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The (un)friendly skies

I don’t usually use this blog as a platform for my own personal rants, but I wanted to share this experience and get some feedback. We flew home from Orlando today, and poor weather in Boston delayed our flight by nearly two hours. If you’ve got small children, you know that airport delays are especially difficult. Most parents, like myself, will meticulously schedule their flights to coincide with nap times, to allow for maximum peace and quiet in the air. This afternoon’s flight should have been perfect – a 2:30pm departure would push off right as my children’s eyes grew heavy. But after the delay, we instead ended up with an overtired toddler on our hands, as did many other parents on the flight. With sympathetic nods, we all struggled to get our children settled. I was sitting next to my four-year-old, while my husband, seated directly in front of us, was wrangling our two-year-old.

I knew I was in trouble when the guy next to me started rolling his eyes and huffing at the very first peep. For the duration of the flight, he behaved as if my kids were carrying an infectious disease. Even after both kids were sleeping (about 3 minutes after takeoff, with the little one lying in my lap), he harrumphed grumpily any time a little foot would inadvertantly brush his leg. I was torn between feeling awful for being such an apparent bother to him, and feeling completely indignant that he was so flamboyantly distressed by the presence of children on a flight – from Orlando of all places. All things considered, my kids were great – and if he had been there for the red-eye flight home from Las Vegas in September, he would have agreed. But even as I write this, I can understand that it must have been hard to be trapped in the midst of a chorus of tired, shrieking children.
I thought about apologizing after the plane landed, but he was just so unfriendly I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Should I have? What would you have done?


  1. Sheri, I’ve had this happen a number of times as we’ve traveled quite a bit with our son both for business and for fun. My 4 year old is a fantastic traveler and we always come prepared with lots of activities, snacks and videos so as not to disturb anyone on the flight. We as parents take great care to make sure that we our courteous to other passengers and yet I’m always amazed on the rude looks and glances. My husband and I love to travel and love sharing it with our son and so I just ignore these types of encounters because it’s not worth getting huffy over. I’ve actually had grumpy types tell me after a flight how well behaved my son is so I choose to change their minds with our actions vs. words.

  2. I would never have apologized. It sounds like your kids settled in pretty fast, and it was smooth sailing once that happened. Perhaps he should have been fishing for an apology to the airline or whomever controls the weather and the delays that occur…Not your fault!!! I fly w/my kids alone A LOT and I do my best to try not to make eye contact w/people–for fear of getting a look. I’d rather just focus positive energy on the kids, and let strangers stew if they need to. On that note– I have noticed in the last couple of years that EVERYONE (most) seems to be wearing headphones and tuning out to all of the handheld (or seatback) devices and could barely even hear what I may be dealing w/at the time.

    PS–Alone on our last trip back from spring vacation week a couple of weeks back, and had to wait 4 hours in the airport w/my 5 and 2 year old. They were awesome. After the airport hassles, still had to embark on a 3 hour journey home. Thank God for Song airline’s Mango-tini’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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