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How to cope with kids on a plane - the non-parent's guide

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Before you start, it's not that I hate kids. This isn't going to be one long whiny post about how annoying they all are.

Granted, I do find a lot of kids annoying. But I also find a lot of people* annoying. So I'm not indiscriminate in my annoyance.

I even like some kids. I like this one the best...

She's taking her first flight next week! And will only
be a blessing to all those lucky to be on the same plane.

And there are some other ones too, I just can't quite remember them right now.

A few weeks ago, I was on a plane from Dublin to Tenerife. These kind of flights are typically family-heavy. Much like the Gatwick-Orlando flights. I don't think that I'm being unfair when I say that sometimes, kids can be a bit much on a plane. The smaller ones are uncomfortable and screamy, the bigger ones are bored and kicky. I can understand why, of course. I'm not a demon. But this can make for an uncomfortable flight for the other passengers (their parents included)

So, if you're faced with a kicking child behind you, that isn't your own, how do you cope? I have a few tips that will help you on your way.

Coping with the "devil child"

These ones are the worst. You can tell by the look in their eye that they want to cause some trouble. I've seen two bad cases of devil child in my time. The first was on a flight back from Nairobi. Two little kids (4? 5?) were jumping on their seats prior to take off. One by one, the stewardesses came around to ask them to sit down and put their seatbelts on. They were really asking the parents to step up and, you know, make this happen. Each time, they explained that without their seatbelts on, we wouldn't be able to take off.

"But they keep taking them off..." the parents explained.

Well, quite.

After take off, the kids took them off straight away. The stewardesses rushed back.

"If we hit any turbulence, they will get hurt"

Which would be.... bad, right? Anyway. No one was listening. No one was doing what was asked. This was until the Jamaican stewardess came up. As she walked up the aisle, the song "Takin' Care of Business" played. Probably.

"You will SIT down right now, and you will stay in your seats, or so help me, I will take my shoe off to you"

I'm sure this isn't protocol. And I won't say who the airline were, just in case. But it worked, and it was awesome.

The second instance was on the Tenerife flight. Throughout the four hours, my seat was repeatedly kicked, jolted and used as a stepping stone. As the two children and mother swapped seats, my hair was pulled while I was used as a steadying post.

There was a young guy next to me, a 16 year old, who wasn't feeling great. In addition to his nausea, the girl behind him was pulling the tray back and forth, back and forth, hard and fast. I looked back between the gap and shook my head at her. This is when I saw that she had upended a bag of Tayto on her tray, and was mushing the contents everywhere with her foot.

This... I just can't find the words. It was so disgusting, I couldn't cope. I have what borders on a phobia of crisps, so much so that I can barely type the word. The thought of it makes me shudder.

Anyway, what's my advice?

1. The turn and headshake
This can be accompanied by words, once you've sussed out how scary the accompanying parent is. I decided not to take that risk. Try to look as scary and grown up as you can.

2. The counter-aggressive seat thump
If you are scared of the parent/child sitting behind you, there's no shame in rocking manically back and forth, jolting their tray. I don't know how effective this actually is, but it sure feels good.

3. Telling
If you're positive that the parents aren't that scary, and not staying in the same place as you, tell on them. Get the stewardess to ask them to quit it. Or, ask the parents themselves to please ask their darlings to stop whatever it is they're doing. Be prepared for some backlash though.

I've taken a lot of flights in my time. And the fact that I only have two real devil child experiences says something. Writing this has made me realise that a sequel is in order, so,  next up - How to cope with annoying adults on a plane. Including some amazing patented boarding advice.

*I'm aware, by the way, that children are indeed are people too. I just sometimes forget this. Once, I accidentally referred to a baby's parents as its "owners" - they weren't as amused as I was.

1 comment

  1. I will also directly tell a child to stop if they're kicking my sea. I'm not scared of their parents, and I'm certainly not scared of them.

    Odds are, they'll stop because they respect authority even if they don't listen to their parents.

    Or I guess you could ask their parents to tell them to stop. I like to cut out the middleman, obvs.


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