At first glance, I wasn’t sure if an email I got this week about “adults-only flights” was a joke. I’m a parent of two teenage boys who has observed with dismay the growing intolerance for children in the public square in recent years. But I’d never heard anything like this. So I reviewed the study of 1,000 adults conducted by PhotoAID, and while I don’t know how scientific it was given that it was conducted by a company that sells passport and visa photos, the results are striking.
Eight in ten survey respondents said they want adult-only flights, and 64 percent said they’re willing to pay a premium of 10 to 30 percent more to avoid the possibility of encountering children. The results are in line with a broader anti-child sentiment that’s been building both in the travel industry and the broader society. I’ve traveled with my kids, now thirteen and fifteen, since they were babies, taking them to more than twenty states and thirty-five countries. Babies can be unpredictable, but it isn’t that difficult to ensure that your children will be well-behaved on a flight. Let them dress comfortably and bring lots of high-quality snacks and entertainment. Ninety-nine times out of 100, a well-fed, sufficiently entertained child isn’t going to bother anyone on a flight.
Yes, it is true that a noteworthy minority of parents aren’t willing to prepare adequately for flights and/or police their children. Some of them even allow their kids to watch movies without headphones (damn them!). But in any case, what we’re really talking about here are ignorant and selfish adults, of which there are plenty of those on flights these days. Perhaps then we should have IQ tests for airline passengers? Would you pay more to fly with high-IQ passengers? Or on a plane full of Norwegian supermodels? How about partisan flights: masked Democrats could all fly together and unmasked Republicans could do the same?
Seriously, though, if I had my own airline, I might require people to take a breathalyzer before boarding an aircraft. I’d do that before I’d ban children, because drunks can be far more disruptive and cause much more damage. I’ve been disturbed by loud, annoying adults on flights far more frequently than kids. And while we’re on the topic of people I’d rather ban, how about the morbidly obese…oops, I mean people of size, who stubbornly refuse to purchase two seats or fly business class and then encroach upon the already much-too-cramped space of other passengers? I’ve never sat next to a morbidly obese child. Have you?
I would also require all passengers to not smell like rotten fish or anything else unpleasant. If my flight personnel smell any olfactory-challenged persons during the boarding process, the malodorous passenger would either have to consent to a deodorant spray down or they would be denied boarding. Coach-class passengers on Air Seminara would also have to walk through an ungreased gate that’s exactly as wide as a coach-class seat. Can’t fit? Sorry. You have to pay for a business class upgrade, buy a second seat, or shed some weight and try your trip again when you can fly without disturbing other passengers. Sound harsh? Don’t tell me you don’t breathe a sigh of relief when you see a person of size walking down the aisle and past your row.
In these woke times, airlines aren’t going to get tough on the obese, who are now a protected class alongside everyone else in America save for straight white men. I doubt any major American airline will introduce adults-only flights either, though several international carriers including IndiGo, Air Asia, Malaysian Airlines, and Scoot Airlines are already limiting where children can sit.
There’s also been a major trend toward adult-only hotels and resorts, adult-only weddings, and, to a lesser extent, adult-only restaurants. I’ve spent probably 5 percent of my life sleeping in hotels, and I think I’ve been disturbed by the conduct of children perhaps one time for every 100 I’ve been disturbed by adults. I get that people want peace and quiet on vacation, but I dispute the notion that children are the primary barrier. Children don’t get drunk or high. Children don’t get married or have raucous bachelor parties. Children (generally) don’t have speaker systems they bring to the pool. Children don’t park cars haphazardly. Children aren’t at the front desk, clogging up the line, asking idiotic questions.
According to the National Youth Rights Association, more than 1,000 malls and shopping centers have banned young people in some capacity, often from being present without a legal adult on weekends. Federal law requires businesses to serve customers without discriminating against race, color, religion, or national origin. Age discrimination is illegal too, but only when the victims are elderly.
The Pew Research Center concludes that since 1960, single-person households in the United States have grown from 13 to 27 percent. And an Institute for Family Studies study of 2020 Census data found that one in six American women never has children, up from one in 10 in 1990. As a country, we ought to be trying to encourage couples who have the resources and desire to have children, rather than making life difficult for families and removing kids from the public square.
Perhaps those who don’t want to be around children should reassess their outlook on life. Children can be pests just as adults can, but they can also be a lot of fun. And rather than viewing them as a source of irritation, consider that they just might brighten up your day. And if not, turn on your noise-canceling headphones and feel grateful you’re not the one who has to deal with them.