What Flight Attendants Say You Should Do About Screaming Children on Airplanes

If you have kids then you know that cries, screams, and tantrums are inevitable. So are the moments when they go on an energetic, giggly tear through your house, store, or some other place where they’re really not allowed to.

That unbridled disruptiveness is not always welcome by you or the strangers around you, and it’s a topic of discussion for airlines now too. While some of your fellow passengers may be sympathetic or indifferent, many are fed up. So, what do flight crews suggest?

Since they are usually on the receiving end of complaints, flight staff have some ideas on what parents can do to mitigate meltdowns and bad behavior when on a plane. First, they understand that not much can be done about crying and screaming babies.

But in some cases, they cry because their ears hurt from the cabin pressurizing. To prepare little ones for what could be a painfully unexpected pop, parents can give them something to suck on like a bottle, piece of candy, or pacifier. Doing so at takeoff and right before landing can help keep a baby or toddler calm.

Experts suggest offering something to your baby about a half hour before landing because that’s when cabin pressure starts to shift, so if you’re unsure when that is, ask a flight attendant. With older children, the source of the behavior can range.

Health conditions, boredom, fear, or an ingrained sense of entitlement could all be behind an “active” child’s behavior on a plane, and flight crew generally rely on parents to step up to handle any issues. If you are the parent of a screaming or unruly child, make sure you pack a snack or some form of entertainment to keep said kid busy.

Also make sure to DO. SOMETHING. That something may include asking for help or accepting it if it is offered. We know stories of kind strangers and flight crew willing to play with or comfort cranky kids on flights, and it helps.

Since we know kids get surly when they’re tired, moms and dads may also want to travel in the morning before everyone gets worn out. If the flight is early enough and they’re still a bit drowsy, they may even sleep through it.

Other tips? Bring a blanket and keep little Johnny or Ava strapped in her seat. It’s harder to get them to sit down once they’ve been allowed to roam free.

If you are a passenger, steer clear of being the disciplinarian of someone else’s kid. You can shoot a seat-kicker (and their parents) a meaningful glance. If the annoying antics continue, let a flight attendant know what’s going on so they can intervene or possibly offer you a seat change.

Passengers can also do themselves a favor by bringing ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to drown out the noise.

Flight crews also ask that all passengers exercise patience as flying with kids isn’t always a cakewalk. Although hands-off parents exist, many are just struggling to get through the flight.

Have you ever been on a flight with an unruly child – whether your own or not? What tricks do you have for calming a disruptive kid on a plane?