The Baby Ban: What are we saying to parents?

Almost all of us have gotten on a plane and breathed a sigh of relief when we find we’re not sitting next to the inconsolable baby a few rows back. Yes, most people love cooing at cute infants. But screaming and crying while you’re trying to watch the in-flight movie is no one’s idea of a peaceful flight.

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may know where we’re going with this. Malaysian Airlines’ decision to ban babies from first class flights has caused an uproar among child advocates, parents and frequent fliers.

You can find plenty of articles and blogs about this issue from fuming parents and rejoicing childless fliers, but a blog from Carrie Kirby of the Parenting Squad a few years ago does a wonderful job of analyzing this topic. Here’s her argument:

“But of course, being a parent, I don’t think parents are wholly to blame for these mile-high hostilities. I blame society. Unlike cultures where multiple generations live together, ours keeps childless adults so separate from small children that, until they get seated next to some on a plane, they scarcely know what children are like.”

Kirby also wrote a wonderfully witty parent-passenger airplane contract, which you can find here. One of our favorite articles: “To catch any and all vomit before it enters your personal space, even if this means taking the hit with my own body.”

On the surface, this issue is all about the occasional annoyance of kids on airplanes. But Kirby brings up an interesting point: What does this ban say about our society’s view of children? And what does it say about how willing we are to support the parents in our community? Other airlines are thinking about instituting similar bans. Plus, other public places, like restaurants and movie theaters, have been discussing child-free days. Does this ban reflect something larger about how we view children? What do you think?

p.s. And for all of our parent readers, we know travel can be very stressful with young children – on a plane or otherwise! If you’re looking for tips on parenting challenges – everything from managing tantrums to dealing with stress to handling the holidays – check out SCAN’s Parent Resource Center.