Discounted Seating Near Children on Planes

Normally, the origins of these articles stem from mainstream (and sometimes not-so-mainstream) news and social channels of controversy. Alas, this one is not so, but more an unfortunate reaffirmation of a secretly held dream of mine. One that, I’m sure, will not win me large numbers of support, but since I have now been aggravated one time too many, the dusty opinion I’ve kept silent for so long has finally been forced out.

But before you blame me for this seemingly non-PC standpoint…. blame the 2 year old sitting behind me on a flight  last week. 

Yes. I did just say that. Perhaps I should say blame the mother of the 2 year old child, but really, maybe blame lies with both. Perhaps it’s time the airline gets involved?

Let’s discuss.


So I’ll admit, I had a long day. I was away for a few days at meetings, then we missed our flight back to Melbourne and hurried onto the last interstate flight of the evening, thankful that we didn’t need another night of accommodation away. We settled into the seats – 4 of us split as we were not originally meant to be on this flight – simply glad that we had at least made the journey. I noticed a small child in the seat behind me (alarm bell rings) but I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt.

Said child was called *Sophie, and was pleasantly looking out of the window for the majority of take off apart from regular (piercing) voluminous shrieks of excitement at the stunning view. I agreed with her, the view was great, but my ear drums, already under the pressure of take of, did not share her enthusiasm.

This progressed into regular kicking of my chair, followed by arms through and around my chair – there goes my nap on the way home then. (Mother did interject, but only to soothingly say, twice, ‘Sophie dear, now don’t kick the chair”, which I appreciated, again more because dear Sophie was genuinely excited, so extreme telling off was not really called for, although this still did not help my trip).

Now, Sophie was actually a pleasant child. I could tell that she was genuinely happy about the exciting trip, and not bawling her eyes out in a tantrum. This mildly made up for the discomfort my eardrums, back and peripheral body area around the chair suffered in the form of disturbance. I realise it could have been significantly worse, she could have been crying, puking (beautiful colloquialism of ‘boking’ in Northern Ireland for this one) or worse still….. been an annoying ADULT on a plane.

Actually, worse than ALL of that…..? L O N G  H A U L. Experience any of this long haul and you have my sympathies. This was merely interstate this  time, although I’ve experienced screaming children for 15 hours in flight before now.

Now before you say I’m going to complain because this was a business trip, firstly, I have exactly these issues while travelling for pleasure and secondly, I’m not stuck up, just like to enjoy the comfort I’ve supposedly paid for.

Business travellers probably prop up a lot of domestic travel, and yes, of course there’s business class, but I may be just as likely to get said disturbance here or in first class for that matter (I know small, well-off children who travel first class all the time… yet a tantrum is a tantrum.)

I’m also expecting “so you’re clearly not a mother” responses if any to this. Well, I’m not, good guess, and I’m not ashamed of that, nor do I need to be. I am absolutely not a child hater, I am currently happily choosing to be childless. But guess what, that choice was because (for many reasons, but including that) I would prefer not to spend my down child around people under 15 for now. It does not make me evil, just unashamed of my own lifestyle choice. But this is by the by, and I digress – lets leave this can of worms for another article!

So what am I suggesting?

No lets not discriminate against the children, I realise it’s not their fault. I don’t think adult only flights really solves this as children do have to travel too and indeed should be allowed to. But as a full fare paying passenger, shouldn’t I get the ‘comfort’ (I use this term loosely on an aircraft) I paid for? Business OR personal travel. I also realise that is a whole other kettle of fish identifying and isolating the really annoying adult passengers, and that this is never going to be achievable, but I guess we should still improve where we can.

Could we have a childrens‘ area of the plane? It could be more pleasantly and child friendly decorated should the airline wish, and keep children in one area (with parents of course.) Of course, that leaves extra seats on some flights, and too few on others. Hmm.

However, it was suggested to me that when booking seats, that when a child is booked into a seat, perhaps it should turn red (for danger? I guess any specified colour would do) and then other fare paying passengers could choose if it bothered them or not, where to sit in accordance to that. Gets difficult though if you have booked early, which I guess is the argument for an area allocated.

Or how about, (and this is my personal favourite) discounted seats surrounding a child if you are not part of it’s family? That way I feel compensated and less likely to become irked at the potential for annoying behaviour, and extra specially pleased with the child if they were good.

Clearly there are pros and cons of all of this, and sadly, I do not think the airlines will actually get this off the ground (poor pun intended). This means I resort to prayer that on flights, particularly long haul, children, annoying adults, and anyone remotely ill gets put at the opposite end of the plane, or ideally on another flight. Sadly, I don’t want to pay to sit in a crèche (I’ll include irritating Adults in this disparaging comment too) for a long haul flight, I can do that for free in the city if I like.

Told you it wouldn’t happen.

Unfortunately, what topped the entire thing off? Sophie actually had a cold, and sadly, now I do too. (You all probably think I deserve that for having an opinion remotely against children in my travel space.)  Thanks for sharing Sophie, you were actually quite cute…. If I was sitting further away.


Now I realise there are lots of points of view and I did find the following interesting, taken directly from and credited to commenters on Budget Travel‘s News Week site. I have my own views on some of these comments, but have (at this point) refrained from going there. For now, I’m just putting this idea out there, hence the references and more focus this time on experience and opinion.

From a parent who’s been criticized:

I’ve been given horrible looks, overheard people talking about my 10 month old baby, been asked to “Please move to the back of the plane” or “Please keep your baby quiet”…like I want my baby to cry! Who’s being more childish in this situation? The baby who’s ears are hurting or the adult in the next row who forgot their earplugs? Maybe you should move to the back of the plane, not the mother and child. NEWSBREAK: Babies Cry! Hello!!—Sari

From a parent who is disappointed with other parents. (I liked this one)

I don’t think they should ban kids, they should just ENFORCE RULES and make THE PARENTS RESPONSIBLE! I have four kids, all under age 12 and I have been thanked so many times by people on planes and in restaurants because my children were seated while other kids were screaming, running down the aisle or in one case rubbing soap from the airplane lavatory on peoples armrests. Fine the parents or ask them to leave.—Patricia

From a traveler who wants airplanes to have designated areas for families.

I definitely wish airlines would (at a minimum) limit children under 12 or so to their own section of the plane so child-free travelers aren’t subjected to children running up and down aisles, kicking seats, crying, or screaming. Even better would be if airlines offered “children-free” flights during peak travel times for business travelers.—Evelyn

From another traveler who agrees:

Let’s put all of the folks with children under 5 years of age in the back of the plane where they can enjoy each others company and not bother so many other folks. You shouldn’t punish good parents. Don’t say that is discrimination because we did it with the smokers in restaurants! —Charles

From a parent who dislikes the idea of “family sections on planes”:

It’s not fair to separate parents with children from the rest of the group is people like me who have very well behaved children, it’s not fair to those children that they should have to put up with misbehaving children either. Maybe changing seats once the flight takes off is a better idea. The flight attendants SHOULD speak up for the rest of the people on the plane who deserve a comfortable and peaceful ride. —Lori

From another parent who also dislikes the idea of family sections on planes:

To me, flight attendants and the airlines need to deal with the behaviors individually instead of banning a group or seating them somewhere else. What if we need to fly, and the “children’s area” is booked for that flight? We only have one flight a day to our destination to visit my husband’s family, this could set us back several days, or we could just have to cancel altogether. I make sure I am well prepared for flights with lots of snacks, books, toys, and a touch of Benadryl for my two small children. You shouldn’t punish good parents.—Maureen

From a traveler who thinks parents should not travel with sick children:

I totally agree that traveling with a sick child is difficult but that is why travel insurance was invented!. If your child happens to be sick, it is prudent to consider canceling the trip – this simple action will benefit your child by preventing exposure to additional germs and allow other passengers to travel in peace.—Yanna

From a frequent global traveler who’s disappointed with other adults:

Think about all of the times you’ve been bothered by adults in restaurants and on planes. More times than by kids, I’ll bet. The loud couple behind you that talk incessantly, the smelly guy next to you, the people walking down the aisle that hit your arm, the man that moves the back of your seat whenever he gets his fat butt up, the smoker constantly hacking pieces of his lung up, the guy on his 3rd beer that won’t stop burping, the crotch in your face as they put luggage overhead. Why aren’t we banning adults?

Read more:


(*Yes, I made the name up as I’m attempting to represent her properly and anonymously, but it did begin with an S.)

Other Interesting Articles (I’m not alone. Oh and this list is most definitely NOT exhaustive…)

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Business, Entertainment, Multiculturalism, People, Uncategorized


Digital and Comms nerd working in an INGO. PhD researcher (technology / gender / International development / fragile and conflict affected states / South Sudan). Bibliophile. Writer. Musician. Views my own.

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8 Comments on “Discounted Seating Near Children on Planes”

  1. James Hill
    October 27, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    I’ve been on the Melbourne to LA flight on more than one occasion where I’ve had a screaming, distressed child behind me. I have sympathy for the parents of infants, because there’s not really a lot they can do, but when a child screams for hours and hours on end it makes an already stressful and unpleasant task torturous. I’ve also been on flights where children old enough to know better run and scream down the aisles and kick the backs of seats while the parents do their best to ignore them.
    I’d love to see a family’s section on a plane, but I doubt it’d ever happen. The push in modern airline is to make things more uncomfortable, not less. We’ll be lucky to have seats on airplanes before this decade is out.

    • October 31, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      Maybe airlines can hand out headphones with noise cancellation on request. That would be brilliant.

  2. Anonymous
    October 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    I have been travelling all of my life and you just have to suck it up or stay home. When and if ever you become a parent your thoughts on this subject might just change.

    • October 29, 2011 at 9:26 am #

      So because you made the decision to be a parent everyone else has to suffer for it? I didn’t think this was an indictment against parents, just that with a little organisation airline companies could make long journeys a lot easier for everyone.

    • October 31, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      When and if I become a parent, I know it’d still irritate me, including my own children when they play up. To not admit that, you’d have to have the tolerance of a robot, whether you love children or not. Not all parents are bastions of tolerance and understanding… believe me.

  3. Laura M
    October 31, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    This is an interesting article with some interesting thoughts. I have travelled many times on airlines with children, and I must say, that on the whole it doesn’t bother me. I think this is probably because I work with children and I am used to the way that they behave. They behave, shock horror, like children! Yes there are children who behave badly, but there are also adults who behave badly on planes. I think that my trip on airlines has been made worse by adults behaving badly – refusing to put their seats up when it was time for meals, talking really loudly, complaining about just about everything, threatening to sue when the plane was delayed (yes it is annoying, but just suck it up!).

    I do wonder, however, what the world is coming to when we cannot be tolerant of the smallest in our world, children. There are a few who do not behave, yes, but do we punish the whole lot? And where do we draw the line? Technically a child is anyone under the age of 16. We know that developmentally a child at 2 is very different to a child of 7.

    Also I do feel for the poor parents who are trying their best to keep their children completely silent because other passengers may be judging them. We were all children once! And I am sure this comment I am about to make is more about my personality than anything else, but I actually like being on flights with children. I find the long haul flights quite boring and have been occupied on many a long flight with games of “I spy”, reading a story or having a good chat to the family of children behind me. I even got a cuddle of the cutest little 8 month or so old baby once when the Mum went to the toilet.

    Yeah I’m a freak I know!

  4. Anonymous
    November 1, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    We are babies and children at some stage to develop into tolerant or non tolerant adults. If little ones are not socialised at an early age how do they become travellers in their future. Maybe the non tolerant writer of this article needs to go back to her start and think over the times that she may have caused irritation to the travelling public of this world. Maybe a private jet is your way to go.


  1. Childfree Dining Tips | Why No Kids? - November 29, 2011

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