The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
Nappygate: the death of family travel etiquette
Categories: parenting, travel

I travel a lot because I like to, and more often than not, it’s with my daughter. We’ve had both good and bad journeys but I always try and engender a sense of awareness in her so that she behaves herself, we all do don’t we?

As women, we are told we play many roles in our lives and this is very true, one of them for me is as a business woman who sometimes travels for work. As I discovered last week, this makes you invisible to some parents, in fact, you are merely wallpaper to them.

Last Friday I took an early morning commuter flight and was quite surprised to see so many children on the flight. Doing the best mental gymnastics I could at the early hour it was (and egged on by a strong latte) I realised, oh yes, it’s school term and that these were definitely preschoolers. I love flying with kids because they treat the whole experience like an adventure and tend to whoop and cheer at all the right (and wrong) times, plus it’s a great distraction.

Well, that was my take on it and that’s all bunkum now. For the first time in over twenty years, I’ve had one of those ‘kids are a nightmare’ journeys and I feel really sad about it. I have no problem with letting families on the plane first or putting up with kids screaming at take off and landing – it’s what happens and we’ve all had embarrassing moments while travelling. But there’s no excuse for a lack of manners. It appears the basics of travel etiquette have diminished into thin air.

So back to my flight. It was early, it was busy, it was a short hop and there was time to read up on a few things and drink tea. Or so I thought. As I took my seat, right at the back of a completely cramped plane, I could see a family sat ahead of me. They looked really nice and they settled into their seats. And then to my horror, one of the children walked up to me and put his nappy on my lap – yes, his nappy on my lap, it wasn’t even wrapped in a nappy sack. I looked down, and no, I hadn’t put on a Norland Nanny outfit on that morning as I dressed in the dark, I was actually wearing clothes that didn’t mark me out as a granny/childminder/general nappy catcher.

As my jaw hit the floor, there came a very loud ‘Well done! Well done son!’ screeched by the mother. I looked down at a soggen lump of nappy on my lap, to say I was extremely dismayed is an understatement and I expected at least an acknowledgement or an apology. Neither was offered. The nappy was briskly scooped away by an air hostess. It was 8am, I couldn’t speak. But no one else said a word. I would have been mortified if my daughter had done the same thing, I would have made eye contact with the nappy recipient, I would have left my seat, I would have made some awful joke about social gaffes, but obviously she wasn’t me.

After my working day I got back to the airport and loaded my laptop into the plastic security box, my clear plastic bag, shoes and handbag and was about to walk through the security when I was accosted and mugged of my walk through. Flabbergasted again, I watched the scene unfold before me, like I was in some kind of daydream.

A man held back my stuff and then began to load his stuff on right in front of me. He had two sons with him. It took ages. They had belts and shoes to remove, then backpacks. I was ready to go through and had been for ages, but I had to wait. Then they all went through security and had to have handheld scanners run over them. I waited and waited. Again, there was no eye contact, no excuse me, no thank you or anything. In a similar situation, had the roles been reversed, I would have let another traveller through – security is just a glorified supermarket checkout after all – you have one item and the other person has a trolley – they let you go first, it’s just basic stuff isn’t it? Well obviously not.

After a quick look around myself and I could definitely tell that I wasn’t wearing an invisible suit. But that’s how I felt on both flights. And I felt unable to speak up and say anything either. It was awful so short of wearing a t-shirt saying I AM GOING TO WORK TO SUPPORT MY CHILD what else can I do?

What are your views on flying with or without your kids?

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9 Comments to “Nappygate: the death of family travel etiquette”

  1. Potty Mummy says:

    Luckily for us the boys LOVE flying (something to do with the – hopefully – unlimited access to tv when they do so), so we’ve not had too many problems. On those occasions when they do start to cut up rough, we remind them that their job in public(this also works in restaurants etc) is to be ‘ambassadors for children’ to show grown-ups who don’t think kids know how to behave properly (or even, at times, other children who appear to have forgotten) how it’s done. Amazingly, 9 times out of ten, this works – and has done since they were 2 and 4 years old.

    I know. My time will come…

  2. I find it a disgrace that people are so incredibly rude; that man’s sons will have no manners in later life.

    As for the nappy, well that’s just revolting. I would have knocked it onto the floor and probably said something.

    I haven’t been on a plane for a long time but travelling with kids isn’t my favourite past time. I’m not a maternal type and find it’s sometimes just an excuse for the parents to show their true colours.

    CJ xx

    • admin says:

      It wasn’t the best of days but I think I would probably say something next time…but nicely

  3. Sandy Calico says:

    It’s not just flying, lack of respect for others is, sadly, everywhere.

  4. Claire says:

    Shocking. That simple.

    Lola has flown twice, and touch wood so far so good. I would be horrified if she ever did anything like the nappy incident.

  5. Having just flown with my 3 year old I can sympathise with parents who have kids that cry a lot during flights, there really isn’t anything you can do about that but how the hell a child would manage to escape and plonk a dirty nappy in another passenger’s lap is beyond me! It sounds worthy of a sitcom although I don’t imagine you feel like that having had it happen to you for real!
    Sarah, Maison Cupcake recently posted..Cured Beef Quesadilla- It’s a Kind of Sandwich

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