Chicago Skyline From Our ORD to MCO American Airlines Flight
Chicago Skyline From Our ORD to MCO American Airlines Flight

Peaceful Air Travel: How to Avoid Crying Kids

We’ve all been there. Most of us have spent every single hour of our logged flight time there. We’ve all experienced the ups and downs of Economy Class airfare.

We’ve flown Economy or Economy Plus (thanks for the legroom United!) for every flight but one that we’ve taken over the years. First class to Hawaii was amazing, but that’s very off-topic for today. Today we’re talking about the nearly foolproof method that we’ve discovered to avoid an ever present frustration when flying Economy Class, noisy, crying, and sometimes downright rude, children.

The Kid Factor

For the most part our experiences flying around the world have been smooth. We’re big fans of United because they’ve consistently provided us with an excellent experience, but one thing that’s out of the airline’s control is, what I’m going to call, The Kid Factor.

The Kid Factor is simple, the higher the ratio of kids to adults on your flight, typically the worse off the experience will be.

Flight attendants can do everything in their power to try to make children happy during a flight, but it seems as though sometimes there’s nothing you can say or do to quiet a fussy kid.

The Greatest Flight Ever *sarcasm*

It’s time. After checking in, making your way through security and sitting around simply passing the time for a little while, your seating group has finally been called to board the plane. Happy day!

So you make your way to your seat, put your carry-on in the overhead bin, turn off your cellphone and the plane begins it’s assent.

All is well and good. Until it’s not. At the beginning it’s one muffled, high pitched in-breathe, almost a warning of what’s to come, and then it begins. The crying. A repeated scream littered with brief moments of silence as the child breathes. A mother, who has long since become numb to the sound, simply sitting idly by as the child stretches out the windpipes.

You think to yourself, “this better not last all flight.”

Then the drink service comes around. Ah, a little something to take your mind off the incessant crying. Shortly after receiving your can of tomato juice you hear the person in the row in front of you frantically asking for napkins and towels. Her child has spilled her drink down the back of her seat and all over the floor. The same floorspace where your laptop has been properly stowed since takeoff.

As you quickly scoop up the laptop, ask for your own napkins and notice that the bottom of your jeans are also soaked, the mother opens her drink and proceeds to also spill all over the floor. This time successfully soaking the luggage of the girl sitting beside you.

Then things quiet down. Miraculously the baby has stopped crying and your pants and laptop case are approaching to that dry, but sticky feeling. Then in the row directly behind you the argument begins.

[After the oh so healthy snack service consisting of candy and chips has completed]
Child: “I want more M&M’s”
Mother: “You already had M&M’s.”
Child: “But I want more M&M’s!”
Mother: “No you finished the entire box of M&M’s when you were supposed to share with your father. No more M&M’s”
Child: “I want more!”
Mother: “No!”
Child: “I’ll just press the button and the lady will have to give me more M&M’s”

The mother rifles through her bag and presents a Nintendo DS. “How about you play some Nintendo. Do you want to play May-rio? You like May-rio”

The child obliges, turning the game on at full volume while the mother repeatedly finds new ways to work Mario into whatever nonsense she’s spewing. The sound of the DS is drowned out only by the mother’s repeated awkward pronunciation of “May-rio.” Ugh.

Finally the daughter passes the game to her sibling who kindly turns the volume off (or inserts headphones) in an effort to not disturb other passengers.

Then the moan for more candy returns.

Why Was This Flight Different?

I wish I could say that the previous story was a sensationalized version of what could happen to you on a flight. Unfortunately it was actually the experience that I had on one of our recent flights during the month and a half whirlwind of adventure that we were recently on.

While sitting on that plane with sticky pants, listening to a Mother who has successfully passed the obnoxious gene down to one of her children, I was trying to think why this flight was so different from what we were used to. How have we flown so many times before and avoided nearly all of this hassle every time?

It all came down to the planning.

How to Ensure a Pleasant Flight

First, if you want to avoid The Kid Factor, pass on the economy airlines. It made complete sense once I thought about it, but while we don’t pay much more to fly United than we would for a budget airline such as Spirit (avoid Spirit at all costs, more on that in a later post), for a budget conscious family of 5+ it’s simply not cost effective to pay for anything but the lowest priced flights available.

Being that there’s just two of us we’re definitely spoiled. I can’t imagine traveling with a large family and paying for all of that airfare. It adds up very quickly.

Second, don’t fly during Spring Break. Sure it’s great to take a little Spring Break of your own, but if you’re going to do that just be absolutely sure that you’re not going the budget route and that you’re following the third and most important rule of all.

The third rule is to fly early in the day or late in the evening, always midweek. A midday flight at the beginning or end of a week is just begging for an increased Kid Factor.

We’ve never really planned for it specifically, but we tend to always fly out to our destination midweek on an early morning flight, usually arriving at the airport around 5-6am. Then we tend to arrive back home somewhere around midnight on another day also around the middle of a week.

Having the freedom to pack up and travel whenever we want allows us to shop around for the best prices and early morning on a Tuesday-Thursday will usually win out.

So this is a win-win situation. If you have the freedom to leave whenever or the time to plan ahead, I highly recommend booking a mid-week early morning departure and a mid-week late night return. Not only will you get nearly an entire extra day of time at your destination, but you’ll save money and, due to the time of day, typically completely avoid The Kid Factor.

Nobody needs unneccesary stress while traveling. Travel smart and enjoy every minute of the experience.

What experiences have you had with The Kid Factor? Share your wildest adventures in the comments

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Comments

  1. I own kids. I LIVE with The Factor. S’why I drink. ‘Nuff said.

    There’s the other factor: The Loud Businessman Factor. On a train trip to London (Ontario, not England), I got stuck with a guy like that for 8 hours.

    *ring ring*

    “HALLO. YAH, GOOD YOU CALLED. I MEANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THIS THAT AND THE OTHER WHILE I MAKE SURE EVERY FREAKIN’ PERSON ON THIS TRAIN CAR HEARS ME AND MY CONVERSATION TO YOU, BECAUSE IT MAKES ME FEEL REALLY IMPORTANT. HANG ON A SECOND WHILE I MAKE SURE EVERYONE’S NOTICED I’M A BIG FAT BIGSHOT MAKING NOISE… RIGHT. GOT IT, THEY’RE ALL GLANCING AT ME. AWESOME. OKAY, LET’S TALK FOR 20 MINUTES NON-STOP SO THEY GET I’M REALLY IMPORTANT, SO WE’LL START BY GOING OVER SOME USELESS NUMBERS WHILE I TELL YOU WHAT TO DO, BECAUSE THAT MAKES ME FEEL IMPORTANT TOO. GREAT, EVERYONE’S GIVING ME THOSE ANNOYED GLANCES RIGHT NOW. SEE, THEY’RE BEING REALLY REALLY QUIET, BECAUSE THERE ARE SIGNS ALL OVER THAT SAY SOMETHING LIKE THE TRAIN IS LIKE THE LIBRARY SO YOU SHOULD BE RESPECTFUL, BUT I LIKE ANNOYING THE HELL OUT OF PEOPLE BY BEING AS NOISY AS I CAN…”

    Ooof.

    • Great point. The Loud Businessman Factor…that’s a whole ‘nother ballgame and will probably live a level above The Kid Factor for the mere fact that those guys never quit! The crying may start and stop a few times for short bursts, but that business guy on his phone…that can go all flight.

      Luckily that kind of experience is typically avoided in the air, but still….ugh. Obnoxious no matter where you experience it :P

  2. Ok ok…I am a parent and that kid crying, MY kid crying, stresses me out probably WAY more than it bothers any other passenger. And that crying from kids during take off or landing, that’s their ears. They don’t get how to pop them. So bear with us.

    The drink that spills…that’s payback for when you did that when you were a kid ;)

    Yes we were all kids once and I bet you too cried like a banshee during the flight at one point, if you were lucky enough that your parents took you on trips.

    If children traveling bug you (and I don’t mean you Jeff, I mean anyone), then yes I’d suggest following your tips and saving those miles for an upgrade to First Class. At least then the free champagne will help you mute the crying of those damn traveling (exploring) kids back in coach.

    Remember, that crying kid on a plane is a Traveling/Learning/exploring kid…so give him a break, after all, travel and finding new cultures/adventures isn’t just for adults!

    (can you tell I’m a tad sick of the stares, rolling eyes and down lookers when they see a kid sitting near them…we just flew last week…and my kids are relatively good on the plane (thank god!)…lord help the mom who travels with a teething baby or two year old who is “learning to use their words,” they are screwed, haha!)

    Kids, well they are kids…
    Now, what can we do to avoid that man who talks REALLY REALLY loudly the whole trip or snores so loudly you can’t sleep on that long long flight to Fiji? I look forward to that post ;)

    • Yay, I thought this would spark some great conversation :) I hope in the post that I didn’t come off as one of the rude eye rollers when kids are on the plane (probably sounds so, but I swear I’m not ‘one of those’) hehe

      I definitely feel for the mothers, like yourself, who have to deal with all that stress. Not only do you have your unhappy child beside you whom you want nothing more than to make happy, but those downright rude glances from the people around you…that’s just not fair.

      Especially since you do care about the situation. Sometimes it feels like there’s parents out there that have become numb to all the ruckus, maybe from their constant exposure to it. Just like the businessman scenario, that rude guy or gal who simply doesn’t care that they’re causing stress for other passengers, those are the ones that I think we all want to avoid :)

      I really have no problem with kids on flights (the post probably makes it sound otherwise) and I usually tone most everything out anyway as just background noise. There’s just those few times where the stars align to make it feel like chaos all around.

      Unfortunately I never flew until I was in my early twenties so I never had the opportunity to be on the other end of the drink spilling….I totally missed out! hehe

      But I swear if I ever figure out a way to avoid the loud-talkers and snorers, that’ll definitely hit the site in a heartbeat. Maybe I need to learn hypnosis. *Trots up to the flight attendant microphone* “Your eyes are heavy, you don’t feel like talking and you will not snore…now SLEEP!” ;) haha

      Thanks for your great input and I’ll definitely look at the experience differently now. Keep taking your kids out into the world and letting them explore and ignore those rude stares. You’re doing a great thing! :)

  3. I’ll back up Sarah on one thing: When it’s YOUR kid crying… you want the earth to open up and swallow you whole. It’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating, and it’s sometimes overwhelming. You *wish* you could have a nice, quiet, polite kid (like that little girl traveling nicely over there *mutters mutters*), but you have this irrational, demon banshee screaming in your ears… and everyone looking at you…

  4. Love this post and love the comments even more. LOL.

    Totally agree with James about the annoying loud cell-phone talkers on planes and everywhere else they are. Which seems to be EVERYWHERE lately. I seriously hope restaurants start banning phone conversations because it really ruins my dining experience.

    And, I agree with Sarah – when it’s your child crying, having a meltdown or kicking the seat in front of them (a la Kindergarten Cop), you just want to DIE. Luckily, my three kids are unusually well-behaved that we don’t have these problems too often. :) (I’m serious! We just took them to Capital Grille for Mother’s Day and they were better-behaved and less annoying than a table full of adults behind us. ;)

    Fun stuff, Jeff!
    Heather

  5. Hey Jeff.
    I am very interested in your blog design, it’s inspiring. I am wondering if you would consider selling the template? Get in touch.

    Thanks

    • Thanks Robert, the positive feedback about our design always puts a smile on my face :) You’ll find an email from me in your inbox.

  6. Linda Marie says:

    I have travel long haul flights, from India to Canada with my young son. I have been complimented several times on his behavior. no idea how he turned out to be so great he just is. I also know how parents feel when their child is sick or not comfortable, sometimes like in my case the child cant speak and tell you whats wrong, I cant imagine what it is like to be so unwell and no one understands how you feel. I think people should be more considerate about others, especially little people. Here in India, children are celebrated and are taken everywhere and welcomed by everyone, it makes me ashamed of my Canadian ways and attitudes towards children , and I hope when I return to Canada, I can be more understanding as other cultures have taught me.