Flying In A Play Pen

December 4, 2009

in Baby & Kid Stories

I was flying from Washington DC to San Jose, California. There were several young mothers and couples with toddlers through 4 year olds. I was in an aisle seat, which I prefer.

I don’t know exactly how it started, but all these young kids figured out they were in close proximity and they were soon dawdling up and down the aisle “visiting” each other. OK, things will settle down, I thought. But instead, the mothers started “organizing” play time (with toys) in the aisle. The FAs must have thought this was cute, because other than their obligatory run through with the beverage cart, they just let this go on.

Then, my mind was truly blown. The mother in the aisle seat across from me and one aisle up actually GOT DOWN ON THE FLOOR IN THE AISLE AND KEPT PLAYING WITH THE KIDS. This meant she was on floor right next to my seat in the middle of the aisle.

By then I was pretty steamed. Eventually I had to use the bathroom. I had to negotiate my way past this woman and through the play pen. On the way back to my seat, I accidentally bumped into her lightly. She quickly looked up (as she was on her hands and knees in the middle of the aisle) and quipped, “excuse me.” I just told her I thought it was she who should be saying that.

Where were the FAs? I kept thinking, I spent $550 to fly across the country in a play pen.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Cam Tompkins December 4, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I'll admit this would have me biting my toungue in irritation, yet it seems fair to think that if they weren't playing, they'd have been screamng there precious little heads off; but yeah, in the isle? I'd have been tempted to hurl a drink on them all.


NomdeVoyage August 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I think I could have very easily managed to knock my Bloody Mary mix … and the bottle of water … right on top of this little "play date".

The same thing happened to me in a *very* nice hotel lobby in Los Angeles, where I was relaxing while waiting for a friend. Some mothers with a gaggle of kids actually set up a slip-and-slide in the "living room" area … and let the kids shriek and run all over this thing, you'd have thought it was an outside Fourth of July picnic. I, and around 10 other people on the chairs and sofas looked at each other, and en masse went for help from the front desk. They were told to *immediately* pack up this mess, and go somewhere else with it. And then they compensated us all with a complimentary cocktail to make up for these ghastly, "Look at us, we're white trash", visitors. Stunning!


Gregg August 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for relating your experience in the hotel lobby NomdeVoyage! Check out the photo in this article of a couple who carted a baby crib to a sidewalk cafe: Entitled bougie Brooklyn parents take baby crib to brunch on sidewalk cafe.


DSD December 6, 2009 at 6:17 am

As a parent let me just say PISS OFF!!!!! Seriously we CAN NOT WIN. People bitch because parents don't bring anything to keep the children occupied and they get grumpy and noisy, then you BITCH when the parents do bring things to keep the kids occupied but get the brilliant idea to "organize" some play time with each other. WTF are parents supposed to do when the deck is this stacked against us? Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to keep an toddler entertained for several hours, then toss in strapped into the same chair?

From what I gather from your letter the kids were reasonably well behaved, they weren't bothering random strangers, and were quiet. SO what are you complaining about, that Mom got down and played with them next to you. Earth to grumpy, there is someone sitting on the other side of you so why should it matter that someone is on both sides? They weren't impeding your ability to go to the bathroom other than you having to step cautiously for 10 feet. Glad to see you took the mature approach and made sure you bumped into Mom on the way back.

Do everyone a favor, put you headphones on, read your book/paper/magazine, and PISS OFF.

Or did you forget to bring anything to keep yourself entertained?


Cam Tompkins December 6, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Shucks my dear!


Jim December 7, 2009 at 6:51 am

You Piss Off. Your kids. Your responsibility. If they cannot remain relatively calm on a plane and in their seat…..then, don't take them! Again, they are YOUR responsibility. You had them. You raise them. Don't expect the world to accomodate you and your choices. You obviously are some welfare Mother, with such an entitlement attitude. We all pay for our seat on the plane…and, we should all be respectful of each other's space, solitude, etc…

To allow your child to be noisy, smelly or to play in the aisle is rude. If you cannot properly corral your child….DON'T FLY!


Kelli Smith December 8, 2009 at 6:44 am

You and the OP are both asshats.


Sarah December 8, 2009 at 8:35 am

My step dad worked for Delta when I was young. We flew quite frequently from Atlanta to San Jose to visit his side of the family, with my two younger brothers and younger sister in tow. My parents would have slapped the face off of my head if I had disturbed anyone. Also, we were expected to dress up for the flight, so I was quiet and behaved in a dress. Take that! No offense, but you sound like a bad parent, and I'm sure that is frustrating for you.


Jim December 8, 2009 at 8:48 am


I completely agree. Most flights that I have been on with children have been very good. The children were well behaved, they drew, watched a movie, and they stayed in their seat… These children's parents were very involved, and obviously good parents.

The times when the children have been a mess on a plane were directly related to the lack of parenting skills possessed by the parent. The parents were inattentive, enabling or once not present at all. I really don't fault the kids…'s the parents who should know how to handle their children…and, know their children's limitations. But, many parents do not seem to want to take personal responsibility for the raising of their own child….they want to blame the child's shortcomings on the world not accomodating them.


Reasoning_Doubt December 29, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Keep your fucking crotchfruit in their fucking seats, bitch!! It is not our fault your only skill is "assume the position and spread your legs!" What if there is an emergency? The kids end up crushed to death and others die in the process. How clueless can a breeder get?!


Cheran December 6, 2009 at 8:23 pm

I'm a parent, and my son started flying with me when he was five months old. I brought enough toys, books, snacks, etc. to keep him occupied in his seat. Not once did I need to get down on the floor in the aisle to entertain him, nor would I ever. Not only is it a complete inconvenience to the rest of the passengers who might need to pass, but it's extremely unsafe. One unexpected hit of turbulence, and your kid could be thrown around the cabin. The flight attendant who allowed them to sit in the aisle rather than remain buckled in their seats should have been reported to the airline.


Hugh December 7, 2009 at 12:31 am

I am a parent who has flown with my kids since they were very young. I have always brought enough quiet items to keep them occupied, and I have NEVER allowed them to play in the aisle. I can't imagine the FAs allowing this due to safety concerns. As such, I have my doubts about the authenticity of this post…but assuming it's real, the parents of these children are at fault for doing it, and the FAs are at fault for allowing it.


PBear December 7, 2009 at 8:42 am

While I understand parents wanting to entertain and occupy their young on a plane, the aisle doesn't strike me as the safest place. I highly doubt these or any parents would let kids run around and play in between the seats of their vehicle while driving, so why the different stance on a plane? We have seatbelts for a reason!


Jodi December 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

I've seen worse on a train, but my theory is that as long as the kids aren't screaming, whining or crying, I'm good with it. I don't care if they play in the aisles or if the mother does a headstand there, as long as I have peace and quiet. As for you complaining.. I hope next time you're sitting next to a crying, shrieking child so that you miss this little inconvenience.


RJ December 7, 2009 at 12:58 pm

As a part-time nanny who loves kids I can tell you the following:

DSD, if you allow your kids to play in the aisle of a plane, you are asking for potentially serious injuries both to them and to other passengers. (Worst case scenario – the incident all over the news a few years ago about the plane that suddenly dropped and numerous passengers were severely injured because they weren't buckled in their seats and HIT THE ROOF OF THE PLANE.)

It is also the height of bad manners to plop your children down in the aisle of ANY public area, especially one as cramped as a plane, and assume that the rest of the world should just climb over them.

The parents I know, work with, and love, would never allow that.


ps December 8, 2009 at 8:18 am

RJ- You hit the nail on the head- Being 30,000+ feet in the air you never know when you will hit sudden turbulence. There have been numerous injuries and a passenger was killed on the way to Tokyo a few years back when the plane hit sudden turbulence and suddenly dropped a distance, which resulted in the passenger who was unseated being thrown and breaking her neck. Using the aisle as a playpen is an extremely dangerous thing to do.


the dominator December 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm

i agree with rj and ps. not only is it inexcusably rude to let the rugrats play in the aisle but, it is incredibly dangerous. even when the fasten seatbelts sign isn't lit up, it is ALWAYS advisable to remain belted in unless you really need to leave the seat like going to the bathroom.

turbulence can happen at anytime.


S.M. December 27, 2009 at 10:42 pm

I really can't believe that any U.S. airline would allow a bunch of kids and an adault to play in the middle of the isle. With all of the safety concerns not just due to some turbulance but if they have toys all over the isles people would get hurt stumbling on it and heaven forbid the plane goes down and people are tripping all over toys or childrens bodies trying to get out of the plane if they live through it.. Ok that's a bit dramatic but you get my point. It's a safety issue I can't see it happening.


life can suck, live February 2, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Oh you can't win them all


NomdeVoyage August 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

"Seriously we CAN NOT WIN. People bitch because parents don't bring anything to keep the children occupied and they get grumpy and noisy, then you BITCH when the parents do bring things to keep the kids occupied but get the brilliant idea to "organize" some play time with each other. WTF are parents supposed to do when the deck is this stacked against us?"

Try this, you poor, noble, beleaguered dear : Sit down, be quiet, and behave like civilised beings. Or don't bring along your mannerless wee barbarians.


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