Moral of the Story: Don’t Be a Dick on an Airplane (or Ever)

Wannabee BLUNT
Written by Wannabee BLUNT

When my son Colin was four, we took an airplane trip to visit some friends. During take off, he stared intently out the window. Watching the plane accelerate and then lift off of the ground. Examining the steep angle of the ascent. Calculating the distance from land. As his logical little mind put everything together, he completely freaked out.

“MOM! We shouldn’t be in the air. I don’t want to be on this plane! I WANT TO GET OFF OF THIS PLANE!”

We had flown before when he was younger, so we hadn’t anticipated this reaction. He screamed and cried and was inconsolable for a good portion of the flight. I did my best to distract him, to reason with him, to calm him.

But he was TERRIFIED.

I made a deal with him. He only needed to get on the return flight, and then we wouldn’t fly again (for a long time, I hoped). That seemed to calm him down.

Four years later, we were surprised when he agreed to get on a (short) flight to visit those same friends.

I knew I needed to prepare him. I calmly spoke to him about what to expect. I described the entire process. I told him that I would sit with him the entire time. I answered a thousand anxious questions from him leading up to the flight.

We checked in the day before the flight, and we were in the first boarding group (it was one of those airlines with no assigned seats). The day of the flight my son was incredibly nervous so I reiterated our plan. My son would sit with me. We could cuddle. I would hold his hand. My husband and daughter would be nearby. It would be okay. His face visibly relaxed.

Somehow when we checked our bags, the “system” had moved us to the second boarding group. We didn’t think much of it and didn’t want to be one of “those” passengers that caused extra work. So the four of us were not going to be able to sit together, but that would be fine. As long as my son could sit with me. And my daughter with my husband.

The plane arrived about five minutes late to the gate, and it took some time to get on the actual aircraft. The entire time in line my son chatted nervously (i.e., a million fucking miles an hour), and we gave each other hand squeezes (our secret signal for “I love you”).

When we finally boarded, we discovered the plane was mostly full. We went directly to the back, but there were not two seats next to each other, so the flight attendant directed us back the other direction. There was some general confusion as the dozen or so of us passengers tried to find seats. The flight attendant barked at us to just sit in any open seat.

I responded to him that my son was terrified of flying, and that I needed to be with him.

He snipped, “This late in the boarding process, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” (like it was my fault). I understood that he was trying to get us seated fast, but he was being a dick.

He made my 11-year-old daughter take the last seat by herself in the back of the plane. He made my husband sit somewhere in the middle of the plane. I wasn’t too thrilled with that (and neither was my daughter), but it would have to do. They could handle themselves, and my daughter wasn’t afraid of flying.

My son and I were directed to the front of the plane. When we got up there, only two seats were available. But they were not next to each other. The seats were in two different rows—one middle seat behind another.

I reiterated to the flight attendant that my son was terrified of flying and that we needed to sit together. He waved me off and directed me to sit.

I replied loudly, “You’re the one who is going to have to deal with all of the screaming.”

That made him try a little harder (but not much). He hastily asked a few people if they wanted to move, but told them that they didn’t have to. None of them even pretended to look around to see if that was possible.

Even as the other (nice) flight attendant pleaded our case over the plane intercom, no one on the plane volunteered to switch seats.

I looked around begging people with my eyes, but nobody budged. Most people stared down or looked away. Yeah, I got it. They “earned” a higher boarding number than we did. They got there first. And they were comfortable. And apparently that was more important than helping a terrified child.

A terrified 8-year-old boy who was shaking uncontrollably and clinging to his mom. At this point I decided they were all dicks.

Because I was being shouted at by the flight attendant, I put my son in the front middle seat and went to take my seat behind him. At that point, the man in the aisle seat moved to the middle seat (next to his WIFE) rather than have me sitting between them. I thanked him profusely as that would make it a bit easier to attend to my son in the row ahead of me. But he didn’t even reply. I’m guessing that he wasn’t very happy about sitting in the middle seat for the next 90 minutes. Seriously? What a dick.

My son was trying to be so brave, but he was visibly shaking in his seat. I leaned around the seat in front of me and loudly said, “It’s okay, Colin. I’ll be right here.”

That finally got the attention of another passenger who then offered to take my son’s spot (a middle seat in the front row with plenty of leg room) so that my son and I could at least be across the aisle from each other. 

I thanked her profusely as she took the open seat. Unfortunately she left her bag under my son’s seat so there was no place to put his backpack. The one with his stuffed dog. The one with all of the distractions and comfort items that we had carefully packed.

As the (dick) flight attendant quickly grabbed the backpack to take it away, I told him that I needed it. I was going to offer my bag instead. He snipped (as he walked away) that I could get it later. That they needed to get the plane in the air.

Again, it was not my fault the plane was late. All I wanted was 10 seconds to swap the bags, but he wouldn’t give it to me. He wouldn’t even listen to me. Dick.

So I took a deep breath and focused on my son. Who was sitting motionless in his chair. He was staring straight ahead. He was gripping the armrests. His knuckles were white. He was frozen in fear.

I could see the eye rolls and the exaggerated responses from the passenger behind my son. He was glaring at me (dick), but I didn’t react. I needed to focus on my son.

I talked to my son to help distract him. We held hands across the aisle as the plane was taxiing. His body jumped with each bump. As the engines revved up, his eyed shot open, and he started to cry quietly.

During the ascent, I just calmly told him what was going on. I answered his stream of anxious questions. I had to talk pretty loudly to be heard over the engine, but I didn’t care. Because anytime the plane jolted even a little, he’d grip the armrests and freeze in terror.

My son was terrified, and all of the passengers nearby just looked away (except the one who was glaring at me).

Once my son loosened his grip on the armrests, I gave him my phone (with Minecraft, natch) to distract him. That seemed to work for a while, but any time the plane bounced even a little bit, his little body would seize with fear.

It’s such a helpless feeling to watch your frightened child—your terrified child— and not be able to hold him. To comfort him the way he wants. He was trying to be strong, but he was so, so very scared.

I sat there fighting back my own tears.

And I couldn’t help but think this could have been avoided had any of the other hundreds of passengers had offered to switch their (unassigned) seats. I realize not everyone could have moved even if they had wanted to. But no one even offered. Or even tried. So a mother could sit next to her terrified son instead of behind and across the aisle from him.

Look, I’ve been there. I’ve been comfortable and settled in my seat only to be asked to move. I didn’t HAVE to, but I did it. Multiple times. It has sometimes sucked. But you know what? I did it. I did it because I felt that two newlyweds should sit together on a flight overseas. I did it because no one else on the plane would sit by the mom and her newborn. I did it because it’s the nice thing to do. And someone(s) on that flight with my son should have done it too. But they were being selfish dicks.

Was this the end of the world? No. Did my son survive? Of course he did. But he was completely terrified. That flight was only 90 minutes. That is not a long time to not sit in your favorite seat. To not sit next to your spouse or your friend.

But 90 minutes is an ETERNITY to a scared child.

Even if you don’t have kids or your kids are grown, surely you remember what it’s like to be terrified of something. Surely you’re capable of putting aside your own comfort temporarily to ease the suffering of another human being. This story goes beyond what happened to a terrified little boy on an airplane; it’s about a breakdown of human kindness. What happened to our ability to empathize? What happened to our ability to put the needs of others before our own desires? I can assure you, if we all did a bit more of those things, the world would be a much better place.

So, the next time you’re on an airplane (or anywhere, really), don’t be a dick.

P.S. Our plane arrived early at its destination (fuck you, dick flight attendant).

 

Kathryn Leehane – Foxy Wine Pocket
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Wannabee BLUNT

Wannabee BLUNT

Wannabe's are Guest Authors to BLUNTmoms. They might be one-hit wonders, or share a variety of posts with us. They "may" share their names with you, or they might write as "anonymous" but either way, they are sharing their stories and their opinions on our site, and for that we are grateful.

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107 Comments

  • OMG! I want you to know..I would have done everything I could to help you sit by your son.

    Why?? WHY IS IT SO HARD for people to just be decent? JUST BE NICE. And I hope the flight attendant gets stung by wasps. In his nostrils.

      • You definitely had an unusually high dick quotient on the plane. I’ve been on planes where people haven’t volunteered to move, but few people have the brass balls to flat-out refuse when I ask them directly and nicely. Preferably loudly during a fairly quiet time when everyone can hear their reply. Cause then they look like super-dicks.

        • my phrase for the day is going to be “high dick quotient”…cuz that is totally a thing. cuz i’m dealing with that in my life right now.

          and i would have gladly given you my seat. and i would have tried my hardest to help take your son’s mind off of the terror. during my trip home after visiting my sister for Christmas a dad sat next to me with his daughter asleep in his arms. her little legs and arms would touch me and he’d immediately start apologizing and I was like “why are you saying sorry? she’s totally fine. she’s asleep and safe in your arms and that makes me happy.” I just wanted to hold her little hand every time she reached towards me. so so cute.

  • I have flown multiple times with four children with assigned seats and still had problems. My oldest is also not keen on flying (although he’s not quite as terrified as poor Colin), but if I were in a situation where I was asked to switch seats so a mother could be with her frightened child, and I were flying alone, I would. Because I’ve been there. What a bunch of dicks.

    • Thanks for making me feel better. So many people have berated me for flying on an airline with unassigned seats. But, for all the traveling I’ve done and I’ve done a lot, I’ve never encountered such callousness.

  • I hope you contacted the airline to tell them your story, if for no other reason than to let them know what a dick their flight attendant was being. That’s just so wrong on so many levels. I’m sorry your son was so panicked and that everyone around you was a selfish twatwaffle.

      • You absolutely should tell the airline what you had to deal with. Ask them why they moved you to the second group as well! They should have a section where you can add particulars on your check in profile such as your son’s extreme fear of flying. As an Ex Flight attendant I would have done something to MAKE it happen for you. I had no tolerance for dicks. When someone helped me out I always gave them something afterwards (a bottle of wine, food from business class or an empty seat in business class if there was one available etc.) I didn’t offer it while I was asking for their support but I always made a big ordeal about offering it to them after they helped me in front of others on the plane who had turned their noses up at me!) I am not saying that people should expect a reward for being a kind human being but it always gave me great joy to watch the others faces that were rude about helping someone out. 🙂

  • This happened to me and my husband after a trip to San Diego. We had to BEG people to move seats so that my 6 year old son would not have to sit alone. ALONE! For a four hour flight. I remember one couple in particular where the husband was like “Sorry. I want to sit next to my wife.” Well, kudos to you for being honest, I guess. But also, you are a penis for not POSSIBLY BEING AWAY FROM YOUR WIFE FOR FOUR HOURS SO THAT A PARENT CAN SIT WITH THEIR SIX YEAR OLD SON ON AN AIRPLANE FLIGHT. Douchebag.

    Also, great post! 🙂

  • OMG every single one of those people were gigantic, tumescent dicks. My son isn’t a nervous flyer, but he is very prone to airsickness. Last time I was in that situation, I sat him down in a middle seat between two (male) business travelers and very conspicuously handed him a barf bag and said, loudly, “OK, honey, when the plane takes off, make sure you have this in front of you! You don’t want to throw up on these nice people! Worked like a charm. Both of them asked to switch to any other available seat.

  • I hate flying so I completely sympathize with Colin. And as a mom, I know exactly how you feel. People have become very self-absorbed. It’s all about “me”. Grrrr. I’d have changed seats with you.

  • God love you and your little boy! Is it okay if I apologize for mankind, ’cause I just can’t imagine the “dick-ness” of that asshat flight attendant and the other hundreds on board. I’m steaming on your behalf!

  • My wife’s girlfriend has a son who is autistic. He is non- verbable which can make things more difficult at times. He has flown on a few occasions and for the most part is pretty good on the plane. We had an experience on a plane just this past spring. My wife and I and 2 of our kids were flying down to Mexico for a holiday. The wife’s girlfriend and son were on the same flight as us. Things were going good throughout the flight but occasionally Sam would burst out with one of his laughs or screams and people were staring at him like he freaking out. Most said nothing but one woman was rude and commented about Sam’s outburst. I can sympathize with you on the flying with kids and ignorant people. Pisses me off when people can’t be a little more respective of others

    • Seriously. A little less judgment and a little more kindness and compassion go a long way. (I do realize the irony of me judging the dicks while saying that. But I know you’ll appreciate that, Hugh.)

      • I do appreciate it as well as laugh with you at the dicks on planes. Just thought a slightly different perspective was warranted.

  • I’m so sorry you had to deal with this. I’m getting upset remembering a similar situation when I flew last Christmas. I am a nervous flyer and my husband and I were returning back to KC after visiting my parents in SC at Christmas. When we booked the trip our seats were together, but we hadn’t noticed that they had been switched until it was time to get on the plane. I was trying to put on a brave face, I mean it was only a 45 minute connection flight. I could handle that right? I was four months pregnant, sad about visiting my father with altizhmers for the last time before we moving him into a nursing home, and now dealing with being nervous to fly on this tiny plane without my husband sitting by my side. I sat in my seat repeating to myself, you can do this, you can do this. I was fighting back tears and the woman next to me turns and says, oh I’d switch seats with your husband but it’s such a short flight it doesn’t matter any way. Dick!
    About 20 minutes into the flight I’m having a full on anxiety attack. I’m trying to do my breathing but the tears are flowing and I can’t make them stop. I finally turn to the woman and say can you please switch seats with my husband, he’s just across the asle. She looks at me, but then turns and points up to the fasten seatbelt sign and says I can’t, the sign is on and turns back to her book and continues reading.
    I honestly don’t know what the hell is wrong with people sometimes. Why do they have to be such DICKS?

    • Others, like Sarah del Rio (in a comment above), would say that you and your husband were the dicks for not willing to be separated on a flight. Without knowing a lot more about someones personal situation, it’s easy to throw around the word “dick.”

  • Get me that plane manifest! I want to hunt down each of those passengers and smack ’em upside the head! (except for that one lady who let you get a little closer to your kid) I mean, really, what is WRONG with people!? I’ve changed my seat plenty of times so 2 people could sit together — even if they were ADULT COWORKERS! A mom and her kid is a no-brainer! Move your ass, people! And I hate that your 11-year-old girl had to sit on her own too! Argh!

    • Yeah, I wasn’t too pleased about my daughter either, but I had to let that go. The couple sitting to the left of me and the one sitting to the right of my son are the first I’d like you to track down. Either one of them could have easily moved. Oh! And the guy glaring at me. (And I’m assuming the flight attendant was already on your list.)

    • You will need a lot more information than just the manifest. Take the case of Leslie (above), whose anxiety about flying means that she really really needs to be sitting next to her husband. I don’t think that information is listed on the manifest.

    • Thanks, Kevin. I know you would have moved. And so many people would have too. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the plane with them that trip. I was on the plane with a bunch of dicks. Fuck ’em is right.

  • As someone who is very anxious on airplanes AND as a mom, my throat felt tight and my heart dropped into my stomach reading this. We have all had bad days. We have all been exhausted or frustrated or annoyed. But kindness is always the right decision. Always.

  • Amen to this. We have had people (with kids) say horrible things about our children who were just being antsy, and then really go at us when our toddler cried because his ears hurt from the pressure. They had a kid with them. They called us bad parents, on and on. At least the flight attendant was actually nice, she whispered to me “honey, ignore them, they’re assholes.” Anyway, I’m sorry this happened to you, and I agree. If you want to fly without kids, in the lap of luxury, hire a private jet. Otherwise, shut the f&^k up. It’s a mode of transport, we all have a right to be there.

    • It blows my mind how insensitive people can be. Whether the child is scared or antsy or hurting, it doesn’t matter. Kindness and compassion are always the answer. I’m glad for your nice flight attendant–most of them are wonderful. I was just monumentally unlucky that day.

  • what. an. asshole. I am so sorry you and your boy has such an awful experience. I had to fly with my daughter when she was a baby, and she had a cold. She was wailing at take off because her ears hurt, and the woman behind me said, loudly, that I should have to CHECK HER, LIKE A DOG.

    • AW, HELL NO! Did you deck her? I might have decked her. Okay, I wouldn’t have decked her, but I would have unleashed the fury of hell on her. In fact, let’s look her up. I want to talk to her. And I’m sorry you had to deal with such a dick.

  • Uh, Foxy, just TRY to separate me from my kids and see how bat shit crazy I would go. You are a better woman that I for not getting arrested. Anxiety or no anxiety, in case of an emergency it is no other adults role to put an oxygen mask on my child that is MY job!!!!!!! And F*** the f***ing flight attendant who separated parents from their children. My aunt flew for 40 years. She would have made people move. It should be a rule that kids below a certain age cannot be separated from their parents and 8 would certainly qualify!!!!

    • Well, there was the one guy who made a huge sacrifice and sat in a middle seat NEXT TO HIS WIFE so that I wasn’t sitting in between them. (I later determined he was a dick.) But the woman who moved so my son could sit in the aisle seat across and up from me really did help make it better. But YEAH, the rest of them were dicks. I know you would have moved. Most people would have–they just weren’t on my flight. Thanks for your support and kind words. xoxo

  • Hi Foxy!

    Wow. What an unbelievable number of dicks all on one plane. That sounds just brutal, and I’m glad you muddled through and hope that Colin wasn’t too traumatized by the experience.

    Here’s what I don’t get: Being nice to other people actually feels really good! So why don’t more people do it, even if it’s from a selfish standpoint? I don’t consider myself a particularly generous or selfless person, but I love when I come across a situation in which one small gesture on my part makes a huge difference for somebody else. Just the tiniest bit of effort can be a total game changer. It’s a win/win and a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. How terrible would it have been for one person to switch seats with you for a 90 minute flight? And how much would that have helped you and Colin? (Plus, we all know that being around a crying child on a plane can really suck ass). I know I’m preaching to the choir, but this is such an outrageous story.

    I guess all we can do is show our own children how wonderful it can feel to help. And maybe the adults can remember “the golden rule” in the process. Sorry this happened to you, but it did make for a great rant! xoxo

    • I’m the same, Margot, in that I don’t get it either. I like helping people. I like knowing that I’ve made someone’s hard day a little better. And I teach my children that daily.

      My son made it out fine, and he wasn’t as scared on the return flight (although we paid extra money to ensure he sat with us). I just wish he didn’t have to experience such fear and misery because someone else wouldn’t give up a seat. (Dicks.)

  • Oh. MY. God. There is a special place in Hell for the assholes who cannot give up their “middle,” “aisle,” or “lucky,” seat on a plane to accommodate young kids. As a mother of three I have dealt with this so many times. But sometimes I get lucky and a child vomits, on their seat-mate, a stranfer and not me, or gets reaaaaallly bad diarrhea during a delayed landing. Natch. These people. SMH.

  • Awww, poor Colin! And poor you!

    Also NOTHING PISSES ME OFF MORE than when people won’t even acknowledge that you spoke to them. (Happens on the NYC subway all the time.) That’s crazy. I woulda gotten all ROAR momma bear on their asses. 😉 Although, it sounds like you tried but they were all just a bunch of dick douchers!

    xo Darling!

    • I said it firmly and loudly. And the (nice) flight attendant did too. But they all ignored us. I silently pleaded with many people, but they looked away. I didn’t cause more of a scene because I didn’t want to embarrass my son, nor did I want to escalate the levels of tension any higher.

      But, yeah, a bunch of dick douchers. Thanks for reading!

  • What gigantic A holes. I have only turned down a move for a child once and it was because it was my first time flying and I was terrified. I think I was like 23. Other than that, I even had my hubby move so that a mom could sit with her small child and had him leave me with both kids. when they were 2 and 4. That was interesting, but doable. Interestingly enough, my big kids have never been afraid to fly. My current 5 year old has never flown though, because my hubby and I pretty much hate flying. Because of things like this. There are entirely too many a holes now a days. We bought a mini van with all the bells and whistles known to man, and we pretty much drive everywhere. Since we have no desire to travel all that far, we are good just driving. I actually enjoy the ride.

  • So so sorry you had to experience a plane full of failed humanity. My heart hurts for your little boy to have to have gone through that. How can people be so self-absorbed that they can’t get up to allow a child to sit with their parent?! How would they feel if the situation were reversed?

    Next time start giving instruction to the dick passenger that wouldn’t move that’s sitting next to your child (or to the flight attendant) on how to care for your child and what to do if they vomit or start screaming since no one will let you sit with your child to care for him yourself. Maybe then they’ll move, if anything for self preservation.

    And I completely agree with the other comment that there should be a rule in place that says a child under a certain age should NEVER be separated from their parent on a plane. And that unassigned sitting doesn’t mean that you won’t be asked to move to accommodate a situation such as this.

    • It was indeed a plane full of failed humanity (I love your word choice). He drew the saddest picture of himself on a plane after the whole event–I can’t even look at it because it makes me cry.

      I’m definitely taking notes on what to do next time. Although I truly hope we never face this again. We’re flying differently now for sure.

  • I was on a flight once with a mom and child being the last to board, but I was sitting in the emergency exit row. When they asked for people to move, I couldn’t believe no one was offering to move for them! And if they had been able to sit in my row, I absolutely would have moved for them. I’m so sorry you experienced this.

  • I am sorry that happened to you and to your son. I had a situation where my flight was cancelled (due to the plane’s broken windshield). I had to wait in line with a four year old for two and a half hours because the airline assigned only ONE gate agent to handle the rebookings for the entire flight. No one would allow me to move ahead of them in line because I had a child that was bored and tired and on the verge of losing it because waiting in one place for that long is hard for a preschooler. Then, when I was rebooked, because my reservation was made “so late” (through no fault of my own), my daughter and I did not have assigned seats next to each other. The gate agent said he couldn’t do anything for me, but that I should ask for help when I got on the plane. When asked, people were reluctant to move. I was astounded. Because that would mean I had to put a four-year-old in a seat in a seat four rows from where I was sitting. Which, had I actually been forced to do it, would have gotten me labelled as a neglectful/uncaring/abusive mother. Thankfully, in a former life, I was a criminal defense lawyer and I know exactly how to be *ahem* persuasive. To the woman who would be sitting next to my child (and who told me she didn’t want to move) I said, “I’m going to leave my daughter’s backpack under her seat. She has snacks and a stuffed toy and a leap-pad game in there. And a coloring book with crayons. Since I can’t sit next to her, I’d appreciate it if you would help her get those things out when she asks for them. Also, when they serve drinks, she’s going to ask for juice, but it’d be better if she has water. Can you remember that? Thanks.” She replied, all innocent and like I hadn’t already asked her if she’d switch seats with me not two minutes before this conversation, “Oh, do you want to sit next to her?” *sigh* People can be so thoughtless.

    • That was a brilliant move on your part. I was so angry and stunned I didn’t think of that tactic. The woman who was next to my son did help him with his seatbelt (clearly she was closer so got to him before I could), but she didn’t seem to notice the tears or his panic-stricken face 5 minutes later. I’m still shaking my head.

      Thank you for reading–and I hope all our future flights (yours and mine) are filled with more kindness.

  • This is horrible but doesn’t surprise me. People are so self consumed these days that they really don’t care about anyone else. Unless I was flying with my kids, I would’ve given up my seat in a heartbeat. My fear of dealing with this is why we are driving to Disney next summer instead of flying. Don’t care if it takes longer then flying. Would love to know the name of the airline so I know never to fly with them.

    • The original flight was on Delta, but when the windshield got damaged, they rebooked me on U.S. Airways. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve had issues with U.S. Airways, but if I was going to get home, I didn’t have a choice.

  • This is entirely upsetting. Seeing the amount of dicks on that flight, I’m shocked the plane itself didn’t turn into a giant penis mid-air. Who the hell doesn’t move seats for a scared CHILD? Wow.

    • Seriously. I was absolutely stunned. There were four people in my immediate vicinity who could have easily changed spots. Bunch of assholes. I’m encouraged by all of these comments, though. Because they show me so many more folks who would have changed seats.

  • I think it’s beyond pathetic that people these days are so utterly self-absorbed. I would’ve even given up MY seat next to MY child so that you could sit with your son – and your son would have had another young person to maybe help distract him. It infuriates me when people are so inflexible and rude – and just plain, full-on dicks! And it’s also obvious to me that everyone who’s commented here would not be a dick! KUDOS TO YOU ALL!

    P.S. I would’ve gotten the name of the jack-wagon flight attendant and reported him immediately upon landing!

    • I’m with you, Stacey. It’s so easy to be nice, but so many people choose not to be. And I also agree with you about the overwhelming response to this piece here and on Facebook. It’s clear that most of us would absolutely changed seats–and that makes me feel better about the world.

      In hindsight, I should have gotten the flight attendant’s name. I was so focused on my son and keeping him as calm and comfortable as possible–and then getting him the hell off that plane that I didn’t think about it at the time.

      Thank you for your support!

  • So sad, sorry you and your son had such a bad time. Next time as you settle him in the middle ask the person on the aisle if they mind making sure your son can also use their barf bag, and if he needs you, you’ll be back here!!!

  • I blame a lot of it on the airlines. The last time I flew with my family (2 adults, 2 young children), they had us scattered all over the plane. Hello? Two young children here! I purchased all the tickets at the same time and even attempted to hop on the internet to look for other seating options, but there were none. When we got to the airport, thankfully we had some airline employees change our seats up so at least one adult would be sitting with one child. But I bet that bumped some other families or couples out of their planned seats!? I just don’t understand the whole seat assignment bullshit. I feel for you, Foxy. Nothing’s worse than having a screaming child and having others give you dirty looks. Airlines and many passengers are such dicks.

    • I’ve had really good experiences with this airline in the past so I was totally surprised this time. Fortunately for the other passengers, my son was crying silently and not screaming at all. Then again, maybe they deserved to hear him scream! 😉

  • My kids are 12 and 14 now, but I had a very similar experience during a graduation when my boys were nearly a year and 3 years of age. It didn’t have to do with seating, rather with happy baby noises. It seems we don’t actually value children and as a society, we very quickly find them annoying and inconvenient. I was incensed to be asked to leave a graduation because my son was making (not loud or cranky noises) noise. The message is clear, children should be seen and not heard. They aren’t humans in society’s eyes.

    Here’s some hope though: I was on a transatlantic flight and a baby boy was having a difficult time. Not one person was glaring at that mom. Rather me and other folks entertained her older son by talking with him and playing with him. It’s hard to see kids upset, but what’s worse are dicks…there’s no shortage of dicks. Those are the real cry babies.

  • I had a guy refuse to switch seats with my son’s daddy so we could all 3 sit together, and the people next to him wouldn’t switch with me because I was in a center seat as well. He was a year old. At the time I didn’t know it was unsafe to fly with baby on your lap…so he was on my lap. Because no one would switch with us I was stuck there. I didn’t even try to stop him messing with the people on either side of me. Their laptops, books, buttons on their jackets, whatever. Every time he touched them I just kind of shrugged. What did they expect sitting next to a 1 year old for 90 minutes. He wasn’t just going to sit still. Lucky for them he isn’t noisy, doesn’t cry hardly ever. But he is curious!

    • I just don’t understand not switching seats with folks. And, you’re right, 1 year olds do not sit still. 🙂 On the flight where I switched seats so a newlywed couple could sit together, I ended up in the middle of a very raucous group of men on their way to a convention in Las Vegas. It was a trans-Atlantic flight so I got no sleep or comfort really. But I get the satisfaction of knowing I let a newlywed couple enjoy their honeymoon.

  • Omg, my son would’ve been the same way! I literally would’ve lost my mind. Literally. I’m sorry this happened to you! You never know when you’re going to end up on a plane full of dicks or on a plane full of nice people. I was on a flight recently where the nicest possible family was surrounding me – big extended family. I felt like I was a family member by the end of the flight! I wish THEY’D been on your flight!

  • I not only would have moved, but I would have tried to arrange it so one of my kids was next to your son. I just know that your son will not remember the assholes that surrounded him, but instead, the one person who got him through it despite it all. YOU. The fact that you didn’t punch someone before deplaning is the tour de force of restraint. Nothing makes me bat shit crazy more than people who are mean to kids. They were not saying “no” to you either by silence or out right, they were denying a child. I agree with the wasp lady and maybe a round of lice for the flight attendant as well.

    • Thank you for being one of those people who will move. We need more of those. Fortunately my son is doing fine, although he drew the SADDEST picture of himself on that plane. I can’t even look at it without crying. And on the way home we paid extra to make doubly sure he could snuggle with us.

  • Wow there must have been some dick-conference going on that these folks were flying off too… Im from the Netherlands and we have a reputation for being rude, but even here this would be considered a no brainer. Actually I’ve been flying around Europe a couple of times now and have never seen parents seperated from their children (though seats are always assigned). Last time I flew with my baby and toddler the people around us were entertaining our baby and playing peek-a-boo behind the chair and all that. Makes such a difference if peole just choose to be nice….

    • Yeah, I really couldn’t figure it out either. And we were flying to one of the nicest cities in the country too. I am so glad to hear of your experiences though. It makes me hopeful that the world isn’t completely full of dicks. It’s AMAZING what happens when people choose NICE. 🙂

  • I’ve done a fair amount of flying with children, at least 24 times with one to two kids and no matter how many times I choose seats, request seats, remind them THIS IS A CHILD, the airlines have regularly attempted to seat us separately. Many times people have given up their seats, so I have not lost total faith in humanity. Still, whenever it comes up, my reaction. Is always, “Great! Thanks for taking care of my child! Here’s all their stuff. I’ll be in the back getting blitzed. See ya!” This invariably results in their willingness to exchange seats

    • I stumbled onto this article and am not a regular reader of mommy blogs; so be it. With due respect, if the problem was *this* severe, you could have shelled out the $30 extra for pre-boarding on Southwest Airlines. Or you could have chosen to enroll your son in a fearful-flier course (admittedly, I don’t know for sure whether they admit children, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t). Or you could have chosen not to fly at all. Did you ever think that everyone else on the plane thought that *you* were the dick for refusing to consider any of these solutions before you booked a flight with your son? It smacks of entitlement that you expect everyone else to give up their seats for you.

      Around 2003 I took about ten transatlantic flights. On about five of them, someone requested that I move from my pre-reserved aisle seat to accommodate the needs of a family. They first 2-3 times, I was willing to oblige. Then I started to realize this was happening on almost Every. Single. Flight. And the only way to solve the problem is to politely, but firmly, decline, which has been my policy ever since.

    • @TalentDMom, by all means seat your kid where you will. Don’t expect your fellow pax to “take care” of him, entertain him, etc. while you get sloshed. That’s your job.

  • I wish you could see how self-entitled you come across to people outside your mommy blog bubble. You chose to procreate, to take that flight, and most importantly, to subject your child to an experience you know terrifies him. Even then, you could have resolved the boarding pass issue at check-in and avoided the whole situation. Instead, you want to blame the other passengers for your ineptitude. Next time, pay the $12.50 for early boarding.

    • Another person from the air travel blog here. Maybe instead of branding an entire airplane crew and pax as “dicks” you might rethink whether you have unrealistic expectations? Fly an airline with reserved seating or buy an A-list upgrade next time…

      • Really? She did all the right things by being in the first boarding group to begin with. She decided not to cause a fuss when her boarding group changed. Have you never found yourself needing a helping hand, even if it is not with air travel? A jump start for your car? A seat on a bus when your arms are full? A quarter to put in a parking meter? Her lesson is about empathy – not trashing flight attendants.

    • “Entitled” – wow. You went there. Yeah, young children ARE entitled to be supervised by a parent in any public place. There is no other place in society that would even think of splitting parents and kids up, seating the child with strangers. That’s wrong on so many levels. When unaccompanied minors fly, they are assigned to a flight attendant and supervised under a careful protocol. Why would ANYONE expect kids to fly unsupervised and beside strangers? If you made your child sit at the other end of a city bus or subway, the public would be outraged at your irresponsible parenting. But get on a plane and being a responsible parent is deemed “Entitled.” Wow. Just wow.

      • Editor here. Thank you, this was my argument too about all the people who said parents should be forced to pay reserved seating fees. I’m frankly amazed that the airlines would even allow it JUST for liability reasons… because the first thing that goes through my mind is what if a 3 year old is sat unaccompanied by parent and next to a pedophile? Or someone even just claims it?

        • Exactly! Now that I’ve slept on it, it’s not about being responsible parents, it’s about being responsible people – all of us. It’s in everyone’s best interest for young children not to be left to fend for themselves. Anywhere, anytime. Duh.

  • So, in my relaxed coffeeshop blog surfing, I landed on your post. Nearly lost it with tears, in said coffeeshop. My hubby and I would have pitched in. So sorry you had that experience. Travel’s a bitch even when you’ve prepared your best and it’d be a better place if we were less dicky to each other. Ignore those commenting on your “unrealistic expectations”, your choice in airline, your level of preparedness and willingness to upgrade. Oh, please. Come on. The wasps to the nostrils karma comment was one of my favorite too!

  • I am a frequent business traveler (and by frequent, 10 flights a month is normal some months) and I hope you filed a complaint. That goes against policy. I suspect I know the airline to which you are referring and they should have accommodated you. Unacceptable.

    Yeah, I like my comfortable seat. Yeah, I roll my eyes when I see kids acting up and parents doing nothing about it, but my self-centeredness can take a back seat to a terrified child.

    I am so sorry that happened. I hope flying gets better for your son.
    Heather @ Life of a Traveling Navy Wife recently posted…I Did My Hair Color at Home and Didn’t Cry -Madison Reed ReviewMy Profile

  • I had a similar situation on a flight – with a woman literally saying “oh, please!” as I started crying when they were announcing the safety procedures because I realized that my 7 year old would have to help my 4 year old with the oxygen mask because no one would move to let me sit close to them when we boarded late. The woman actually went back to the kids later when she went to the bathroom, and said to them “This wouldn’t have happened if your mommy was more organized.” The very nice woman that was sitting next to them on the plane told me later that she had been watching out for them, but had been unwilling to get into a verbal confrontation with the rude woman because she was afraid that she would get kicked off the plane, and the rude woman would stay.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your appeal to people to just not be dicks. Next time, do what you have to do with the gate agents or anyone else who can help you (actually, now I buy the early bird check-in so I automatically get the A group – but that didn’t help me when we had a problem with the rental car so got to the flight a few minutes before departure).

    Hopefully many people on the flight that day learned a lesson as they saw your poor little sweetheart in so much agony. Everyone was a kid once too – I am sure they had their fears and times when they wished a grown up had been nicer. Maybe they learned that next time they can show a little empathy.

  • I was in a similar situation on an airline with assigned seats, with my son (7) and daughter (4), and had 3 middle seats scattered. no one would switch and people usually do for a mom with kids (I couldn’t get 3 seats together and booked way in advance, so i thought I’d just wing it. bad idea). both my kids were crying and I was mad as hell. I attempted to put my son in one of the seats and and told him I would be a few rows back. he wailed. I muttered, loudly, “assholes” the no one in particular. the flight attendant was disgusted that no one would switch. they pulled us from the flight and put us on one the next day (good thing I had family close by), FIRST CLASS. the airline was very apologetic but can’t make passengers switch. most people are assholes. that’s why I have dogs.

  • 13 years ago when my youngest was 3 and my other daughter 5, my husband and I took them on vacation to St. Thomas. We got to the airport in plenty of time to find out our seats had been changed and NONE of us were together. They actually put my 3 year old in another row not at alll close to me by herself surrounded by a group of adults who refused to change seats with me. Now my daughter was not the easiest of children and there was a lot of screaming and by the end of the flight she had completely peed all over the seat. The seat was soaked and I felt horrible for the poor passenger who had to sit in that seat for the return trip home but truthfully, I only felt slightly bad for the flight attendants who had to clean it up. They were so rude and uncaring they sort of got what they deserved. Senseless really.