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In the news today was the story of a Southwest passenger who could not handle a baby crying and ended up getting his entire flight diverted and him being removed from the airplane. I first read about this over at Live and Let’s Fly, but I see it’s been covered by One Mile at a Time, View from the Wing and other outlets I’m sure.

Southwest Passenger Loses His Mind

A Southwest flight was destined to Fort Lauderdale but had to go into a holding pattern due to weather. At some point a baby starts crying (for a long time) and this man wakes up and starts yelling and screaming about the baby.

The video below was captured by another passenger and is definitely NSFW due to language.


♬ original sound – bad_ideas_galore

A flight attendant comes over and tells the man “you’re yelling”, to which he responds “So is the baby!”.

The flight attendant then points out that the man was an adult, and therefore more could (and should!) be expected of him. Another passenger points that his screaming is annoying the rest of the passengers, so why was that ok if the baby’s crying wasn’t?

The Sound of a Baby Crying IS ANNOYING

Of course the comment sections of all the articles I read are sharply divided, mostly between people who have kids and those that do not. I mean, I get it – the sound of a baby crying is genetically programmed to be annoying. NOBODY likes hearing a baby cry, but babies are human too and sometimes have to fly (and IMO they have the right to fly). It wasn’t super clear to me how old the child in question was, but as a parent, there’s also a big difference in what you can do to help a baby calm down vs. what you might be able to do with a toddler. It’s also not clear from just the video what steps if any the parents were taking to try and calm down and console the baby.

But again, if you’re a parent, then you know that sometimes it just takes seemingly forever to get a child to calm down. This is even more true when you’re on an airplane and a) may have fewer of the toys, food or other accoutrements that you need and b) you are limited into how much you might be able to walk around and help the baby calm down by rocking it.

a close up of a crying child

One of my earliest memories of flying with kids is when we were going to a family reunion with my daughter (2) and my son (3 months). We were on a late / delayed flight and didn’t get to our destination till around midnight. My son had fallen asleep in the dark airplane cabin, but when we landed and the lights went on, he started screaming. He wouldn’t nurse, wasn’t taking a pacifier and we had used up all our other food / toys – everything else was in our checked bags. He screamed through a LOOOOOOONNNNNNNG deboarding process, made even longer by the fact that we were in the literal last row of the airplane…

What to do about crying babies on airplanes – my take

To me, how annoyed I get when a baby is crying on an airplane is directly correlated to how involved the parents are in trying to calm down the child. If the parents are doing their best to comfort and calm down the child, then it’s still an annoying sound, but I just chalk it up to c’est la vie. Crank up the white noise / noise-cancelling headphones and move on with my life. It’s one of the reasons I am adamantly against any social pressure to make young parents feel obligated to give goodie bags to fellow passengers.

(SEE ALSO: Why parents of children flying should NOT give “airplane goodie bags” to fellow passengers)

In rare cases however, the parent just puts on their own headphones and ignores the crying or bad behavior. Then, I have a much bigger problem with it. Admittedly, I think this is much more common with toddlers and young kids rather than literal infants.

The Bottom Line

A Southwest passenger could not handle a baby crying and ended up getting his entire flight diverted and him being removed from the airplane. I’m not sure why he felt that his yelling and screaming was okay if the baby’s crying was not. Nobody likes to hear babies crying, but I’m not sure this is the best response. My take is that while I don’t like hearing babies or toddlers cry, as long as the parents are doing their best to console or take care of the child, I can accept it. Only when the parents too decide to tune out their child’s crying or bad behavior do I get irritated.

Okay (deep breath) – what do you folks think? Leave your thoughts in the comments (and please try to be civil)

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