Look, I’ll be brutally honest here: My 3-year-old can be a real pill. She has a glorious and large personality, which can rear its less-than-glorious but still large head at rather inconvenient times. Including on airplanes. I’ve long since reconciled the fact that she will not behave perfectly at the moments when I most want her to. I’d like to think I can control her every mood and action, but alas, I cannot. As such, at the moments when she is behaving less-than-perfectly, I deal, and everyone around us has no choice but to deal, too, especially when we are up in the air. Many others have been in the same position with their kids. It’s what it is.
I was appalled last month when news surfaced of a family kicked off a Jet Blue flight after a toddler had a tantrum. The parents did what they could and said on the Today show that the episode was over in a matter of minutes (not hours, as was reported by some media outlets). The airline’s reaction seemed overly dramatic to me. If the crew can handle a 747, surely they can handler a preschooler.
Now comes news that another airline called the police after two young children refused to stay in their seats on an airplane, according to The Huffington Post.
An Alaska Airlines crew asked the Port of Portland police to meet an incoming flight from Long Beach, Calif., to talk to a family about keeping their 3- and 8-year-old kids in their seats. Following the chat with the cops, an Alaska Airlines supervisor spoke to the family about complying with the regulations, too.
I’m not even sure what to say. Surely the police have better things to do than help an airline enforce FAA policies as they apply to children. Couldn’t the pilot have come out and talked to the kids instead? Since when have kids become such monsters that grounding a flight or calling the police has become necessary?
I have no doubt there are some kids who are beyond a nuisance on airplanes. But until the airlines start banning kids altogether (and not just in first class), they need to start learning about the best ways to deal in situations when a child isn’t behaving like an adult. Because they are children, and while some parents will claim their offspring are little angels at all the most important times, there are plenty more whose kids have off hours, or off days, in which they aren’t able to understand why they have to stay seated on command.
Kids don’t have the right to run around screaming like banshees at will on airplanes. But airline crews need to readjust their thinking and their own behavior and reactions so that booting off a family after a 5-minute tantrum or calling the cops on a preschooler doesn’t become par for the course.
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