"Did you cringe when I sat next to you on a plane with my kids? There's something I need to tell you."


To everyone who has ever been on a plane with children who do not belong to them,

I’d like to say, “Thank you”.

Wouldn’t it be nice if flying with children looked like this?

Because today I feel very sorry for a couple who were booted from a plane flying from the Dominican Republic to Missouri after their son lost the plot at take-off. His tantrum was so out of control that the family was escorted off the plane. Yikes. The father told KSDK: ‘[the attendant] said, well your son is too loud, you know, if you’re not going to keep him calm in the next three minutes, you guys are going to have to leave the plane.’

And so they did.


This is one of those moments where I think, “That could’ve been me”. But it wasn’t, because most fellow-passengers and flight attendants have cut me a little slack.

Like so many parents, me and my three kids have put passengers through torture. I’m not saying I’m wrong. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just – head in hands – saying, thanks for putting up with us as me and my tribe may have invaded your every sense.

On behalf of me and my family – and let’s be honest – millions of other people who’ve ever flown with a small child, we say this:

Thanks for moving your bag off the seat at the departure gate so that we could play in the corner and my son could sit next to the big window and watch the planes taking off.

Thanks for letting my baby play peek-a-boo with you while you read the paper during the plane delay.

Thanks for ignoring her or you would have been playing it forever. And it would’ve sent us both crazy.

Thanks for not baulking when my other daughter pretty much wiped a booger on your expensive Country Road tote.

Thanks for listening to the Octonauts on full volume because all my kids had decided they wanted to watch the same show at the same time. Unheard of until this exact moment.

Cute. The first 25 times.

Thanks for helping me shove my bag in the overhead locker while I wrangled my children who were behaving like hungry goats.

Thanks for rolling your eyes. You and me both, buddy.


Thanks for listening to my son scream because he’s missed his sleep/ hungry/ plane is delayed/ doesn’t understand why he’s in this small seat/ doesn’t want to wear a seatbelt.

Thanks for not minding when my daughter’s orange juice seal popped open so quickly that most of her drink hit the roof, rebounded and fell like rain upon your head.

Thanks for ignoring my kids kicking the back of your seat. I know that’s the worst. Karma sorts that out.

Thanks for putting up with a super-stinky nappy at the point when the plane was all stuffy and hot and the SEATBELT SIGN WAS ON so we couldn’t get up and sort it out.

Thanks for ignoring my husband and I when we entered a delirious state of laughter after the super-stinky nappy was refilled. Again. And again.

The calm after the storm … inside the plane, not outside.

Thanks for not spewing after my child vomited.

Thanks for fetching my child’s favourite water bottle after it rolled eight rows back during take-off.

Thanks for holding my baby daughter while I tended to my screaming son. I’ll be eternally grateful.

Thanks for pretending you didn’t hear my child talking about having an itchy bottom as we stood in the aisle waiting to disembark.

Thanks for dobbing in my kids for playing on the conveyor belt. Children take disciplinary actions from people in high-vis jackets far more seriously than they do their own parents.

Flying with children. There is no experience like it. It’s like a collection of the worst possible situations that will send your child absolutely bonkers. Small spaces, delays, queues, seatbelts, food, lots of people, bright lights.

So, thank you to every person who has ever been to an airport and flown in a plane with a child that does not belong to them. Most of you are patient. Most of you are generous. Most of you are understanding.

For that, thank you. From all the parents and guardians.

We long to be you.

Until then. What goes on in the air, stays in the air.