THE NON CHILD-FRIENDLY SKIES?
”Hell is other people’s children.” Fran Lebowitz
You have small children, you’re travelling by plane…would you book a flight on an airline dedicated to families with little kids?
An American company has floated a plan for just that – child friendly cAir where there’s an on-board toy rental service, special play zones, seats where families can face each other and larger toilets with change tables.
It would also offer sound proof compartments for passengers who want a break from the chaos or where a mum could breast feed baby in private.
That’s a whole lot better than the plastic pack of coloured pencils that were once offered to kids on a long plane flight.
After just returning from that nightmare long haul from the UK to Australia and enduring the torture of screaming children for hours on end, I have to say I’m for it… and yet…
As a mum who has flown with little ones and been on the receiving end of rude comments – even though the kids were just laughing and having fun – perhaps it’s just another sign that as a society we’re losing tolerance for children and really, a little sympathy and understanding would go a long way.
We were all kids once. And parents know there’s nothing more distressing than trying to quiet a fussing baby when all your fellow passengers are staring daggers at you. When a baby poos out of the neck of a playsuit and you don’t have a spare…don’t even ask. Been there.
(Twelve years old? You’d think most kids would know how to behave themselves on a plane much younger than that.)
Earlier this year Malaysia Airlines banned children from its first class cabins and said the loss of revenue was worth it compared with the stream of complaints it received from passengers about noisy infants.
But is this, along with parents’ rooms in some cinemas, just the thin edge of the wedge? Are parents with small kids becoming as unwelcome as smokers?
The no-kids-allowed movement is finding favour with hotels, restaurants and resorts… even grocery stores.
Last year in Pittsburgh, USA, a restaurant banned children under six and according to a poll taken by the local newspaper, half of the residents agreed with the restriction. A grocery store in Missouri offers child-free shopping times. A cinema in the U.S. scheduled an adults-only screening of Harry Potter. Go figure.
Writing in Adweek, under the headline, “The Kids Aren’t Alright. A new movement aims to protect the childless from germy broods” Robert Klara said: “Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing.”
And who’s to blame? Childless adults.
“Empty nesters continue to wield a huge swath of discretionary spending dollars, and population dips in first-world countries mean more childless couples than ever,”writes Klara.
Of course it could also lead to a more kid-friendly society where parents’ needs are recognised. In fact many travel companies now cater for child-friendly holidays and resorts increasingly offer “kids clubs” for travel-weary parents.
There is now parking for those with prams and strollers in shopping centres and cafes, gyms and hotels have play areas for kids… but, hmmmm, I can’t help thinking that the frowning and tut-tutting over playful children is increasing and that we breeders are in danger of becoming confined to cattle class.
And booking into an all-family flight is my idea of hell.
My greatest triumph as a parent with little ones came in a restaurant in Florence years ago when my two – then aged four and six – amused themselves with crayons and paper till well after midnight.
An English gent stopped the table by to say: “Congratulations on having two beautifully behaved children.”
My heart swelled with pride. I prefer to recall that moment rather than some others where … No, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
Over to you.
Do you think our society is becoming less tolerant of kids?
Are increasingly inept parents to blame for ill discipline?
Or is it a good thing that finally companies are realising that families want to be catered for with services tailored for them?