So anyways, I was reading this article in Traveller on the weekend. On the surface, it’s another in a line of kids behaving badly on flights. Underneath it’s about a little more than that.
There’s been a few of these recently- and they’ve got both the Mum brigade and the ‘it didn’t happen in my day’ grey power up in arms.
As a Mum who has taken a toddler on flights in the days before ipads (yes, those days did exist) and armed only with (wait for it) books and colouring pads for an 8 hour flight where there was no in seat entertainment working (yes, you heard it right), I do know what it’s like to try and entertain a bored child. I’m saying nothing more on that front.
I have, however, been in a similar situation to the writer of this article.
It was on a Virgin America flight between New York and LA- the first five hours of what would be (with stops) more than a day travelling.
I was in the first row in economy, in the window seat- something I usually avoid (I have the worst bladder in history).
Sailing up the aisle was a woman with huge hair, huge sunglasses in a full length (I hope it was fake, fur) coat. Running behind her trying to get her attention was a 5yr old boy. Behind him was someone else with a long-suffering expression on her face. The three were travelling together, but due to the boy’s tantrum in the terminal, seating plans had changed. The fur woman (the boy’s mother) was supposed to be sitting in business class. Her companion was to have been looking after her son in economy.
What followed was the most uncomfortable flight I’ve experienced.
On getting the boy seated, fur woman took out her blackberry and spent the next five hours emailing and ordering cokes, chips and lollies for her son. Being a skilled multi-tasker, she was able to complete her orders without looking up from her phone.
Beside me, her son spent the next five hours opening and closing the tray table (at least twice with a full coke still on it), kicking me, splashing spilt coke and ice cubes and crumbs of chips in my direction, and generally doing whatever he could to drag his mother’s attention away from her phone.
About three hours into the flight, I mentioned that she might like to stop her son from kicking me. Her reply?
‘Are you English?’
‘No, I’m Australian.’
‘Oh,’ she said looking me up and down. ‘Australia is full of savages. I don’t have time for this- I’m trying to get a deal over the line- you look after him. I shouldn’t even be this far back- that’s what I brought my sister along for.’
Covered in coke and the chip crumbs- that I’d be spending the next 20 hours wearing- I felt a short burst sympathy for her son…before annoyance took over again.
Thankfully for me, cabin crew had heard the exchange, and stepped in to have a word with her…not that it did much good.
In the seat behind me was a woman travelling with two children of similar age- at least I think they were, I didn’t really hear much from them other than laughter.
Which brings me to my final point- I’ve had more flights made uncomfortable by rude adults than I have by bored children. In fact, on many a flight, the smile and joy of a child reminds me just why I this whole travel business is so incredibly exciting.
What about you? Have you any stories to tell?