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In the banning-kids-on-planes debate, what about unruly adults?

August 22, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Music might soothe children on planes. Some fliers, especially on red-eye flights, say adults can be a problem too.
Music might soothe children on planes. Some fliers, especially on red-eye… (Reuben Munoz / Los Angeles…)

For fliers, it's a hot-button issue that never loses its luster: Should children be banned on certain flights or from certain sections of the plane so passengers don't have to put up with screaming, fidgeting or just plain old kids' stuff?

Christopher Elliott, who writes the That's Ridiculous! column for Frommer's, tackled the issue this month in an article titled "Should We Ban Kids From Red-Eye Flights?" But instead of the usual polarized blather, Elliot painted a compelling picture of what happened during an overnight flight from San Francisco to Boston from both sides of the aisle, so to speak.

And the more than two-score readers who commented reflect an equally civil tone with some good suggestions (noise-canceling headphones, of course) and the observation that rude, loud or drunk adults can be worse than unruly children.

But back to the article. Elliott told the plight of Lawrence, the frustrated traveler who was eager to get some sleep on the flight, and the frustrated dad whose toddler refused to sleep and went into a full-blown screaming meltdown toward the end of the flight.

"I feel for both Lawrence and the father, who was probably equally sleep-deprived," Elliott wrote. "But the experience raises some interesting questions: Are there passengers that should either be denied boarding or limited to certain flights? Who has more rights on a flight -- the crying baby or the tired passenger?"

He points out too that Malaysia Airlines bans kids on some flights between Kuala Lumpur and London, and another Malaysian airline promises to create a "quiet zone" in coach.

Here's how some readers have responded to the article, which raises another question. Who would you rather sit next to -- an unruly child or an unruly adult? (Feel free to comment below.)

  • "It's a real dilemma. Except for the one time I flew and my daughter was 13 months and made some noise ... they have always been good. I have been on some miserable flights with multiple crying infants but also some miserable flights with noisy drunk and not drunk adults. What can be done about them?" --RuthDunn

  • I think there should be at least one airline that is totally "Kid Free." Too many entitled and spoiled adults currently act out on flights, and additional screaming kids are just too much, thanks to parents that have chosen to ignore their kids and close their ears to the screaming and running around. I am not anti-kids, I am a pediatrician and I've witnessed it all way too many times...--Hula1

  • ...As for banning kids from certain flights, sections, etc, then what happens if there are earlier cancellations and the banned flight is the only rebooking option? Are parents with kids to be expected to endure extra-long delays and missed connections more than other travelers? Which will only serve to make the kids even worse behaved when they finally do get on a plane?--Njmomto

  • I hate to agree to this but "child free" will not solve this problem. Most of us have been on flights where the "adults" act worse than children. Some decide to party all night long or have loud conversations...--darkside

  • I think a better solution might be to have families with young children sit in a designated section of the plane.--Gwen Humphries

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