Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

February 9, 2011

No children please. We're business class.

I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I read a piece in the weekend's Irish Times, stating a recent survey which shows that 74% of all business class travellers get annoyed by screaming children on flights (cough, splutter).

It goes on to say that over half the business travellers surveyed want a 'family-only' section on flights where, and I quote, 'screaming children and their parents could be separated from business class passengers.' (spurts tea). One woman even sued Qantas last year after claiming a 3-yr-old screaming child damaged her hearing. The woman was 67.

Well, I've thought about this and have come up with a better idea.

Why not have a caged area at the back of the plane with some barbed-wire and electric fencing where all the 'screaming children' and their parents are corralled and guarded by the SAS just to make extra sure that nobody escapes and starts annoying the poor business people trying to concentrate on opening their tiny packet of butter to spread on their pumpkin-seed encrusted bread roll.

The piece then goes on to say, 'screaming children are not just an annoyance for passengers, but can be a mortifying experience for a child's parents.'

This statement is completely flawed.

It may surprise some business class travellers to learn that screaming children are not just an annoyance to passengers; they are an annoyance to parents too. Yes, really. We find it very, bloody annoying. You see, parents are human beings as well and would also love to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing flight where everyone is on their best behaviour and doesn't hit their brother or wriggle or spill things or throw up all over their mother.

I wonder what the 'business class' travellers have to say about giggly, excitable teenagers, screeching lasses and drunken lads going on stag and hen nights, couples who won't stop snogging all the way to Paris, people who are just a little bit too large for the average airline seat and spill over onto your side, old people who chatter to you about their health problems for the entire flight, or pervy businessmen who try to chat you up.....should we maybe put all of them in the cage at the back of the plane as well? Oh, and while we're at it, why not re-introduce smoking in the back four rows, just to make life really unpleasant for them?

Then again, if a family-only area was introduced, you can bet the parents would be slipping the flight attendants wads of crisp notes in a desperate bid to join the 'proper' people at the front and get away from the screaming kids; their own screaming kids.

What do you think? Is this nonsense or a good idea (the separate area, not necessarily the cage thingy!).



  1. I will confess to getting bothered by kids on flights (not that I have ever flown business class). The thing is, though - you can make complaints about screeching teenagers or drunken louts. They're old enough to know better, and the flight attendants can tell them to shut up. (And I feel perfectly comfortable not engaging with a yappy elderly person or telling a pervy businessman to f**k off.) Can't do that with a baby, but it doesn't make the experience any less headwrecking. Same with small kids - I've had hair pulled and seats kicked and the parents have, I'm sure, been exhausted and unaware, but it can make a travelling experience really unpleasant.

  2. Airlines can hardly keep people who book seats together in the same row, let alone properly book all famillies in to a section. Not practical. In any case, ridiculous. Although I have been on transatlantic flights with screaming babies (my own, mainly!), that's just life. Children are part of society, they deserve to fly if the need to, and people need to deal with it.

  3. This happened to me recently on the train back from London. A corpulent, be-suited, oleaginous bunsiness-mad complained to the guard that Charlie - my three year old - was talking - talking - in the so-called 'quiet' carriage. It wasn't loud; it wasn't unpleasant; we weren't even in adjacent seats. As the guard explained, the purpose of the quiet carriage is to spare passengers loud music or mobile conversations (the latter from the likes of him, he could've added) but then ended with the promise that he'd 'see what he could do' about moving him (not us, note) to first-class.

  4. I can see both sides here as I've endured a trans atlantic flight recently with three badly behaved kids in the seats behind where the parents were either unaware or couldn't be arsed to tell them not to keep kicking the seat in front and not to keep yelling and made me angry and I couldn't even to to sleep so in effect, it spoiled the end of my holiday.I'm a bit of a pain with my own child telling her to keep her voice down, not to put her feet near the seat in front, not to drape her hands over the headrest in front thus pulling that passenger's hair etc etc , so I do feel other parents should do their duty as well. It's funny, when you are a parent of very young kids you see things differently and there is an element of thinking tough luck guys we have a child/ren and you have to put up with them, but thinking back to pre children days (and also now that my youngest is 11 and pretty well behaved)you have a different perspective that other peoples children are great as long as they don't impinge on your own enjoyment. Of course, there are the loutish drunks, the fat smelly folk etc etc who also ruin a person's tranquility, so I guess we just have to put up and shut up,as usual in life. certainly not in a caged area!!

  5. I have recently lamented being 'that parent', and know both the fury of a passenger who considered her flight ruined by annoying children. i also recently spent 8 hours on a tranatlantic flight with my Girls, praying all the way that they would be good. They did their very best, but they still made noise: Threeva went into meltdown because she was overtired and in the end I had to strap her in whilst she screamed and wait until she fell asleep. I have no doubt it was a very painful 15 minutes for everyone on board and if i could have done anything else, I would because it felt like an eternity to me. One woman, as she disembarked, did tell me she was 'praying for me'...

    my feeling is that the business persons should have paid for adult-only flights and kept Silver Jet in business.....if you have paid to be on a flight, or a train, or a bus, you are equally entitled to be there, man woman or child. I don't like sitting next to teenagers who play music on their mobiles aloud, or drunk blokes eating kfc. Frankly, after never being given a seat whilst pregnant and on crutches, I drive everywhere i can now!

  6. I would actually LOVE a special "Families Only," section of the plane where there were a few rows taken out to make room for a small play space and a sleeping area for the kids and where the parents could chat with other sleep deprived, like minded zombies who understand what life is like with smallies and who wouldn't mind watching your 2 year old while your husband sleeps and you nip to the toilet for an unaccompanied pee. On the last transatlantic flight I was on, somewhere around the halfway point, a few of us gathered up in the area immediately behind first class where there's alittle extra leg space and let our kids play together while we chatted. It was lovely and the girls had a fab time playing with the other children. Much better then trying to contain them so as not to annoy the buggy eyed woman across the aisle!

  7. This is a tricky one. I love those baby cinema days when you can just throw your kid on the stage in front of the big screen and change their nappy without fear of reproach. Perhaps the family sections would be like that. If they threw in a bottle of wine for frazzled parents, I'd be there like a shot. Who wants to sit with the business *A*holes anyway?

  8. I'd love a family section on the plane too. Screams are considerably less painful to endure a few rows away. Which is where I'd be trying to get to without my children...

  9. Very tricky one - I have been on both sides and find my persona changes very much depending on which side of the fence I am sitting on. The only time I fly business class is when I am travelling with work, and generally on an overnight flight - with the expectation that I will be in the office bright and early the next morning. Having said this, I have been more disturbed by snoring middle-aged businessmen than small children on occasion!
    Contrast that with the experience of trying to get my 5yo not to continuously kick the seat in front when swinging her legs, yes, I think separate sections could be a good idea!

  10. I was on a flight when my DD was 11 months old & had an ear infection. She screamed for 3 solid hours, it was awful. I got a mixed reaction, most people ignored us, some sympathised, some tried to help & 2 stupid cows kept complaining to the stewards. Their volume & complaining increased in direct correlation to the amount of red wine they were drinking. I can still see their tannin stained teeth. A few minutes before we landed I started to cry and couldn't stop. Did they seriously think she was doing it on purpose? Or that she had a switch in her back I could turn off. Children are people, they're open, innocent, lay it all out on the table people. That means you get the good with the bad. I did threaten a kid once who kept swinging out of my seat on a long haul and pulling my hair. His father thanked me. He was about 12 in fairness, so he was pushing his luck. The child, not the father.

  11. I've only flown once with my kids, only to Spain, they were a mixture of good and bad. But I will say their contribution was to relieve the tedium for other travellers, who were giggling at their antics, especially in the airport queues. I had a really lovely chat with one woman about how much kids teach us to live and play in the now, rather than wasting time moaning in queues.

  12. I think all kids, pensioners, fat people, pervy business men, snogging teenagers and stag and hen parties should be put in the hold, whether they're travelling club or ecomony...

    ....together with snooty flight attendants and the incontinent who insist on barging up and down the aisles every five minutes...

  13. I'm sorry but when you choose to fly you have to be well aware of the fact that there may well be children on board. It is public transportation, after all. And, all I have to say to that is, oh well.

    Great post by the way. x

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  15. I hate dealing with my kids on flights especially as my older daughter always throws up. I think the fairest way would probably be to help parents offering Valium, earplugs and soothing backrubs - that might taket he edge off.

  16. I flew my dog on Pet Airways over Xmas (Chicago to Denver) and I'm now looking for Kid Airways to do likewise with the kids. (Just kidding.)
    Seriously - there is nothing stopping these whiners from chartering a plane and not allowing families on. Nothing whatsoever except they won't pony up the money.
    The airlines will never do this - if you look around any flight, it's always half full of families. The airlines can't lose the revenue.

  17. I agree with EmmaK!

    <3 your blog!
    Stopping by from:

  18. Oh I'm with Diney, I nag my daughter endlessly to behave well on flights, talk quietly, keep legs away from seat etc etc. On last long haul we had both fallen asleep and daughter had stretched out and her feet were on the lap of the lady next to me! Luckily she was asleep too and I gently lifted daughter off her without waking either! Worse bloody thing I ever suffered was an endlessly whinging vegan for 11 sodding hours complaining that her meals weren't on board. It was hell!

    Can they not put the Business men in a cage. We could send all the restless kids up to feed them through the bars! I was amazed at the number of families now flying business class. If the business men don't like it they should fly first one can afford to put their kids in there!!

    I once walked a crying baby (not mine) for hours around a long haul flight to try to give the mum a rest, poor woman was very stressed and exhausted.

  19. Great article Hazel, I also just read "Tall Tales etc" on the Independent, brilliant! x

  20. Discover how to book free flights using Travel Hacking.


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