Parents Who 'Intentionally' Sat Away From Misbehaving Kids on Plane Dragged

A post about a plane passenger who was seated next to misbehaving children while their parents were drinking behind them has gone viral on Reddit, where it has received 27,000 upvotes so far.

In a post shared two days ago on Reddit under the username u/helluvaresearcher, the passenger said they booked an aisle seat on the plane, assuming the two blocked-out seats next to them would be a couple.

According to the poster, two parents "intentionally sat behind their poorly behaved kids" on the plane, while "I was seated next to the crotch gremlins."

"Everyone assumed they were mine and added stress via glares/comments while I was dealing with my own stressors. I don't even have kids," the Redditor said. "I looked back at the parents once during the 2.5 hr flight and asked them if they could quiet down their kids please. They shot me a bad look, said 'kids' half-seriously once, laughed, and went back to drinking."

Kids on a plane.
A stock image of two children seated on a plane. A post about a plane passenger who was seated next to two "poorly behaved" kids while their parents were sat behind them has gone viral on Reddit. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Should the poster have confronted the parents again or resigned themselves to just grinning and bearing it?

"Children are a delicate subject. When they're unmanageable, that's the time to call in reinforcements—flight crew," etiquette expert Lisa Mirza Grotts, the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette, told Newsweek.

Chloe Panta, a mindset and transformational coach, agreed. She told Newsweek: "Although the passenger did ask the parents once to settle down their kids, asking again firmly or calling over a flight attendant would have been ideal. You should assert your need for a peaceful environment during a flight."

The poster's decision to hold back on reprimanding the kids themself is not surprising. In a June 2023 survey, conducted on behalf of the travel booking website Kayak among 1,000 plane passengers aged 18 and over in the United States and Canada, "90 percent of travelers think that's not your job" to discipline other people's misbehaving children on flights.

The passenger in the viral post said they flew home because their dad had suffered a stroke, and were "emotionally and physically exhausted" by the time their late evening return flight came around. It didn't help that the kids, who appeared to be elementary school-aged, were misbehaving.

"These kids whined the entire flight and fought. They made crude jokes and used electronics (iPad, phone, Nintendos) without headphones. They fidgeted in their seats, wrestled each other, and were LOUD," the Redditor said.

Even while wearing noise-canceling headphones, the poster got no sleep due to the kids "yelling or their arms/legs hitting me during their wrestling. They were definitely old enough to know better."

Unfortunately, everyone nearby assumed they were the Redditor's children, even the flight crew.

"Their parents were behind us drinking seltzer and I was getting flack for their poor parenting. So on top of an emotionally charged weekend, I not only didn't get to rest and relax on my flight back but also got flack for kids that aren't mine," they wrote.

'Protecting Your Peace' Is Key

Panta said the passenger had "every right to feel discomposed after asking the parents politely to address their children...traveling can be a pain, but protecting your peace is the key to your wellbeing."

The mindset expert advised that one should "assert your need for a pleasant environment because, after all, you are paying for it."

Grotts said the Redditor could have alerted flight staff who are "trained in such matters," as their behavior could be considered a safety concern.

"It's up to the airlines to maintain your comfort for the duration of the flight," she said.

'Zero Tolerance for Parents That Won't Parent'

"I would have nicely asked an FA [flight attendant] to swap me or the kids with one of the parents in the other seats. Would have done it loud enough so that even if they couldn't accommodate, the parents and those around know what's up," Reddit user u/burblicolforx commented on the post.

"I was going to say something similar...I would have been loudly replying 'OH SORRY, THESE AREN'T MY KIDS.' Or 'DON'T LOOK AT ME, THEIR PARENTS ARE BEHIND US'...I have zero tolerance for parents that won't parent," Redditor u/andicandi22 commented.

Commenter u/haleorshine said they would have had a "really loud conversation with the FA, 'These aren't my children and I'm worried that they're not being supervised, especially while they're so young! I assumed the people behind me were their parents, but they're not doing anything to manage them and they are getting quite drunk, so I think maybe they're not? Are these unaccompanied minors?'"

Newsweek reached out to the original poster for comment via the Reddit messaging system.

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