No children on my plane, I’ve got rights.

I’ve got a bone to pick. Several airlines (mostly in the east, and namely Air Asia and Malaysian airlines) have instituted child-free areas on some of their planes. Interesting concept. Now, I have kids, and I’m not wild about flying with them and I’m even less wild about flying around someone else’s kid on the rare occasion when I don’t have my own, who doesn’t want to enjoy their child-free time? But, I’m not sure I agree with the whole precedent. From my point of view, that of a mother often flying with two children, airlines would be better off creating child-friendly zones rather than child-free zones. Seriously. A happy child flying is a gazillion times less obnoxious than a drunk businessman flying, and if you’re making the child happy you’ve got happy parents flying and happy parents buy more tickets. When I get on a plane with my husband and two kids, whichever class I happen to be flying in at the moment I’ve just spent almost four times as much as the person flying alone next to me. Because kids practically pay full price.

And unless they’re making their child-free zones sound proof, it’s really just a marketing scheme because I can tell you, from direct experience, that if there’s a screaming baby in the middle of economy class you can hear him all the way at the head of the plane. So why not make the baby more comfortable, and his parents more relaxed, so he isn’t screaming through the entire flight and everyone can sleep.

Starting in the airports, with dedicated lines at security, where they scan strollers without having to close them and lift them onto the machine and preferential lines, not for the businessman and his teeny tiny laptop case, but for the frazzled mother travelling alone who has managed to take the concept of multitasking to a whole new level but could still actually do with some help. With amenities on the plane as well as basic necessities like diapers and milk, baby food and snacks because accidents happen, you can forget something and your child doesn’t have to go dirty and hungry for 6 hours. They remember to stock the gin, they can remember to stock the milk. (Like Japan Airlines does,  and Lufthansa) Make us pay for them, but make them available. Slightly larger bathrooms, so my toddler and I can both fit in there. Games and tv programs, specific seats for children so they can actually sleep and not drive everyone around them batshit crazy because it’s two in the morning and they can’t fall asleep sitting up (like the SkyCouch on Air New Zealand).

I’d gladly pay for my child to fly more comfortably, and any parent who’s ever had to travel with a young child would, I’m sure, pick the airline that made their flight more pleasant. After all, all these children that are such a nuisance, such an annoyance on flights, are future customers in the making.

And let’s talk about us parents. Flying is nerve-wracking. You’re wrestling your kids through a crowded airport with more luggage than a football team, you’re afraid of loosing your children and your sanity along with your flight. You’re stressed and that stress is going to make your kids go apeshit. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to know that you’re flying with a company that wants your business and wants to make you comfortable rather than the douchebag flying alone and giving you the evil eye when you and your brood make your way down his aisle, like his mere presence is somehow more relevant, more important, more untouchable than your own?

Airlines shouldn’t be making child-free zones, they should be making child-friendly zones. I’m betting there’s more money in it for them at the end of the day, because any parent is going to gladly spend that extra dollar if it makes their own experience more comfortable. And everyone else on the plane gets to be more comfortable right along with them. Win-win.

Because the next step is child-free flights, I vote for asshole free flights, how about you?

 

If you liked this post please consider sharing it with your readers, almost all of us will have to travel with our children sooner or later and if enough parents raise their voices maybe the airlines will start giving a crap what we think…

Passport, ticket, bags, and a crap load of emotional baggage

I’m writing this on a Tam airlines flight from Milan to Sao Paulo, watching the Big Bang Theory, feeling guilty.Whenever I fly with the kids I dream about the days when I flew alone, just me and my backpack. Apparently, after you have kids you become physically incapable of flying light.

I’m on my way to visit my 102 year old grandmother in Sao Paulo (Brazil), I haven’t seen her in a year, and since she’s not doing as well as she was I decided to take an impromptu trip to visit her. I’m only going to be gone for six days (two of which are travel days), and yet I managed to board the flight with a suitcase (well, two in fact, but one is just a suitcase containing another suitcase that I borrowed from my Mom when I was in Houston) and a carry on trolley along with my purse. Jesus.

Also, along with the physical baggage, there’s an entire Louis Vuitton trunk of emotional baggage. I carry classy emotional baggage.

I feel guilty for leaving the kids. I feel guilty both for the physical act of leaving and the fact that part of me was happy and excited to do it. I get to fly alone! No wrestling toddlers and strollers and enough luggage to invade Germany through the airport, no dirty looks at security checks that take an hour and a half of stripping myself and two screaming kids practically down to our underwear, no singing and playing games and bribing and trying to make over-excited, tired, whiners go to sleep without incurring death glares from all those who surround me.

I get to spend time with my Grandma and my Mom (who’s meeting me there, hence the returned luggage) like an adult, I can drink, go out to dinner, and go shopping at a moments notice. I am responsible for no one and nothing. And that makes me happy. Ah the wracking guilt, though. For the first time in years I packed the day I was leaving, I forgot half the stuff that I wanted to bring, and I didn’t care. Lately, a trip down the road entails the organizational preparation of a military incursion into hostile territory. It was just so liberating to not give a damn that I forgot my jacket.

I’ll only be gone a few days, the kids have their Dad, the Nanny and their Grandma will move in on Thursday, when they’ll probably really start to miss me, as an added distraction. I’ve even got an aunt on standby in case they get hit by the blues; plus the Husband has fun activities planned for the weekend. I’m positive they’ll be fine. And yet I feel guilty. Guilty that I didn’t take them with me, guilty because I didn’t want the expense and the hassle, guilty because they’re so little and I remember missing my parents when they were gone, guilty because I’m not doing my job. I’m basically taking a vacation from my family. And yes, I know in my mind that I’ll come back more relaxed, more patient, more fun, but in my heart I feel a little bit like a traitor.

Linking up with Shell today at Things I can’t say for Pour your heart out.