An Open Letter to the Guy Who Is Annoyed That I Brought a Small Child on This Flight

Dear fellow citizen,

Here we are sharing that most intimate of experiences, the economy section of a modern airplane. Welcome! I can see by the sour, pained look on your face that you have already decided that you hate me and everything I stand for because I am traveling with a small child. I sense you are annoyed. I’d like to take this opportunity to clear the air (ha ha.)

Of course, I do not know this because you have used our shared gift of human language to communicate your thoughts with me, but rather because I have intuited it from your body language. While I am sure you have an impressive educational background, excellent career references, and a lengthy resume full of accomplishments–all of which probably largely rely on your excellent verbal skills!–it seems the mere presence of my small child on this airplane has inexplicably transformed your vocabulary into a Paleolithic-era series of grunts, huffs, emphatic head swivels, and pained looks. Do you have something you’d like to share with me? Perhaps you could try talking to me. After all, humans have spent literally hundreds of thousands of years developing our linguistic and social skills. Now would be an appropriate time to use them! Maybe we could find some common ground or I could better understand your needs and desires.

Perhaps (if we were on speaking terms) you would admit that you feel my child, or the other children on the flight, are simply too loud to make the flight bearable. Have you heard of headphones? I can see why you may not have, since they were only invented in 1919, a mere 95 years ago. Also, pretty much everyone in the world owns multiple pairs of them. But you make a great point; new-fangled technology can be hard to keep up with these days! You might be amazed to learn that they have even invented a type of headphone that is known as “noise-cancelling.” I hope I’m not speaking out of turn when I tell you that these magical devices actually do just that–they cancel out the noises around you, including (but not limited to) those made by children. And no, I am NOT making this up. But perhaps these noise-canceling marvels are not for you. Who knows, maybe you feel that the straight-to-video romantic comedy you are currently enjoying on an infinitesimal screen is just not the same without the deafening hum of the airplane’s engines to round out your auditory experience. I personally can’t enjoy a crappy Cameron Diaz vehicle without it. To each his own, right?

Are you worried that my kid will kick your seat? I will admit that I have flown at least half a million miles in my life, and I have LITERALLY never had this happen to me. Who are these apocryphal long-legged children that are able to reach their tiny, terrible feet with enough force to actually kick the seats? Are you traveling exclusively on flights with the family members of NBA players? Do you really think my pint-sized baby/toddler possesses this ability? Have you seen him? He is short and so are his legs. Also, he pretty much exclusively sits “criss cross applesauce.” I think your fear in this regard may be a little out of proportion.

Did you have high hopes for this flight that have now all been dashed by the presence of me and my young companion? Did you book the flight and think to yourself, “12 hours inside a tin can with stale air, nasty food, tiny $8 portions of cheap Merlot, and as many unwashed masses as the airline can cram into the cabin- aaaahhhh. That sounds like a recipe for relaxation!”? Do you believe that if my child were to suddenly disappear, this flight would all of a sudden be a terrific way to spend your time? Because I have to say, I just don’t think you’re being honest with yourself. Somewhere, deep down, I think you know that flights in economy class pretty much suck. But they are a great way to get quickly from point A to point B.

Speaking of which, might it not be a better use of your mental energy to consider how amazing/ stupefying/ fortunate it is that you (or your company!) can pay some insignificant amount of money to enter a climate-controlled metal tube, on any day of the year, that safely transports you across the freaking GLOBE in mere hours, on a journey that it would have literally taken your great-grandfather months, and been far less comfortable? Are you telling me you would rather be in a covered wagon right now? Or a clipper ship? Because I don’t really think that is true. Also, those places had kids too. And they probably smelled a lot worse than mine does.

And hey, say what you will about my kid, but at least he doesn’t use a Knee Defender. Or recline his seat. Or hog up the overhead compartment with a giant bag. He doesn’t even have a bag. Those have all gotta count for something.


P.S. Seriously, I really think you should consider the noise-cancelling headphones.

Photo credit: Er0l on flickr. 

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8 Responses

  1. Noel Derecki says:

    This is hilarious.

  2. Clara McMahan says:

    Why would anybody have to wear headphones because of your kids? It is unfair and proves that most parents nowadays think others have to adjust to their children instead of the other way around. Wherever I go with my children they don’t scream, don’t cry (unless they get hurt obviously) and don’t do anything to bother anybody around. That is called knowing how to raise children. NOBODY has to wear headphones or do anything else for that matter to be able to enjoy the flight they payed for just because your kids can’t be controlled.
    Plenty of people enjoy silence and it is mutual respect to not be loud in public places and your kids have to learn that, why must I or anybody else wear headphones for hours just because you say so? Are you really listening to yourself?
    Children on airplanes are alright, the problem is stupid parents like you that think that others have to endure hours in a closed environment next to a spoiled brat instead of educating their kids. It works, they aren’t stupid, they learn, try it some time maybe, my kids did and they are not geniuses.

    • Karen says:

      @clara this article is satire, do you really think I let my kid scream for an entire flight? Really? But sometimes a baby’s ears pop and they cry, not really anyone’s fault there… Wow. Just wow.

  3. Mark Harrison says:


    It’s not called “knowing how to raise children”, it’s called “being lucky your kids don’t have spectrum disorders.”

    If, on the other hand, you HAVE discovered how to prevent all young children getting uncontrollably upset when faced with unfamiliar situations, I look forward to hearing about it when you collect your Nobel Prize for Medicine.

  4. Danika says:

    @Clara MacMahan – I’m so happy to hear that there are parents in this world that are able to raise infants and toddlers that never cry when their ears pop in the plane, and are able to sit quiet and still during a 7 hr flight across continents.
    The rest of us, ignorant masses who happen to want to visit their family in Europe with their young offsprigs, will just respectfully observe your little snowflakes and sigh in admiration.

  5. meg says:

    I thought this was truly hilarious, and I’m usually the one getting kicked in my seat, and not only by children, by the way. Back off Clara…get real…you’re not entitled, and neither are your kids (no one is) But being compassionate toward others just might help us all cope with REALITY, otherwise known as Things As They Are…

  6. Boomdog02 says:

    I think I may have sat next to the same guy. My wife and I had twins, and all that comes with it. On one particular flight, we ponied up the extra money to fly business class, hoping for a bit more room for us and our 2 9 month old infants. As we took our assigned seats, the same guy ( I believe) looked at us and said loudly “you’ve got to be kidding”, as if we were sitting down with two live crocodiles in our arms. I replied, smiling broadly, “nope”! Suffice it to say we endure the next 6 hours of grunts, sighs, sideways stares, and negative vibes he could conjure up….we were laughing about it the whole way. All our kids did was sleep on out laps/chests the whole way..not a peep until we landed and they woke up. People can be funny and predictable.