Stars — They’re Just Like Us!
Wait. Is that a good thing?
Free Headphones and Baby Flight Goody Bags Are Not Necessary
Celebrities are not immune to the stresses of planning to fly with a baby. George and Amal Clooney made headlines recently for handing out noise-cancelling headphones to their fellow first class passengers prior to an international flight with their 6-month-old twins, Ella and Alexander. A preemptive apology note–in case the babies cried–accompanied the headphones, that were branded with the logo of George’s tequila company, Casamigos.
Clever marketing stunt? Likely. But one that puts more pressure on parents already feeling daunted by planning their flight with a baby.
The trend of bribing passengers not to hate your children started a few years back, when a Reddit thread exploded with praise for parents of 14-week-old twins on their first flight. In a climate where the headlines were rife with stories of tantrumming toddlers and their hapless parents getting tossed from flights, by distributing baby flight goody bags these parents were lauded as “considerate,” and “thoughtful.” And thus launched a trend that creates more work for moms and dads, and somehow puts the onus of their fellow adult passengers’ comfort on them as well.
You need to pack a lot in your carry-on bag when flying with babies or toddlers, but note that baby flight goody bags are not on the carry-on packing list. Save that room for necessities for you and your baby, you know–like food, diapers, changes of clothes, toiletries, entertainment.
Those grown ups around you are fully capable of packing their own carry-on bags with the items they deem essential. If that includes noise-cancelling headphones and candy, great! But their personal comfort is not your responsibility.
Nobody wants to listen to a baby crying on a plane. Least of all that baby’s parents! Devote all of your attention and carry-on allotment to your baby’s (and your) needs. A comfortable and engaged baby is usually a quiet and contented one, truly an ideal fellow passenger on any flight.
George and Amal Clooney get to write off the cost of those headphones and enjoy good publicity, so this gesture is win/win for them. But I have more questions for and about them as traveling parents!
- Why were they flying commercial?
- Were they flying with grandparents or nannies or any other help?
- Did they buy the babies their own seats on the plane?
- What kind of travel car seats do they use?
- How do they cope with their babies’ jet lag?
- Did they gate-check the stroller?
I’m not hating on the Clooneys for trying to be thoughtful. But how sad that we feel the need to apologize for our babies for doing what human babies do sometimes, cry. Wouldn’t it a much nicer world if our first impulse was to smile at a crying baby rather than scowl? What if we offered words of kindness or assistance to a frazzled parent, rather than side eye and complaints?
A commenter on my Facebook post about this story suggested that she’s paying it forward by being the kind of fellow passenger to parents she hopes to encounter when she flies with her family. I do the same. And I love that my kids coochie coo and play peek-a-boo with babies at the airport and on flights. I don’t want them to grow up to be the kind of people who would scowl at a toddler or whine about a baby’s crying.
I want them to be the kind of people who would offer a smile or assistance if needed, and then put on their own noise-cancelling headphones that they packed for themselves 🙂
- 10 Dos & Don’ts for Flying with Babies and Toddlers
- Baby Travel Gear Essentials
- Planning Your First Trip with Baby
- Using Car Seats on Planes
- Tips for Flying with a Sick Baby