As the holiday season approaches, I thought it pertinent to raise the issue of air-travel with families – and those individuals who are not family-friendly. Whilst reading the Sunday papers last weekend Mummy had what can only be described as a coffee-snort moment. Apparently someone had written to the Sunday Times travel section complaining about the fact that families are allowed to share the same space as normal grown-ups.

Sunday Times Travel section 22.5.11

The author of the complaint had been compelled to sit next to a baby who not only failed to keep its arms and legs still, but who showed an unhealthy interest in her airline meal. (Personally I would have thought that the opportunity to offload some of that unappetising rubbish would be a major benefit). She was unable to concentrate on her book, and called for airlines to provide segregated seating areas to keep families away from people.

Mummy found herself in somewhat of a moral dilemma. First she recalled her 30-year-old child-free frustration at finding herself seated immediately in front of an under-2 on his mother’s lap. As the seat-kicking began she huffed and grumped audibly in an effort to get the mother to make it stop. Fast forward 10 years and she mentally apologised to that lady for having absolutely no compassion and zilch understanding of what it means to travel with small children. In fact, as Daddy used every ounce of his creative power to turn the airline magazine into a new game for 2-year-old me, she tried hard to ignore the comments from the ’empty-nesters’ behind (‘I can see you’re trying your best, but really, there is a limit!’ – duh, what more did they expect us to do – parachute?). Much sweeter to her ears were the congratulations of the family-friendly couple in front for doing such a splendid job with such a lovely little girl (that’s me!).

Really, don’t I have enough stress on a plane as it is, what with the Bug wanting my DS, batteries that run out too quickly, colouring pens that travel way too far down the plane and Mummy telling me to choose my seat position and stick with it? Do I really need to be worrying about whether I’m upsetting the people that don’t like children as well? And on top of all that Mummy gets doubly upset in case they’re upset – which only signals more bad news for me.

So kids on planes – love them or hate them? Should families be banished to a land of motorway chaos and rain-swept Welsh beaches until they ‘grow up’? Actually, maybe airlines should provide segregated seating so that me and my friends can travel stress-free(er). Then child-free travellers could pay extra for non-family seats, as well as speedy boarding and an insipid airline meal 😉

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