Kids Who Scream on Planes and What You Can Do

Tips for dealing with those children who are ruining your flight.

ByColumn By Rick Seaney <br/> <a Href="http://www.farecompare.com/" Target="external">farecompare.com</a> Ceo
November 10, 2009, 5:17 AM

Dec. 16, 2009 &#151; -- Disclaimer: I am a father, and I love kids. But I have my moments.

Usually these "moments" occur when I'm jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a long metal cylinder for hours on end as a toddler gives voice to all frustrations. Loudly. Unceasingly. At a volume that can't be drowned out by Metallica on my noise-canceling headphones.

That's when I remember the immortal words of Clarence Darrow (spoken, no doubt, as he sat beside a noisy little tyke aboard a Douglas DC-2): "The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children." Hmm, a bit extreme, perhaps, however many have sent me notes expressing their willingness to pay one of those dreaded airline fees specifically for child/infant-less flights.

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But enough with the hyperbole: let's talk real-world solutions to the problem of screaming kids: I'm afraid there are only two things that you, the passenger, can do about this:

Now if you're the parent of a wayward child -- that's different. There are a lot of things you can try.

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Tip for Flying with Babies

Let's start with infants, and here's a chilling thought from the staff at MayoClinic.com: "Sometimes babies simply need to cry." On the other hand, sometimes there's a reason for their cries; you just need to recognize it and deal with it.

What to try:

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Flying with Toddlers

Ah, yes, toddlers: those busy little people who "live in the moment" and don't always listen to Mommy and Daddy.

What to try:

Not long ago, I read an op-ed piece by Amy Alkon, author of "I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners into Impolite Society" in which she wrote, "Your right to bring your screaming child on a plane ends where the rest of our ears begin."

She's got a point, but reaction was mixed, judging by comments on various blogs which included, "You are my hero!" and "[Does] Amy have any children of her own? That lived?"

Look, we were all children once, and chances are, most or at least many of us will have children of our own someday, so -- be nice, everyone.

That said, you know what irritates passengers even more than screaming kids? Parents that make no attempt to do anything about it. To some degree, most of us are sympathetic to families with out-of-control toddlers and crying babies, but not if the parents just sit there.

Sure, parenthood isn't easy, but – it's your job, so – do it. And maybe we'll all fly a little easier.

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 FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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