Yesterday I finished a four day trip, arriving in Chicago exhausted and anxious to get home to Florida. As I waited to see if I would make a flight out, I noticed a family of four waiting for the same flight. The children were both toddler to preschool age, which translates to active and curious. The young parents had obviously done this before and were prepared and for almost anything. Mom and Dad were focused, alert and made me feel like I was watching an organized, tag-team sporting event. In fact, several people complimented them, more interested in the family than their laptops and cell phones.
So, watching them got me thinking about the vast families I daily assist on our flights. Many of them are a pleasure and memorable in their own right but I have to admit, it’s the bad ones that end up as crew lounge stories. And it’s to them that I dedicate this list to, because many times, it’s not the kids that need the etiquette but the parents. And I’m sure most flight attendants will agree with me, that these six things can keep your family from becoming “Gossip of the Galley”.
1. Protect the Inflight Magazines – I realize these are miraculously in the seatback pockets and appear to have little value, but airlines do spend a lot to provide passengers with reading material. The editors, writers and photographers work long hours to create interesting articles and didn’t envision them to be ripped into millions of pieces all over the cabin floor. And I assume I would never walk into your home and find magazines shredded into pieces, waiting to be mysteriously cleaned up. Besides, would you want your flight delayed because the cleaning crew is having to spend extra time picking up someone else’s pieces, before you can board?
2. Upholstery & Carpet Care – What more can I say about this other than, would you want to sit in a seat after a child has been allowed to stand in the seat, while eating cookies? I’m sure you wouldn’t and yes, our cleaning crews have mini-vacs but after a three hour flight, those food stains are hard to treat. I believe sitting in the seat and utilizing the tray will work just fine.
3. Full Flight – I know we all get restless during a long flight but allowing kids to run up and down the aisle, or play in the aisle is not acceptable. Yes, flight attendants will sometimes allow it to a degree because we are tired, busy and overall understanding people. But, we also recognize the safety factor for your children. Turbulence can happen at anytime and no one wants to see a child injured. And yes, you paid for your tickets and have that right, but so did the business man/woman next to you who would prefer not to have their elbow continuously bumped. Plus, others would like us to be able to get the galley cart down the aisle.
4. Sibling Rivalry – All I know is, siblings fight and the best way to diffuse it is to seat a parent between them. Yes that does mean that sometimes Mom and Dad can’t sit beside each other, or that one child has to sit next to the aisle but isn’t life about compromise, especially as an adult? And trust me, everyone around you will be grateful.
5. Alert & Cleanliness – Now I know there is something about flying that makes everyone want to get on board and fall asleep. But placing your infant or toddler on the floor at your feet to play so you can sleep isn’t smart. Again, turbulence can happen at any time, startling or injuring a child. And don’t get me talking about the germs that live on the floor, where your child may drop a cookie, pick it up and then place it in their mouth. Wouldn’t you rather stay awake, make sure they are safe, so you can all enjoy your destination?
6. Dirty Diapers – Wow, a loaded topic but I’ll briefly say that if you change your infant’s diaper, please do not stuff it in the seatback pocket, under your seat on top of someone else’s luggage and please do not try to shove it between your seats as you leave. We will find it and in the case of one passenger, the Captain might just chase you down and ceremoniously handed it back, for you to dispose of properly.
See ya soon!