rather than penalize fliers with children, I’m thinking the answer might be drugs.  No, not for the babies—for the grown ups!

Do you think children should be limited to certain sections of an airplane?  Do you have anything to add to the list of passenger irritants?  (Comment below under related posts).

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Roz Warren April 8, 2012 at 1:30 am

I LOVE babies on airplanes. I love them anywhere. As far as I’m concerned, the average baby is WAY more interesting than the average adult. Plus, although babies do sometimes fall asleep on you (and drool), babies never hog the armrest.


Just One Boomer April 8, 2012 at 1:46 am

I love sleeping babies on airplanes too! It’s the inconsolable screaming babies and the toddler who kicks the back of my seat for hours that I find irritating. But, I realize that they didn’t ask to be taken on an airplane and sometimes, an airplane is the only reasonable way to get somewhere—even for babies.


stacia April 8, 2012 at 3:25 am

I love babies on airplanes so much that I always carry extra Ambien to distribute to them and to their exhausted, sleep-deprived mothers.


Roz Warren April 9, 2012 at 2:33 am

I shared this essay on my FB page. One friend has “liked” it and another called it “brilliant.”


Just One Boomer April 9, 2012 at 5:42 am

Thanks so much for sharing it.


Madaline Fluhr April 9, 2012 at 5:04 am

As someone who is somewhat fearful of flying, I find any distraction from the fact that I am flying (or rather that I am not flying, but “Mr. Crazy Pilot” might be flying) welcome, including, but not limited to: babies, children, chatty rowmates (I am happy to chat all the way from here to there), etc., etc. To give myself some credit, I am much improved from younger years when I had a few bona fide panic attacks – apparently alarming one flight attendant enough to warrant her promptly providing me several complimentary Bloody Mary’s. Once I had my daughter, almost 13 years ago, I embarked on a campaign of not passing my flying phobia on to her (successfully, I might add)….”Isn’t this fun?? Turbulence is just like a roller coaster – whee!” I didn’t go to acting school for nothing…Thing is, over the years I came to buy my own “story”….and I am a much less fearful flyer than I once was. You will still occasionally find me at some point on a flight scribbling over and over like Jack Nicholson in The Shining ….”Turbulence is a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Turbulence is a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Turbulence is a comfort issue, not a safety issue…” , a mantra picked up from some “lose your fear of flying” book I read along the way… However, I remain grateful for the progress I’ve made – grateful for the distraction of crying babies and grateful for a way to visit much loved friends and family who live so very far away.


Sofia @ As We Travel May 9, 2012 at 12:42 am

Glad to hear you’ve overcome your fear of flying, it’s so true that when we repeatedly tell ourselves a story, we eventually start to believe it ourselves – for good and bad!


Just One Boomer April 9, 2012 at 9:54 am

Loved your comment. When you have the time to summon your Boomeresque inner muse, please consider submitting a guest post.


Andrea April 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Suzanne – What about the married couple that sits wife at the window and husband at the aisle and tends to chat back and forth over the stranger-lady between them? I saw that girl’s complaint text message as the flight landed!


Just One Boomer April 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I thought of that one, but didn’t include it because the husband and wife doing that is usually Steve and me!


Elise Singer May 1, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Thank you for this fair-minded post! As a mother with 3 small children that travels (and a previous business jet setter sin children) I am annoyed by the people obviously, and seemingly exclusively, annoyed by children on planes. As you point out, being intrinsically annoying is a trait that many passengers have. Yet it is socially acceptable to roll eyes and grimace, moan or even complain out loud about being near children on a plane, even unrelated to how well behaved they are walking down the aisle. How would everyone feel about the same behavior with obese travelers, ‘just smoked my last cig to get through the flight’ passengers or ‘haven’t recently showered’ neighbors?!


Just One Boomer May 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I just read that Virgin Atlantic is permitting passengers to use cell phones on planes to call and receive calls. I suggest they also increase the number of US Marshalls on their flights!


AJ July 30, 2012 at 5:29 am

I too am not that great about flying and a screaming child certainly doesn’t help. Frankly, I totally endorse any restrictions like you’ve mentioned here, if not ENCOURAGE more of them. I realize it’s easy for me to say – I do not have kids – but when I pay a lot to fly, the last thing I need is the experience ruined by some child who can’t shutup or stop kicking my seat.

That said, who is the real problem? The negligible parents. Whomever mentioned the ambien, I’m ALL ABOUT THAT. Dose them all, I say.

As you can see, I am a hugely tolerant individual. 😉


Just One Boomer July 30, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I think you meant “negligent” parents—although the problem with negligent parents is that they are, indeed, negligible—i.e. barely detectable.

Given your vaunted “tolerance”, you might enjoy the other posts on Boomersque under the “Boomer Ops” tab, subtab, “Rants”.


Mother of four March 12, 2013 at 2:22 am

I must say that I found the article interessting, though also frustrating. I agree with limiting where children can sit in planes, in other words, from buisness class and the upper levels. However for those that have an issue with the children on a lane please remember that usually it is because it is the only way to get the family somewhere! It is impossible to go from North America to Europe on a boat anymore, air travel is a must. We have travelled with them on flights of up to 14 hours, and they are all quiet and stay in their seats other then for bathroom trips. The key is for parents to go prepared! Also some sympathy is very appreciated when the child’s ears may be in pain. I simply must say that I take HUGE issue with the idea of “drugging” the child. First off, neither myself or 3 of our children get sleepy with gravol so that is out, and some even makes them hyper! would you rather the parents’ give the child a does of meds that could in fact make them hyper instead! Also according to the pediatrician it is very dangerous and should not be done with babies. The best then is to schedule the flight during bedtime and hope for the best.

I understand your comments, but really must disagree with the drugging idea. Not safe. Not wise. and NOT recommended by any of the doctors we have dealt with during our years of travel


Just One Boomer March 12, 2013 at 3:17 am

Thank you for your comment. Seriously (?), that last little paragraph was intended to be humorous. Even while trying to be humorous, I stated that drugs should be for those who can’t tolerate children, NOT for the children. I do know some people who have to take something for anxiety just to get onto an airplane and others who will take something to help them sleep during a long flight. Honestly, even the best behaved children in the world might sometimes “lose it” on an airplane, especially when they have ear pain. I’m not unsympathetic. I’ve been there and done that. I even feel guilty for hoping that no families with small children are seated near me.
Apparently, I am traumatized enough by air travel that I have blogged about it more than once. Here’s my blog post about our last flight to Hawaii. I’m afraid children are once again mentioned — in a nice way:


Breanna Hayse August 16, 2017 at 1:53 pm

I just came across this blog as I am new to Zentagling. This article tickled me. Why? Because sometimes we don’t consider how the children feel about the obnoxious adults. Case and point- we were flying with my four-year-old (going on 40) British niece. She’s a great kid- well spoken, entertains herself, not figety. She was tired and wanted to sleep. From the moment we boarded, the older couple behind us were talking so loudly that we could hear every word- and it was nothing of interest either! About an hour into the flight, with no sign of them shutting up, with a loud sigh, she turned around and said to them, “If you please, use your inside voices. You’re being very rude and I would like to sleep.”
I wish I had the guts to look around to see the expression on their faces. I’m sorry, but I (and several others) had to applaud her for her gumption. Most of us grit our teeth and take it. I’d take kids like her any day over those adult who feel entitled to impose upon everyone around them and forget to use proper ‘inside’manners.
P.S. We barely heard a whisper from ANYONE through the rest of the flight!


Jess June 19, 2020 at 8:47 am

Haha, so many irritants on a plane. Even as a parent as I board I think, “Oh God, please don’t let our kids be THOSE KIDS.”

We travel often and I have to admit they have only been “those kids” once. I profusely apologized to everyone I could personally come into contact with.


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