On October 4, TikToker Henry Beasley posted a video about a screaming baby on a “29-hour” flight to Berlin. “Hey babe, how was your flight?” Beasley captioned the clip, which has since garnered more than 12.6 million views.
The comments — of which there are more than 32,000 at the time of writing — are divisive, to say the least.
“Honestly there should be kid free flights and kid flights,” one user quipped.
“[H]ow about we all take a second to think about how those parents were feeling? [D]o you not think this was extremely exhausting for them to deal with?” another posited.
It’s not the first time someone has posed the subject of babies on planes in a public forum, nor is it likely to be the last. Some naysayers believe that babies shouldn’t be allowed on flights longer than four hours. Others believe babies shouldn’t be allowed on flights at all. So…should they? The answer is, unequivocally, yes — though I concede that I did once align myself with the naysayers. Granted, I was much younger — and admittedly a little self absorbed — but I couldn’t fathom why anyone would bring a baby on a long-haul flight. Why would they even want to?
You may have, at some point, wondered why anyone would bring an infant on an eight-hour flight to Canada or Europe. Why should they be allowed to travel for leisure if it comes at the expense of everyone else on the flight? Me too. But perhaps they weren’t traveling for leisure. Consider that maybe they were en route to their destination to attend a funeral instead of for holiday! The point is, parents often bring babies on long-haul flights out of necessity, because — for the uninitiated — babies can’t be left home alone.
Of course, that line of thinking also invites the (even more problematic) notion that parents need a reason to travel at all. They don’t. In fact, I’d actually argue that no one is more deserving of a far-flung vacation than new parents.
Further, what if the baby went the entire flight without crying? You’d deem them an angel, and maybe even congratulate the parents on a job well done on the other side. The issue isn’t inherently with babies on planes, it’s with crying babies on planes. And, news flash, parents have little to no control over when their baby cries, or why — it is a condition of parenthood that humans have toiled with since the beginning of time.
Lastly, it’s important to note that there is no one whose overall inflight experience is devastated faster, and more fully, than the parent of a crying baby. Back in April, Gilbert Ott of God Save the Points wrote a piece about whether or not children should be allowed to fly in first class that really resonated with me.
“Neither situation is all that pleasant for anyone involved,” Ott, who cops to often traveling with his young daughter in first class, wrote. “But I think this is where the important distinction is. It’s not fun for parents, the child, or for you. If the parents or the kids are trying to remedy the situation, have some empathy.”
“When the parents are not trying, that’s a different story,” he added. And while it is an important differentiator, the fact is — whichever way you slice it — babies aren’t going away (that would be an exponentially bigger issue). So, yes, have a little empathy. But, also, just be normal and put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones like everybody else.