You’ve stood in the queue to get your boarding pass, the queue to get you checked into the boarding gangway, the queue to get into the metal and composite tube of an aircraft and the queue to get to the metal and composite construct maximally designed to fit you into as minimal a space as can sustain human life – generally known as a seat. You’ve been resigned to this since you booked the ticket and established the mind-set to enable you to spend the next several hours confined with lots of others under conditions that sardines will only accept when they are dead.
Suddenly the whole scenario turns totally horror show – there are young CHILDREN on board! Next to you, or behind you, or in front of you, or across the aisle from you, or, in a situation too frightening to contemplate, in various configurations of these – all at once. Congratulations! You have just been condemned to the worst flight of your life. AND – you’ve had to pay for the ensuing agony!
Before proceeding further let me hasten to say that as a grandfather I’m chuffed that a few of my genes have been passed to another generation – I hope they were the good ones! But would I ever take my young grandchildren on a plane trip, especially those lasting longer than 90 minutes? No I would certainly not! At about age 10 maybe, but not before.
‘Yep! Here’s one of those grumpy, self-centred, non-parenting farts that can’t stand children’, would be the view of today’s parent who seems to operate on the basis that there are no other children in the world except theirs. And, that there is no other family more important than theirs. Other people are just those inconvenient nasties who believe that discipline is important and get in the way of your humungous pram, and you, when you are trying to get somewhere with your little ‘preciouszzzzzs’!
Why am I like this? Here’s a few personal examples of why children should not be on aircraft, and if they are, in a place well isolated from other poor benighted passengers – especially ME!.
Flight from Japan to Sydney: Great delight when realising that we had been given bulkhead seats (window & middle). Ahh leg room! Along comes mother with toddler to camp in aisle seat. After take-off toddler is released from lap seat and proceeds to run amok for the rest of the flight – sans mother. Why sans mother? Well, after about an hour or so of ‘amusing’ the child mummy goes to sleep and leaves care and welfare of child to nearest passengers, namely us and the flight crew for the bulk of the journey. Even inadvertently deliberate nudges didn’t wake mummy. No sir!. No thanks from mummy after waking for landing for those silly people that cared for HER child. It’s as if nothing happened and that the child went into this mysterious nirvana land while mumsy had a good kip. Result: A trip of frazzlement, especially for the wife who was closest.
Sydney to Perth: Seat in front occupied by mummy and two little brats who jumped about, screamed, carried on throughout most of the flight. Mother makes zero attempt to manage the kids, just lets them run rampant. ‘Hey, it’s OK folks I have to put up with the little buggers, so you can too’. Was illuminating, on disembarking, hearing nearby passengers heaping praise (loudly) on another child who had sat quietly and occupied (been amused by their mummy parent) throughout the flight. But I suspect that the message being sent never got into the brain of this particular mum – was thoroughly oblivious to all around her. In this circumstance the well-behaved child was the exception that proves the rule – no children on aircraft! Plus she was probably around 10ish.
Sydney to Singapore: Three seats in front possessed by mother and two children. The kids proceeded to swap seats with great regularity, be generally noisy and stand up and peer over the back of the seats, obviously entertained by what we were doing behind them. How three people staring at screens on seat backs can be of entertainment value, I really don’t know. Most entertaining bit (for the child obviously) was to take the seats head protector and flip it over the screen at the back of the seat – oooh! Fun!. Passenger flips it back, child flips it again, passenger flips it back (with scowl), child flips it back, etc, etc. A frown, a shake of the head and a ‘No’ almost caused a tantrum. It would seem that NO is not a word that children are either familiar with or has any currency these days. Thankfully child eventually tired of playing flip and went on to some other distractingly annoying behaviour – for them and us.
Singapore to London: Window (me), middle (young child), aisle (mother), across aisle (not so young child), next seat (father). Young child fidget, fidget, up down. At least mother was trying to keep child occupied – but you try amusing someone for 14 plus hours. Child finally decides that kicking the seat regularly is fun, and more fun when he begins kicking me. Working on basis that if he can kick me, then I can touch him, grab kicking part of leg and say ‘No’. Mumsy gives somewhat chagrined apologetic look which seems to say, ‘It’s just so hard to keep them settled isn’t it?’ Yes it is madam! Especially when you put them in a confined space for 14 hours without any options to do much at all! And, you allow them to kick people without stopping them from doing so! On returning from a toilet trip was very pleased to find that for the rest of the flight (some 7 hours) the seat next to me was occupied by either the not so young child, or mum – what a relief!
To say that I’m not particularly looking forward to the return trip London – Singapore – Sydney would be a profound understatement. The possibility that there will be small children in the same aircraft, and in close proximity, fills me with a sinister dread!
That’s why I’m of the view that young children should not be on aircraft, or, at the very least, isolated from the non-parenting passengers if they are. If the parenting fraternity find this diatribe extreme, anti parent and anti child – well too bloody bad! And that’s my rant for today.