Business Travel, Going Solo, Travel Narrative

Babies on Planes: One Non-Mother’s Take


I am the person every traveling mother fears.  I am the one who will look at you, with your stroller or car seat in line for security–will look you right in the eyes–and sigh deeply, clearly annoyed.  I do not like your baby, and I do not want him on my plane.

Thus, I feel I’m the best person to explain to you why you should not worry about people like me.

Traveling with an infant or toddler can not be fun.  I do not pretend to think it is and, in fact, every time I see someone do it, I feel badly for them.  And I wonder things like ‘what if she has to pee?’  But I remain annoyed.  Why?  Here’s why:

Why I Hate Babies on Planes

-I do not have a baby.  This first point will be repeated at the end of all of my next points.

-I travel for work.  I often need to etiher 1. sleep on the plane or 2. work on the plane.  Your baby interrupts both of these things.  And I do not have a baby, so, logically, I should not be interrupted by one.

-Because I travel for work, I feel that what I am doing is more important than what you are doing.  I imagine that when you arrive at your final destination, some kind old aunt is there to meet you and whisk you away to the cozy living room of a beloved grandparent who will make you tea and rock your baby while you watch TV or play Candy Crush on your phone* (while I’m a sweaty mess, running to the rental car lot and speeding towards my next job.)  You will recognize this feeling of superiority, as you also feel that what you are doing–transporting a living, breathing creature that you created across hundreds of miles, thousands of feet in the air, often all alone–is also more important than my silly job.  But I do not have a baby, so I’m the most important thing in my world.

*I realize that you think that when I arrive, a flock of solo-business-traveler doves arrives to escort me off to my serene office or hotel room, where the same doves feed me caviar from their ivory beaks while yet more doves groom my golden hair.  I assure you, this does not occur any more frequently in my life than the grandma’s living room Candy Crush scenario occurs in your life.

-I do not think babies are cute.  I have no desire to smile at them or try to help calm them down.  You know how sometimes your kid is a total mess and you want to throw them against the wall, but then the next day they fall asleep in your arms and/or curl their little hand around your finger and your heart just melts?  (Parents love to use the phrase ‘melts my heart’.  This is another thing I will never undertand.)  Yeah.  I have never experienced that.  Because I do not have a baby.  So I don’t love yours, either.  Particularly not while she’s screaming her adorable little heart-melting head off.

There are hundreds of people like me in the world.  Thousands, even.  Probably tens of thousands.  One of us will be on your flight.  It is a statistical certainty.  And do you know what?  You can’t do anything about that.  Not any more than I can do anything about your wailing child interrupting whatever it is I need to do.  Which brings me to my final and ultimate point…

I recently overheard a woman on a cross-country flight talking about her own experience as a child-toting traveler.  She proudly explained to the mother next to her–in some seriously misguided attempt to make her feel better about her own child’s meltdown–how she deals with her own kid:

I just tell her “this is your show, kid.  This plane is your audience.  Have at it”  And I let her do whatever she wants.

It took everything I had–and the six rows of people between us who were all taking their luggage out of the overhead compartments–to not walk up to her, look her in the eyes, and respond: Yes, but I did not buy a ticket to that show. 

If you are not this mother, you are fine.  If you are sitting there in your uncomfortable coach seat, baby on your lap, being stressed out about how your child is behaving, you are fine.  You are doing the best you can.  And you can not do anything about people like me.  We will always exist.  We will always be annoyed.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight with your child–if you can.  I will try to do the same.

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