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You may have recently seen, or at least heard, about the video of a young child who reportedly had an eight-hour tantrum on a Lufthansa flight from Germany to Newark. I watched the video, and have had a hard time figuring out how to address it here in a constructive and ethical way. I feel absolutely terrible for the child, his parents, and everyone else around them on that flight. I’m not going to link to the video as it already has close to one million views, and while I am not sure I would have believed just how bad it was without seeing it myself, I also don’t think that it is necessarily best to have this little boy’s situation and face blasted around the internet for everyone to watch.
This was not a baby or even a young toddler crying on the plane off and on for hours, as that is unfortunate, but in a different category. This little boy appeared to be of preschool age, maybe in the three to four-year-old age range, though I could be slightly off on that estimation since size can be deceiving in either direction. Beginning while they are still on the ground in Germany, and then continuing while making the flight to the United States, he screams (and screams, and screams), climbs on the seats, goes around the aisle screaming, bangs on the ceiling, and looks to be out of control at times.
The mother can be heard telling him to calm down and trying to get the iPad going. I’m not clear if there was another parent present or not. I don’t know why this family was traveling, if this is within the realm of regular behavior for this boy, or any other context for what happened beyond what you can see and hear in the video. I know better than to make assumptions, so I won’t begin to speculate on any of that other than to say the problem isn’t always as simple as “bad parenting”, so simplifying it to that level probably isn’t productive.
While I do advocate for families to get out there and travel with their little ones, I also think that there can be times when it isn’t the best moment to travel. Crying or screaming is unfortunate for everyone, but probably not actually dangerous. My concern for this situation is at what point does crawling on seats or going through the aisle become unsafe? Certainly, there have been reports of families with young children getting removed from the plane when the little one won’t stay buckled in their seat. Sometimes that might have been a premature action, but that sort of behavior can absolutely reach a point when it is a safety concern for the child and everyone around them.
I have no clue if we can have a respectful discussion about how airlines should handle a somewhat out of control little one, but I’d like to try, as this situation appears to have been one that wasn’t particularly safe for anyone involved. Should there be a set amount of time parents have to gain control of their child, a certain number of warnings, or some sort of other measure that allows for an unfortunate but normal temporary toddler or young child meltdown, but also maintains the safety of the child and those around them for situations that escalate?
I hope that the family got where they need to be and don’t have to experience a flight like that again anytime soon. I hope the same for the passengers and crew.