Viral TikTok Video Sparks Debate Over What We Should Be Able To Expect From Flights
We’ve all been there.
You’re prepped for your flight well in advance, armed with the perfect pillow, a lovely little travel blanket, high-end noise-canceling headphones, and a fully optimized airplane outfit. You’ve paid extra for more legroom and even splashed on early boarding so you can slip your carry-on into the overhead, sit down, get comfy, and embrace your zen for the impending flight.
That is, until the three-year-old seated behind you decides that you’re taking a different path today – cue seat kicking, incessant crying, and a slew of cartoons on an iPad-come-distraction device.
This is exactly the situation documented in a recent TikTok video that’s now gone viral and sparked debate across the internet, centering around the question: Should airlines be offering adults-only flights?
It’s a complicated question, and answers tread a thin line between offending parents on one side and frustrated customers on the other. The video naturally split the population, with some immediately agreeing with the video’s adult-only sentiment while others sprung to the defense of the parents.
The frustration is natural, especially on a long flight. An already oft-feared mode of travel can be made ten times worse by the inability to relax, but apathy and common sense must play a part in any decision made to counter the issues.
It’s not reasonable to require a parent to keep their child quiet, just as it’s equally unreasonable to require every passenger to purchase noise-canceling headphones. But is it worth it for an airline to offer adult-only flights? Would people actually pay for it? What would it look like? And should we do it even if we could?
Would We Actually Pay For it?
The girl in the video claims she would pay a lot of money for an adult-only flight. She’s only flying a three-hour route and, as with any TikTok video, is looking for attention in the form of views. Studies in the past suggest that as much as a third of travelers would pay for a child-free flight, but those have all failed to find out how much they would be willing to cough up.
Most of us choose not to upgrade to a comfort-plus seat on a regular flight. These can range from $25 to $200, depending on the route and airline. Those are guaranteed benefits that we would all enjoy. Everyone gets excited when they realize they’ve bagged the emergency exit because everyone knows their flight will be more comfortable. Yet we still avoid parting with the extra money.
When push comes to shove, would we shell out for what would almost definitely be a far more expensive option for the possibility of a quiet flight? Probably not. That’s betting $100 or more on the possibility that a kid might start crying mid-flight.
It’d Be Environmentally Horrible
From an environmental standpoint, it would be terrible. All personal qualms aside, adding new flights with no added demand means flights wouldn’t be full. That’s not good for an airline, and it’s not good for the environment. The more people are on a plane, the better, and adult-only flights would make that impossible. At a time when carriers are now being forced to examine ways to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s almost definite that these kinds of flights aren’t in anyone’s future.
Would it actually be better?
Say what you will, but adults are often a bigger annoyance on planes than children. Sure, the singular sound of a baby wailing might be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but removing that problem doesn’t take away from the loud talkers, the armrest nudgers, the hygienically challenged, or the perpetual seat recliners and leaners. There are no children shoving you out of the way to grab a pointless spot in the line to get off the plane either – that’s the parents if anyone.
Separating the families with young children might alleviate (and we stress might) one problem, but it’s really just driving prices up for everyone at little benefit while still dealing with some of the worst of us.
Give the parents a break
What’s the purpose of a flight? It gets us from point A to point B. Whatever luxuries we want to attach to it are irrelevant unless promised otherwise. In practice, a plane is no more than another form of public transport, and believe it or not, families do need to travel occasionally.
No parent brings their child on the flight with the intention of ruining everyone’s day. In fact, the people probably most affected by a child are the parents. Not only do they have to navigate an already exhausting travel process, but they also have to do it while keeping tabs on a tiny human that’s unable to do so themselves.
There’s a strong chance that most parents feel some form of guilt (if they have a second to feel it), and it’s not uncommon to see them apologize profusely to those around them. The last thing they need is the ire of other passengers. You wouldn’t act the same way on a bus or train, so don’t lay it on any thicker for them.
What could work?
Creating separate zones on a plane could be a possibility. Airlines could have a separate family zone, with a size based roughly on the average number of families with small children per flight. Ideally, this wouldn’t cost anything extra and could provide an easy answer. Unfortunately, it’s likely to result in empty seats once again, as there is no guarantee that they could fill it each time.
Creating an adults-only zone on the flight may work better. Passengers bothered by the prospect could fork out more money to pay for a similar style seat but in a different cabin where families would not be permitted to sit. This, of course, would hark back to previous questions. What are we really willing to pay to possibly avoid a hypothetical child that may or may not cry on our flight? It’s a tough figure to quantify and one that many wouldn’t see the value in paying unless it was only a fraction more.
The fact is that none of us is entitled to a perfectly quiet flight. There are no rules preventing people from talking at 3 in the morning on a flight, and we can’t order a young child to stop crying or, worse, prevent them from flying. It’s a part of air travel we have to accept if we choose to do so.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com