Screaming Kids on Planes: How to Keep Them Quiet and Safe

Someone once told me there are only two kinds of people on planes: angry and nervous. I’ll go along for the sake of argument because it allows me to bring up about two issues in the news about flying with kids.

Listen to analyst Rick Seaney and editor Anne McDermott on the agony and ecstasy of kids on planes (yes, both are parents):

Babies on planes – yes or no?

Flying with Kids: Angry Flyers Seek Quiet

Over the years, whenever I’ve written about screaming children on planes, I’ve gotten an earful. One commenter referred to little ones as “shrieking brats.” Another called their tantrums “torture.” A third offered the solution of separate seating: “Put it in back, and seal it off.”

  • Quiet Zone Seating

A couple of airlines are listening. Kuala Lumpur-based discounter AirAsiaX just announced the launch of an economy cabin quiet zone consisting of an eight-row seating section that does not allow children. If this sounds good to you, select this option but of course there’s a fee for that (about 11.50 per person). And, there are no guarantees that any in-flight screaming won’t be heard in the quiet zone so bring a pair of noise-canceling headphones just to be on the safe side.

  • First Class Bans Children

Another Asian carrier, Malaysia Airlines, works it a little differently: its upper deck cabin on A380 planes is baby-free for those with the wealth (or miles) to pay for first class tickets. Apparently, some of these elite flyers complained about noisy kids and airlines don’t like to annoy their highest paying passengers.

Flying with Kids: Nervous Flyers Question Safety Rules

  • NTSB Wants Safety Seating for Babies

An initiative launched by the National Transportation Safety Board which investigations accidents, wants no more lap children – meaning, babies under the age of two should get their own seat with appropriate safety restraint (think of a car seat for a plane). However, the NTSB cannot make such laws.

Safest airlines in the world? Maybe

  • FAA Urges Restraints but Does Not Demand Them

The Federal Aviation Administration can make such rules but so far have not (even though on the FAA’s website, parents are “strongly urged” against seating babies on laps). Some parents like the idea of mandating safety seats; some say they couldn’t afford to buy a separate seat for an infant (generally, U.S. carriers do not discount prices for children). This also brings up the cost of driving vs. flying, but statistics show that air travel is far safer than other modes of transportation.

Where do you stand – on kid-free quiet zones or safety seats for infants? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

More from Rick Seaney:

Screaming Kids on Planes: Two Ideas

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Published: February 13, 2013