Flying is not quite the treat it once was. "We know flying is more stressful than it used to be; planes are more crowded, and security is stressful," said Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor flights. All the more reason to employ extra kindness.
Flight attendant Nancy Kasprzyk said it helps to "say things in a nice manner. People aren't used to being treated nicely anymore." And one of the most frequent issues involves kids being kids. If she notices a problem, she'll say, for example: "Excuse me, I'm so sorry, but I get the feeling that the person in front of you is getting accidentally kicked by your son."
She and other flight attendants had these suggestions for making the skies a better place to be when trying to cope with youngsters and overwhelmed or oblivious parents.
Breathe, smile and ask to be reseated. Experts say courtesy pays off.
Suggest the flight attendant give mom and baby a bulkhead seat. Peter Greenberg, travel editor for CBS News, says the bulkhead is ideal for a mother and a baby. It eliminates the risk of someone getting kicked in the back for hours, and mom and the infant have more space.
Chat up parents before takeoff. Flight attendant Heather Poole said this makes it easier to tell parents what their kids are doing if a problem arises.
If a kid is kicking your seat and has his shoes on, suggest shoe removal. Poole always has her son remove his shoes, so any accidental kicks have less impact.
Use noise-canceling headphones. Saltzburg recommends this to reduce noise from a crying baby or chatty passengers nearby.
For parents traveling with toddlers, international business etiquette specialist Lydia Ramsey suggests taking along little gifts to placate nearby passengers. Her daughter and husband gave small gifts to those seated around them on a recent flight. They won the passengers over in advance.
And whenever you feel stressed on a plane, imagine hearing what Kasprzyk tells her passengers: "We are flying on the wings of love."