Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Awkward & Angry

Posted June 21, 2010

While on vacation last week I encountered an angry and awkward situation on a plane. I'd like to get your thoughts.  Cindy and I traveled to New Mexico for the week. On the way back we flew from Albuquerque to Baltimore. That's about three and a half hours in the air.

I had an aisle seat. Cindy was in the middle and an elderly man had the window seat on our row. There was a family of three behind us - a woman and two lively young children. I'll say ages three and four. The kids were very talkative and bit active. My only complaint was a few kicks to the back of my seat. The child behind the elderly man was quite vocal and bouncy.

Two hours into the flight the man next to Cindy turns around, looks at the child and yells an expletive that we've all heard before to describe a jerk. The child's mother didn't say anything but tried to distract the child the rest of the journey by reading to him.

As a journalist I could see both sides to this story. Any flight over an hour or so is going to be a challenge for active children. Parents need to have plenty of things to help the kids stay busy. I think they can also help by insisting that the children use their quiet voices while flying. The elderly man should consider investing in a pair of noise reduction headphones. They work wonders.

I'd like to get your thoughts on this.


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  • familyfour Jun 28, 2010

    Also, parents shouldn't have to be told when their children are misbehaving....

    If they don't "know" it's because they don't care.

  • familyfour Jun 28, 2010

    Considering the number of adults that are fearful of flight, I can only imagine that children are, too.

    Their activity, as with many other situations, is a perfect way to avoid the situation. Nervous energy.

    You'd have been much more uncomfortable with me strapped in behind you! I DO NOT fly. :)

    With that being said, well behaved children take lots of time. The more you put in, the more you get out.

  • wufpaker Jun 28, 2010

    continuation... If I had been making the same racket and had been as disruptive as these kids, I would have been thrown off the flight with a security agent meeting me at the door. Arghhhhh!

  • wufpaker Jun 28, 2010

    Unfortunately, reading this blog post last week became a foreshadow of a connecting flight my family made this weekend from Chicago to RDU on American Airlines. Before the flight even took off a family of 5 (3 kids) got on the plane in all their noisy glory. The kids were clearly out of control and ignored their parents' empty threats to calm down. This was even before the plane doors were closed. I was 'blessed' to have one of the parents and a child sit directly behind me. Before the doors were closed I asked the flight attendant to take control of the situation. Her response? "He's Platinum". Since she wasnt't going to do anything (1 flight attendant - commuter flight), I took matters in hand and asked the child to use an inside voice. No luck. Asked the flight attendant again. Response this time? "They are not my kids". I can't believe American Airlines' policy is to completely ignore disruptive kids. If I had been making the same racket and had been as disruptive, I w

  • Momsy Jun 22, 2010

    I can only comment on my children. We have been flying with them since they were 2 (at the time they were 2, 3 and 7). We flew anywhere from 2-4 hours. We took plenty of things for them to do (books, crayons) and snacks. We flew as employees of the airline and we HAD to behave or lose flying privileges. The girls knew what was expected of them. I was mindful of them kicking the seat and even apologizing when it happened. I think children can behave if we let them know we expect them to behave. We remained calm and that helped keep them calm.
    It is hard to travel now, you are packed in pretty tight and there are times you can't be moved. There have been times on flights when adults have been more disruptive than children. I just accept it as the privilege to fly, it will be over soon and we hopefully won't see the same people on the return flight.

  • TiredOleMan Jun 22, 2010

    I agree with pulsar40 "Why did it take 2 hours before the mother did anything to quiet the child down? A few kicks is one thing, 2 hours of unruly behavior is quite different. Why should the elderly man have to "invest" in anything? He has every right to a comfortable flight"

    Albeit, it's too bad the elderly man had to use such 'colorful' language. Some senior citizen have very short tempers. You would think his life experiences would've allowed him to conduct his response in a more civil manner. We are pushing for an 'anything goes' society that even Alfred E. Newman would think was 'MADD.'

  • Clover Jun 22, 2010

    Unfortunately, adults are often as immature as children. This man certainly qualifies with this response. He could have spoken to the mother, respectfully, rather than hurl curse words at the child.

  • thefensk Jun 22, 2010

    Noisy active kids are troublesome, but I wonder how he acted when he was their age when he acts this way at his age. As a parent you indicate that the kids were acting basically like kids, maybe a little bit over the top but within somewhat acceptable limits. Anybody with any experience with children knows that there is some patience required.

    Still, A lot of kids today are not taught how to behave or they are taught to just not care. We are continually amazed by our grandchildren's actions around their parents. They know they won't get away with such behavior on our watch so they don't even try it with us.

  • pmck Jun 22, 2010

    What a great example he was for those children. I wasn't there so I don't have a clue what the mom was doing or not doing. An adult should have addressed the mother and asked her to please have her child stop kicking the seat.

  • CestLaVie Jun 22, 2010

    I'm sure the elderly man had been patiently waiting for the mother to control her children. The child directly behind him had probably been kicking his seat all along & he finally just exploded. Yes, he probably should have asked to change his seat, but the plane may have been full & that recourse not available. The mother, like MANY I see these years, was obviously completely unaware of how her brats were bothering others & THAT is why the situation escalated to the point it did.

    "... The child's mother didn't say anything..." THAT right there is the clue as to why the kids were the way they were. Good ole mom was completely oblivious as to her children, their actions & manners (HA...if any). Good luck, mom, down the road!!!!

    For those who thought the man's words were just horrible, I'm sorry but sometimes the worst words can convey the best opinions when one is at the brink! "Gosh darnnit" just wouldn't have cut it. IMHO, his words offended no more than the brats.




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Bill Leslie