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Before you criticize someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. Yes, it's an old joke but I'm reminded of it when I fly with kids - whether the kids in the plane are mine or not. Unless you never see yourself being in the position of traveling with children, it is best to be careful what you say or do. You may one day be in those shoes.

There has been recurrent talk about banning children in business or first class cabins. Nevertheless, flying is not one of the things that small children really enjoy. They're cramped, uncomfortable, and the younger they are, the more the changes in air pressure affect them. Believe me, as a parent I understand that kids don't particularly enjoy being cooped up. On the other hand, when you face long-distance travel, your choices are limited. There's no getting around the fact that children are fliers too.

The challenge for the road warrior is that airlines are not consistent in the way they deal with children, which makes things more challenging. First, they have different policies. Second, they don't uniformly enforce their policies, i.e., enforcement depends on how busy and conscientious each particular crew is.

While airlines understand the challenges that traveling with kids present, many of those same carriers have dispensed with pre-boarding for passengers with children. While I don't think that trying to restrict the placement of children on planes is a useful measure, I do think that pre-boarding offers parents a chance to settle in and get organized before the other passengers board. Since both the other passengers and the parents benefit from that procedure, I think the airlines ought to reconsider reinstituting the pre-boarding feature.

I agree that flight attendants have a major role to play in maintaining order in the passenger compartment. Just like the other passengers, parents of well-behaved children like to see attendants enforce the rules. We want attendants to deal consistently with absentee parents and their kids. It's not only fair to all of the parents, it's fair to all of the children as well. Passengers deserve a peaceful and comfortable flight. It goes without saying (so I'll say it) that better training of attendants in dealing with crying babies or rowdy kids is so important.

What do you think about plane kids?

Road Warrior • Miami •