I flew from DEN-LAX the other night and had a unpleasant and slightly uncomfortable experience thanks to the family sitting in front of me. There was Mom, Dad, and 3ish year old daughter. Their performance led me to create this list of tips for family flying:
- Sit in the back of the plane. Noise travels for about 5 rows, if there aren't any rows behind you, that is 30 fewer people who hear a screaming kid. Also, you are closer to the bathrooms and you can get up and walk around the back of the rear galley area while boarding and deplaining to keep them occupied.
- Use your 6 inch voice. This goes for kids, parents, and everyone else. Talking louder to a loud kid will make them want to be even louder. The cycle will repeat until you are both screaming.
- Parents should explain that kids need to be quiet and respectful to others. Over the course of the flight, Mom and Dad never told the kid to be quiet, stop it, or settle down.
- Don't try ignoring your kid until they are quiet. Three consecutive cries for DADDY should mean its time to try parenting.
- Don't get mad at the kid. This was uncomfortable for me and the person sitting next to me. Dad reprimanded the kid for spilling her water and he sounded very angry.
- Don't try tell the kid to scream for mommy instead of daddy. You aren't solving the problem.
- Don't make the flight attendant be a parent. You should have them buckled up when the seat belt sign is on. If the cabin crew comes by to say settle down, that's a bad mark on the parents more than the kid.
- Frontier will give them a cookie no matter how well they behave. Make a deal with the kid that they only get the cookie is they behave. Bribes work well at all ages.
- Don't make sex jokes to your wife. That's just creepy for everyone.
- If they start screaming during decent and landing, give them gum or a drink to help pop their ears. Telling them to stop making a fit is not the best way to solve that problem.
I've flown on many flights with little kids and there are many very good kid travelers out there. This bad example was the worst I've seen in a while.