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!”
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