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A question posted on Milepoint the other day got me thinking – the basic premise was, “What do you do if you are sitting near a young child (not your own) who is acting up on a plane?” The original poster had experienced a flight in business class from Sydney to Singapore where the following happened:
…..we sat in the middle two seats right behind a mom, dad, and 3.5 year old daughter. Mom and daughter were in the middle seats while dad was in the single seat by the window.
Before we even took off the girl was loud already. Screaming. Not crying but just being loud as if she were on a playground. It continued throughout the flight. I saw her head from time to time above the seats meaning she was standing on the seat.
Mom and dad made no attempt to tell her to be quiet or get down.
I responded some in that Milepoint thread, and my general thoughts were that unless the child was truly dangerously out of control, or it was directly impacting you negatively in a significant way, to just suck it up, put your noise-cancelling headphones on, and chalk it up to an unlucky seating assignment. This is the same as if I am seated next to someone who has a strong odor, snores, talks more than I like, is drunk, leans on me, or otherwise is less than my ideal seatmate. At the end of the day, even in a premium cabin, it is public transportation, and it is just luck of the draw in terms of who will be on your flight.
However, if you determine that something must be done, then the two main options are to either say something directly to the parents, or to say something to the flight attendant. Based on the responses in that Milepoint thread, some think that the best approach is to be direct, but polite, and say something to the parents themselves. Some think that might lead to some hurt feelings or controversy, so it is better to go via the flight attendant.
Of course with young children, if they are jumping on seats, yelling, etc. it is the parents who should be stepping up. If you let them, kids will be kids, and will treat the airplane like recess. They have to be taught when it is appropriate to run, jump, and scream, and when it is appropriate to sit and be quiet. Obviously flights are more of a sit and be quiet situation where you play iPad….
It is not the time that you scream and bang drums…..
Or blow your party horn!
I have my own thoughts on this, but I am curious as to what yours are? How bad would a child have to be misbehaving for you to feel action of some sort on your part is necessary? Then, what course of action do you think is best? I’m also interested to know from parents how they would like someone to raise this sort of issue if it were your kid that was found to be disruptive to others on a plane.