Why We Need Adult Only Flights

Approximately 300 people had a hellish flight on American Airlines from LAX to JFK on 8/8/12. Why you might ask?

Because of two bad parents. Two parents who did not know how to control their 2 and 4 year old. Two parents who kept saying, “We never have this problem and we fly all the time,” while their children screamed, wailed, punched, kicked, and caused unbearable headaches to all on board the flight.

Look, I’m not going to blame a two year old or a four year old for acting like crazed animals. Because they are too young to have any control over themselves or the situation. (Though I have seen children this age behave far better in public.)

But those parents. They deserve a special circle of hell. They refused to raise their voices to their kids and tried to reason with them. REASON with a screaming kicking lunatic?! If that’s your parenting style, please avoid bringing your little monster into enclosed places like planes until they reach 6 or 7. It was clear that the kids were in charge. And what dumbass puts a 2 and 4 yr old in charge?!

These kids were just as badly behaved at the airport gate. I sat near them for an hour and witnessed bad parenting in action. The kids said something, the parent ignored them, the kid got louder and louder–screeching and wailing.ย  The parent never showed any displeasure in it. As if this was acceptable behavior. The parents clearly failed to set boundaries for the kids.

I felt horrible for the poor woman in front of them. She repeatedly asked the father to stop the children from: kicking her seat, slapping the tray, screaming in her ear, climbing over the seat, etc. At five hours into the flight, she finally turned around and told the kids to shut up. That worked for a little while. Thanks to that woman for standing up for all of us.

We paid hundreds of dollars for our seats on that flight and endured unrelenting screaming and crying and wailing for six hours.

Some kids can’t fly. Especially that young. Parents need to know their children. And know your right to travel does not infringe on my right to travel. Which they did to all of us.

This is why we need adult only flights. Flights where no one will wail, cry, scream, yell, kick the seat, bang on the table, etc.

We deserve better. And since parents refuse to see that their perfect angels are not able to fly, they need to be put on a flight with other perfect angels. There are dozens of flights a day between NYC and LA. Each airline could run one or two kid friendly flights. And by kid, I am referring to anyone under 10 years old.

I paid a lot for my seat. I should not be terrorized by your children just because you cannot properly parent it.



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50 Responses to Why We Need Adult Only Flights

  1. YES!!!!!!!!!! Or at least have the option of a soundproof cage somewhere….

  2. La La says:

    Adult only flights. Sounds like a really good, blissful idea actually….

    • I was skeptical of the reports of airlines pulling kids and families off for being disruptive when I read them online. After this experience, I side with the airline 100%. It’s hell to be trapped inside a container with a howling monster for 6 hours. Six hours of unrelenting animalistic behavior. If we could have safely ejected them, the entire plane would have done so in a heartbeat.

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Your post raises an excellent point beyond poorly behaved children on flights–the lack of poor discipline techniques that are rampant among permissive parenting methods. Discipline does not need to imply yelling, spanking, or other hurtful methods. It can even be positive. But it does involve making sure the child knows who’s in charge (the parent) and that consequences will occur if the child behaves poorly. No second chances. You can’t tell a child “If you do that one more time, I’ll…” ten times. You need to be clear from the start: “If you fight with your brother on the plane, you will lose your video game for one hour.” And then if they fight, the video game is gone. Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing a parent say, “We don’t believe in telling her no.” Really? Well, have fun when she’s a teenager.

    I have a 6-foot fifteen year old. If I had not established respect and discipline with consequences early on, I’d have no hope for control over his behaviors now. Thankfully, it still only takes “that look” from mom and maybe a threat of video game loss to keep the behavior in check.

    Whew. Guess I got a bit on a soapbox there. Well, now that I’m nice and clean, I’ll step off. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That was my point. The parents weren’t in charge. The children did not respect them and were constantly testing their limits my screaming, yelling, screeching, wailing, hitting, and kicking. The parents had failed to maintain order. These were not children in pain during take off and landing. These children were not ill. They were just completely and utterly wild.

      I appreciated your soap box. I always want to hear what others think. Especially if they agree with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I needed to get this off my chest because it was such an unnecessarily miserable experience. It could have been so easily avoided. I can only imagine what these kids will be like in 10 years. Cringe.

  4. Elliot says:

    I don’t think you need adult only flights, just people being taught how to look after their children. When they cannot, they should be held responsible.

    I’ve had some annoying adults on flights in the past also, probably the grown up versions of the children on your flight.

    • Elliot, that’s the ideal, but I can’t see a way to simply and effective enforce that policy. With an age limit on passengers for certain flights, it would be a straight forward process. I have seen 6 year olds and newborns that fly well, but weeding out the good flyers from the bad would be an impossible task. Who would administer and make the decisions? How would it be tracked? Setting aside certain flights for kids seemed like an easier option.

      I agree adults can cause problems as well. I haven’t had that experience yet where an adult was out of control for 6 hours on a flight, but I am sure it can happen. Maybe TSA can institute a 3 strike policy on adults and revoke their ability to fly when they behave improperly too?

      • Elliot says:

        Well my perspective would be that I would be travelling with child. Once he is two years old I will be paying for his seat and all applicable taxes whenever we travel. I do not see why I should need to travel on a restricted timetable because some idiots cannot control their children. I would be paying the full amount much as anyone else would, for all family members.

        That can be bad, but so can sitting next to some person with bad body odour for the length of a flight, or someone who thinks it is fine to intrude on your personal space constantly (which my wife has had before) is also bad. I would want that sorted out.

        On a flight or any kind of travel where the kids are being a nuisance, I don’t get annoyed at the child so much as the parent or guardian who is letting it happen. Reasoning with a two or 4 year old is ok in certain circumstance, but in a lot e.g. the example you mentioned, then they need to be told to shut up and behave themselves. If that child had been kicking myself or anyone of my family in the back (of their seat) I would have told the parents to sort it out within a couple of minutes (if not sooner). If it had been my child doing that, it wouldn’t have lasted long at all because that is not the sort of behaviour I would let him get away with, especially when he can have a basic understanding of what he is doing. It is the parents fault who will not stop it, more than the child who only understands he can get away with it.

        • I do not have a perfect solution to this problem. I wish I did. ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate that there are parents with well behaved newborns and well behaved toddlers. On that very flight, there was a quiet 10 year old. And a well behaved 5 and 7 year old. But I can’t envision the cost of implementing a process that can separate them out.

          My only other thought would be that if a completely out of control child caused stress to all the other passengers for the entire duration of a flight, the parents would be fined and if they were a repeat offender, the family would be blacklisted from flying with said child for a year or two. Sounds harsh, but appealing to their consideration and respect of others fell on deaf ears during my flight.

          Coincidentally, I did sit next to a man who had horrible B.O. on this very flight. To me the screeching children were far far far worse than that.

          I would not hold the child responsible for their parent not parenting them. That was all on the parents. But the parents allowed the problematic behavior to continue despite numerous requests from multiple passengers and flight attendants for the parents to intercede. If the parents won’t parent, then that leaves only the threat of punishment to the parents to make them be considerate of fellow passengers.

          • Elliot says:

            That was my initial point, that it be the parents who need to be held responsible in some way, whether it be a three strikes, ban or whatever. The parents are responsible for a child going to school, not committing crimes, and numerous other obvious responsibilities. They should also be responsible that the child behaves when travelling, be it by air, boat train, or car.

          • Elliot, I am in complete agreement with you there. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are fantastic parents who raise really well behaved kids. But there are parents whose parenting style fails. They don’t instill right and wrong in their kids, they don’t reward good behavior and show proper displeasure at bad behavior. They refuse to be in charge of the kids. Those parents should definitely be held accountable for their children’s actions.

          • Elliot says:

            And they are probably ruining their childrens lives without realising it.

            What some parents fail to understand is that you cannot teach a child to reason, without it learning some boundaries first. Otherwise they do not understand where their decisions start and end. I want to teach my son as he gets older, how to reason out his decisions, but there are times, especially at a young age where he simply needs to understand what he can and cannot do. Sure he will overstep and test the boundaries from time to time, but that is when he needs to be told, or a stern word.

          • Brilliantly said Elliot! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I feel your pain, Kourtney. I’ve had similar flights and felt like I’d done time in Hell…. There is something worse, though. And that’s when adults start losing it like uncontrollable children, but they are a lot bigger. I was on one flight, stuck on landing and waiting for the gate, when one large male passenger insisted on getting up, even though the “fasten seatbelt” sign was still lit. I thought he was going to attack the flight attendantโ€”and more.

    I suppose there’s no way to convince certain adults they belong on the “prone to tantrums and violent outburts” flights….

    No, my husband and I don’t fly that often. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ve never seen an adult lose it for 6 hours on a plane. But that may be something that comes in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚ At least when adults act out, they can be restrained or ejected. With kids, it’s so much more delicate because it is not the kid’s fault but the parent’s. And no one wants to be mean to kids. But no one wants to endure 6 hours of screeching for no reason without any way of exiting the situation.

      I do think we should institute a three strike rule on adults. If they act out on planes to the point of threatening/endangering anyone or causing hours of excess stress to other passengers, they get a strike. Three strikes and you are grounded from flying for a year.

  6. You are right on target. Most disruptive children have parents like described in paragraph 4. Nobody hates kids – and most are understanding BUT when parents are lazy or totally ignoring constant bad behavior – it’s a totally different thing. Other passengers have rights, too.

    • I’ve been on planes with outbursts from kids during takeoff and landing. My ears hurt too–I get it. And I try to be understanding. But six hours of unrelenting wailing and screeching and outdoor voice in a plane is too much for me. These kids weren’t having temporary meltdowns this was their constant mode of behavior. I’ve rode with infants that parents handled wonderfully and three year olds who were well behaved. This was a case of severely bad parenting. Unfortunately the entire plane had to pay the price.

  7. unspywriter says:

    You’re lucky you weren’t on some of the flights I was on or had to investigate because of the bad behavior of adults.

  8. Sorry you had such a frustrating flight! I feel sorry for those kids, too and would pay extra for peacefulness.

    Love the way you speak your mind, Kourtney!

    • It was pretty awful. On the upside, I was so worn out I didn’t get furious. I just endured. But what a miserable experience. I too would pay a premium for a quiet flight. Aw, thanks! I think ranting is one of my favorite hobbies. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I have never had this kind of flight, Kourtney. i don’t want to imagine how awful it must have been.

    • Nor had I. I’d had flights where kids cried at takeoff and landing. Or even 10 minutes during the flight, but the parents always managed to soothe them and take charge of the situation. This was just 6 hours of the kids running the show and the parents refusing to raise their voices or show any sign that their behavior was wrong. I had to crank up my headphones the entire flight and switch to the airline’s music for takeoff and landing. And I still heard their screeching and tantrum throwing.

  10. Samir says:

    Oh horror! I’d have given the parents a good piece of my mind if I was on that flight. I’d probably have given the cabin purser some, too. I can’t stand that kind of behavior and the noise of little runts like that. Horrible. I feel for you…

    • I gave several pointed dirty looks and complained to the cabin crew. The parents were in deep denial about their culpability. They acted like they had no control over their kids and no way to steer their behavior. It was AMAZING. The noise was enough to give someone an aneurism or a heart attack. It was so high pitched, so often, and so out of control.

  11. Debra Eve says:

    I so agree with you here, Kourtney. I was once on a Qantas flight from LAX to Auckland. Two toddlers and a babe in arms in the same row. Beyond the screaming (the babe never stopped), the toddlers stole my blanket and pillow when I used the restroom. When I asked for new ones, the flight attendant told me they only stocked one per passenger! I mentioned it to the mom. She just shrugged, then changed the poopie diapers in front of me.

    Qantas management got an earful when I landed, but designating all-adult flights would solve so many problems.

    • That sounds absolutely miserable! I am so sorry you had to endure that!

      I suggested the adult-only flights because that would be easy and cost effective to implement for airlines. It’s really costly to create the infrastructure to track problem passengers on an individual level. (That of course would be the ideal fix, but I can’t see a way to get airlines to implement it.) I bet if they offered adult-only flights, they could even charge extra for seats on those flights. Having to be stuck inside a plane with a parent who won’t parent and allows their child/children to ruin everyone’s flight is a miserable experience.

      Long flights, especially that long, should definitely offer adult only flights. Especially the red eyes when people really need quiet and sleep.

  12. mj monaghan says:

    Not a fun situation. Sometimes other people even have to step up and parent those kids who aren’t parented. It’s not good. What happens when those kids challenge teachers in the classroom?

    • I can’t imagine what will happen when those kids enter school. The teacher will have her hands full. Because the parents didn’t teach the kids how to behave in public. Lord knows what that teacher is in for.

  13. Gregg says:

    Good God, what a nightmare that must have been. Where were the flight attendants? Airlines shouldn’t permit this type of behavior; maybe the parents should have been given a warning or a temporary ban. In light of the airline’s inaction, perhaps all of the affected passengers should have confronted the parents themselves?

    • The flight attendants repeatedly spoke to the parents. The parents were so deep in denial about their parenting style not working. They acted like victims of their children who had no idea how to exert any control over them. With most kids a stern voice reminds them who is in charge. Neither parent resorted to that. They spoke so softly while the kids yelled and screeched and acted like zoo animals. I think TSA should allow complaints and implement a temporary ban on children who disturb flights to this extent. The parents had no concern about their fellow passengers, perhaps punishment is the only way to get them to rein their kids in. The poor woman in front of them did turn around and yell at the kids toward the end of the flight. Her patience had been exterminated after 5 hours of hell. The kids temporarily quieted down.

  14. zelmare says:

    I sympathize with you…can’t stand undisciplined kids, or rather, ‘no-discipline’ parents. If my boyfriend was there, he would have given the parents hell! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It was difficult. You don’t want to be the mean person who doesn’t cut kids slack, but at the same point the kids were completely out of control and the parents seemed to have no disciplinary tools. It was one of the worst flights I’ve ever been on. I wish your boyfriend had been there! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. Emmie Mears says:

    My sister has seven kids, and I can guarantee nothing like that would have happened had she been traveling with all of them (four of them are under five years old). That’s what parenting can do when parents take the time to realize they are responsible for the behavior of their children.

    Man. I have been on some bad flights, but none that long.

    • I wish I’d have been on a flight with your sister. ๐Ÿ™‚ The duration and the pitch and unnecessariness were a trifecta of hell. These kids weren’t sick or in pain, they just screeched all the time to get their way. The only thing worse than sitting across the aisle from them was sitting directly in front of them. That woman should get an award for patience.

  17. Pete Denton says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve been on a plane but I couldn’t agree more. A 20 minute bus journey home can be a nightmare so that many hours in that situation would drive me mad.

    • Enclosed places are problematic for me for several reasons. I get nervous as it is flying, so to have constant screaming and screeching and kicking frayed me. It was the worst flight ever.

  18. berry says:

    Totally agree. You are right kids are tough to deal with period.

  19. As a mother of two I can totally get on board Adult Only flights! This would make it a lot easier when traveling with kids (knowing those around you either don’t mind the noise or have kids themselves) and a TOTAL DREAM for the grown ups who either don’t have kids…or those of us lucky enough to get a vacay without them ๐Ÿ˜› My husband and I went on a short weekend trip without our kids a while back and were most unimpressed when the folks beside us couldn’t control their toddler. Great post ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Especially if there are 5-10 flights a day somewhere. I don’t think it wouldn’t inconvenience too many people to take a flight a couple hours later or earlier for this kind of convenience. I bet they could even charge a premium for the adult only flights. I think it could improve everyone’s flight experience. People with kids wouldn’t get all those dirty looks and complaints and if their kids were a bit noisy no big deal. People without kids, or traveling on business or couples getting away could have a quieter more peaceful plane ride. Thanks! It was one of my venting posts, but it was a nightmare flight.

  20. Talashea says:

    I see nothing wrong with Airlines Implementing Adult only flights, as we have been on quite a few with kids acting out. Kicking my seat, pulling my hair, screaming. Running up and down the plane punching people, punching the father in the face for over an hour while screeching at the top of their lungs. I could go on and on as we travel to SE Asia every year but there is not point, I think everyone gets it. I agree with its a lot of times the bad parenting but if I could avoid that I would go out of my way to do so. This is why you see more Adult only Resorts and people opening Adult only Restaurants not because we hate children but we should have an option.

    • There is a tremendous amount of stress involved with this kind of behavior for everyone around it. It would be best to provide an option for those who seek a quiet dinner or a quiet flight. We have quiet train cars on Amtrak, why not quiet flights? I would be willing to fly at an inconvenient time to avoid a screaming baby.

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