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Volcanoes and screaming babies

Traveling this summer? You may want to buy volcano insurance:

Eamonn Brennan, chief of the Irish Aviation Authority, warned of “a summer of uncertainty” in the air due to the continuing eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano.

In Brussels, European Union transport ministers held another emergency aviation meeting and emerged vowing that reforming the continent’s patchwork air traffic control system into a one seamless airspace was a “top priority.” Germany and France also demanded binding rules to determine when airspaces should be closed and planes grounded because of volcanic ash.

Airlines and airports complained bitterly that EU uncertainty during last month’s volcanic crisis grounded too many flights for too long last month. In all, more than 100,000 flights were canceled, inconveniencing 10 million travelers.

As one of those “inconvenienced” 10 million travelers last month, I can say that being stuck overseas with no way home was at once memorable, and an experience I don’t wish to repeat anytime soon. Word of advice to those with travel plans for this summer: Check your insurance policy carefully. Include the fine print.

Meanwhile, I have to admire columnist Christopher Elliott of National Geographic Travel for having the courage to tell it like it is when it comes to one of my pet peeves: screaming babies on airplanes:

The problem is as old as air travel itself: Adults seated next to misbehaving kids while confined to a pressurized aluminum tube. But it seemed like until now, at least, we knew whose side the parents were on. Like the mom on Meador’s flight, they did everything they could to keep their offspring from driving the rest of the passengers quietly mad.

Today, you can’t be so sure.

[ . . . ]

“Today’s parents think that their little darlings have the right to scream, pound on the backs of chairs, hit passengers on the head and do whatever else amuses them,” says psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. “This comes from parents feeling entitled and being too distracted by their own fears, worries, computer work, movies, and so on. They think of the flight attendants as their own personal baby sitters.”

Airlines already blacklist passengers for all sorts of reasons, from bad behavior to breaking their ticket rules.

Perhaps they should add inept parents to the list.

Thank you, Mr Elliott! I have nothing against children, but listening to them screech and cry and scream for hours on end ranks up there with root canal on my list of least favourite things in the world. I once spent a 12-hour flight from Japan to the USA seated next to one baby who did nothing but cry and spit up on me, and in front of another baby who interspersed her crying with pulling my hair and kicking on my seat.

Flying is uncomfortable enough as it is without having to add putting up with other people’s kids to the equation. If you’re a parent, please, please spare ten seconds to think of the rest of the passengers on the flight before you decide to take your baby on an airplane. Thank you.

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