Social media and comment columns are in a fizz over the issue of young children on fights after a Jetstar encounter involving a Sydney mother who claims the passenger in front struck her one-year-old child deliberately, by quickly reclining a seat.
The child had reportedly been kicking or tapping the seat in front for some time, and angry words had allegedly been exchanged when the incident took place. The mother is reported to have lodged a formal complaint with Jetstar.
Fairfax Media broke the story, with the mother claiming the passenger in front had used their seat “on purpose” as a weapon after becoming annoyed with the infant during a Sunday night flight to Melbourne from Sydney.
The incident led airline staff to separate the two passengers for the rest of the flight, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The mother claims her daughter, who was seated on her hap, began tapping the tray table. The repeated tapping prompted glares and a request to “stop that tapping” from the woman in front and her partner sated beside her.
The mother says she was doing her best but her child just wouldn’t sleep. She says that after about half an hour the passenger in front “just kind of lost it” and pushed her seat back hard and fast, which struck her daughter on the head.
This prompted much crying, anger and arguing until Jetstar staff intervened and moved the woman and child somewhere else.
The behaviour of other people’s children on flights is a constant source of airborne friction and seat reclining is another sore point. Seats are built to recline but some passengers feel that the person in front shouldn’t have the right to recline. It’s a touchy subject.
Blogs and comment columns have gone to town over the story. Some people have suggested that there be separate flights for people travelling with children. Others have proposed “family sections” on planes, where babies, young children and their minders could be segregated, to give passengers who just want to sleep, read or work a break.
A few observers have suggested that Jetstar is a budget airline and “you get what you pay for”.
All kinds of suggestions are surfacing. One writer in New Zealand suggested that on budget flights, seats either shouldn’t recline, or if they do recline, all should be reclined at once, electronically and at airline command. After meal service, for instance.
Some people say the mother should have got up and gone somewhere else with her daughter when she realised her child was being a nuisance. Others say a budget carrier is basically public transport like a bus or train, not a cinema or restaurant. Kids sometimes cause a fuss and people should get over it.
One writer said that the story isn’t new because every flight produces niggles over kids pushing seats, bags in overhead lockers or reclining seats.
Some passengers are fed up with young kids running around aircraft because they have no seat and are sick of sitting on their parents’ knees. Others say any assault on a baby is outrageous; a few suggest it was probably an accident.
As for Jetstar, a spokesman said the airline would be contacting the customers concerned to discuss the issue further. Cabin crew had done right by separating the two parties and offering further assistance.
The spokesman told the paper said such incidents were rare and customers were generally “courteous and respectful” towards each other.
Written by Peter Needham