When crying babies mean free flights

Crying baby, from the video.

Crying baby, from the video.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 (maybe 20?) years, here’s a news flash: A whole lot of people hate flying on airplanes with crying babies.

I’ve been on flights where other passengers have thrown me dirty looks for simply boarding with one of my babies. I’ve seen fellow flyers accost parents about their babies before the babies even make a peep: “You’re going to keep that child quiet on this flight, right?” they ask pre-emptively. I’ve even heard travelers tell flight attendants that they “WILL NOT SIT NEXT TO THAT BABY UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.” (FWIW, most of the people who do and say this heinous stuff are straight men.)

And this is what makes this week’s new campaign from JetBlue so frieking brilliant.

The campaign, released in conjunction with Mother’s Day, comprises a 3-minute mini-documentary video about a recent JetBlue flight from New York to Long Beach—a flight on which the airline gave people significant discounts on a future flight every time a baby cried.

As the film explains, the first cry netted passengers a 25 percent discount, the second cry 50 percent, the third cry 75 percent, and the fourth cry a free flight. Of course all passengers aboard the flight in question received free tickets for a future flight. And interestingly, the babies on board actually managed to last more than four hours into the 5.5-hour flight before notching that fourth and final cry.

But, really, the stunt wasn’t about crying babies or free flights. It was about changing public perception, about incenting passengers to cheer for crying babies instead of passively encouraging them to mock and jeer the all-too-familiar condition of tots being tots. As a whole, the campaign takes a look at current thinking about babies on planes, turns that thinking on its head, and tells the haters to suck it—ALL IN THE NAME OF A DAY CELEBRATING MOMS.

I can’t think of a better message to jolt people into transforming their POVs. Even if the impact is minimal, the statement needs to be heard (and heard and heard and heard again). On behalf of family travel gurus and parents with babies everywhere, thank you, JetBlue. The next time Baby G cries on a plane, I’ll laugh and think of this.

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