Banish Kids to the Back of the Plane

I don't know which is worse: being the passenger tormented by children, or being the parent of the tormenting children.

You know what I'm talking about: enduring that four hour-long business flight, while repeatedly having your seat-back kicked by an angry little imp.

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On the other hand, it's no picnic being the mom or dad of an out-of-control brat when the icy eyes of an entire plane are upon you; you can almost hear the thoughts hurled in your direction ("Jack-the-Ripper could do a better job at parenting!").

Yes, the age-old dilemma of the business traveler vs. the family. The solution? Frankly, I don't know, but I have some ideas.

How about a family-only section? Believe me, when I blogged about this problem earlier in the year, I got an earful, and most people thought a special section for children was just the ticket -- they simply couldn't agree on where the section should be.

Some sample comments:

"YES, we need a special section. In the overhead bins."

"Put them in the baggage section, bound and gagged."

"Banish the breeders to the back of the plane."

"Below deck would be nice, or out on the wing."

That last comment was made by a pilot. I think his tongue was firmly in his cheek, as he is a blogger, and sometimes bloggers get a little -- uh, fanciful.

Poor families. They are taking it on the chin these days. First, Southwest takes away their pre-boarding privileges, then all those fees for first (as well as second) checked bags. But I have heard from some families who wouldn't mind a bit of segregation; perhaps a family-only section in the back of the plane.

Sort of reminds me of the old "smoking section" in the rear. Which brings me to family-only airlines. After all, there's a fellow in Germany who's trying to get a smokers-only airline called SMINT Air off the ground (and he's been trying and trying for the past three years and still no flights have been scheduled).

Then there was Hooters Air. It lasted about three years, and I know what you're thinking, that it was some sort of "oglers-only" airline, but the idea behind it was to bring awareness to the restaurant chain -- plus, it was marketed toward ... golfers. It took travelers to some of the nicest courses in the country, but again, not for long.

Business-only airlines don't seem to be faring much better -- Maxjet, eos, and Silverjet are all gone. I've heard the service was great, business folks loved them -- remember, they marketed themselves as sort of a discount business class airlines -- but, they, too, just couldn't seem to make enough money.

And I think that would be the trouble with a family-only airline. Most carriers need business travelers: they pick up and go at a moment's notice and, therefore, have to buy the most expensive tickets. They are the passengers that keep a lot of airlines afloat.

So, what else can be done to ease the enmity between business travelers and family? Well, you could always try bonding. According to a recent survey, 14 percent of business trips last year were taken by the briefcase brigade who brought family members with them. A sort of business-pleasure combo, if you will.

But, that won't work for everyone. So, we're back to ... family-only sections? Might be worth a try, if families are willing (I wouldn't mind). And in the meantime, we should all try that old-fashioned concept of common courtesy.

Parents, if Junior is kicking the back of a seat, stop him. Business travelers, don't grimace at families as though they are personally raising the spawn of Satan. We can all get along -- we just have to work at it.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site offers consumers free, new-generation software combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.