Suggestion for the airlines
I’m sitting in the free internet area of the excellent Singapore Changi airport waiting for my connecting flight to Auckland at the moment. The flight from Manchester wasn’t too bad – long, of course, but on time and fairly smooth and comfortable. Singapore Airlines were absolutely excellent once again.
When I say comfortable, I mean that for cattle class, the legroom isn’t bad, the seats aren’t too narrow and I didn’t get off in any kind of pain from having my knees wedged against the back of a seat that reclines ridiculously far. What WASN’T comfortable, however, was the noise level eminating from the seats behind me. And this is where my suggestion to the airlines comes in.
When you’re sat at the gate waiting to board, you quite often hear a call announcing “would all passengers with small children please come forward for boarding first.” This is just daft, particularly when you consider that the people who pile on with their brattish kids (and there were a few today – it wasn’t like the Saga Holiday OAP flight I came back on a few weeks ago) are dotted about all over the cabin so when the attendants then try to board everyone else by seat row number, those with kids are still fannying about blocking the aisles up. We all know how restless little kids get – so when boarding them for a 13 hour flight, why do them first? Surely making them sit in their seats first and then waiting for 250 other people to pile on is going to make them restless. It’d be far better to let them run off their excess energy in the terminal and make them get on last. It’d also make the boarding process more efficient because everyone else wouldn’t have to stand about waiting to get past in the aisles while mummy and daddy empty what looks like a Mary Poppins bag full of toys on to their kid’s seat.
Even more to the point, however – WHY are they dotted about all over the cabin? All that means is that the entire place has to suffer from whinging and crying and screaming kids all night, rather than just one unfortunate part of the plane. Surely it’d be much better if the check-in people allocated all groups travelling with kids under 5 years old seats together right at the back. Then they can board first (if the airline so insists) and not get in anyone’s way, and also those of us sat at the front of economy class don’t have blood-curdling shrieks rattling our eardrums just when we’re drifting off to sleep. Nor will they be kicking our chairs or jumping up and down or generally doing everything you don’t want little kids doing on a long-haul journey.
Of course, it’s not really the kids’ fault. I always blame the parents. I would never have been allowed to scream and wail and run up and down aircraft aisles and generally disturb other people when I was 4 or 5 years old because my mum and dad were sensible enough not to let me do it. I could throttle those parents who think it’s acceptable for their little darlings to treat the aisles like a creche.
It gets worse, however. The bundle of joy sitting in the row behind me today must have been no more than 2 years old. I could tell that by the fact that its vocabulary was limited to “Waaaaaaah”. So it as rather a surprise when we pushed back from the gate and taxied over to 24L that the dad gave a running commentary – to the baby – on what was going on outside the window. Now I know I’ve been a bit of an aircraft anorak since an early age, but at 2 years old if my dad had pointed across at a big plane and said “Look, that big plane that says PIA on it, that’s a Boeing 777-200 the same as we’re on, except for that one’s the ER model” it wouldn’t really have made a lot of sense. Judging by the kid’s response – “waaaaaah” – it didn’t make much sense to it either. (Sorry for the repeated use of “it”, I have no idea of its gender and don’t really care.) Fascinated by aircraft as I’m sure the little darling will be one day, surely learning to walk and talk is more of a priority than learning all the different intricate designations of various passenger airliners.
An hour or so to go, then it’s time to settle down for another 10 hours next to two strangers. If those strangers happen to be carrying a 2 year old kid who keeps me awake all the way to Auckland, I think I’ll probably cry. Make them all sit together and leave the rest of us in peace.