I’m sure that most of you have heard about the recent actions of a JetBlue captain when confronted with a disruptive child who wouldn’t calm down before take-off. If not, read about it here. To summarize, he threw the child and her family off the plane. All of us who have suffered through a flight with a child kicking their seat or screaming until dogs in other countries start howling, rejoiced.
What I was most surprised to see, at least on Twitter, was that even the general reaction was favorable. This is progress. People with children are sensitive to criticism about how children today behave and how they as parents, well, parent. I understand that. I’d probably feel the same way if I had children. The fact that I didn’t see an outcry over JetBlue’s actions made me wonder if parents are finally seeing misbehaving children as the rest of us do: as overly-coddled, whiny little brats.
Maybe this explains the success of Pamela Druckerman’s book about the ways of French parenting, Bringing Up Bébé. It’s been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for three weeks and counting. In the book, Ms. Druckerman discusses the differences between how French and American parents see and treat their children and see themselves as parents. From what I can gather, a pilot wouldn’t have to throw a French family off a flight because of little Monique or Marcel.
This news story also got me to thinking about an idea I’ve long had for airlines. So, listen up, JetBlue’s Dave Barger and Virgin’s Richard Branson. I think this could be a moneymaker for you. (Feel free to cut me in on some of the action, okay?) I have long thought that airlines should market “Family-Friendly” flights and “Child-free” flights, so that those people with children could have a flight geared towards keeping their children entertained and engaged with other kids. You know, special movies, games, etc. It’s the same idea behind movie theaters having family movie nights. By the same token, the main appeal of child-free flights would be, well, NO CHILDREN! Woo hoo! I don’t have to sell that one very hard, do I?
When I used to suggest this idea to friends in the past, I was accused of hating children. This is not true. I don’t hate children. I hate the behavior of misbehaving children and the seeming obliviousness of their parents when they misbehave. I will admit to not having the patience gene when it comes to children. I’m impatient about most things. This doesn’t negate the argument for what I think is a fabulous business idea.
I think this is a much more positive solution than the other one I’ve come up with: The Brat “Watch List”. Just like Homeland Security has a database of names of individuals who want to terrorize our skies with bombs and the like, maybe there should be a database of misbehaving children. Perhaps airlines should set up a “three strikes” type of policy. You get warned and/or reported twice without being thrown off a flight but, if it happens a third time, it’s back to the terminal for you, Junior.
If it took off with airlines, it could be expanded to movie theaters (except on those designated family movie nights) and restaurants. The possibilities are endless! Going out in public could once again be enjoyable for adults! You can thank me now. And, Mr. Barger and Mr. Branson? I’m open to negotiation. Call me.