Flying with Kids: Why are Seatbelts Optional?

The following is one part PSA and three parts flat-out judgment.  Having recently flown, I’m reminded about that whole “lapseats” thing, which I just don’t get why someone would choose.  I know that it’s often justified as a financial decision, but honestly, if you can’t afford a seat for your child(ren), you can’t afford your trip.  I know emergency travel and family situations happen, but seldom are they to Disneyworld.  For the most part, it seems like a couple of Benjamins to keep Junior SAFE isn’t something that changes the economic viability of a vacation. 

Admittedly, I don’t enjoy it when a little person behind me wants to share their feelings of squishiness with me or the angle of their adult’s lap sets them up to provide me with hours of a foot-pounding back massage.  Of course, I also don’t enjoy flights near adults with body odor issues, no filters on their conversation, or who think an airplane is just the spot to (sloppily) eat a tuna and onion sandwich.  Most toddlers I know seem to fly (sleep) better when they have their own space, and potentially carseat, but it’s really the safety factor that irks me.

During takeoff and landing, we are not allowed to hold our carry-ons – our inanimate, lifeless, possessions that are often in a bag with some sort of handle or strap to clutch to wrap around something. We’re told it’s unsafe, a statement with which I am not arguing.  However, we are allowed to hold living, breathing, wiggling, squirmy, quick-moving PEOPLE; people who may weigh well over thirty pounds.  (Lapseats are available for children up until they are two years old.  The CDC’s growth charts show the fiftieth percentile* for 24-month old boys and girls to be about 28lbs and 26.5lbs, respectively.)  I don’t get it.  I know which I find easier to control, particularly during unexpected turbulence, and also which I’d like less to see go flying or hit me in the face during said turbulence.  

People often say that it is impossible to put a price on the health or safety of their children.  Sometimes it is equal to the cost of a seat on an airline.

* The kids I see on planes – and about the tundra – are more apt to be above the fiftieth percentile than below.


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