Ah, the joys of airline travel – lines, noise, germs, and getting a little too up-close-and-personal with those sitting next to you.
No one wants to be stuck next to someone who obviously has the flu, or is snoring like a rusty chainsaw, or just can’t help but talk your ear off the entire flight.
We know we don’t always have control over these things when we fly, but as cries for “tolerance” escalate, airlines are targeting one group of travelers – the only ones who can’t help but be annoying sometimes.
Don’t sit next to me… Please don’t sit next to me…
There are two types of people in the world – parents, and those who either never had children or had them so long ago, they’ve blocked it from their memory. (Ok, maybe that’s three types.)
Of the latter, most people are still fairly understanding about the nature of small children.
Every human being is born with a survival instinct. We are born crying; it’s the only way we communicate until we develop language. Then the crying turns to whining with a few words thrown in so parents don’t go completely off the deep end.
And during this in-between time of learning to appropriately communicate and understand concepts like patience, personal space, and acceptable levels of noise, kids can be annoying. Really annoying.
The thing is, they can’t help it. They are learning and growing every day, but they’re not born knowing common courtesy or delayed gratification.
This can be problematic when they are trapped in a confined space on an airplane. They’re confused or scared or tired – and they definitely aren’t programmed to be contained in a 2×2-foot square seat for several hours.
And because no one has patience for the unpredictable nature of a small child on an airplane, carriers like Japan Airlines want to make sure travelers are inconvenienced as little as possible with a concept they think is brilliant…
The Baby Map
Major carriers try to provide all the information they possibly can online in order to (supposedly) provide customers with the best possible experience.
And now, Japan Airlines is the first of what’s sure to be many carriers who want to let you know when you will be “stuck” next to a possibly annoying infant or toddler.
Their online “baby map” allows travelers to go online and check which seats will have a baby or toddler. Using a little baby face emoji, the airline calls it a “child icon.”
Some Japan Airlines customers have tweeted their approval of the baby map, saying it should be an industry standard going forward.
We get it – I mean, no one really wants to sit next to a screaming child for the entire duration of a long international flight.
But then when you think about it, the airline’s attempt at making travel a more pleasurable experience is really kind of crappy for the rest of us with small children.
So for the rest of us who are or have been parents — the majority of people in the world – it’s a little offensive. And that’s supposed to be the thing the airline was trying to avoid with their plan.
It really stinks to travel with children sometimes. They’re off their routines and parents are already on edge just waiting for the tantrum to start.
We’ve packed a million things to keep them quiet on the plane, but anyone who has ever had a child knows: No matter how much you try, you are completely at the mercy of a tired and cranky little one.
Now with the baby map, already stressed-out parents will be treated like pariahs when they’ve spent the same good money to travel as other passengers.
Seats next to “child icons” will be like toxic zones. “Don’t sit here! There’s going to be a baby sitting next to you!” Eww… gasp.
If you’re a Pinterest junkie and desperate parent, you’ve probably seen the boards full of ideas for traveling with small, cranky children.
Some poor moms who have to travel alone already try to placate potentially annoyed travelers seated near them by making little “peace offering” kits.
They often contain treats and earplugs with a little note from baby asking fellow travelers for patience. I mean, really?!!
Parents are already doing their best not to inconvenience others, and these baby maps are just going to make us feel like we’re boarding a plane with the bubonic plague.
And here’s the most important point…
There are always, always going to be annoying people on planes.
The liberal buzzwords of the decade are “tolerance” and “inclusion” – but it apparently doesn’t apply to innocent children.
Sure, that guy snoring on your overnight flight may not be able to control it. But is there a “annoying snoring-guy map?”
And then there are the obnoxious behaviors that grown adults can control – chewing loudly with their mouth open, getting sloppy drunk on those teeny bottles of booze, taking off their smelly shoes (even clipping their toenails – I’ve seen it), or talking non-stop because they have no boundaries.
Kids learn by example, and kindness and compassion go a long way.
It’s too late for already-rude adults – and yet we’re not given a choice whether we have to sit next to them or not.
One guy said it best in response to the baby map, as reported by the New York Times: “We need to learn tolerance or will soon start needing a map of seat locations for mouth breathers, droolers, farters, drunks, and perhaps a lot more things in life.”
And by and large, most people think the baby map is a stupid idea. They get that traveling requires patience – and often compassion. You just have to deal with whatever comes your way.
So, at least in my opinion – and especially until there is a “smelly, obnoxious man map” – Japan Airlines can take their baby map and stuff it.
What do you think of the “baby map” idea when booking a flight online? Leave us your comments.