Nothing dooms a trip quicker than spotting a pint-sized fellow passenger within a few rows of yours when you get onto the plane. You know the next fifteen hours will be a hellish nightmare of screaming, crying, and a toddler running amok through the cabin. There aught to be a law. Sometimes I know it’s just me being an ornery old cuss, but I’m not alone. My pro stance on the question of child abuse has been quantified by a new report that reveals a massive 83% of passengers would like to see adult-only areas on flights.
HolidayExtras.com polled 5,000 of its customers to find out what air passengers really want, and a flight without the kiddies came out tops. A third of responders went as far as saying they’d approve of flights that ban children completely. The rest lied and opted for cabins being set aside for adults only.
I know it’s not the kids’ fault. They are just being kids. Cool. Their parents, however, should be escorted off the plane and shot. At 30,000 feet in the air that may not be an option, so a panel of flight attendants, travel professionals, and etiquette experts weighed in on the subject, offering alternative suggestions. Senior Flight Attendant Anne Loew suggested if children are being unruly on a flight you should say something to mommy and daddy. If it doesn’t stop tell the flight attendant. Ms. Lowe evidently lives in a world where flight attendants still are actually of some help. If you are talking about an US carrier, the flight attendants are too busy screaming at passengers to sit back down and shut up to deal with a petty annoyance like a kid misbehaving.
Travel expert Richard Wishner suggests the best way to deal with a crying child is to turn up the volume on your headset, proving Mr. Wishner is not only an idiot but a whimp, unable to confront an unruly child.
Ms. Etiquette herself, Anna Post, Emily Posts’s illegitimate great-great-granddaughter, says when the kids act up, it’s not good to try to discipline someone else’s child; you don’t want to get into an argument with parents. And she’s right. But a curt, aggressive, “Control your fucking kids or I will” brooks no argument. Might not be polite, but it is effective.
Kirk Hanson, an Ethics Professor at a California university, outlines a three step plan not worthy of passing along, and only receives mention to note that only someone lost in the world of academia would devise a step by step outline to deal with unruly rugrats.
The panel convened to address numerous passenger related problems and offered the same degree of useless advice for each. The worst came in response to the question of whether or not you should recline your seat. Seems that doing so isn’t polite to those sitting behind you.
Flight Attendant Loew feels that if someone reclines and you can’t do your work, then you are permitted to ask them to please adjust their seat. Right. Because his ‘work’ is more important than my comfort. Forget that I paid for a seat that reclines. Fortunately, if I ignore my rear neighbor’s request and he summons Ms. Lowe, she’ll respond with a succinct, “Shut up and sit back down!”
Ms. Post says it’s okay to recline, just don’t do it fast; do it slowly or just halfway. She also feels that it is nice if you check to see if anyone has their computer open or has something that can spill on their tray before reclining. Okay, assuming you really are going to unbuckle and then contort your body to see what you neighbor out back is up to, cool. But halfway? So politeness dictates that both of you are then uncomfortable and inconvenienced? Sorry, Ms. Post, but I’m gonna have to sick Flight Attendant Loew on you.
Travel expert Wishner took a position at the back of the plane where he belongs, stating if the person in front of you reclines, cram your knees into the back of his seat. Wishner avoids face to face confrontations with children, but has no problem with a sneak attack from the back on an adult.
Mr. Hanson states that ethics and courtesy demand not asserting your “right” to recline all the way. He thinks one should always assess the impact your reclining has on the person behind. Uh, ethics? Oh, right. He’s an ethics professor, so he’d have to squeeze that in to prove he has but a tenuous grasp of the definition of ethics. And is clueless about air travel.
The group also addressed questions about what to do when a fellow passenger eats smelly food (that would be food they brought themselves, not the Japanese meal served to them on JAL), how to deal with a tall passenger whose knees encroach into your space (I’m pretty sure this started out with the problem passenger being a fatty whose rolls of blubber do the encroaching, but the panel wussed out, too timid to address this more frequent problem), and who gets the armrests in a three seat across configuration. On this one, I slowed down to read the responses, feeling they’d finally hit on an interesting question.
Flight Attendant Lowe says that the folks in the aisle seat can lean toward the aisle, and the window-seat passenger has the window to lean on. The poor middle-seat passengers are suffering enough: they get both armrests. A reasonable answer that proves Ms. Lowe has never actually flown as a passenger. If you are on the aisle and lean outward, Ms. Lowe or one of her friendly coworkers will ram her serving cart into your shoulder as often as possible. And the designers of aircraft have ensured the space between the seat and window is just wide enough to prevent using it as a head rest. (They also designed the pillows to ensure they are of the proper thickness that if you use them to bridge that gap, they’ll slip down and spend the rest of the flight wedged between your seat and the wall.)
Travel expert Wishner in an effort to avoid a confrontation at all costs, votes to split the baby in half: You share says he. The bigger guy gets the forward part of the armrest. Good answer Mr. Wishner; but what if both passengers are of equal size? Ha! Got ya you mealy mouthed little rodent! (And Mr. Wishner once again turns up the volume on his headset.)
Etiquette expert Post feels that there is no innate winner of the armrest battle. She suggests if you are sitting in the middle seat, try to claim one. Both, however, are not yours for the duration of the flight. Well, that is polite. I love polite people. I love polite seatmates. ‘Cuz that means, not being polite, I get both armrests. And I’ll probably take some of your floor space while I’m at it. Mahalos!
Kirk Hanson, professor of the arcane, proselytizes fairness requires the allocation of at least one arm rest to each traveler. Therefore, the side seats get the “outbound” armrests away from the middle seat. The middle passenger gets both armrests, in part as compensation for the dreaded middle seat. Okay. Simple question and the prof still felt compelled to throw a ‘therefore’ into his answer. And is wrong to boot. Sorry, but the idiot who booked too late to grab a good seat doesn’t deserve compassion from the rest of us. Darwinism rules the arena in airplane travel; you suck and ‘therefore’ you get stuck scrunched up like the pitiful looser that you are.
Finally, eliciting the biggest roll of the eyes, the group responded to the question of what you do when you are in the window seat, you have to go to the bathroom, and two strangers in the middle and aisle seats are asleep. Ms. Lowe, concerned ringing the bell for the flight attendant might be an answer, failed to respond.
Mr. Wisher, little ladyman that he is, feels safe with a sleeping neighbor and suggests climbing over them. I’m surprised he didn’t suggest kneeing them in the kidneys.
The ever polite Ms. Post suggests that you tap them on the shoulder. Sometimes the act of unbuckling your seat belt will wake them up. If not, tell them ‘its that time.’ It’s that time? What? You pee on schedule? It’s too impolite to use a word like pee, piss, urinate, or even ‘got to use the facilities’? A vague ‘it’s that time’ is the best option you could come up with? Sorry Ms. Post, but if you wake me from my drug induced sleep with ‘it’s that time’ I might think you mean the plane is crashing and decide I need to get in one last orgasm before I die. Hope you’re hot, Ms. Post, ‘cuz you’re gonna being joining the mile high club. Yup, it is that time.
And academia’s answer to Mr. Roberts, our good ethics professor, thinks it is the responsibility of the person in the aisle seat to initiate a group bathroom break every 90 minutes or so. Good grief, is this fool for real? Group potty breaks? Is that university or first grade you teach, Professor Hanson?
Of course the best answer to all but the crying brat question is to book a seat in the front of the plane where instead of being crammed shoulder to shoulder with a group of people who really should be taking the bus, you’ll be wined and dined in style and have plenty of room to stretch out while avoiding your fellow Personages Who Count (PWC) – That’s an upgrade from VIP, because not unlike the word ‘Hero, VIP has lost all of it’s original importance. Air Asia’s ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’ slogan may have seemed like a good advertising campaign to them, but sent shudders down my spine. I disagree. There should be both intelligence and financial qualifications put into place to weed out the masses who really shouldn’t be flying.
Considering that we are all adults, and at least half of us human, none of the annoyances the panel so inefficiently dealt with is a real problem. Man up and deal with them as they occur. Being the warm and wonderful person that I am, I do have suggestions for you:
First, on the who gets the armrest question, you’ll probably be surprised that my answer pretty much agrees with that little squirrel Mr. Wishner: you share. The larger seatmate takes the forward half, the smaller the back (uh, that’s anatomy, possibly physics . . . not ethics). And if both passengers are the same size, you arm wrestle for it.
Should you or should you not recline your seat? Except for during meal service, flop that baby back. This really is a stupid question. Airplane seats are designed to recline. If the gods didn’t intend for you to stretch out during a flight, they wouldn’t have suggested to Boeing to build the seats that way in the first place. And please Mr. Wishner, do cram your knees into the back of my seat . . .I’ll enjoy watching you limp off the plane.
Someone next to you chowing down on smelly food? You have two options. First, make loud retching sounds like you are about to hurl. While gagging, gasp out, “Maybe you’d better put that away!?” Option 2 is a bit more fun and possibly more satisfying. Rip out a long, wet, smelly fart. Then wink ate the muncher and say, “Whew! Thanks! No one will ever smell that one now!”
Time to pee? Well, seriously, a polite smile and an ‘excuse me’ is all that is necessary to alert your seatmate of your need to move out to the aisle. Why you need to move isn’t part of the equation. Whether you need to pee, stretch, walk about a bit, or go molest that cute little twelve year old you just spotted four rows back is none of their business. Since I often fly on Asian carriers, I usually excuse myself with “Sorry, pardner. Gotta go see a man about a horse.”
Not being from my country my seatmates will usually not understand this colloquialism, but Asians love American cowboys and the ‘pardner’ and ‘horse’ are enough to clue them in and considerably raise their opinion of me. The added bonus is this will often calm their fears over whatever I’ve been muttering in my sleep. They may even call the flight attendant and suggest the air marshals really don’t need to meet the plane after all.
The screaming and/or unruly brat is a more difficult problem. But the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Filair may have inadvertently provided a solution. On a routine flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to the regional airport at Bandundu late last year, Filair’s plane crashed killing all but one of the 20 passengers and crewmembers.
The lone survivor from the Czech-made Let L-410 Turbolet crash reported a stowaway crocodile on the flight escaped from its carrier bag and sparked an onboard stampede of terrified passengers that caused the small aircraft to lose balance and tip over mid-air The unbalanced load caused the aircraft to go into a spin and crash into a house. Ironically the crocodile survived the crash but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.
And there you have it: the answer to kids on the plane . . . hungry crocodiles or crazed, machete waving Congolese. Your choice. Buh Bye!