Tag Archive for: airplane

Diaper-Changing on Airplane Seats: Just Plain Gross

These + floor = Peace. For now.

These + floor = Peace. For now.

I’m the first person to admit the way most airlines treat families these days is atrocious. I’d also be among the first parents to start chanting obscenities at said airlines for denying us basic necessities such as changing tables in the lavatories of commercial flights. Heck, some people have called me a “tiger father” for my in-your-face perspective on the subject.

That said, let me get one thing very clear: Changing diapers full of urine and fecal matter on surfaces where other humans have to sit is just plain wrong.

Perhaps this explains why I’ve had such a hard time digesting a recent essay on The Daily Beast by author Philip Shishkin. I *want* to love the piece. In it, Shiskin recounts a horrific series of events on a flight with his baby daughter from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco. (The Twitter version: Father’s outrage over airline’s chronic inability to treat family travelers w/respect ends with flight crew calling the cops. Seriously.)

That the pilot called the po-po on this guy is atrocious. The fact that a flight attendant told the guy to change his kid on the floor is awful (I know; I’ve been there and done that). Heck, I even second Shiskin’s outrage over airlines discontinuing early boarding for families.

But to muster an ounce of sympathy for a guy who brazenly admits to changing his kid on the flight attendant jump seats—then gets all indignant about it? I just can’t.

Why do fellow parents think it’s OK to change dirty diapers in plane seats anyway? It’s not OK for grownups to drop trou to conduct No. 1 or 2 in the middle of the airplane cabin, so why would we think it’s OK to change our kids there?

Put yourself in other people’s shoes. If, in mid-change, your neighbor’s half-naked kid went all Old Faithful on you, don’t you think you’d be—wait for it—pissed? If you were a solo traveler, traveling for business in your best suit, wouldn’t you poo-poo a seat smeared with poop?

On a more basic level, if you were in the middle of a six-hour flight, how would you feel about unintentionally getting up close and personal with (or within smelling distance of) diarrhea?

The bottom line: Seats are for sitting in; bathrooms are for tending to excrement.

As sad as it is that some airlines no longer provide changing tables in on-board lavatories, changing dirty diapers where other people sit should never be an alternative.

If the author of this piece had followed the rules (i.e., changed his kid on the floor) and quietly aired his grievances through appropriate channels, I’m guessing he wouldn’t have had his little run-in with the law.

(He probably also would have gotten some travel vouchers, FWIW.)

Sure, we family travelers want to change the way airlines treat us when we fly, but to accomplish this, we must operate within the confines of the current system—no matter how ridiculous those confines might be. Listen to flight attendants. Respect fellow passengers whenever possible. And please, y’all, don’t be a Shishkin.

Parents as Censors: Modern Family Travel Reality?

Bad TV at 30,000 feet? This is not the answer.

Bad TV at 30,000 feet? This is not the answer.

By now you probably have read about the incident on a United Airlines flight last month in which a pilot misconstrued a father’s request to shut off an inappropriate movie as a security threat.

Details of how things played out are ugly: Inappropriate scene came on, family objected, family asked politely that the movie be turned off, one thing led to another, pilot diverted plane and called the feds. (For a good rundown, read this synopsis/analysis piece by my friend and fellow blogger, Amy Graff.)

Lost in the ridiculousness of this story is an issue with which many of us family travelers grapple frequently: The challenge of protecting our children’s innocence when we fly the supposedly friendly skies.

In the case of this particular family, since the movie was “Alex Cross,” I’m guessing it was a violent scene that they felt crossed the line. During our travels, Powerwoman and I have experienced eerily similar sentiments about equally inappropriate subjects of in-flight films: overt drug use, homophobia and violent sex scenes.

When we are outraged, we do what it sounds like this family did (at least at first): We complain politely to the flight attendants.

Usually, this gets us nowhere.

After that, we take a two-pronged approach. On the plane, we use books, word games and other tactics (including “Sofia the First” on our Kindle Fire) to distract the kids from looking at the television screens. Once we’re back at home, we write letters to the respective airlines to formalize our criticisms that way.

To be honest, this follow-up strategy usually doesn’t work either. Kids are drawn to television like moths to fire, and no matter how hard we try to distract them on the plane, they always seem to figure out a way to watch at least a part of the action.

(Then, of course, they ask incessant questions about what they saw.)

Adding insult to injury, I think the best “response” we’ve gotten from one of our letters was a $250 voucher to fly the same disappointing airline again.

The bottom line: If we, as parents in today’s society, want to wield some sort of influence on the types of material to which our children are exposed while flying, we simply must be more active censors.

I’m not saying I expect all airlines to limit themselves to PG-rated content for the sake of us families—trust me, I’ll never take that kind of entitled perspective. But I am saying that when we parents fly with kids, we never know what kind of images might be on those airplane screens, and we better be ready with more palatable material to divert their attention in a pinch.

Books, movies, TV shows, word games, Wikki Stix—we should ALWAYS have this stuff at the ready on a plane.

Amy, my blogger buddy, closes her piece with another great suggestion: Be mindful of the ability to control an airplane’s content when you book. “Look for an airline with individual screens on seatbacks so your kids can watch Nickelodeon throughout the flight,” she writes.

Hear, here, my friends. The more proactive you can be when you fly with kids, the better.