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Kids crying on planes? Quit complaining.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of articles about flying with children. Travel with children is particularly difficult so we mostly avoid it. And air travel is, perhaps, the most difficult short of a canoe trip down a river in the rainforest of Costa Rica.

You see a few stories about how to pack for the TSA (more about those lovely folks later) or how to time travel with nap/bedtime to get those kiddies sleeping.

But mostly, it's people bitching.

Kids were on my flight screaming. People with crying kids booted off the plane. People with crying kids should be subject to extra fees. All of you--shut up about children.

And focus your attention on the true problem. The airline industry. The TSA. Lousy airports. Maybe even a lousy railroad/highway infrastructure that makes flying the best alternative...thus, cramming your plane with families.

This past weekend I flew to Ohio. By myself. It was a cleaning trip to get my mom's storage locker and my old bedroom cleared out. (At least of my stuff--hers is a different story.)

And I was annoyed. At the screaming kids on my packed flight home? Not in the least. At the parents who couldn't control the crying kids? Never.

I'm mad that it's 10 years--a decade--after the terrorist attacks and we still haven't figured out a more orderly, polite, civilized way to protect ourselves from a security standpoint. The TSA is a rat's nest of inefficiency subject to the whims of whoever happens to be screening you that day. You may get patted down, you may not. Somebody might see your naked, full body scan on a monitor...or maybe not. Some agents are rude, some are nice, most are indifferent.

Do I take off my belt or not? I made it through one of the busiest airports in the nation (Midway) with my belt on and no backscatter used. Then I fly from small potatoes Columbus and get the 3rd degree? What gives? If we haven't figured out by this time how to smoothly get passengers through screening without invading their privacy and making everybody feel like criminals, we need to give up. The terrorists have won.

People get mad at the flight attendants. I actually get more upset over the fact that they are busy serving us tiny soft drinks and cleaning up our trash. That's gotta suck. Breakdowns aside, most of them are professional and far more interested in getting us there safely than making sure you have a pillow or pretzels instead of peanuts. You've been crowded like steer into a metal box, you really are worried about comfort? Remember the days when kids would be treated well if it was their first flight? I found my plastic wings going through my old junk. I understand the economics of the industry...it's bad. But something has to be done.

Don't get me wrong, we're never going back to the civilized days of relaxed flying. Our whole culture is setup for something different these days. Easy? Ease? Cheap leisure? That's all for another post, perhaps.

But I just got to thinking as I was sitting there and couldn't help but wonder about the misplaced anger at families with small children. You think you're entitled to a scream-free flight? Right about the time airlines stop asking me to pay more to check a bag...how about that?

Flying sucks. There's no way around it. And if you think making all the crying children go away would somehow improve the experience, I think you have another thing coming.

Someone you've never met in a small room is going to view pieces of you that you usually reserve for your spouse--or at least a 2nd or 3rd date.

Call me crazy, but being told to hurry up and sit down so the plane can leave is 10 times more annoying than the poor little girl in the back of the plane who can't make her ears pop.


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