Babies in Flight
Not interested in sitting next to a baby on your next flight?
According to CNN travel, Japan Airlines has lead the way by adding a baby symbol to your seat selection process. While I do think that this may bring some comfort to parents (you obviously don’t want a rude neighbor sitting next to you), their are other areas that airlines can focus on to better the experience for all travelers. As mentioned in the article, if you book through an affiliate website, the baby symbol may not translate. So, you could be sitting next to a baby despite your efforts. Essentially, the symbol is providing a false sense of security.
Have you been on an airplane with a screaming baby? Or, have you been the parent of a screaming baby while traveling? I would like to point out that it doesn’t matter how far you are away from the baby, you will still hear screaming.
Most recently, our family was returning home from visiting family in Canada. My youngest daughter, who happens to be on the precipice of the ‘terrible twos’ decided to unleash the most epic meltdown. It was the nightmare of airplane meltdowns. She screamed, cried and thrashed around for nearly 40minutes during the descent and landing of our trip (at least we didn’t have that issue during take-off).
When we did land in San Francisco, the airplane sat on the tarmac for nearly an hour. You can understand why she was unhappy - shoot, everyone was unhappy by that point. The only source of comfort for my daughter was to lay down on the ground and stuff herself under the storage compartment of the chair in front of us. To make matters worse, she also had a dirty diaper.
She screamed. She cried. My husband and I both felt completely helpless, especially because we couldn’t get out of our chairs. Eventually, the airline did let us get up, and we were able to calm our daughter down (and change her diaper). The entire situation was exhausting. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
From this, I pose a couple of questions: what can an airline do to create the most understanding environment for all of their passengers? Will implementing the ‘baby reserved’ emoji really help? Would it be possible to create dedicated family sections on airplanes instead? What other accommodations can be created to keep families comfortable?
While I think that this gesture is admirable for an airline, I doubt it will assuage any discomfort or complaint from a passenger.
If we can thank Japan Airlines for anything, it would be that the baby emoji is opening the door for a larger conversation. One step for babies. One soaring leap for airplane passenger kind.