Nobody wants a crying baby while travelling in an aeroplane—even if you were the baby's mum. But would you support an airline that dictates you can only sit in a specific area because you have children? Two mums share their views.
Sydney, New South Wales
As long as someone who strongly objected [to segregation] was not forced to sit in that section, I feel it would not be discriminatory. Crying babies and unruly children in confined spaces on planes are difficult for everyone—both the parents and those who are around them—and currently, they are spread out across the plane, affecting everyone's travel experience.
If those around them were in the same position (travelling with young children), parents may benefit as it may lift some of the pressure to keep their children still and quiet and not annoy surrounding passengers (especially on long haul flights).
I have seen many distressed parents with crying babies, working so hard to keep their little ones quiet (which is often impossible) on overnight flights. When they arrive, they actually look somewhat traumatised as well as exhausted. I've heard the annoyed, angry comments that have sometimes been directed their way from other tired passengers and felt for them.
If the families were in one section, the airline may also be able to cater better to their needs as a group, with special activities or flight attendants trained to assist. They could have happier children, parents and passengers.
When my child was smaller, I would definitely have booked an airline with a child area if they catered well to their needs in that space. This could actually be made a selling point if airlines did it well. Simply corralling them into one area of the plane without catering to their needs would probably just create animosity on the part of the parents however. (Although other passengers may be happier!)
Sydney, New South Wales
I would be hesitant to support an airline that actively separated anyone, whether it be children, or based on race or religion. Airlines already have a built-in segregation—based on your ability to pay. There doesn’t seem to be a need to go further with this.
Once you start segregating any member of a group in society, you only encourage discrimination and intolerance. It becomes acceptable to treat people as less important than others. We need to learn (and teach our children) to accept people and not get worked up about differences in behaviour that cannot be helped. For example, there may be children with disabilities who cannot change the way they act. Parents of these children feel self-conscious enough when out in public and just want to be able to do things a normal family does, such as go on holiday. We should do all that we can to support this.
Young children, particularly those under five, are just not developmentally ready to sit still for long periods of time and due to their impulse control being underdeveloped, are unlikely to be able to stay silent most of the time. Most parents will guide a child of this age to direct their energy in an appropriate way, however children are still children and have a mind of their own.
There are situations in life where it may not be possible to have a completely quiet environment. As hard as this is for the introverts among us, it makes us more tolerant and kind to others if we gain a greater understanding of what life is like for others in society, rather than being shielded from them.