Kids on airplanes … believe it or not, it’s an incredibly divisive topic. So much so that I recently wrote an article asking the question: Should airlines offer kid-free flights? There are lots of people who believe the airlines should accommodate passengers who just want some peace and quiet without the constant threat of screaming, sniffling, seat-kicking kids.
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A kid crying for a few minutes here and there on your flight is bothersome for sure but what if the kid screamed for the majority of a long flight? Henry Beasley is a TikToker who posts under the handle @balubrigada. He recently shared a video that went viral about his 29-hour flight to Berlin where a young child screamed what seemed like nonstop for much, if not most, of the flight. Watch the video below:
@balubrigadaHey babe, how was your flight?♬ original sound – Balu Brigada
In the video, you can hear the child wailing in the background and from the different angles and lighting in the clips, you can tell that it was going on and on and on … and on … Beasley adds his dry commentary on the video, commenting on the child’s projection, stamina and overall performance. Though clearly frustrated, he does seem to take it all in stride.
What’s a parent to do?
As the parent of two young children, I feel for everyone on that airplane. Because you know who hates a screaming kid on an airplane more than you do? The parents. Trust me – the parents are stressed, their anxiety is through the roof and they acutely feel every last stare and glare being directed their way.
On the one hand, it is definitely the parent’s job to keep their kids as quiet and well-behaved as possible. When I travel with my kids, I am armed to the teeth with snacks, drinks, activities, games, toys and the piece de resistance, their iPads and headphones. Here are the 14 products I use to help keep my kids quiet on an airplane.
I also try to schedule flights when I know it will coincide with their naptimes or when they’re bound to be zonked. My husband and I run them around as much as possible before boarding to get the wiggles out so they’re more likely to need downtime and hopefully fall asleep.
I feel extremely fortunate that both of my kids are happy little travelers who love getting on airplanes. I don’t let them use their iPads at home so when we board a plane, it’s a screen-time free-for-all and it’s a strategy that has worked. So, I don’t know first-hand what it’s like for those poor parents who struggle to quiet and console their kids for hours on end on an airplane.
But what I do know is that sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t settle your kid down. Sometimes, there’s no toy or game or sugar-coated snack that will keep them quiet. I also know that all kids are different and they could be crying for any number of reasons. The most troubling reason is that the change in cabin pressure can be really painful for their little ears.
Why do kids cry on airplanes?
According to Live Science, “there is general agreement that the pressure caused by flying at altitude is particularly difficult to bear for babies and toddlers. There is a fundamental anatomical difference between baby and adult ears, Dr. Simon Baer, a consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon in the United Kingdom, told Live Science. “Certainly, one of the main reasons babies cry on planes is that they are not good at pressure equalization in the middle ear, as the infantile Eustachian tube does not generally function as well as [the one in] adults,” Baer said.”
The article goes on to quote Gordon Harrison, the chief audiologist at the U.K. optical and hearing retail chain Specsavers, who says that “a simple way to help ease the effects of pressure on the ear is to introduce as much air as possible to the ear via swallowing or yawning.”
I always travel with bottles of water for my kids (it’s best if the bottle has a straw) and lollipops so they have something to suck on during ascent and descent. Breastfeeding babies, giving them a bottle or letting them use a pacifier are other ways to fend off the effects of changes in cabin air pressure.
But the truth is, kids cry for a multitude of reasons, from being hungry or tired from an exhausting travel day to discomfort, pain or general uneasiness. And for babies and young toddlers, they don’t have the words to express what the problem is, leaving them wailing and the parents wishing they had just stayed home. It’s hard. For everyone.
Have some compassion
Another TikToker shared a video with a screaming kid, asking why there aren’t adult-only flights because she would pay so much money. But TikToker @itsme_lisap replied with her own take, a different perspective for dealing with this frustrating situation, suggesting people grow up and lead with kindness. Watch her video below:
@itsme_lisap #stitch with @Mo adult only flights would be a great business venture though #kidsarepeople #momsoftiktok #parentsoftiktok #kidsonplanes #leadwithempathy ♬ original sound – Lisa P
So, what do you think? Should airlines finally offer kid-free flights? Should parents with kids just stay home? Should passengers try to help struggling parents out? Or should they just put their noise-cancelling headphones on and deal with it?