I read Meryl Love’s piece about pushy parents on flights with the mortifying flush of recognition (As cabin crew, I’ve had enough of pushy parents demanding special treatment, 15 March). On various trips since my son was born 16 months ago, I have been that ragged, sleep-deprived father, cramming myself into an easyJet window seat while desperately trying to prevent a wriggling child from slapping the bald head of the kindly man next to us.
We’re not “loitering” in the galley – our children get bored at their seats and it’s a more pleasant flight for everyone (including the crew) if we can keep them entertained, and therefore quiet. We’re carrying way too much luggage because we need to drag around enough stuff to keep the child fed, watered, clean, warm and entertained.
Love watches a grumpy father tramp back to the lone woman separating him from his family and “hopes he doesn’t shame her for travelling alone”. I would never shame anyone for travelling alone. In fact, I can think of nothing more wonderful than a lone journey.
What this embittered article has done is confirm what every parent ever boarding a plane has long feared – that everybody on board hates us immediately. If you need me, I’ll be loitering in the galley.
I was saddened by the lack of compassion in Meryl Love’s article. Having just flown long distance with an 11-month-old, her article fed my fears about what people would be thinking about us. “No one deserves to be made to feel like a nuisance,” ends an article written entirely to make those with children understand what a nuisance they are.
Love asks us to consider the situation of the solo traveller; I ask that we do the same for everyone – including families. We may not be flying for holidays but for a new job, a funeral, to see ageing and unwell relatives, to desperately seek practical and emotional support from our families on the other side of the world.
Sometimes it’s not the families’ fault. My partner and I were travelling with our baby and toddler. We booked (and paid for) seats next to each other. But at check-in something must have gone wrong as my partner was allocated a seat further away from us, instead of his prebooked one. We only realised at the gate, and airline staff said there was nothing they could do, we just had to ask people to move. The guy next to me wouldn’t move, and we came across as the annoying parents who hadn’t prebooked. Stressful and embarrassing.