Should the parents of unruly kids be banned from planes?

I enjoy air travel, but how often have you been on a flight, when it has been ruined by a couple of unsupervised kids running up and down the aisles, shouting at each other, only for their parents to sit unconcerned whilst their progeny riot and ruin the flight for everyone else?

I don’t get annoyed by babies crying on planes.  That’s what babies do to get attention, and it’s how they communicate.  Babies can’t help crying, and their parents usually get embarrassed by the attention that they draw to themselves anyway.  As far as I am concerned, babies are welcome on flights.

It’s the screaming kids that are aged between about 4 and 10 that really bug me.  Not the quiet, well behaved ones, but the others: the ones who think that the plane is their private playground.  In fact, it’s not even the kids that I get angry at – it’s their lazy, inconsiderate moronic parents who are so self-absorbed that they don’t give a toss about anyone else.    

As a parent who used to travel on long haul flights with young kids, I was painfully aware that my children could be capable of upsetting other passengers should they get bored and want to use up a bit of energy.  My wife and I used to travel with heaps of books for them to read, also games and puzzles for them to play with.  Depending on the age of the child, a drawing book with a few coloured pencils, or a small travel game pack with the usual things like snakes and ladders and ludo, would keep our kids occupied for hours.  We are not perfect people, but we realised early on that travelling with kids could be a very unpleasant experience if their minds were not occupied. To be fair, our main concern was for our sanity rather than that of the other passengers, but we figured that if our kids were quite then our trip would be better.

Which gets me back to the miniature Taliban who perform terrorist acts on other passengers whilst their parents remain oblivious to their errant behaviour.  Airlines should ban parents from travelling with kids if they let them run amok.  If they are on a departing flight, i.e. heading to wherever they are going, the cabin crew should be able to advise these parents that their return tickets will not be honoured unless they curd their kids.  See what sort of reaction that gets – any eavesdropping passengers would be cheering the cabin crew member on.

Airlines do have the facility for tagging the parents of misbehaving children.  This is information they could share with other airlines.  Sure, they may have to deal with the odd angry parent, but this would be more than compensated by the overwhelming number of happy passengers who would enjoy seeing these Neanderthals get their just desserts.   Either that, or seat the family on the wing for their return flight.

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