Another day, another money spinning exercise to play on the concerns of people who hate children. Apparently, 43% people say the worst thing about flying is travelling with other people’s children. This surprises me. I always thought I wouldn’t be alone in thinking the worst passengers were the ones who reclined their seat so far back that their head was in your lap? Especially the larger passengers who have that extra weight to carry their seat a bit further back and it just gets to the point where you think it’s going to collapse and if it does then you’re going to break both your legs…
No, it’s other people’s children who are bad flyers. Or at least the idea of them. So the airlines have been talking about how to deal with this and one idea has been floating round for a while. Under proposals announced this week, the airlines are thinking of a surcharge of £63 for a child-free flight.
Now, let’s be clear. I don’t really like children. Only my own and a few belonging to family and close friends. But even I have my doubts over this.
I’m curious really. They’re very clear to state this is a child-free flight with the implication only that it will be quieter. How would those shelling out feel if they were then stuck on a flight with a hen party screeching as they knock back the duty free wine? Or a lad’s football team? I once sat next to a woman with perfume so strong it made me sneeze for a 12-hour flight. I sat next to someone else on a 24-hour flight who ate ALL the time. After two meals we settled down to try and nap – she ate a tube of Pringles, a Pot Noodle, a banana and a bar of chocolate and then we were served breakfast. I’d rather pay to avoid all of these people. Is this the first step towards segregation of all different kinds or are we just picking on parents because they’re too tired/ too worried about offending strangers/ too cross with themselves for forgetting some essential calming item to complain?
My point is that, despite having flown to the other side of the world and back, more than once, as well as a variety of medium and short term flights, I don’t remember having anyone’s children misbehave much on a plane. I do remember, however, adults behaving like absolute shits. How much of this policy is based on groundless prejudice? Have baby, will cry.
Of course, when it comes down to it, flying is a miserable experience. I hate it. It’s noisy, uncomfortable, cramped, humourless, and boring. No wonder babies sometimes cry. They have an excuse – they have no other outlet for their frustration. The rest of us eat Pringles and watch bad John Cusack movies.
But what I really hate about this is the assumption that it’s ok to fling money at a problem and not to turn around and ask people to be tolerant, polite and reasonable for a few hours. Or even ask if there’s anything you can do to help parents with a child who is upset? It’s monetising people’s base instincts and making their rudeness and irritability acceptable behaviour.
There is a flip side to this, however. If everyone expects her to behave badly, I can just go ahead and let her express herself the way she wants. After all, they’re expecting it to happen. I can relax and stop worrying about being responsible. I never have to see these people again, they get a good tale to dine out on for a couple of weeks and she can do what she wants for once. Brilliant. Now if only the airlines could confirm that, as others are paying more to avoid my child, I can fly cheaper with her, then I’ll book a flight…