We’ve all been there. You’re on a plane and a young child starts screaming and crying. You shrug and figure it’ll soon be over. Nope. The child is not a fan of being in unfamiliar territory. There could be many reasons for the fuss. Ear pressure. Hunger. Fatigue. Sensory overload. The parent is trying their best to get a handle on things to no avail.
Incidents like these have prompted some to suggest adult- only flights. It’s a polarizing idea, but supporters note there are already places off limits to children. Bars. Nightclubs. Even some restaurants. So why not select flights?
One TikTok user named Morgan shared a video of herself on a plane while a child wailed in the background. Her caption stated: “why isn’t there such a thing as adult only flights? I would pay SO much money.”
Morgan explained “that the flight took 3 hours, and the kid was wailing throughout the entire journey. They were well over 5 years old, seated directly behind me, screaming and kicking while the mother was sleeping.” Apparently, Morgan’s noise-canceling headphones weren’t canceling much of anything.
As usual, the comments section was on fire. Some parents loved Morgan’s idea and would welcome the quiet for a change. Others accused her of being entitled. One dissenter said that if Morgan was willing to pay top dollar, she could put it towards a private flight. A second sarcastically said, “oh no, I had to share public space with the public!” A third quipped, “it was harder for mom than it was for you.”
Let me preface my position by saying that compassion goes a long way, and I can spare it for both sides. I feel for the mother who is unable to calm her distressed little one, in spite of her best efforts. I’m not a parent and have no desire to be. But I know it’s hard, not just to see her child upset, but to be given dirty looks from some of those around her. We know why babies and toddlers scream and wail- these are the only methods of communication they have at their disposal. And I imagine it’s frustrating for them because they can’t express exactly what they need.
I like kids in doses, or more specifically, I like their brand of energy in doses. So if I’m sitting next to a crying baby whose parent is at the end of their rope, I’ll make funny faces. Wave. Play Peek-A Boo. If the parent allows it, I’ll even hold the baby. Kids like me because I’m a big kid myself. And if all that fails, well, the noise is temporary. I’ll ask the flight attendant for the strongest alcohol available.
Now, if a child is kicking my seat, I’m willing to laugh it off once or twice. But I’d get annoyed after that, and I don’t believe it would be out of pocket for me to ask the parent to put a stop to it. I’m flying economy some thousands of feet in the air, so I don’t expect to be totally comfortable. But if my seat is to move for any reason, it better be a massage chair.
I also feel for the adults put off by the incessant noise. Some kids have the octave range of Mariah Carey, but none of her control. I think it’s this very thing that some people find intolerable, and I can’t really condemn them for that.
In an article for Ask The Pilot, one writer hilariously shared their experience being in business class with a loud child.
“The little darling treats the rest of us to a five-hour long, blood-curdling repertoire of periodic yelping and screaming fits. It’s the unpredictability of these fits that’s the worst part. It’s quiet, quiet, quiet; then suddenly there’s screaming. It’s quiet, quiet, quiet again; then suddenly there’s more screaming. This repeats over and over, at erratic intervals of varying duration and loudness.”
Would I take an adult-only flight? Absolutely. In a heartbeat. Especially for my long-haul trips to Europe.
According to Alternative Airlines, “there are currently no commercial airlines offering child-free flights. However, this seems to be a growing demand for many travelers, particularly as many take flights for business purposes, or find it difficult to travel with the distractions of children – whether it’s crying, misbehaving, kicking seats, or making a general nuisance.”
There are a few airlines offering child-free zones, including Malaysia Airlines, Indigo, Air Asia X and Scoot Airlines. On the more recognizable carriers, you may see a child in first or business class, unless you’re flying Malaysia Air, which banned infants from first class years ago.
Travel + Leisure notes, “most airlines don’t have specific, written rules about an infant or child policy in first class. However some airlines are experimenting with unique ways to make flying with children better — for everybody in the plane.”
With all that said, would you take an adult-only flight?