dooce® » I'm Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website. » Wait until this gets picked up in a childfree by choice forum
  • April Contestable

    yes, like you said…oh yes, it least it’s not mine…ahhh…

  • Jen Wilson

    I, too, think, “YAY! IT ISN’T MINE!” when I see kids on airplanes. Though the last baby who was on a plane with me smiled at me the entire flight and was a complete angel and almost made me want to reverse that thing I got done to make it so that I could no longer have children. Good thing it’s fool-proof and irreversible.

    Also, I cannot believe that guy had the balls to say that. How utterly and completely rude. Sometimes I hate humanity. (Though thankfully there are people like you who renew my hope in the human race.)

  • Heather Armstrong

    Armrest hoggers are THE WORST.

  • CheeseburgerinLaradise

    Should’ve totally gotten Bose to sponsor this post before you posted it.

  • Danielletodd

    Indeed, I actually once gave an earful to a 4 year old who wouldn’t stop kicking my seat. I might be a monster, but the rest of my flight was peaceful.

  • Lady Estrogen

    I once sat beside a man that obsessively scratched his genitals and then smelled his fingers . . . for an 11 hour flight. I was 16 at the time, travelling to Australia by myself and never fully recovered from that. Ever.
    Where’s a mother with a baby? Please, oh, please, may I sit beside you?! Heh.

  • Maggie

    I don’t have kids yet, but I presume flying with a kid is about the same as being a government employee flying to a work training. (See blog post: republicans) Everyone has an opinion.

  • Nicole S.

    My worse experience was I was sitting next to a very large woman sitting in aisle. She fell asleep. I had to pee really, really badly, but couldn’t climb over her and I was too timid to try and wake her up. She finally woke up and .002 seconds after I sat down on the toilet the plane went through some bad turbulence.
    If you’re traveling by yourself (and you don’t buy an extra ticket or two just so your row is empty), you’re going to sit next to somebody, and, really, what are the odds they won’t be somewhat annoying? Almost none. And it’s not like if the baby cries you’re not going to hear it, even if you’re at the other end of the plane.

  • americanrecluse

    I was really hoping this would end with the passenger adjacent to the jerk’s new seat to stand up and refuse to have to spend an entire flight SITTING NEXT TO A RIPE GAPING ASSHOLE.

  • S

    so hilarious! enjoyed reading this.

  • Kelli

    Thank you! I have been that woman with the baby — my 10 month old actually screamed for 90 minutes on one flight. Each and every minute I felt like I would throw up if it got any worse (like if my child made herself throw up with all the crying). Bless you for helping calm that momma’s nerves. Hateful people are just horrible and mean — airlines should ban THEM from flying and make all our lives more pleasant!

  • ali

    My first flight by myself with kids occurred when my oldest was 8 mos. He was teething with an ear infection. It was 3 days before Xmas and my husband had deployed to Iraq just 2 weeks before.
    I was fine until he vomited everywhere on the car seat and me. I started sobbing. The meanest looking man ever reached over, scooped my son up, and said “honey, we have all been there. Let’s get this handsome sugar man cleaned up”.

    8 years later I am reminded of the immense feeling of gratitude for that man everytime I see a baby on a plane.

  • marind

    My husband’s grandfather died when my first child was only a couple months old. This meant flying with an infant. On the way back, a couple changed seats when they saw we had a baby and were in front of them. Savannah, my daughter, slept the entire flight. The laugh was on them as a later boarder came on with a toddler who screamed, cried, wriggled around, and so on. The. Entire. Flight. It kind of annoyed me (mostly because the mom didn’t even try to get the kid to cooperate) but I didn’t judge as I knew that could be me at some point. Then a month and half later, my husband’s grandma on the other side died. It meant another flight to SLC (which isn’t too bad). Luckily, she did great again! I was worried because she hated her car seat. Things went so well I could pump on the flight and no one knew. We didn’t fly again until she was 4, almost 5, and her sister was 2, almost 3. They both did great again.
    On a business trip I took, I helped a woman in front of me who was flying alone with a baby. She got sick and I held her baby while she handled her business. Poor thing. I felt so bad for her.

  • Sarah C.

    THIS. If a parent is making every effort to soothe their child and encourage good behavior, I am 100% supportive, even if they are not completely successful. And if a baby is crying, no problems there, so long as a parent is trying to help the baby feel better (not because of me, but because the baby is unhappy!). But if a child is misbehaving and an adult is not trying to help the situation — and it is having an impact on my flight? UNACCEPTABLE. I will be super sweet about it, but you can be sure that I am going to say something. Manners are important in life. Being polite does not mean having to be a doormat (eg, letting a child kick your seat for an entire flight). I have also helped to entertain nice children sitting next to me, and I am always happy to keep an eye out when a parent goes to the lavatory. Manners go both ways.

  • hutchiehibatchi

    i’ll be honest, i wouldn’t want to be moved next to a baby. but i also wouldn’t want to be next to a compulsive talker, guys who sit wide legged like they have the biggest balls in the universe, perfume-y people, the weak bladdered, snorers. Really, I detest all other passengers but me. the best is when nobody is in your row and you can lift both armrests and stretch out. mmmmm.

  • jawnbc

    You’re missing what might have been his point: generally the front of the cabin is for frequent travellers, many of whom are business travellers who expect to get some work done on flights. Even on the puddle jumpers. I tend to book 1-2 rows behind the first row in economy to be forward AND to avoid the bassinet area on larger planes.

    In reality, if he was assigned a different seat he’s entitled to expect to keep it unless the gate agents officially re-assign him. Though it does sound like he was being a dick.

  • The Lovely Life

    I’ve seen some amazing kids on flights. The Dutch kids are amazing. Really. Never seen children travel like these little toe-head babies. BUT…. there is the other side of hell… and that’s the one kid, one mom, one parent who ruins it for everyone….. who made my life a living hell…. and I have PTSD and every baby is a potential to put me back into my syndrome…

    I’ll be honest… if I’ve paid a fortune for a flight, and I’ve worked 24/7 for the past month with no break, the last thing I want is to put up with some screaming kid – if I wanted one I would’ve had one… I do think they should have sections of the plane where all of the moms and screaming kids can be quarantined together… I know I sound like an asshole… but it’s like me turning on my stereo for a six hour flight and then wondering why you’re upset about it.. but then you’re like wait… a stereo is not a human…. ahh you’re correct… but maybe it’s my little human… my therapy… maybe I’m still a kid at heart, completely immature and need my stereo just like your kid needs his/her bottle to shut the H up. Ok… yell at me now….

    I’m totally codependent and a people pleaser so I’m super nice on planes even if I hate you and your child… I’ll pretend I don’t… BUT… just letting you know what’s going on in my head even though I won’t be saying it to you anytime soon :)

  • Heather Armstrong

    Not disputing the fact that he was entitled to his seat. He didn’t have to give it up. Not at all. He just didn’t need to try to humiliate a woman who was entitled to have her infant in her lap.

  • The Lovely Life

    Ok. This comment just made my day. “Guys who sit wide legged with the biggest balls in the universe.” BAHAHAHAHA

  • Randianne

    I hope the person sitting next to that man had dog-quality farts for the entire flight. I definitely would have been trying to squeeze them out if I sat next to him.

  • Rachael

    I’ve said it before, but after this post I have to say it again – You are FUCKING AWESOME! If I could, I would serenade you with “You Light Up My Life”! Rock on, Dooce.

  • Jen P

    Oh boy…. that made me all teary. Yay nice people!

  • Kim’s Kitchen Sink

    This is pretty much the perfect articulation of my feelings about this.

  • Kristina

    I am traveling with a 4 year old, a two year old and what will be a three month old around Thanksgiving. We’re going to Australia where my husband’s family lives. We could not go (my preference), but, you know, family. Our travel time is 26 hours each way. I don’t have any other comment but that, I’m really just hoping someone will come to my house and give me a hug right now.

  • carrief

    I travelled back and forth from Europe for three years with babies, while pregnant and then when they were toddlers. I had a woman offer to hold my sleeping toddler so I could go to the restroom, flight attendants bring extra ice-cream, people come admire my children. While 5 months pregnant I flew with my one year old son and we had a terrifying emergency landing and 24 hour layover in the middle of Nowhere, Nova Scotia. The other people carried all my things, found me a stroller, and basically looked after us. All without me asking for help. Luckily, jerks like that are the exception. Most people have children or grandchildren, or at the very least nieces and nephews. They understand it, I think.

  • LaVonne Ellis

    I hope that guy doesn’t have kids. Ever.

  • Amanda

    I seriously got teary, too. Stupid moms with their stupid mom hormones.

  • Amanda

    Don’t knock that chicken and a biscuit.

  • THW

    Question … are you willing to pay more for the convenience/perk of NOT having children in your section of the plane?

  • Debra

    As always, you are my hero. I hope you said this loud enough for that man to hear.


  • Gigi Griffis

    Agreed! If he didn’t want to sit next to the baby, he should have politely asked about another seat. No reason to make people feel bad. I’ve quietly pulled the flight attendant aside and asked to be reseated when I was in a row with a baby; she re-seated me with no problem and the mother and her two kids had the whole row to themselves. Everyone won.

  • Annie’s Mom

    Sure, a child free section. Also, 1) an alcohol free section so I never have to sit next to a drunk businessman, 2) a stink free section for those who prefer their seatmates showered, 3) a recline free section,for those who prefer to fly without hosting the seat in front of them in their own laps, 4) a porn free section, because, well blech. 5) a talk free section, so I never have to entertain a conversation with a lonely, bored, socially impaired person…I could go on and on. There are no *free* sections on the airplane. It is full of the whole mess of humanity that needs to move long distances, and of all the people on the whole huge plane I flew on last week, the children/babies were the least annoying, disruptive, and frustrating. And unless your stereo is playing at full volume because it is in pain, but it’s been a year since its seen grandma, then this is a poor analogy.

  • Candace

    I was travelling with my son when he was 3 and he was exhausted from traveling and his ears hurt and he started to cry. And then the woman sitting next to us started screaming at me. In German. My son crying while I desperately tried to calm him down, the woman screaming on the other side of me. I think I still have PTSD from that moment.

    Many years later now but I will always have sympathy for anyone travelling with small children.

  • Suzanne


  • pogonip

    I’ve enjoyed so many of your posts, but this has to be my all-time favorite. Kindness is priceless.

  • Suzanne

    Add one more teary-eyed read. Made my day. That of course reminds me of the time my husband and I took our son to HI. Because he was sick (the vomiting didn’t come till the next day IN THE GROCERY STORE!) he cried 5 of the 6 hour flight. I apologized to the man sitting next to us the entire time. Fortunately he pretty much said the same thing “We’ve all been there before.”

  • Erin Gill

    Did Lord McDouche not realised that he could have very well been sitting next to a baby in the seat he booked anyway? Poor lady. And yes, noise cancelling headphones are ba-nay-nas.

  • Hanni

    I love this post! Grrr…mean people suck! What an idiot. I feel SO lucky that my daughter has always traveled extremely well – really, really lucky. Iphones and DVD players are a godsend on a plane!

    PS The photo you posted of the sunset on Lake Huron brings back so many memories – were you near the North Channel? I grew up near there and can still remember the smell of the many cedar trees…

  • Margaret

    Wow, Heather. This is probably the most insensitive post of yours I’ve ever read. Yes, that man was a jerk, I think everyone can agree on that, but I too am one of the unfortunate people who have had children kicking the back of the seat and pulling my hair and poking at me for HOURS on a flight, and the parents did nothing. When I asked (nicely, yes) if they could do something, the look of complete indignation was shocking to me. There were two of them and they didn’t even shift the baby from Mom to Dad to alleviate the situation. And then, they were mad at me! I’m just disappointed that you disregard that there are two sides to the issue. I get that traveling with kids can be stressful, but the fact that the parents’ decision (their situation, their CHOICE) has to be stressful for EVERYONE in their vicinity, just because they had the bad luck to be seated near them, is not acceptable. It just isn’t. You have a greater responsibility to manage the situation as best you can – don’t blame everyone else for not understanding. Just do your best and be polite. Your child/baby is stressful to US too – and you expect us to understand your situation, why can’t you understand ours?? There are plenty of people who have had to endure screaming, kicking, running, obnoxious children, and the parents attitude is to shrug their shoulders and expect us to take it in stride…because they are kids and that’s what they do! And, it’s SO HARD. Please. You are not the only people on the plane.

  • iris @mallemarok

    I was the grit my teeth and hope for the best sort when I spotted babies on planes, until the second a had a baby. When my girl was four months old, I took her to San Juan, on vacation, by myself. Because I already my arms full, I packed exactly four diapers, which I thought was plenty to get from NYC to Puerto Rico. And nobody told me about altitude and little bowels, because she shat through all of that with two hours to go.

    There were no other babies on the trip, and no extra diapers, but a well-meaning middle-aged woman gave me four maxi pads and a wink, and I sort of made it work. This small act of kindness made me cry so hard the entire flight could feast off my leaky boobs.

    Also, Annie’s Mom, I think I love you.

  • ECS

    I absolutely would.

  • tmb

    Yes. You do sound like an asshole. Because even a screaming baby is better behaved than most adults.

  • Michelle Boehm

    I call this “imaginary big dick syndrome”


    Best flight I ever had traveling with my daughter was when she was six months old. Australia to the UK, 23 hours, slept almost all the time. Fast forward a few years, every time we traveled anywhere she threw up. And not quietly, either. Try traveling with a child who is vomiting all the time. Nobody, not even cabin crew, wants to know. We tried all the travel sickness remedies ever invented. Nothing worked. I decided that we just had to try to be as dignified as we could be under the circumstances. People have to travel and I think that man was just so rude for shouting in that manner, as if having children is something to be ashamed of. And as if he was more important than anyone else. That poor mom, she displayed great dignity as far as I can see. As for Mr Nasty, well, I believe in karma, so he should watch out.


    P.S. I have noise cancelling headphones – they are brilliant!

  • Stella Mayfair

    I don’t have kids. I was flying from San Francisco to Chicago. I’d just sat down, when a woman with a baby appeared at my row and started trying to get her stuff in the overhead bin with one hand while carrying the baby with the other. So I just stuck out my hands, and she put the baby in them so she could put her stuff away. Neither of us even said anything. (Yeah, I gave her the baby back when she sat down!) It’s that easy to help people. Babies and kids have people they want to see, and people who want to see them. They have that right. Deal.

  • KTC

    Great post, Heather. I just want to say thank you for giving up your seat for the couple who wanted to sit together. I have major anxiety which surfaces a lot while flying, and it is reduced considerably when I’m able to sit with my partner. The last time we flew was to Hawaii and even though we bought seats together, when we got to the airport we were told we’d have to sit apart. The woman processing our tickets saw how upset I was and somehow made a miracle happen so we could sit next to each other. She was and still is an angel to me. You’re awesome!

  • Natalie

    And remember, we were all babies once. That man was probably a total asshole of a baby too. He was probably the absolute worst baby there ever was. :)

  • Blasi

    Some people just should not fly, at all. Our last flight, a man turned around and screamed at my two children, who were quietly playing with their little figurines. At the end of the flight he knocked my 4 year old over in the aisle while we were just standing waiting to get off, and then threatened to punch my husband when we asked him to cool it. We had to report him to the airline.

  • MichelleRiggenRansom

    The other thing to note? Even if you don’t have a baby, you used to BE a baby!