What to Do When a Kid Won't Stop Kicking Your Airline Seat
Article from Wendy Perrin, The Perrin Post, Condé Nast Traveler
When you’re stuck in an airplane seat in front of a kid who won’t stop kicking the back of your seat, what should you do? The question was raised by Gary Leff of View From the Wing, who laments that there's no such thing as "Children-Kicking-Your-Seatback-Cancelling Headsets." I’m firmly in the camp that it’s the parent’s job to keep their children from kicking other passengers, and, as a mom of two boys who were once hyperkinetic preschoolers, I do have a few tricks to suggest:
If your child is kicking the seat, remove his shoes. With feet covered only by socks, children will kick less hard—since they don’t want to hurt their toes—and the passenger's back will feel it less.
When reserving seats on a flight, book one parent into the seat in front of the child who’s the kicker (as opposed to seating the family in one long row). That way it’s the parent, not a stranger, whose back gets kicked.
Place your child’s beloved stuffed animal, Pillow Pet, or similar plush comfort toy—every child travels with one—in the seat pocket in front of him. He won’t want to kick his favorite animal friend. If he does anyway, tell him that if he kicks it again, you'll take it away.
Carry a large printout photo of the child’s grandmother and tape it to the back of the seat. You can’t kick grandma.
Physically restrain the child's legs. My husband sometimes spent hours holding my boys' feet on flights. (My hands were too busy blogging on my laptop).
If your child is disturbing any passenger, offer to buy that passenger a drink.
I asked my frequent-flying children (now ages 10 and 11) to weigh in, and they also have suggestions for parents:
Bring duct tape and tape your child’s legs to the seat (but only if he’s wearing long pants; otherwise it might hurt). Bonus: If you've got a couple of different colors of duct tape, you can also use it for arts and crafts on the plane.
Give the child your iPhone and say that, if he kicks the seat, you’re going to take it away.
It's trickier, of course, when you're the passenger getting kicked—as was the case with Leff—and you're not sure how to approach the parent. My suggestion would be to turn around and tell the child to stop kicking you because it's hurting your back and your feelings. Children are used to being told to keep their hands to themselves, so they'll understand a command to keep your feet to yourself. Kids, especially toddlers, often won’t listen to their parents—rather, they want to test how far they can push them—yet will immediately do as a stranger says. Too bad the captain can't walk back and order kids to stop kicking. They'd definitely listen to him!