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Crying Babies on Planes Aren’t the Problem: This Group is Worse

There’s this misconception out there that babies shouldn’t be allowed on planes. It’s often perpetuated by social media – travelers sharing their nightmare scenarios. No wonder parents are terrified to fly with their children. But parents: take solace. Because your child isn’t the problem. There’s another passenger out there more annoying than crying babies on planes. The worst airplane passenger, some might say.


Specifically, adults that behave like children.

Because I don’t want to simply take a trip to negative town, let’s start off on a positive note.

This is not a blanket statement for all adults. Of the 100+ flights we’ve taken with kids, majority of adults are incredibly kind. They’ve offered to hold our kids if we need to use the bathroom. Walk around with them on the plane. And they’ll even make pre-emptive statements like “by the way, don’t worry, I’ve been there”.

Baby airplane friendly travelers

To be fair, a lot of these people are parents themselves, and they know the drill. They’ve been in your shoes. They reassure you while you’re cramming toys under the seat in front of you. And instantly you feel like you’ve won the airline seating lottery. Statistically speaking, there’s a 100% chance you’ll be within earshot of a grandma or a grandpa who misses their grandkids who are the EXACT AGE your kids are.

But that’s where the good news ends.

Move over babies. There’s a new worst passenger in town.

Sam spent money with the airline so he deserves to be treated like royalty

Man airport waiting for flight

Apologies if your name is Sam and you’re not an asshole. Fictional name to give you a better visual here.

Sam paid for a plane ticket. Not a private jet to Fiji. And even if he did, that still wouldn’t give him the right to be nasty towards someone (kids or no kids).

Let me weave you a tale. A quick one (1 minute tops).

We were coming home from an international trip (I don’t remember the destination.) We were split up – per usual as we fly standby. As we were boarding, one of us put our suitcase into the overhead bin. And what followed, I can only describe as an embarrassing toddler tantrum from a fully grown man.

How dare we put our suitcase on his expensive and freshly clean jacket. Did we not know how much it cost? And how dare we put our items anywhere near his in the communal overhead bin space.

Overhead bin airplane adult mad

Because we aren’t rude people, we let it go and took our seats. And as believers in “when they go low, we go high”, we didn’t fight back.

If you want the first class experience, buy the first class ticket. We’re all thinking it, right? I understand it’s not cheap to fly. And we all want a positive flying experience. But you aren’t entitled to it. And adults thinking they are entitled is precisely why they are worse than kids.

The complainers

Kids do this too, but the difference is, they’re kids. And kids are still learning. Adults know better.

Traveling on a lot of flights means we’ve witnessed a lot of complaining.

“I don’t like where I’m sitting. Even though I had the option to pay for a better seat. Can you bump me up a cabin?”

It’s taking too long to get my drink

“The wifi isn’t working and I have a big, important project to finish”

passenger waiting for inflight service

Is it fun when the wifi stops working? Or when the onboard entertainment goes down? Or when you can’t get out of your seat and you really have to pee? No, but the world still goes on. You don’t have to alert every flight attendant, plus all passengers within shouting distance. They don’t care because they abide by a thing called etiquette.

At least toddlers have the decency to complain to their parents and not the entire plane.

The disruptive type

No one wants to sit next to a crying baby. Let me be clear about that. There’s no sugar coating the experience of babies crying on planes. Screaming children can be miserable for all involved. I don’t love getting my seat kicked. But I can usually hear the parent doing something to resolve the situation. Whatever you are feeling, it’s much worse for them. They are taking action (most of the time).

Adults – not so much. You have the drunk passenger. The space encroacher. The guy who didn’t shower. The girl who brings smelly food. The person who rings their call button every 10 seconds. What fresh hell is this?

Flight attendants helping a passenger

When it’s kids causing the disruptive behavior, you have the parent there to parent (unless you come across that rare parent that chooses not to apply any parenting). Another subject for another day. When it’s the adult causing disruptive behavior, the flight attendants have to play babysitter. And they are the true heroes here.

It’s a first world problem

I’m sorry my baby is interrupting cocktail hour. And that your airline ticket was expensive. But you have the privilege of flying. So sit down and stop whining.

The impatient ones

impatient passenger waiting to board the plane

Quick survey: when a pilot announces there are passengers with tight connections and we should let them deplane first, who is first to block the aisle?

That was almost rhetorical. Because we know it’s not the baby. And it’s not the toddler. We’re talking about basic manners here. And you can’t blame this one on the crying babies.

Why parent shaming on planes is unacceptable

Mom with baby on plane

If you are terrified of flying with a baby because you’re worried about the backlash, I’ll leave you with this:

  • It’s not a “you” problem, it’s a “them” problem. You can’t control other people’s reactions, but you can choose not to let it prevent you from traveling with your baby.
  • Don’t worry about bringing snack bags for passengers around you (and all other “sorry in advance” gestures). It only perpetuates the belief that babies don’t belong on planes. In fact, we would argue you DON’T do that.
  • Kids and babies always do much better than you think.

And if you’re traveling without kids

Chances are, you’re one of the good ones. Because the good ones outweigh the bad ones. And those reassuring “been there – don’t sweat it” messages don’t go unnoticed. It’s time we end the stigma of babies on planes. And you play a big role in it.

And because it certainly isn’t going to start with Judgy Joe (Judgy Sam doesn’t have the same ring to it) and his precious designer coat.

If you need further convincing that babies crying on planes aren’t the problem, these are some of the worst airline passengers. Hint: they’re all adults.

What are your experiences with crying babies on planes vs. rude adults?

You may also like:

How to Help Your Toddler Sleep on the Plane

Best Travel Toys for Toddlers on Planes

How to Protect Your Stroller When Flying

Flying with a Newborn like a Pro

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