Should you allow children to run free in the airport?

Have you noticed all the kids at the airport lately?

Not long ago, you could only find them in the end court areas or gates, where their parents would watch them. But no longer.

“It’s a free service for everyone,” said Lisamarie Monaco, an insurance saleswoman from Jacksonville, Florida. As a mother of seven, she knows a thing or two about traveling with little ones. She was horrified by what she had seen recently.

“Parents let their children do whatever they want at the airport,” she said. “This drives me crazy.”

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Passengers complain about children wandering around the airport unsupervised. How bad is it? When I was living in Santiago, Chile, last year, there was a young passenger Hop on the luggage belt and have a fun ride. Ultimately, airport workers were able to recover the child, who was unharmed.

A situation that is going well is often a preview of the journey ahead. Who can forget this viral video The toddler uses his tray table as a starting point On an eight-hour flight? Or the frustrated United Airlines captain who… He wanted to turn his trip around Because of the unruly schoolchildren in the back of the plane?

A screenshot from the video shows a child standing on an airplane seat.

Air travelers do not approve of children roaming freely

Passengers almost agree on this issue: 90% of travelers say parents should not let their children roam freely, according to A recent survey conducted by Kayak. After all, your fellow passengers are not babysitters.

“These encounters with children are becoming a bigger problem,” said Howard Pratt, a psychiatrist at Harvard University. Community Health of South Florida Which specializes in treating children. “Not all passengers are looking to interact with children who are not their own. So, it’s not just about protecting your children from strangers, but also protecting other passengers from the potential stress they might experience from having to interact with children, I don’t know, but who “They may feel responsible for it.”

What’s a parent to do? If you’re traveling with young children, you may be wondering if it’s okay to let your kids run freely anywhere in the airport. When are they old enough to let them out of your sight? What are the responsibilities of parents when it comes to allowing their children to interact with fellow passengers? Also, what if you are receiving unsupervised attention from someone’s child?

Free range baby

Should children be allowed to run freely at the airport?

Yes and no.

“In a safe, unpopulated area like a station gate full of empty seats,” said Ashanti Woods, a pediatrician at the Baltimore hospital. Al Rahma Medical Center. “Children need to play and burn off energy, especially if we want them to sleep on the plane.”

But there’s a problem: Parents must keep an eye on their children at the departure gate to ensure the flight doesn’t leave without them.

So, should you let your kids run free at the airport? No, experts said.

“Children must no “I will be allowed to run freely at the airport,” said Bidisha Sarkar, a pediatrician at the hospital. ClinicspotsTravel medicine website. “It is essential for safety and courtesy to keep them within easy reach at all times.”

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What is the right age to let your children explore the airport without adult supervision?

It depends. Timon van Basten Runs tours in SpainHe said he’s seen children as young as 8 who have no trouble being independent in the airport lounge — and behaving. But it depends on the child and the airport.

“Crowded airports like London Heathrow can be very stressful for some children,” he said.

Sarkar said parents should assess their children’s maturity and ensure they know all airport protocols (not leaving secure areas, returning in time to board the plane).

“Parents should also make sure that their children do not disturb others,” she added.

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What is the responsibility of parents when it comes to allowing their children to interact with fellow passengers?

I can’t believe I have to say this, but parents, you are responsible for your children at the airport.

Brandy Taylor, a passenger in the car, said: “It is the responsibility of parents to prevent their children from disturbing other passengers as much as possible.” Travel concierge“If your child is trying to start a conversation with a stranger, watch the stranger’s reaction. If he or she is enjoying the interaction, there is no need to intervene. But if the stranger clearly prefers to be left alone, you will want to redirect your child.”

Again, it depends on the child. When my kids were little kids, they would talk to anyone, and not everyone wanted to talk to them. I erred on the side of caution and avoided the problem of free-ranging children.

Etiquette expert Nick Layton said: “Parents should use this occasion to demonstrate several basic etiquette skills that will serve them well throughout their lives, such as being considerate of others, respecting people’s personal space, being polite but direct, and setting boundaries.” .

What if you have an unsupervised encounter with a child?

Don’t panic. Parents can’t be far away. But if you can’t find the parent, track down an airport or airline employee and make sure they know the child is on the loose.

Etiquette experts have said—and I agree—that you gain nothing by approaching a parent angrily. They already know what they did, and probably don’t care.

“Look who I found?” It may be the best approach. Yelling or waving your fingers will increase your stress and will not change the parent’s behavior.

These signs warning of child trafficking in bathrooms are a good start. If that’s not enough to put the fear of God in a parent, I don’t know what is. More designated areas for children to play would also help.

But in the end, it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children good manners and responsible behavior.

Christopher Elliott Author, consumer advocate and journalist. establish Elliott Law Firm, a non-profit organization that helps solve consumer problems. Publish Elliot Confidentialtravel newsletter, and Elliott Report, a news site about customer service. If you need help with a consumer issue, you can Access it here Or send him an email at chris@elliott.org.

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