Being Stuck on an Airplane with Screaming Kids Around You

baby 3

I am about to embark on 24 hours of travel back to Singapore from New York.  I am packed and ready.  I have my reading material, iPod, GameBoy (yes, it IS 1994) and sleeping mask.  I also have a good set of earplugs, because I was surrounded by screaming kids on the flight over here and I will NOT deal with that again.  Screaming kids on a plane are the absolute worst.  If you encounter a screaming kid in a mall, let’s say, you have the option to walk away to another part of the mall and not have to hear the shrill noises.  In a restaurant, you can get up and leave and in a movie theater, you can ask the usher to make the people with the screaming kid leave.  But, on an airplane, you’re stuck there….listening to the shrill, gasp-filled screams of a child.  Maybe they’re not in the row directly behind you, or seated next to you, but they’re in earshot, and there’s no way you’re sleeping, or even enjoying this flight, at all.

baby 1The phenomenon of the screaming child is not really the child’s fault.  It’s the fault of the parent; the parent who reared the child to be a screamer…..the parent who didn’t bring any material to distract the child so they wouldn’t cry….the parent who didn’t force the child to stay up all night the night before so they will sleep on the plane.  The parents are also the ones who ignore the child while they scream and disturb everyone else around them by doing nothing.  Some parents even walk away from the child and go to the restroom or the galley while they are crying.  This is YOUR child!!!  These people are having their eardrums ruptured by YOUR child!!!  Do something you selfish prick!!

Some parents may counter this argument with “sometimes there’s just nothing you can do.”  I counter that with “there’s always the little bottles of whiskey that you can give them to put them to sleep!”  We’re in international airspace, honey, there’s no law here!  If your child is screaming and inconveniencing everyone around you, then you do ANYTHING to get them to shut up.  If the rocking doesn’t work, you hold them close to muffle the sound!  If the onboard entertainment doesn’t work, you put the sleeping mask and a gag on them!  Do something!!  I have been on too many flights where I was an innocent victim of screaming children.  No sleep, no enjoyment, no possible way I will ever get over it!

My good friend, Dave, sent me this article (, which highlights how some airlines are actually creating “quiet zones,” where children under 12 are forbidden to travel.  For years, we have been lamenting about childless flights, or even a childless airline.  Finally, some airlines are doing something to help the people without children (who don’t want to deal with other peoples’ children) have a restful and pleasant flight.  Lucky me, the three that have already set this up are in Southeast Asia!  I will have to travel with them always!  I actually went on AirAsia’s website to research this, and they have it as clear as day (of course, it costs a little more to fly in this zone, but it’s totally worth it).

AirAsia's "Quiet Zone"

AirAsia’s “Quiet Zone”

I was very happy when Cameron Diaz came out and spoke about her decision to not have children.  I think she did a favor to all of us who choose not to have them.  I do not think, however, that she owed the world an explanation.  I would like to have all the people who decide to HAVE children give an explanation (sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it….well so does asking a childless person “why don’t you have any children yet?”)!  The Asian airlines that are creating the childless zones are also helping us live a more comfortable, childless, life.  We have chosen not to have children, so don’t shove yours in our faces.  We do not need to hear their incessant screaming on the airplane that we are all sharing.  How would you like it if I came over to your seat and started screaming in your ear for hours!?  We are trying to have a comfortable flight and do not need your out of control brat piercing our eardrums with their shrill little shrieks!  Here’s hoping the only tears I have to hear on the flight tomorrow are tears of joy coming from me when I find out there are no children seated near me.  However, just in case, I have my earplugs and an iPod that has a very high volume control!



  1. I agree about Cameron Diaz — I liked what she said but I’m puzzled as to why she even had to say it in the first place.

    Any time I complain about screaming kids on planes, I get chastised for not being more understanding. (Understanding is apparently a one-way street on this issue.) But in truth I have all the understanding in the world for the kid. It sucks for them. They’ve been forcibly strapped into a chair in a metal tube and they don’t know why, really, and they don’t have enough to keep them busy, and they’re weirded out, tired and hungry and bored because their parents didn’t bring enough to keep them busy. I’d scream too, in their little shoes. Like you, i totally blame the parents for A) putting the kid on the plane, and B) not doing everything they can to make that kid comfortable and entertained. Your kid doesn’t take to flying well? Travel less. Your kid needs a new DS to keep them occupied for the duration of the flight? Consider it part of the ticket cost.

  2. I get it. Other people suck in general. But I can’t tell if your comments are kind of tongue in cheek or serious. Obviously you don’t have children, because if you did you would know your logic is flawed. I have three great kids and have been incredibly lucky that the two older fly really well. Never screamed or cried on any flight ever. I know you don’t care, but just so you don’t sound so ignorant (and i mean that in the correct usage of the word, not the pop-culture version) let me help you out with something.

    When you said, “The phenomenon of the screaming child is not really the child’s fault. It’s the fault of the parent; the parent who reared the child to be a screamer…..the parent who didn’t bring any material to distract the child so they wouldn’t cry….the parent who didn’t force the child to stay up all night the night before so they will sleep on the plane”, I rolled my eyes. I used to think you kept kids up so they sleep. That parents MUST be jerks to just let the kid cry and bug everyone else.

    Here is the reality. Children cry. Babies are born with only one form of communication, crying. They cry when they are unhappy about [insert anything that doesn’t involve food or sleeping]. Then they get older and they learn to communicate happiness and other emotions. But they still cry. Babies and toddlers have absolutely no ability in their brains to reason out that their crying makes you upset. Yes, you tell them that the crying is too loud, but most often they will not care – as that ability to have empathy isn’t really there yet. So maybe in one sense, ALL parents raise children to be screamers, since that’s how all baby mammals alert their parents to distress.

    The forcing “…the child to stay up all night the night before so they will sleep on the plane…” theory sounds good for adults or possibly older children, preteen or older – but not babies, toddlers, or young children. Any parent will tell you that sleep begets sleep. A well rested child is a happy child. A tired child? Well, that’s where you get the never-ending meltdown. The flinging of the body. The biting, the scratching, the hitting. The unconsolable sobbing. Why? Because, again, babies, toddlers adn very young children are unable to reason in a way that older brains can. They don’t understand why they feel bad. They don’t understand that they should sleep because it’s not sleep time, its up time. They are in a new situation. New stimuli. New everything and it’s too much. Put all that together and you are definitely going to have massive crying fits. However, that being said, even well rested, occupied, laid back children are going to get upset. It happens.

    I’m guessing that you are writing some of this tongue in cheek – as the muffling, alcohol, and others such comments are abuse, and you can’t seriously expect someone to abuse their child for your comfort.

    I do agree that parents who ignore their children should be glared at with laserbeam eyeballs, but please don’t lump all of us parents into that category simply because they scream.

    • You are right, I would never truly condone giving a child alcohol or muffling a child. My post is more directed at the parents who do nothing when they have a child who is crying and fussing out of control. I do feel bad for the parent who walks up and down the aisle with a screaming baby, trying to put it to sleep. It’s the parents with the screamers that don’t acknowledge the fact that they have a screamer that’s making the flight horrible for everyone else (including the other children/babies on board) that are the target of my post here. The parents that try to distract their kids and bring toys and activities for them actually earn my admiration, because they are conscious of the fact that they need to fulfill their job of parenting while on the plane and keep their kids busy (or asleep). Babies cry, I understand that, but I feel it’s the responsibility of the parent to try to determine why the baby is crying and rectify that. Or….unfortunately….to walk up and down the aisle the entire flight trying to put the baby to sleep.

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