Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

I originally wrote this post a few years ago involving parents being pressured by society to give out “airplane goodie bags” to placate other passengers on their flights.  The idea has come back in the news thanks to an op-ed in the New York Times, so I have updated the post and thought it was worth re-running.

Awhile ago, I read a story that involved a family preparing to take a flight with a small infant.  Knowing the unpredictability of flying with a very young infant, and wanting to make a good impression on nearby passengers, the mom made an airplane goodie bag to give out.

The airplane goodie bag contained ear plugs, Junior Mints, and Rolos.

I first saw the story on Facebook, but then a few months later I also saw it make its way to various travel blogs as well, and people’s comments were generally in favor of the idea.

Are airplane goodie bags a good idea?

Okay I hate to be “that guy”, but is this really what we’ve come to?  I totally understand the sentiment and I can’t fault this mom for doing what she could to try and make their family’s flight as comfortable and pleasant as possible, but I don’t think making up airplane goody bags is something that we should encourage parents to do.

I’ve also been on flights with young kids, and I know that it is not pleasant to listen to an infant cry and/or scream for what seems like forever on a plane.  I’ve been on both sides of that.  When it’s not your kid, it is annoying, yes – I totally get that.  When it IS your kid, it’s JUST as annoying, PLUS you feel the added stress of trying to do everything you can to fix the problem.

a girl crying with her hand to her eye

When my oldest daughter was about 2 years old, we flew on an evening flight from Cincinnati to Salt Lake City via Houston.  We left Houston about 10pm, and for much of the flight to SLC, my (by this time quite over-tired) daughter cried and screamed off and on, and literally nothing we tried to do to console her seemed to work.  Finally, about an hour before we landed, she finally drifted off to sleep.

As we landed at about midnight (2 a.m. our time), the combination of the change in cabin pressure, the jolt of the actual landing, and the lights going on as we taxied woke her up and this time she had REALLY had it.  Her loud wails seemed to fill the cabin and again, NOTHING we tried seemed to work.  Naturally, we were in literally the last row of the airplane, and so we had to wait for everyone else to get up, get their carry-ons, and exit the aircraft before we could leave.  And of course, the whole time, my daughter was wailing and obviously uncomfortable.

What to do about it?

Why do I bring this story up?  Just to mention that this is life!  This is part of living in a society!  I totally agree with Rebecca Dube’s take on the matter on  She mentions the fact that dealing with kids crying (or any other unpleasantness) is just part of the social contract.

Some of my favorite quotes from that article:

…a dangerous trend: People apologizing, or being made to feel they should apologize, for having children.

…parents have a responsibility here. I’ll do everything I can to stop my baby from crying on a plane. Trust me, I hate that sound even more than you do — plus it’s four inches from my ears. When all my tricks fail, I will walk him up and down the aisles, bouncing and humming. If you make eye contact with me, I’ll give you the “So sorry, what can you do?” apologetic smile, and you give me the “It’s OK, hang in there” sympathetic look. It’s called a social contract, people. If instead you roll your eyes or give me a nasty glare, then you are breaking the contract.

To the child-free: I fully understand that not everyone finds my little rugrats as delightful as I do. You don’t have to love us. But you do have to tolerate us and treat us with basic human respect, even if I don’t give you candy.

Heather Havrilesky had a good rebuttal to the NY Times op-ed on airplane goodie bags in the New York Magazine as well.

But it’s NICE!

Well, yes, it is NICE.  It would also be NICE if I got M&Ms every time I used the bathroom, but I don’t EXPECT it!  I worry about a dangerous precedent we start, when we ask young mothers (almost by definition the people on the earth with the LEAST amount of free time) to start catering to the needs of random strangers!

Airplane travel is inherently stressful.  Some people are nervous or fearful, there’s all the waiting, the unknowns from those not doing it very often, and that’s not to mention the fact that all the while, you’re trapped in a metal tube with strangers, with no way to escape!

Let’s all try to remember to be extra kind to others, and give other passengers the benefit of the doubt, even when they tell you that “you’re the type of person that shouldn’t have children

What do you think? What should parents flying with young children do?

If your family travel takes on you an airplane, here's why parents should NOT give goodie bags to fellow passengers

Points With a Crew has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points With a Crew and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers and that compensation may impact on how and where card products appear on the site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners and I do not include all card companies, or all available card offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers and other offers and benefits listed on this page. Other links on this page may also pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them

User Generated Content Disclosure: Points With a Crew encourages constructive discussions, comments, and questions. Responses are not provided by or commissioned by any bank advertisers. These responses have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to respond to comments.